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The Feeding Tube Diet: A Bad Idea for Weight Loss

October 07, 2014

It seems that every year, a new weight loss fad enters the public consciousness. We’ve seen everything from the Twinkie and tapeworm diets to supposed fat-melting infrared body wraps.

The results of these weight loss tricks are temporary at best, and more often, ineffective and unhealthy.

Recently, I’ve noticed the emergence of another weight loss gimmick that raises serious health concerns—the feeding tube diet.

Understanding the Feeding Tube Diet

Also known as the KE Diet, the feeding tube diet involves inserting a feeding tube into the nose that delivers a liquid protein and vitamin mixture into the dieter’s stomach. Providing just 800 calories per day over ten days, the diet causes the body to burn stored fat instead of carbohydrates.

The procedure is costly—starting at about $1,500—and it is also medically unnecessary.

Brides-to-be have used the feeding tube diet to lose weight before their big day, but many more people use it to assist with weight loss prior to bariatric surgery.

Some doctors argue that even if the diet doesn’t lead to significant weight loss before surgery, it can help to shrink the size of the liver, giving surgeons more room to operate during surgery and making it easier for patients to mentally prepare for subsequent lifestyle changes.

However, the feeding tube diet brings more risks than rewards. Possible side effects range from constipation and bad breath to kidney failure and infection of the lungs.

Though the feeding tube is typically only administered by licensed doctors, it may not be the safest thing for your health. Plus, there’s the inconvenience of walking around with a liquid pouch and a tube hanging from your nose.

A Healthy Alternative to the Feeding Tube Diet

If you are a candidate for bariatric surgery, there are several healthy ways to lose weight in advance of your procedure. First and foremost is diet and exercise. Eating a diet high in lean protein is the best option, and it can help to prevent the loss of muscle after surgery. Healthy weight loss also can reduce the size of the liver, which will give your surgeon greater access and visibility as he or she operates. This provides the same result touted by doctors who are proponents of the feeding tube diet. Also, losing weight the proper way will put you in the right mindset and help you transition to a healthier lifestyle post-surgery.

Weight loss takes energy, hard work and focus. It requires considerable effort and long-term dedication. Fads diets are fads for a reason—they are temporary and don’t provide sustained or healthy weight loss.

Before inserting a feeding tube in your nose or trying a fad diet that seems too good to be true, talk to your doctor about the best way to lose weight before your surgery.

If you’d like more weight loss information, visit the Nutritional Corner on our website or download our guide below.