Jameela Jamil warns followers about the dangers of the keto diet. Do experts agree?

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Elena Sheppard
·4 min read
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Actress Jameela Jamil took to Instagram to share her worries about the ketogenic diet (Photo: REUTERS/Danny Moloshok)
Actress Jameela Jamil took to Instagram to share her worries about the ketogenic diet (Photo: REUTERS/Danny Moloshok)

Jameela Jamil took to Instagram to share her thoughts about the ketogenic diet.

On Friday, the actress delivered a message to “celebrities and influencers” who promote the keto diet. “Please stop pushing the keto diet to people who do not need to follow the diet for medical reasons,” she wrote, making sure to note that she wasn’t directing her message at “any specific Thinfluencer.”

“It can create all kinds of disturbances for people’s bodies, (including their VITAL ORGANS), and they do not have the same access to healthcare that you do.” Jamil went on to slam the “before and after” photos often shared when promoting diets like keto, calling them “bulls**t” tricks of lighting and wardrobe.

“Take it from someone who did every diet under the SUN,” she said. “Stay away from fads and if you really want to change your body to whatever, please do it for the right reasons, the right way, SLOWLY.”

In her post Jamil also shared replies from her followers who revealed their own experiences with, and concerns about, the diet. “I had to get my gallbladder removed,” one commenter wrote about the repercussions they faced from keto. “Keto will destroy your liver as well.”

“My dad did keto and it ended up giving him pancreatitis and had to get surgery,” wrote another.

“I’d have to agree with [Jamil],” says Barbara Ruhs, MS, RD, and Chief Marketing Officer and Owner of MarketRD.com. “Keto is a medically prescribed diet for autism and other supervised (medically) issues. It’s easy for individuals to fall prey to diets that get very popular.”

The keto diet has been in practice for nearly a century, with a history of being used to manage seizures in children with epilepsy. The diet is defined by being low in carbohydrates and rich in proteins and fats — big keto foods include fatty fish, eggs, meat, and dairy. The dramatic reduction of carbohydrates required of the diet releases ketones into the bloodstream and results in the body entering a metabolic state called ketosis, during which stored fat is burned more easily. Along the way this lowers the body’s blood sugar and insulin levels.

The diet has become controversial in recent years as it’s risen in popularity: The pro of the diet being that fat can be burned quickly resulting in weight loss; the con is that it’s hard to maintain, and many think it deprives the body of essential nutrients (not a lot of fruits and vegetables are involved in keto).

“The pitfalls I see most frequently with Keto diets: no fruit, avoidance of starchy veggies, legumes (beans) and no whole grains,” Ruhs notes. “You’ll miss out on vital nutrients and potentially harm your health.”

Doing the keto diet can also lead to what is known as the “keto flu,” symptoms of which can include fatigue, headaches, lightheadedness, nausea and constipation.

As for the red flags raised by Jamil’s followers, there has been evidence that the keto diet can harm the pancreas, liver, and other organs. With so much fat to metabolize, the diet can make preexisting liver conditions worse. Studies have also shown that pancreatitis can occur, once again due to the increased intake of fat.

This call-out post is hardly the first time Jamil has used her platform to speak the truth about diet culture. In the past, she has blasted the Kardashians for their promotion of unhealthy diet teas, has insisted that promotional photos of herself not be airbrushed and been candid about her struggles with an eating disorder. Jamil also started the I Weigh Community which has helped change policies around diet and detox products being shown to minors via both Instagram and Facebook.

As for keto, Jami did note that it can be helpful for certain medical conditions. “I hear it can be extraordinary for certain serious health issues,” Jamil noted. “But if not...you are needlessly risking creating health issues because our world not only obsesses over weight loss, but how fast we can do it. That is not sustainable and it’s designed to fail so that you stay on the diet merry-go-round forever. Sending love to you and your organs!”

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