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The benefits of the keto diet have been under heavy debate in recent weeks, but for one reality star, the lifestyle change has only had a positive effect on her life

By Maura Hohman
January 16, 2019 09:40 AM
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The benefits of the keto diet have been under heavy debate in recent weeks, but for one reality star, the lifestyle change has only had a positive effect on her life.

Real Housewives of Orange County star Vicki Gunvalson‘s daughter Briana Culberson revealed via her husband’s Instagram account that she has successfully lost 45 pounds using the program that focuses on low-carb and high-fat foods — and that it’s also helped with her chronic disease.

She shared a side-by-side comparison of her face, writing in the caption, “The face on the left is of an average American diet, never felt good, having constant lupus flares, and on and off steroids for almost a year.”

Briana, 31, continued, “The face on the right is strict Keto, steroid free, and lupus flare free! I’ve lost 45 lbs on keto so far but most importantly my health has greatly improved!”

During the Real Housewives of Orange County season 11 finale in fall 2016, it was revealed that Gunvalson’s only daughter has lupus, an incurable autoimmune disease that causes joint pain and fatigue.

Since her diagnosis, Briana’s health journey has been a trying time for her mother.

“It’s been a tough year for her. She was back at the doctor on Friday. Lupus has affected part of her heart, it’s literally something every other week,” Gunvalson, 56, told Page Six in October 2018.

“It affects her in different ways, her immune system is very low,” said Gunvalson.

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Vicki Gunvalson and daughter Briana
| Credit: Vicki Gunvalson/Instagram

“You know, she’s finding her way with what she can do with it, her health,” said Gunvalson to the outlet, who noted at the time that Briana — who underwent surgery to remove enlarged lymph nodes in 2015 — was working at a surgical center. “She wants to work, she wants to be a nurse, but she’s limited.”

Although the keto diet seems to have had extensive benefits for Briana, who was hospitalized for lupus complications in April 2018, many people have questioned its safety, including celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels.

Andy Cohen called her out for dubbing it a “bad plan” during an episode of Watch What Happens Live last Wednesday.

“Tonight’s ‘Jackhole of the Day’ goes to Jillian Michaels, who slammed the keto diet as an awful diet,” Cohen, 50, said. “Don’t feel bad, keto diet. A lot of people think Jillian Michaels is a bad idea.”

Then Today weatherman Al Roker said last week that Michaels’ time on The Biggest Loser made her a poor source for health advice.

“So @JillianMichaels says #Keto is a bad idea,” he tweeted. “This from a woman who promoted on camera bullying, deprivation, manipulation and more weekly in the name of weight loss. Now those sound like bad ideas.”

Roker, 64, explained on Today last Friday that he’s been successfully following the keto diet since Sept. 1, and saw improvements in his cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

“My point is, what works for you, works for you,” he told Today co-anchors Craig Melvin and Dylan Dreyer. “There’s science on both sides that says it’s not a great idea and science that says it is a good idea. I think it’s up to people — with their doctor, with their medical professional — [to make their own decision].”

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Vicki Gunvalson and daughter Briana
| Credit: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Roker said that Michaels emailed him a response that he chose not to read on air. Later that day, SHAPE shared a new video with Michaels explaining more about why she’s anti-keto.

“What’s my take on keto? It’s not a take. There is no take,” she said. “The side effects? Too much fat, too many calories, too many animal proteins. You’ve got micronutrient deficiencies because you’re not getting all the phytonutrients and the antioxidants and polyphenols that you would be getting if you weren’t afraid of an apple, or a banana, or a papaya, which is absurd.”

“On top of all that, our cells are made of protein, fat, carbohydrates and nucleic acids,” she continued. “When you’re not eating all of the macronutrients you’re literally starving your body, you’re starving your cells. Those macronutrients have very specific jobs for your biochemistry; for your body to do what it needs to do for you to continue living in the healthiest way possible. So if you want to look your best, feel your best and live your longest, that is not the diet for you.”

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Jersey Shore’s Vinny Guadagninothe self-proclaimed “Keto Guido,” who lost 50 lbs. on the program — saw the SHAPE video on Instagram and sarcastically commented that he’s quitting keto.

“S—, I guess I have to go back to eating pasta and bread now,” Guadagnino, 31, wrote on Instagram, as spotted by Comments by Celebs.

He then posted a pre- and post-keto photo on his Keto Guido Instagram account, with the caption, “Sorry Jill #ketoguido.”