A while back, I wrote about this ridiculous diet and since I’m currently enrolled in Dr. T. Colin Campbell‘s eCornell Plant-based nutrition program, one of our assignments was to analyze and respond to a series of questions about a particular diet. I’d wanted to take on the Paleo diet, but it was already taken by another classmate, so I chose to return this one and wanted to share the process with you, so that you can question these ridiculous diets that come out on the market in a critical manner. As Dr. Campbell points out in his incredible book, “The China Study“, one should always look at the science and research behind it.
The K-E Diet aka The Ketogenic Diet
1. What is the message recommending or promoting?
Weight loss for brides using nasogastric or “feeding” tube to lose weight. Meredith Melnick from the Huffington Post writes, “…a powdered food supplement (to be mixed with water), made entirely of protein and fat and amounting to 800 calories per day. Patients may drink water, unsweetened tea and black coffee during their treatment, but nothing else can pass their lips. They carry the solution in a tote bag at all times, where it provides a steady 24-hour drip of nutritional supplementation.”
Originally, the Ketogenic diet recommended a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. This was a diet that was originally used and intended to treat epilepsy in children.
2. What problem is this recommendation intended to solve?
Rapid weight-loss. One brochure promised a 20 pound weight loss over 10 days or about 10 percent of the patients weight.
3.What questions are being asked about this problem? What questions are not being asked?
Asked: “Is it dangerous?” and “Does it work?” “How much weight can I loose?” “What happens after 10 days?” “How much does it cost?” “Will I still go to the bathroom?”
Not asked: “What changes should I be making after I’m done with this diet?” “What are the long term health effects/risks after I’m done with this diet?”
4. What kinds of evidence are being used to answer these questions? How does it relate to other evidence on this topic?
First, the brochure promoting this diet out of Florida states that this practice “grew from the science of enteral nutrition using feeding tubes.” Well, that tells me nothing except that it relates to the procedure of having the nasogastric tube inserted.
The K-E promoters answer to if it is safe was to first point out that it was developed in Italy, as if that makes it sound more appealing (coming from Denmark and knowing that the Italian medical system is “less than attractive” makes this rather comical), but to an unbeknownst American, anything “foreign” might sound rather appealing! They also point out that it has been used safely 100,000 times. Next, they point out that “all weight loss programs carry some risks” but you’ll be provided with a simple testing kit and will be going in for check-ups three times per week.
To me, this is not enough of an answer. This type of quick solution diet, not only comes with a high price tag ($1,499.- or $149.90 per day) but I want to know about the long-term health effects of this diet. A diet like this will more than likely make you loose weight short-term, but at what cost? As the Huffington article points out, one is likely to loose the weight via water loss and muscle mass, rather than fat.
In conclusion, there is no valid or scientific evidence to be found. After, having looked at three different articles on this diet, none of them state any research nor any studies, except on Wikipedia on the Ketogenic diet in regards to children with epilepsy.
5. What kinds of assumptions are being made about the problem?
The assumptions being made in regards to this problem is that someone can go on this diet and become 20 pounds lighter and then “be in the perfect place to continue a more healthy relationship with your food.” This notion is just ridiculous, in my opinion! How can one be in a more healthy relationship with food after having had a feeding tube put down your throat for 10 days during which one will need to take a laxative in order to go to the bathroom. That is just an absurd assumption!
6. What can you tell about the author’s approach to nutrition science? What might be missing?
The author’s approach, or more correctly Dr. Oliver R. Di Pietro, who is the “creator and an internal medicine specialist” of this diet, is a quick fix sort of doctor. In my opinion, he does not care about the long-term well being of his patients. He is only in this for the money. His approach is not a holistic approach to weight loss. He doesn’t teach nutrition or weight loss through diet. If he did he would be loosing money. Dr. Pietro makes money out of people’s ignorance and short sighted goals.
7. Are the conclusions well reasoned and warranted by the evidence?
In the Huffington Post article by Meredith Melnick I would say yes because she writes, “In the end, this quick fix might work in the short term — but it’s no panacea for major weight loss. And it certainly doesn’t address the underlying factors that lead to a healthy body: healthful, mindful eating and exercise.”
As far as Dr. Pietro is concerned:
- He refers to 100,000 people having undergone this treatment (first he mentions Italy, but later writes Europe). There’s no research or scientific evidence to any of his claims.
- Dr. Pietro’s claim that the K-E diet only used up “the stored fat in your own body but does not burn any of the muscle” seems to be misleading.
- There’s no evidence that this will lead to long-term health nor end up in a “healthy relationship with your food”.
In addition, I’d also like to point out that when I think of someone with a feeding tube up their nose they are usually in a hospital bed and are only given that during a time, to sustain them, when normal diet isn’t possible.
Further, the fact that they make the claim that this promotes a healthy future relationship with food is tragically comical because the entire time the person is on this diet they are avoiding food at all cost, but what they are really doing is cheating the system with a “snake oil salesman’s quick fix”.
8. What might be some important consequences of accepting these conclusions (for society, the environment, etc)?
The consequences of accepting these conclusions for our society are higher health costs in the future due to yet another failed diet and people gaining more weight, which usually tends to be the case. Also, it’s a sad state of affairs if our society gives credence to doctors like Dr. Dipietro and doesn’t hold them accountable and up to certain standards. It feels a bit, to me, like Hans Christian Anderson‘s story of “The Emperor’s New Clothes“. No one dares to speak out against this obvious “insane diet” just because he’s got a title in front of his name. Well, I’m “crying foul” on this one!
You might as well put a band-aid over your mouth or drink vegetable juice, which by the way would be way healthier for you…and I guarantee you’d loose the weight!
What I do know is that you can buy a lot of organic,healthy vegetables, legumes, and fruits for $149.90 per day! That would last you several weeks and I guarantee that you will loose the weight in a healthy and sustainable manner!
Wishing you a Healthy, Happy, New Year!
Don’t fall for gimmicks that don’t work!
Even Ashley Judd, one of my favorite actresses, tweeted about the absurdity of this diet:
K-E Diet Does It work? Article by Meredith Melnick: