Kim Kardashian credited a low-carb ketogenic-style Atkins diet her incredible 56-pound weight loss after giving birth.
In an exclusive interview, Atkins chief nutritionist, Linda O’Byrne, discussed Kim's diet secrets, meal plan, and the health benefits of low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diets like the Atkins and ketogenic diets.
Kardashian famously lost 56 pounds just six months after giving birth to daughter North by following an Atkins plan that limited her daily carb intake to less than 60 grams. Kim, a self-proclaimed carb addict with a major sweet tooth, said she feels great and has lots of energy.
O’Byrne said low carb diets suppress appetite better than low-fat diets, so you don't feel hungry all the time like you do on high-carb diets. "Low-carb diets keep blood sugar levels stable and prevent food cravings," said Linda.
Focusing on healthy fats and limiting carbs promotes rapid weight loss by inducing the body to burn body fat for fuel, said Dr. Eric Westman, author of New Atkins for a New You.
Kim's daily menu combined proteins like fish, chicken and meat; healthy fats like olive oil, avocados and nuts; low-starch vegetables, and some low-glycemic fruits like berries. Her meal plan looked like this:
- Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with sautéed spinach
- Lunch: Salmon with a large mixed salad including avocado, cucumber and cherry tomatoes
- Dinner: Chicken with broccoli, cauliflower and spring greens, topped with olive oil
Kardashian also exercises almost every day, combining cardio workouts with strength-training and lots of squats. She varies her workouts, taking spinning classes at SoulCycle and Barry's Boot Camp sessions.
Kim isn't the only celebrity who has lost weight on the ketogenic-style Atkins diet. TV star Sharon Osbourne has maintained her 30-pound weight loss for more than two years by following an Atkins diet plan that limited her daily carb intake to 25 grams, O’Byrne told me.
The 5-foot-2 Sharon, who once weighed 230 pounds, said Atkins is the only diet that has enabled her to easily maintain her weight loss. In 1999, Osbourne lost over 100 pounds after undergoing lap-band surgery. She then regained 45 pounds after getting the band removed after the procedure left her weak and sick.
Sharon's weight fluctuated for years until she adopted a high-fat, low-carb, moderate-protein eating plan. Osbourne, an Atkins rep, said the best part of her LCHF diet is being able to stay slim without feeling deprived. "It has been life-changing," she said. "It's not a diet. It's a lifestyle change."
In addition to speeding weight loss, research indicates the Atkins and ketogenic diets can fight depression and bipolar disorder. "The intake of natural fats, especially foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, are linked with improved mood and reduced risk of depression," explained O'Byrne.
Dietitian Dr. Jeff Volek, a professor at the University of Connecticut, has followed a ketogenic diet for the past 20 years. He agrees it fuels fast weight loss, improves mood, and prevent diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer's and cancer.
"It was nothing short of an epiphany when I changed to a ketogenic diet 20 years ago," Dr. Volek, author of the Art and Science of Low-Carbohydrate Living, told me. "I felt better, more satiated, and had more consistent energy."
The ketogenic diet has been around for decades, but has only recently begun to find mainstream acceptance as a way to accelerate weight loss and prevent and manage disease. A ketogenic diet has already proven more effective than drugs at controlling epileptic seizures, and has been shown to reverse type 2 diabetes.
Neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter told me the high-fat ketogenic diet can prevent ADHD and Alzheimer's disease. "The brain thrives on a fat-rich, low-carbohydrate diet," said Perlmutter, author of Grain Brain. "Carbs are devastating for the brain."
Ketogenic Diet Starves Cancer
Cancer scientist Dr. Dominic D'Agostino of the University of South Florida Medical School, told me the ketogenic diet can starve cancer because cancer cells thrive on sugar.
Interestingly, we all have cancerous or pre-cancerous cells growing inside our bodies, but people with healthy immune systems keep the cancer from mutating and turning deadly, said Dr. D'Agostino, who has a Ph.D. in physiology and neuroscience.
The mechanisms that keep cells from mutating (DNA repair processes) are largely dependent upon healthy mitochondrial function. In other words, we are only as healthy as our mitochondria, which are the power sources of all our cells, so if we keep our mitochondria healthy, we can stall the onset of cancer and other age-related chronic diseases.
"Healthy mitochondria are the ultimate cancer tumor suppressor," said D'Agostino. "One way to keep mitochondria healthy is through the ketogenic diet, which stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis and enhances mitochondrial efficiency.
When we restrict carbs in our diet, we can prevent pro-inflammatory spikes in blood glucose and blood insulin. Suppression of blood glucose and insulin spikes can be very helpful when managing many chronic diseases."
Meanwhile, an increasing amount of scientific research suggests that unprocessed saturated fat is good for you and can protect against heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and cancer.
Weight loss expert Dr. Eric Westman, director of the Duke University Obesity Clinic, has helped hundreds of morbidly obese people lose thousands of pounds on the LCHF ketogenic and Atkins diets. He said eating more unprocessed fat can enhance weight loss and improve health across the board.
"I tell my patients not to fear the fat," said Dr. Westman, author of Keto Clarity. "Eat lots of fat. Fat makes you feel full. There's no problem with fat. In fact, saturated fat — the fat that we've been taught not to eat — raises your good cholesterol best of all the foods you can eat."