The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that in medicine is used primarily to treat difficult-to-control (refractory) epilepsy in children. The diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. Normally, the carbohydrates contained in food are converted into glucose, which is then transported around the body and is particularly important in fueling brain-function. However, if there is little carbohydrate in the diet, the liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies. The ketone bodies pass into the brain and replace glucose as an energy source. An elevated level of ketone bodies in the blood, a state known as ketosis, leads to a reduction in the frequency of epileptic seizures. Almost half of children, and young people, with epilepsy who have tried some form of this diet saw the number of seizures drop by at least half, and the effect persists even after discontinuing the diet. There is some evidence that adults with epilepsy may benefit from the diet, and that a less strict regimen, such as a modified Atkins diet, is similarly effective. The most common adverse effect is constipation, affecting about 30% of patients—this was due to fluid restriction, which was once a feature of the diet, but this led to increased risk of kidney stones and is no longer considered beneficial.
Hi Judy, I recommend consulting your local healthcare provider as they know your medical history. If you need help finding a like-minded practitioner, here is a website to do so: http://maximizedliving.com/get-started/find-a-clinic/.
Conklin’s fasting therapy was adopted by neurologists in mainstream practice. In 1916, a Dr McMurray wrote to the New York Medical Journal claiming to have successfully treated epilepsy patients with a fast, followed by a starch- and sugar-free diet, since 1912. In 1921, prominent endocrinologist H. Rawle Geyelin reported his experiences to the American Medical Association convention. He had seen Conklin’s success first-hand and had attempted to reproduce the results in 36 of his own patients. He achieved similar results despite only having studied the patients for a short time. Further studies in the 1920s indicated that seizures generally returned after the fast. Charles Howland, the parent of one of Conklin’s successful patients and a wealthy New York corporate lawyer, gave his brother John a gift of $5,000 to study “the ketosis of starvation”. As professor of paediatrics at Johns Hopkins Hospital, John Howland used the money to fund research undertaken by neurologist Stanley Cobb and his assistant William G. Lennox.
Why do you want to start a ketogenic diet? Do you want to finally lose the stubborn excess body weight you’ve been lugging around? Are you looking for better mental clarity and more energy? Or will you be using a ketogenic diet to lower your blood sugar and cholesterol levels and find better overall health?
This is a classic hypoglycemia response as well. The brain in particular requires lots of energy for normal function. When it receives a signal that you are hypoglycemic, a panic response occurs because of an underlying perception that you are starving to death (even if consciously you know you’re not).
Your body is used to the simple routine of breaking down carbohydrates and using them as energy. Over time the body has built up an arsenal of enzymes ready for this process and only has a few enzymes for dealing with fats – mostly to store them.
Keto requires a healthy amount of protein to support organ function, red blood cells and muscles. Note that your protein macro also depends on your daily physical activities. Make sure you know your ideal protein macro and stick to it.
A study with an intent-to-treat prospective design was published in 1998 by a team from the Johns Hopkins Hospital and followed-up by a report published in 2001. As with most studies of the ketogenic diet, there was no control group (patients who did not receive the treatment). The study enrolled 150 children. After three months, 83% of them were still on the diet, 26% had experienced a good reduction in seizures, 31% had had an excellent reduction and 3% were seizure-free.[Note 7] At twelve months, 55% were still on the diet, 23% had a good response, 20% had an excellent response and 7% were seizure-free. Those who had discontinued the diet by this stage did so because it was ineffective, too restrictive or due to illness, and most of those who remained were benefiting from it. The percentage of those still on the diet at two, three and four years was 39%, 20% and 12% respectively. During this period the most common reason for discontinuing the diet was because the children had become seizure-free or significantly better. At four years, 16% of the original 150 children had a good reduction in seizure frequency, 14% had an excellent reduction and 13% were seizure-free, though these figures include many who were no longer on the diet. Those remaining on the diet after this duration were typically not seizure-free but had had an excellent response.
A 12-week study in older adults found that those who consumed 7 ounces (210 grams) of ricotta cheese per day experienced increases in muscle mass and muscle strength over the course of the study (24).
Here are a few of the most common side effects that I come across when people first start keto. Frequently the issues relate to dehydration or lack of micronutrients (vitamins) in the body. Make sure that you’re drinking enough water (close to a gallon a day) and eating foods with good sources of micronutrients. To read more on micronutrients, click here >
Nutrition data from the 1970s told us saturated fats are bad, causing the United States to enter the era of low fat. During this time, obesity in America soared while consumption of fat (particularly saturated fats) plummeted. Fad, low-fat diet products became the norm at grocery stores as a high-carb, low-fat diet became the preferred method for weight loss. Yet, people kept gaining weight.
From the sound of it, you might think leaky gut only affects the digestive system, but in reality it can affect more. Because Leaky Gut is so common, and such an enigma, I’m offering a free webinar on all things leaky gut. Click here to learn more about the webinar.
The targeted ketogenic diet (TKD) is ideal for maintaining exercise performance, and therefore best for athletes or those who follow a rigorous training schedule. How does it work? TKD allows for glycogen re-synthesis without interrupting ketosis for extended periods of time.
Advocates for the diet recommend that it be seriously considered after two medications have failed, as the chance of other drugs succeeding is only 10%. The diet can be considered earlier for some epilepsy and genetic syndromes where it has shown particular usefulness. These include Dravet syndrome, infantile spasms, myoclonic-astatic epilepsy and tuberous sclerosis complex.
If you’re accustomed to a protein intake well over your body weight—let alone lean body mass—you may be skeptical about a diet that demands you reduce protein intake by as much as half. Wittrock can relate.
In gluconeogenesis, your blood sugar and insulin levels rise. This halts the production of ketones, which could then be used for energy. On keto, the goal is to simply eat enough protein to maintain muscle mass.
Besides being fantastic for its versatile cooking applications, cauliflower is very low carb at only 2g net carbs per cup. It’s very high in both vitamin K and C and is associated with lowered risk of heart disease and cancer (similarly to broccoli).
The original therapeutic diet for paediatric epilepsy provides just enough protein for body growth and repair, and sufficient calories[Note 1] to maintain the correct weight for age and height. The classic therapeutic ketogenic diet was developed for treatment of paediatric epilepsy in the 1920s and was widely used into the next decade, but its popularity waned with the introduction of effective anticonvulsant medications. This classic ketogenic diet contains a 4:1 ratio by weight of fat to combined protein and carbohydrate. This is achieved by excluding high-carbohydrate foods such as starchy fruits and vegetables, bread, pasta, grains and sugar, while increasing the consumption of foods high in fat such as nuts, cream, and butter. Most dietary fat is made of molecules called long-chain triglycerides (LCTs). However, medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs)—made from fatty acids with shorter carbon chains than LCTs—are more ketogenic. A variant of the classic diet known as the MCT ketogenic diet uses a form of coconut oil, which is rich in MCTs, to provide around half the calories. As less overall fat is needed in this variant of the diet, a greater proportion of carbohydrate and protein can be consumed, allowing a greater variety of food choices.
Cramps (and more specifically leg cramps) are a pretty common thing when starting a ketogenic diet. It’s usually occurring in the morning or at night, but it’s a pretty minor issue overall. It’s a sign that there’s a lack of minerals, specifically magnesium, in the body.
Most fruits, unless listed above, should be completely eliminated due to the high quantities of sugar and carbohydrates. Apples, pineapple, watermelon, mango, oranges and most other fruits should be avoided. Dried fruits and fruit juice are also not permitted on keto.
There are many ways in which epilepsy occurs. Examples of pathological physiology include: unusual excitatory connections within the neuronal network of the brain; abnormal neuron structure leading to altered current flow; decreased inhibitory neurotransmitter synthesis; ineffective receptors for inhibitory neurotransmitters; insufficient breakdown of excitatory neurotransmitters leading to excess; immature synapse development; and impaired function of ionic channels.
^ Jump up to: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Kossoff EH, Zupec-Kania BA, Rho JM. Ketogenic diets: an update for child neurologists. J Child Neurol. 2009 Aug;24(8):979–88. doi:10.1177/0883073809337162. PMID 19535814
Of course, behind every popular diet there’s controversy. Among the criticisms of the keto diet, skeptics say the plan is too restrictive, lacks nutritional balance, and hasn’t been studied for long-term effects (the keto diet ranked 39th out of 40 for Best Diets Overall 2017 by a U.S. News report).
The purpose of the ketogenic diet is to force the body into a fat-burning state — burning fats instead of carbohydrates for fuel. Those who follow it eat a diet containing high amounts of fat, moderate amounts of protein and low levels of carbohydrates.
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Start by using our keto macro calculator below to help you determine what and how much of each category to eat based on your specific body composition and lifestyle. You’ll have a rough estimate of how many grams of fat, protein and carbs your meals need to cover over the course of one day.
The first question to ask yourself is: am I testing my ketone levels? Many other Ketonians make this mistake for a long time before realizing that it’s the best way to reach new heights and performance.
Studies show multiple long-term benefits of a keto diet on an individual’s weight and health. Keto significantly decreased body weight, body fat and body mass of individuals in various studies[*]. Keto has been shown to kick your body into a high-performing metabolic state, increasing fat metabolism during exercise[*]. As long as you continue to consume 1-1.2 grams of protein per pound of body mass, you can preserve muscle mass while still burning fat.
^ Jump up to: a b c d e f g Sampath A, Kossoff EH, Furth SL, Pyzik PL, Vining EP. Kidney stones and the ketogenic diet: risk factors and prevention (PDF). J Child Neurol. 2007 Apr;22(4):375–8. doi:10.1177/0883073807301926. PMID 17621514
One of the most common pitfalls of starting the keto diet is eating too much protein. Why is this bad? When you eat too much protein, your body can convert that protein into glucose in a process known as gluconeogenesis. This will prevent you from entering ketosis.
There are numerous benefits that come with being on keto: from weight loss and increased energy levels to therapeutic medical applications. Most anyone can safely benefit from eating a low-carb, high-fat diet. Below, you’ll find a short list of the benefits you can receive from a ketogenic diet. For a more comprehensive list, you can also read our in-depth article here >