Healthy Hollywood: Ask Keri Glassman - What Is The Ketogenic Diet?

Nutritionist Keri Glassman, who regularly shares her expertise on Access Hollywood and Access Hollywood Live, is answering your nutrition, diet and health questions.

Want to know how celebrities are getting their fabulous post-baby bodies? And, if their diet plan is right for you?

This week’s question…

“What exactly is the ketogenic diet that helped Kim Kardashian lose all that baby weight? If I follow it, will I lose 56 pounds too?” -- Jody S., Seattle, Wash.

Keri says…

You know it’s almost summer when the headlines are splashed with the latest quick-fix diets guaranteeing you a bikini bod. One topic that keeps popping up is Kim Kardashian’s 56-pound weight loss from what’s being called an Atkins and ketogenic inspired diet. Kim looks great with her pre-baby body back, there is no denying that.

And we all know that Atkins means low-carb, but what the heck is this ketogenic diet? And should we all jump on the bandwagon?

The 411… Ketogenic diets have been around for decades, but are recently being touted as a weight loss solution. Traditionally, these diets are used to help treat neurological disorders such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The diet restricts intake of carbs to as low as two to four percent of calories with a 4:1 ratio of fat to carbs and protein combined. Just for a point of reference, standard diets contain about 45 – 65 percent of calories from carbs! Our body breaks carbs down into glucose which becomes our body’s fuel. This extreme carb limitation forces the liver to convert fat into ketone bodies, which replace glucose as the source of energy. Being in this state of ketosis leads to a reduction in the frequency of epileptic seizures and symptoms of other neurological disorders.

OK, so I drop carbs and increase protein…like paleo? Not exactly. Ketogenic diets are not high protein, they’re high fat with moderate protein and very, very low carb. High fat, as in F-A-T?! Yep, that’s ketogenic. Translation: very high intakes from butter, cream, nuts, and oils and low intake of sugar, grains, bread, pasta and even fruits and vegetables.

Will it lead to weight loss? While ketogenic diets can be medically beneficial for some disorders as originally intended, for safe and effective weight loss, the carb reduction is way too extreme. Although they’re calling Kim’s diet ketogenic, she didn’t actually cut her carbs to ketogenic levels. Reports say she limited herself to 60 grams of carbs per day. On a true 1,800 calorie ketogenic diet, carb intakes would be as low as 9-18 grams per day. That wouldn’t even allow you the doctor friendly apple a day (one medium apple can have up to 25 grams of carbs)!

If you are holding back on breads, cereals and the like, I’m all for it, as your body doesn’t need these foods to be at peak performance. Make sure your meal plan is rich in produce with room for some whole grains (if you’d like) to meet your body’s carbohydrate needs. Think veggies, fruits, yogurt and whole grains. These carbohydrate rich foods tend to be the most nutrient dense choices.

And what about all that fat?! Believe it or not, each cell in our body is comprised partially of fat. In order for our bodies to function properly, we all need to eat some fat every day. It provides energy, helps burn fat and allows for the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K. Just remember, if you’re limiting carbs and upping your fat intake, be cautious of your sources. Focus on healthy fats from fish, oils, nuts, avocados and coconut.

That’s it?! Yes, extremes are never the answer, they often cause yo-yo dieting. Instead, focus on eating a well-balanced diet with healthy fats, nutrient dense carbs and a moderate amount of lean protein. For improved weight loss, be sure to up your activity level. Kim might have cut her carbs, but she also exercised almost every day incorporating both cardio and strength training workouts. And erase the word ketogenic from your vocabulary, unless of course you have a medical reason for following it.

-- Terri MacLeod & Keri Glassman

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