Keto Diet promises rapid weight loss, but is it healthy?

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Adding high-fat cream and butter to her morning coffee is a ritual for Stephanie Rice.

"Day-to-day I start off with what's called bulletproof coffee. It's coffee, protein powder, some heavy cream, maybe butter. Then that keeps me full into about 2 o'clock in the afternoon," said Rice.

The mom of four started following the keto diet a year ago. She cut out carbohydrates, upped her protein and started eating a lot of high fat foods. The weight started falling off and she never looked back.

"I had so much weight to lose, so I motivated to stick to the diet," Rice said.

At her highest, Rice weighed 241 pounds. She had high blood pressure and started getting high blood sugar. Despite reservations, she hopped on the keto trend.

"Everything we've been told is that fat is bad for you. It'll clog your arteries and you'll have a heart attack, so that was a reservation of mine. Plus, giving up carbohydrates and sugar, I was like: 'This is going to be impossible,'" she said.

"When you eliminate those products from your diet you're going to be eating things that are higher in protein and fat and when you do that you spill these byproducts called ketones into your urine and you use that fat for energy instead of using carbohydrates," said University Hospitals Dietitian Amy Jamieson-Petonic.

Jamieson-Petonic said this type of diet has been around forever. She isn't surprised by the recent popularity.

"We're looking for a way to lose weight rapidly," she said. "One of the benefits of this diet is that you're never hungry and you're eating a lot of lean protein and high fat foods, so what we call satiety, that feeling of fullness is there."

She said the keto diet can be good for serious weight loss, type 2 diabetes and children with epilepsy, but there are also concerns.

"The other concern with the ketogenic diet is that you're eliminating whole food groups, such as whole grains, which are a great source of b vitamins and iron," she said.

For Rice, the keto diet worked. A year in, she's down nearly 90 pounds.

"I feel amazing. It's much easier to do stuff with the kids, walking to and from class, stairs. I have no more high blood pressure or sugar issues. I'm just far more healthy than I was then," said Rice.

Rice said she gets regular check ups with her doctor. Since losing the weight, her blood sugar pressure dropped and doctors told her she doesn't have any health issues.

After reaching a goal weight, Jamieson-Petonic said people on the keto diet should slowly work healthy carbs back into their diet.

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