By Dr. Cynthia Paulis
My cellphone rang the other night, and a chirpy voice wanted to know where I had been. It was the food police. After losing 40 pounds on Jenny Craig, I figured I could go it alone, so I dropped out of the program. Before you know it, the pounds started creeping back on after eating out with friends, conference meetings, banquets and travel. I was horrified to see I had gained it all back and then some.
This was not my first to the diet merry-go-round. I have been through Weight Watchers, lost 50 pounds, Atkins Diet, lost 40 pounds but was cranky all the time from not eating any carbs, Optifast, where you drink protein drinks and water, lost 30 pounds and was hungry and cranky all the time and lived in the bathroom. Over the years I have lost and gained back the weight of a person.
I marvel at the brave souls who go on The Biggest Loser and watch them transform over months from morbidly obese to fit and buff. The problem with the show is that it doesn’t equate to reality. Who can work out all day long every single day, unless you are a gym instructor?
Now there is a new trend for a fast weight-loss fix called the K-E diet, otherwise known as the feeding-tube diet. Started one month ago in Miami, the K-E or Ketogenic Enteral Nutrition diet is a radical program that promises a 20-pound weight loss in 10 days without hunger pangs or the need for exercise.
Here’s one catch: You walk around for 10 days wearing a feeding tube through your nose while you are being infused an 800-calorie diet of a powdered food supplement diluted in water. The tube is connected to a battery powered pump, and the powder is delivered 24/7. You wear the pump like a purse over your shoulder.
Bridezillas in their quest for the perfect figure on their big day have been flocking to this concierge clinic run by Dr. Oliver Di Pietro of Bay Harbor Islands, Fla. For $1,500, brides are shedding pounds as they trot around town with a tube hanging out of their nose.
Di Pietro is importing this radical weight-loss program from Europe, where, according to his video, it has been used “over 100,000 times in 33,000 patients.” De Pietro claims it is “a hunger-free way of dieting. Being fed a high-protein, high-fat diet with no carbohydrates causes a state of profound ketosis. You burn fat, not muscle. It is painless. You feel no hunger and no appetite.”
The diet reminded me of Optifast, which was all of the rage in the ’80s. Like the K-E, you were not allowed to eat solid food—only water, unsweetened tea and black coffee with no additives of any kind. On both diets, patients have to take a laxative because they become constipated due to the lack of fiber in their systems and they are likely to develop bad breath from the ketosis. On the K-E, the patient checks their urine for ketones using a dip stick and sees the doctor three times a week, but blood is drawn only once at the beginning.
The K-E dieter goes cold turkey on food to a ketotic state and then after 10 days back to food. This yo-yo diet is problematic in that patients can develop kidney stones, headaches and dehydration, not to mention the problems involved with an NG tube dangling around in a non-sterile environment. Nasal infection, perforated throat, lung damage, GI bleeding and pneumonia are some of the other possible complications.
The problem with crash diets of any kind is that once food is introduced back into the system, the person starts to regain weight.
The solution to any successful weight-loss program is portion size. We have become such a super-sized nation in our food portions that our girth is also getting super-sized. Keeping a food diary in which you write down everything that passes your lips gives you a good idea of how many calories you are actually consuming. So often we wind up snacking through the day, not realizing the number of calories we are actually consuming, so keeping a diary reminds us of what we are eating. Exercise is also important, even if it consists of brisk walking several times a week or biking to help burn off the calories.
While I begin my quest again to shed the pounds in time for summer, I can guarantee that as I ride my bike around town, I will not be sporting a tube dangling out of my nose.
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