by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
What is a Ketogenic Diet?
The body breaks down carbohydrates (carbs) into glucose. Glucose is used for energy. If there aren’t enough carbs, the body will break down fat sources instead. This process produces ketones for energy.
A ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet. The goal is to make the body rely on more ketones than carbs for energy.
Why Follow a Ketogenic Diet?
A ketogenic diet has been linked to fewer seizures in people with epilepsy. It is not clear why the diet has this benefit. It is thought to be due to the shift from glucose to ketones. The classic diet for seizure control is made up of 3 to 4 parts fat and 1 part carb and protein.
Ketogenic Diet Basics
A ketogenic diet is based on high-fat foods. This includes butter, heavy whipping cream, mayonnaise, and oils. It also includes proteins, such as meat, fish, and poultry. The diet avoids carbs, such as sugar, bread, and pasta. Other carbs are very limited.
All food on this diet must be tracked. A certain ratio of fat to carb and protein is needed. All sources of carbs must be also be identified. This will include things like medicine and toothpaste.
It is hard for most people to stick to the diet because it is so strict. Many do not like the food choices and become bored with high-fat items.
This diet must be started under care of a doctor or medical team. It must also be watched closely by a dietitian. A person's blood sugar and ketone levels will need to be tracked. The diet does not have enough vitamins and minerals. Supplements may be needed to help a person get proper nutrition.
Eating Guide for a Ketogenic Diet
This guide is based on The Ketogenic Diet Resource plan. A doctor or dietitian will figure out how much fat, carbs, and protein should be eaten.
*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet. This amount varies based on age, sex, and activity level. Individual amounts can be found at www.choosemyplate.gov.
The Charlie Foundation
Classic keto. The Charlie Foundation website. Available at: https://www.charliefoundation.org/explore-ketogenic-diet/explore-2/classic-ketogenic. Accessed August 20, 2020.
Ketogenic diet. Epilepsy Foundation website. Available at:
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Accessed August 20, 2020.
Ketogenic diet in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/ketogenic-diet-in-adults . Accessed August 20, 2020.
Ketogenic diet in children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/ketogenic-diet-in-children . Accessed August 20, 2020.
Last reviewed March 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Dianne Scheinberg Rishikof MS, RD, LDN
Last Updated: 2/26/2021
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