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The Kimkins Diet Controversy

Kimkins Diet Description and Dangers


Updated June 18, 2014

Note: This was initially written at the beginning of August 2007. What started out as a diet review has turned into a diet scam news story. To follow the story, keep reading beyond this page. Some things have changed, including the identity of "Kimmer," but I have chosen to leave this page intact rather than revise it.

I have received quite a few questions about this diet, so I am presenting this information about it. However, I want to state up front that I am giving out this information specifically to warn people away from this potentially dangerous diet.

What Is Kimkins?

Kimkins is a diet created by a low-carb dieter who goes by the screen name of Kimmer. It is essentially a diet that's very low in calories, fat, carbs and fiber. The diet is partly based on the original Atkins diet (1972 version), hence its name. In 2007, articles mentioning or explaining the Kimkins diet were featured in People and Women's World magazines, which piqued public interest.

Who Is Kimmer?

"Kimmer" has declined to give her real name. She claims to have lost almost 200 pounds in less than a year and kept it off for five years on her diet. However, there is no independent confirmation of this, and she refuses to meet in person for interviews. She is neither a healthcare professional nor a nutrition expert. In fact, in interviews, she seems unaware of the possible nutritional implications of her diet and has dodged questions about basic nutrition, such as essential fatty acids.

What Do People Eat on Kimkins?

Kimkins has several different variations, some of which are as low as 500 calories per day. Lean proteins prepared with minimal fat are the predominant foods. Vegetables are optional, but a day's eating must not total more than 20 grams total carbohydrate -- this means that effective carbs plus fiber must not be more than 20 grams per day. However, her sample menus have totals much less than this -- at most, about 5 grams effective carbohydrate plus 7 grams fiber. Compare this to Atkins Induction, where 12 to 15 grams effective carbohydrate from vegetables alone is now recommended.

No other foods are on the diet -- no fruit, nuts, milk, etc.

What Are the Potential Problems with Kimkins?

The diet is very low in fiber, essential fatty acids, and many nutrients. This is essentially a starvation diet, which does not contain many of the basics for life, let alone optimal life. A multivitamin and mineral tablet is recommended, but this ignores phytonutrients, essential fatty acids, and other nutrients. In lieu of fiber, or even fiber supplements, Kimmer recommends laxatives, a potentially dangerous practice if taken on a regular basis.

It's very low in calories. Diets that are extremely low in calories do not work in the long run. Eventually, the need for survival takes over and appetite increases. In the meantime, many health problems can result. Very low-calorie diets should only be undertaken under the close supervision of a physician, if at all. Additionally, much of the weight coming off during such a regimen will not be fat, but muscle and other lean body tissue.

What Is the Controversy around "Kimmer" Herself All About?

In addition to the mysteries about her identity, "Kimmer" has been accused of many practices which have riled people up, including:
  • Banning members (who have paid money) from her website if they disagree with her.
  • Blaming people for not being strict enough if they don't continue to lose weight very quickly (up to a pound per day). People eating only 400 calories per day have reportedly been encouraged to continue.
  • Sheltering people who show signs of eating disorders, and encouraging them to keep going (or at least not intervening with their self-descriptions of eating very little).
Blogs from banned members and people who have suffered health consequences of the diet are popping up all over the Internet.

My Take on Kimkins

Kimkins is certainly a potentially dangerous diet, and I would warn anyone tempted by it to stay away. In addition, "Kimmer's" claims of extensive weight loss maintained for five years with the maintenance diet she has described (in at least one interview) seems extremely unlikely to me. In science, there is a saying: "Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof." Beyond short-term weight loss, Kimmer has not produced any proof that her diet has even helped one person -- not even herself.

Further Developments Since Writing This Initial Review

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