The popular diet was originally developed to treat epilepsy.
If you’ve not been keeping up with the Kardashians, it looks like at least one sister is interested in the popular keto diet.
On her new website, oldest sister Kourtney Kardashian announced she’s back on the keto diet, at least temporarily.
“My body never looked better than when I did the keto diet two and half years ago, when I did it for two months,” she wrote in a blog post for her lifestyle website, Poosh.com. “In my experience, I’ve found the best method to train my body to curb sugar cravings, burn fat, and kick-start weight loss is by sticking to a keto diet.”
Kardashian explains in her post that a little more than two years ago, her doctor put her on the ketogenic diet (keto, for short) because she tested high for mercury and lead.
“He let me know that one of the fastest ways to detox was to keep my body in a state of ketosis. I would check my blood sugar and ketone levels every morning to make sure I was on track,” she wrote.
But the keto diet, which was originally used as a treatment for epilepsy, isn’t really designed to be a jump-start diet or a quick cleanse, say experts Healthline talked to. It takes weeks, even months, for the true impact of the diet to kick in and have any beneficial impact.
“I don’t recommend ketogenic diet in the short term — less than a month — for patients since there is usually a period of adaptation as the body becomes more fat-efficient that would be lost if patients return back to a higher carbohydrate diet,” said Dr. John Martinez, a primary care physician.
In the same post where she explained her reasons for doing the diet again, Kardashian laid out a meal plan sample. Experts point out it’s not exactly keto.
“I’m focusing my meals on fresh vegetables and lean protein,” Kardashian wrote in her post.
Vegetables and protein are certainly elements of the keto diet. But there’s a key element missing in the reality star’s description of what she plants to eat: fat.
Most keto diets emphasize slashing carbs to around 20 grams per day — that’s ultra low — while also adding back a great deal of fat.
While lean protein and vegetables are an element of keto, you’d want to couple them with fatty foods like ghee, cheese, cream sauces, and butter.
“From my training and understanding of the real ketogenic diet, which is typically only given to those with epilepsy, [Kardashian’s diet] is too high in protein. The body will turn the protein to carbohydrates through gluconeogenesis — making glucose from non-glucose sources — which then does not put you into ketosis,” said Emily E. Tills, MS, RDN, CDN.
“A ketogenic diet should actually be about a 4-to-1, fat-to-carb and protein ratio to prevent this from happening,” Tills added. “So, about 100 grams fat per every 25 grams carbs and 25 gram protein. This plan recommends more low-fat, lean meats, which could prevent true ketosis from occurring.”
Kardashian writes she’ll have MCT oil and an avocado smoothie in the morning (both great keto options), but her lunch — a turkey chef’s salad — has only egg whites listed. Instead, a whole egg is great for keto.
Dinner is also short of fat-friendly keto foods. She’s eating chicken or salmon with cauliflower or broccoli rice.
It seems Kardashian’s definition of keto isn’t quite what dietitians and researchers consider keto. But it does seem to be a fairly “clean” way of eating, which may be what makes it more of a cleanse for her, regardless of what she calls it.
“I wouldn’t recommend the ketogenic diet as a ‘cleanse’ since that misses the point of how we think ketogenic diet and other low-carb diets work in weight reduction,” Martinez said. “They appear to lower insulin resistance and improve insulin sensitivity. There’s also an improvement in fat metabolism, as well as the body becomes less reliant on carbohydrates.”
Could you experience short-term benefits of the keto diet? Sure. Within the first few days you might feel more clearheaded as you aren’t riding the wave of blood sugar spikes and dips.
You might also experience improved cholesterol levels, says Ysabel Montemayor, RD, lead registered dietitian at Fresh n’ Lean.
“Although the keto diet encourages the body to burn more fat, which may hold on to toxins, there is a lack of evidence that shows it is an effective way of removing toxins,” Montemayor said. “But it isn’t a sustainable diet for most people, and it would be best to consult a physician beforehand.”
Some people also drop a handful of pounds quickly when they first start a keto diet.
“That is not an actual weight loss,” Tills said. “Rather, it’s a water loss from the body using up all of its carbohydrate stores. When the body uses and stores carbohydrates, it stores water with it. That cleansing effect is actually your body dumping water and putting you at risk for dehydration.
“Your body doesn’t need any cleanses or detoxes, as it has the lymphatic system, your kidneys, liver, and skin to do all the cleansing and flushing out of toxins for you,” Tills said.
The Kardashian sisters aside, the keto diet isn’t your typical diet. It’s not meant to be a quick solution to feeling bad or wanting to reset your eating habits.
Seeing any results from this ultra-low-carb diet takes time. Any immediate results aren’t likely sustainable.
The one good side? It might inspire you to explore other, more healthy methods for losing weight.
“It can help some people start losing weight in a way that they have not been able to do with other eating plans,” said Alexandra D’Elia, RDN, CDN. “This can be very motivating for people and can serve as a ‘jump-start’ to better eating habits.”