advertisement



Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
K-E Diet: Is the Feeding Tube Diet Dangerous?

My fiancée wants to lose 20 pounds before our wedding and is determined to do it on a low-calorie diet with the aid of a nasogastric tube. I think this is crazy, but I don't know what to tell her to convince her not to do it. What is the danger?

A
Answer (Published 12/3/2012)

You're likely referring to the "feeding tube diet" also known as the K-E diet (for ketogenic-enteral nutrition), a risky new fad that has gotten a lot of publicity for its novelty and the fact that it has been pitched to brides trying to lose weight for their weddings. This "diet" makes use of a tube that goes through the nose, down the esophagus and through the stomach into the duodenum (the first section of the small intestine). In this way, you're fed a constant drip of protein, fat and water amounting to about 800 calories per day. No carbohydrates are included, and there's no way to "cheat."

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Your Whole Body - Foods, herbs and drugs can all interact, sometimes in unexpected ways. Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor takes known interactions into account when developing nutritional supplement recommendations, to help safeguard against adverse effects. Learn more, and get your free, personalized Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor recommendation today.

Billed as a quick weight-loss diet, it was introduced into the United States in 2011 by a Florida doctor. It may be new here, but according to the New York Times it has been popular in Italy and Spain for years and is now being offered in England as well.

As with other diets that dramatically cut calories and also reduce or eliminate carbohydrates, this diet is ketogenic, meaning that it results in burning ketones, compounds produced when the body burns fat instead of sugar for energy.

I've read that patients who sign up for this diet (at a reported cost of $1,500) are required to come to the doctor's office daily to be monitored for possible complications such as dizziness, constipation, dehydration, headache, and kidney stones. They also have to feel comfortable enough with the feeding tube to continue wearing it for 10 days.

You probably wouldn't be thrilled if you needed a nasogastric tube while hospitalized for a serious medical problem. It's not comfortable, and doctors don't resort to it if a patient can eat. Even in the hospital, being on a feeding tube is risky and can lead to aspiration pneumonia.

Does it work? If you cut your intake to as little as an ill-advised 800 calories per day, you will lose weight, but doing it with the aid of a nasogastric tube is no more effective than any other very-low-calorie diet and a lot more unpleasant. It is appalling that any member of the medical profession would promote this craziness. In a scathing critique of the K-E diet, David L. Katz M.D., director of  Yale University's Prevention Research Center, asked, "Why not chemotherapy-induced nausea and anorexia for weight loss? If you don't need a medical condition for a nasogastric tube, why should cancer be required for chemotherapy? Why not a medically-induced coma/anesthesia for weight loss?" 

Moreover, the brides who sign up for this one undoubtedly will gain back every ounce lost and probably more, once they go back to eating normally.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle, LLC on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here