I recently came across this debate over a diet program in my Twitter feed. The diet apparently consists of eating between 500-1000 calories a day on top of doing one hour of cardio a day. This info immediately caught my attention because of what I've gone through in the last couple years. I nearly died in 2018 from malnutrition which brings me to this story.
I tracked down the 500-1000 calorie diet to Teddi Mellencamp who runs a program called ALL IN by Teddi. Teddi Mellencamp is the daughter of the singer of John Mellencamp and is one of the housewives on the reality show The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. The reason the founder's identity is important is because it helps sell her diet and exercise program. Her business/program has apparently been talked about on the Real Housewives show and in other Housewives related television spots like the Housewives Reunion and Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen.
What I gather from the Tweets and the original source of this information which happens to be a woman by the name of Emily Gellis Lande, an influencer on Instagram, numerous past ALL IN clients are coming forward (Emily shares the evidence) to talk about how unhealthy and unsafe the program is. It involves a very restrictive diet, under 1,000 calories per day, doing an hour of cardio each day, sending photos of your food and weight (scale) into an ALL IN "accountability coach" that has zero credentials. The ALL IN coaches are not licensed nutritionists or dieticians nor is there even a physician on staff or anyone with a health science degree. Apparently all the "accountability coaches" are former ALL IN clients.
Nutritionists learning about this program are now warning it can lead to eating disorders or disordered eating.
When I first stared reading about this I thought it was a joke because #1 who in their right mind runs a program like that and actually doesn't get called out by medical professionals? And #2 who in their right mind would go for a program like that? From what I've read the program costs $599 to start and $399 a month. Not sure if that is 100% accurate but that is what is being shared on Emily's page, Twitter, and in articles across the internet. Why would someone pay a person to basically starve them? Which brings me to my issue with all of this.
I was always naturally thin growing up and through a good portion of my adult life. I could eat McDonalds every day and not gain a pound. When I was a teenager I would get a Big Mac, large fries, chocolate shake, McNuggets and a fish sandwich and eat it all in one sitting. I had a voracious appetite and never gained an ounce, it was genetic. I had a very high metabolism, even after my first two births. I was 5' 6"and between 118-120 lbs. Then I had my third baby. After she was born there was a huge shift in how I physically felt. I was tired, had no motivation, craved lots of sugar and salt... I gained and gained and because my frame was small, gaining over 20 lbs was hard on my joints. When I peeked at nearly 145 lbs my knee started giving me a lot of trouble (same happened with the weight I gained during pregnancy). My back hurt a lot, and I was winded walking upstairs so I made an effort to start eating better, no more daily trips to Starbucks, and I started going to the gym again but no matter what I did that weight was NOT coming off. The more I ate healthy and exercised the more I seemed to gain. It was really bizarre, until 2018 when I became very ill. I lost nearly 25 lbs in 2 months and over an 8 month period I saw 14 doctors, had every medical test anyone can think of, I met with a dietician and even two psychiatrists to figure out if I was somehow causing myself to be sick. Very long story shorter... I was eventually diagnosed with SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) and nephroptosis (floating kidney). The SIBO caused me to develop extreme food sensitivities and impaired my ability to digest food and the nephroptosis was a result of the rapid weight loss that came from having malnutrition.
You are probably wondering at this point what the heck SIBO and nephroptosis has to do with the ALL IN program or any program like that. Well.. it's this...
Nephroptosis doesn't only happen to people who lose weight due to malabsorption caused by SIBO, it can happen to anyone who loses weight especially if the weight comes off quickly.
There are several reasons medical professionals advise anyone seeking out a weight loss program to make sure they don't lose more than 1-2 lbs per week. Usually the main reason is loss of nutrients. To remain healthy we need protein, fats, carbs, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water every single day. Eating one type of food all day or limiting your food too much will prevent your body from getting what it needs to be healthy and depriving yourself of essential nutrients doesn't always show up physically right away. I developed tinnitus 6 months after I lost over 20 lbs and almost a year later my hair started falling out, even though at that point I was back on a healthy diet. Those who starve themselves (anorexics or bulimics) will experience the same. The health problems can take months or years to appear. Lack of vitamins or nutrients can damage our hearts and bones and if we're very young those problems may not appear until we are in our 40s or 50s, this is why doctors urge people to be careful about how quickly they lose weight but what they don't talk about often is nephroptosis.
When I read a defender of Teddi Mellencamp's ALL IN program say that she lost 3 lbs a week over a two month period and raved about how great she felt and how happy she was that's when I decided to write this blog post.
Nephroptosis (floating kidney) is when the kidney drops down into the pelvis upon standing upright. It is more common in thin women than in men. I've still not come across a man who has had this condition but I've gotten to know many women across the globe, all thin, who have or had it.
Our kidneys and their vessels are embedded in a mass of fatty tissue called the adipose capsule (perirenal fat). The adipose capsule surrounds the renal capsule (renal fascia) to help keep the kidney in place and protect it from injury. When too much weight loss or too rapid of weight loss occurs the adipose capsule can disappear (as has been noted during surgical fixation) and the unsupported kidney can drop. To repair a floating kidney, surgery is required. HERE is a case report by one surgeon.
It took two months of weight loss for me before I noticed my kidney in my abdomen and my surgeon said that was very unusual, most women don't notice for years. They suffer the horrific symptoms like pain, vomiting, heart palpitations, blood in urine, dizziness, etc... but because nephroptosis is a fairly unknown condition it can take a long time to get diagnosed. The combination of me being so thin and my kidney being twisted made it possible for me to palpate it. Lucky for me because that meant I could get it surgically fixed right away and not suffer for years like other women.
So if you were to do a program like ALL IN starting today and you lost 3 lbs a week for 2 months you'd lose a total of 24 lbs. which is almost exactly what I lost and can lead to a floating kidney (nephroptosis). Would a diet like that lead to a floating kidney for everyone? Of course not but why risk it?
Every woman who I've spoken to who is currently dealing with a floating kidney or has had a nephropexy (surgical fixation of the kidney) has either been naturally thin or thin due to dieting or health issues. In all my research of this condition I've not found whether the perirenal fat ever returns once a patient has had a nephropexy and worked to gained weight. Historically doctors would have patients put on weight as a treatment for a floating kidney but since it proved ineffective along with other treatments like abdominal exercises and the use of corsets they have since evolved to only using surgical treatment.
Patients who had surgical fixation of the kidneys have never been followed long term either so there is no way of knowing the long term effects of the surgical procedure or the loss of perirenal fat.
My surgeon diagnosing my floating kidney.
Here are the facts about the body. Doctors usually recommend that a woman take in 1500-2000 calories per day. The average female will burn about 350 calories a day without any exercise at all. If you did cardio you'd burn off the following in addition to the 350:
(depending on age and metabolism - the following is for the average female)
1. low impact aerobics - 300-400 cal/hr
2. walking - 210 - 360 cal/hr
3. running - 300-600 cal/hr (depending on speed and incline)
5. high impact aerobics - 400 - 600 cal/hr
Weight loss is accomplished by taking in less calories than you burn. If you take in significantly less calories than you burn over several weeks to months you can drop weight very fast, but is that healthy? No.
Doctors, nutritionists, and dieticians always warn that rapid weight loss can lead to muscle loss, slowed metabolism, and nutrient deficiencies. Now you know it can lead to nephroptosis also.
This is the problem with taking nutrition and weight loss advice from reality t.v. personalities, especially one that has zero credentials to back-up what she is advising.
Another thing a lot of women aren't aware of is that SIBO can also be responsible for weight gain. In my case it started as weight gain then shifted into the opposite but most women will be stuck in the gain category carrying around 10, 20, 30 extra pounds for years and struggling to shed and not knowing why they can't. This is another reason why a nutritionist or dietician would be more helpful because most have heard of SIBO and many have actually been trained on how to help SIBO patients by working in conjunction with their functional medicine doctors or naturopaths. HERE is an example of a woman that struggled with being overweight and lost 53 lbs after learning she had SIBO and getting treated.
Starvation is never the way to go about losing weight. Don't pay someone to take you on a destructive journey that could lead you in the direction of worsening health. There are a lot of people in the world who get rich by taking advantage of other people's vulnerabilities and desperation. Don't be their victim.