7-keto-DHEA is formed from dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in the body. DHEA is a “parent hormone” produced by glands near the kidneys. But unlike DHEA, 7-keto-DHEA is not converted to steroid hormones such as androgen and estrogen. Taking 7-keto-DHEA by mouth or applying it to the skin does not increase the level of steroid hormones in the blood.
People take 7-keto-DHEA to speed up metabolism and heat production, which can promote weight loss. 7-keto-DHEA is also used to improve lean body mass and build muscle, increase the activity of the thyroid gland, boost the immune system, enhance memory, and slow aging. It is also used to treat depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
How does it work?
7-keto-DHEA might promote weight loss by speeding up the body’s metabolism and converting more energy to heat instead of storing it as fat.
Side Effects & Safety
7-keto-DHEA is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth for up to 8 weeks. It might cause mild side effects such as nausea, dizziness, or low blood pressure in some people.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of 7-keto-DHEA during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
January resolutions are in full swing, so you’ve probably heard of the ketogenic diet, the trendy eating plan that calls for getting more than 70% of your total calories from fat, about 20% from protein, and 10% or less from carbs. The whole idea is to enter a metabolic state known as ketosis, when your body burns fat for fuel.
You may have also heard about a Keto 30 Challenge, a month-long diet program marketed by KetoLogic that involves a whole slew of special supplements. Honest Keto Diet, a company recently featured on Shark Tank, sells similar weight-loss pills. Pricey keto supplements include ingredients like ketones designed to suppress appetite, electrolytes for the dehydrating effects of the diet, certain vitamins and minerals, and even caffeine.
The packaging claims are abundant too: They allege they’ll help you achieve ketosis within “three days,” “fuel performance,” and “clear brain fog,” among other benefits. The problem is that these powders and pills come at a hefty financial cost, and could have some unintended, undesirable consequences for your health.
Keto supplements may mess with your metabolism.
When you’re in a starvation state, your body uses ketones for energy in a similar way to how they’re used on a ketogenic diet — for fuel — and converts them into glucose. In this state, all those ketones also stimulate an increase in leptin (the hormone that makes you feel full) and a decrease in ghrelin (the hormone that stimulates your appetite). The higher your blood concentration of ketones, the less hungry you feel. Why? Because in the history of human evolution, periods of famine forced our bodies to adjust so that you would be less likely to eat something poisonous if there was no food available to you. Here in the 21st century: Taking supplemental ketones to help enhance this biological process will likely decrease appetite by raising blood levels of ketone bodies.
A new twist on extreme weight loss is catching on in some parts of the United States. It’s called the “keto diet.”
People promoting the diet say it uses the body’s own fat burning system to help people lose significant weight in as little as 10 days.
It has also been known to help moderate the symptoms of children with epilepsy, although experts are not quite sure why it works.
Proponents say the diet can produce quick weight loss and provide a person with more energy.
However, critics say the diet is an unhealthy way to lose weight and in some instances it can be downright dangerous.
When it’s unhealthy
Critics say the keto-type diets usually work only in the short term and can be unhealthy.
For starters, most of the lost weight is water weight, according to Lisa Cimperman, R.D.N., a clinical dietitian at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
“Once your body enters ketosis, you also begin to lose muscle, become extremely fatigued, and eventually enter starvation mode. Then it actually becomes even harder to lose weight,” Cimperman told Healthline.
Mawer said he doesn’t believe the keto diet causes muscle loss. He did caution it’s not optimal for someone trying to gain muscle.
Other experts interviewed by Healthline had stronger words of caution.
“Keto diets should only be used under clinical supervision and only for brief periods,” Francine Blinten, R.D., a certified clinical nutritionist and public health consultant in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, told Healthline. “They have worked successfully on some cancer patients in conjunction with chemotherapy to shrink tumors and to reduce seizures among people suffering from epilepsy.”
In the general population, Blinten said a keto diet should only be considered in extreme cases.
“It can do more harm than good. It can damage the heart, which is also a muscle,” she explained.
Anyone with type 2 diabetes can benefit from weight loss and a reduced-carb diet because it will improve insulin sensitivity, Cimperman explained.
“But there are many other ways to do it besides a fad diet that won’t keep weight off long-term,” she said.
Blinten, who has used a keto diet for some cancer patients in specific circumstances, cautioned, “people will do anything to get the weight off.” However, a keto diet will do more harm than good for the majority of patients, especially if they have any underlying kidney or liver issues.
“People are using this for cosmetic reasons, but it’s so extreme that it’s dangerous,” she said.
Read More: Why Severe Anorexia is So Difficult to Treat »
The feeding tube approach
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.”
Read More: Doctors Finally Begin to Treat Obesity »
Don’t become weight obsessed
Hemmelgarn advised anyone thinking of going on a fad diet to “keep food in perspective. It’s a gift. It’s how we nourish ourselves and stay well.”
Marketing this diet to brides just plays into our weight-obsessed society, according to Hemmelgarn.
Instead, anyone preparing for marriage should nourish herself well, engage in plenty of physical activity like walking, jogging, or bike riding, and be good to herself by eating fresh, whole, minimally processed organic foods.
There is no magic bullet for long-term weight loss, said Blinten. For long-term weight control, a Mediterranean style diet focused on fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, fish, and olive oil, is one that can be healthy for life.
“We fall prey to wacko diets, but the truth is there’s no quick fix,” Blinten said. “Cutting refined carbs and replacing them with fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean protein, cutting processed foods, and avoiding too many additives will keep you healthy in the long term.”
Cimperman said the healthiest approach to weight loss is to set realistic goals and ask yourself if your diet plan is:
- good for the long term
- includes exercise
- meets your long-term health goals.
If the answers are no, then that is a red flag, she cautioned.
Blinten advised dieters not to skip meals because your body goes into overdrive the next time you eat. That can actually cause you to eat more, not less. She suggested eating your largest meal at midday, then having a healthy afternoon snack.
“It keeps your metabolism and insulin levels more regular,” she explained.
Exercise, of course, is also vitally important. Every pound of muscle equals 50 calories burned, so a plan that includes a muscle enhancing regimen will help you reach your goal faster.
Hemmelgarn added, “Stay away from fashion magazines. They make us feel inadequate. If you are even considering this insane approach to weight loss, go for a walk … right now! It’ll clear your head.”
Editor’s note: This story was originally written by Liz Seegart and published on December 19, 2014. It has been updated several times since then.