PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. — The ketogenic diet craze has become a social media hot topic. It's the new click bait.
Someone, somewhere is jumping on this weight reduction trend to drop those unwanted pounds. Even fitness gurus and celebrities are talking about this ketogenic way of eating, or keto for short.
People are limiting their calories and carbs, forcing their body to turn to the fat and protein for energy to change its metabolic state. It's called ketosis.
"I call it the hidden secret in plain sight," said Paul Wilson.
Wilson is now a disciple of the Ideal Protein ketogenic plan after years of yo-yo dieting. The family practitioner said no matter what diet he tried, once he stopped, the pounds piled back on.
He knew he had to get a handle on his health when his weight topped 420 pounds.
"I didn't know that I was that heavy until I tried to sit in a chair and couldn't fit. I think I was in denial for a lot of years," Paul Wilson said.
He credits the Ideal Protein Plan for helping him to shed 185 pounds in one year.
Dolores Zumbado leads a team of coaches who guide clients through the four phases of what, she promotes, as a comprehensive and structured medically supervised keto protocol.
It costs about $400 to get started, $165 a month to purchase the plan's supplements and an average of $360 a month to buy the meal replacements.
"The weight loss is rapid, I mean, it's really quick. If you're doing this, you want to get it done and one, not over the long haul," Zumbado said.
"I don't think it's necessarily the healthiest way. I think there are definitely other ways to go about weight loss," said registered dietitian Linda Rozzelle, with Medstar Georgetown University Hospital. "But again, I think the key driving point with the keto diet is the rapid loss people are experiencing."
Rozzelle said it is those rapid results that have made the keto diet so popular.
"We're a culture, unfortunately, that seeks to find the quick way of doing things. We want to quickly lose the weight. We want our meals quickly. We want to get to our destination quickly, and unfortunately, some things take time," Rozzelle said.
One bride-to-be, Courtney Thompson, said she was not sure she wants follow the keto died for the rest of her life.
She is following a different keto-based diet to slim down for her upcoming nuptials. Courtney finds it challenging to stick to the plan's food restrictions.
"Is there ever a moment when this is just not enough for you, like, not enough energy?," WUSA anchor Gio Insignares asked.
"Yeah," Thompson said. "Oh yeah. In that first week I was definitely feeling hunger pains."
Rozzelle said she believes ketogenic diets are not meant to be followed for the long term or even sustainable.
"There's no such thing as good or bad food," she explained.
Rozzelle encourages her patients against eliminating or restricting any food group to avoid the risk of becoming nutrient deficient. After all, she said, following any weight loss regimen is more than what we eat.
"It doesn't solve the problem of why we overeat; why are we not exercising. It doesn't solve that key problem of, you know, things that cause obesity, things that are leading to more weight gain, things that are leading to an unhealthy lifestyle," Rozzelle said.
She offered the following tips for weight loss and a healthier lifestyle:
- Practice mindful eating, understand your hunger and fullness cues
- Put your fork down in between bites
- Increase your physical activity, set an egg timer to remind you to get up and move
- Eat out less, take control over your food preparation
- Portion out your snacks
But for Paul Wilson, taking a low-calorie, low-carbohydrate, protein-rich regiment to weight loss, was his answer to living a healthier lifestyle.
"Now, I know what I have to do if I want to keep the weight off," he said.
While these specific ketogenic diets worked for Thompson and Wilson, we talked to plenty of other people who told us that the diet was not sustainable for them.
And, healthcare professionals said that keto diets are not for everyone, especially people with kidney and liver issues, diabetics and breastfeeding moms.
They point to the lack of research on the long-term effects of the body from the diet.