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.
First reported in 2003, the idea of using a form of the Atkins diet to treat epilepsy came about after parents and patients discovered that the induction phase of the Atkins diet controlled seizures. The ketogenic diet team at Johns Hopkins Hospital modified the Atkins diet by removing the aim of achieving weight loss, extending the induction phase indefinitely, and specifically encouraging fat consumption. Compared with the ketogenic diet, the modified Atkins diet (MAD) places no limit on calories or protein, and the lower overall ketogenic ratio (approximately 1:1) does not need to be consistently maintained by all meals of the day. The MAD does not begin with a fast or with a stay in hospital and requires less dietitian support than the ketogenic diet. Carbohydrates are initially limited to 10 g per day in children or 20 g per day in adults, and are increased to 20–30 g per day after a month or so, depending on the effect on seizure control or tolerance of the restrictions. Like the ketogenic diet, the MAD requires vitamin and mineral supplements and children are carefully and periodically monitored at outpatient clinics.
Benefits The main ingredient in hummus, chickpeas pack an impressive amount of fiber (more than half of a woman’s 25 g daily quota), as well as iron, zinc, folate, and magnesium, according to a paper published in November 2014 in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. (15,16) The stats above are for a whole cup, but you only need ½ cup per day to reap the benefits.
If you are pregnant or are nursing, you should not follow a Ketogenic diet. You will not receive enough of the recommended carbohydrates, vitamins and nutrients necessary for yourself and your growing baby on this diet. Your obstetrician will recommend how many carbohydrates you should consume per meal and for snacks during each phase of your pregnancy. They will likely refer you to a Certified Diabetes Educator for nutritional counseling as well. Please check out The Diabetes Council’s FAQ’ About Gestational Diabetes for all your gestational diabetes related questions.
^ Jump up to: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Kossoff EH, Zupec-Kania BA, Amark PE, Ballaban-Gil KR, Bergqvist AG, Blackford R, et al. Optimal clinical management of children receiving the ketogenic diet: recommendations of the International Ketogenic Diet Study Group. Epilepsia. 2009 Feb;50(2):304–17. doi:10.1111/j.1528-1167.2008.01765.x. PMID 18823325
Participants were asked to follow one of three diets; a control diet that was low in fiber and minerals like potassium, calcium, and magnesium, but had a “typical American” fat and protein profile, an experimental diet that was similar to the control diet, but included more fruits and vegetables and fewer sweets, and a third diet that was abundant in fruits, veggies, low fat dairy, lean protein, whole grains, and fiber, but lower in fat, red meat, and sugar.
Roussell recommends closely tracking your progress, so you don’t lose motivation. "If you track progress in a detailed way, you'll notice change happening. Measure data points like your chest, waist, arm size, and body-fat percentage with a tape measure—it’s possible that you can stay the same weight, but lose inches off your waist and other areas as your body tones and tightens,” he explains. “Don’t expect to lose two pounds per week every single week until you reach your goal."
Some people on a keto or low carb diet choose to count total carbs instead of net carbs. This makes it more difficult to fit in more leafy greens and low carb vegetables (which are filled with fiber), so you should only try that if you don’t get results with a net carb method. And, start with reducing sugar alcohols and low carb treats before deciding to do a “total carbs” method.
High blood sugar levels coupled with high blood ketones, on the other hand, will mean that you have a pathologically low level of insulin – something non-diabetics do not suffer from. This can lead to ketoacidosis – a potentially life-threatening condition. If this happens, you’ll need to inject more insulin; if you’re at all unsure of what to do, contact a medical professional. Coveting really high blood ketones for weight control is not worth the risk for type 1 diabetics.
When you’re eating the foods that get you there (more on that in a minute), your body can enter a state of ketosis in one to three days, she adds. During the diet, the majority of calories you consume come from fat, with a little protein and very little carbohydrates. Ketosis also happens if you eat a very low-calorie diet — think doctor-supervised, only when medically recommended diets of 600 to 800 total calories.