Some have taken the keto diet a step further, using a feeding tube inserted into the esophagus through the nose.
Dieters adhere to a strict 800-calorie high-protein, no-carb diet administered through the tube by a slow-drip pump mechanism. Only black coffee, tea, or water is allowed in addition to the liquid diet.
A Florida doctor, Oliver Di Pietro, has been offering this tube diet to anyone who can pay the $1,500 cost. According to a 2012 local news report, Di Pietro learned of the diet while on a trip to Italy. He insists the keto diet is safe and effective, even for those wanting to shed just a few pounds.
“This is a ridiculous approach to weight loss,” said Cimperman.
With an 800-calorie-a-day diet, “you’re essentially starving yourself,” Cimperman said. “Of course you will drop weight.”
Anything under a 1,200-calorie daily diet is considered a starvation diet and is not meant for long-term weight loss.
Tube feeding is a legitimate tool in a hospital setting, she explained.
“Someone who is on a ventilator, or can’t swallow because of a stroke or cancer, might have to eat this way. But it’s usually used as a last resort,” she said.
“In an otherwise healthy individual it can create serious complications, including infections if the tube gets contaminated, increased sodium levels, and it can cause dehydration and constipation,” Cimperman added. “What would even possess people to want to walk around with a tube up their nose?”
Melinda Hemmelgarn, a registered dietitian in Columbia, Missouri, and host of the Food Sleuth radio show, told Healthline, “It’s crazy to consider sticking a tube down your nose to lose weight. It sounds to me like somebody is making a lot of money on someone else’s vulnerabilities. Just say no to this idea.”