Early studies reported high success rates: in one study in 1925, 60% of patients became seizure-free, and another 35% of patients had a 50% reduction in seizure frequency. These studies generally examined a cohort of patients recently treated by the physician (what is known as a retrospective study) and selected patients who had successfully maintained the dietary restrictions. However, these studies are difficult to compare to modern trials. One reason is that these older trials suffered from selection bias, as they excluded patients who were unable to start or maintain the diet and thereby selected from patients who would generate better results. In an attempt to control for this bias, modern study design prefers a prospective cohort (the patients in the study are chosen before therapy begins) in which the results are presented for all patients regardless of whether they started or completed the treatment (known as intent-to-treat analysis).
During the 1920s and 1930s, when the only anticonvulsant drugs were the sedative bromides (discovered 1857) and phenobarbital (1912), the ketogenic diet was widely used and studied. This changed in 1938 when H. Houston Merritt, Jr. and Tracy Putnam discovered phenytoin (Dilantin), and the focus of research shifted to discovering new drugs. With the introduction of sodium valproate in the 1970s, drugs were available to neurologists that were effective across a broad range of epileptic syndromes and seizure types. The use of the ketogenic diet, by this time restricted to difficult cases such as Lennox–Gastaut syndrome, declined further.
Initially you may be surprised that on keto diets you eat less frequently. That’s because the fats are pretty satisfying. But as you normalize and adjust into a ketogenic state, that may change and your appetite may increase. That’s fine and completely normal. Use whatever diet you decide to follow as a starting point – it should be “written in pencil” so that you can make changes along the way. Consider adding an extra meal, marginally increasing the size of the meals or just adding a shake between meals. It’s up to you – just listen to your body. For example for me, I added a low-carb “green powder” shake supplement to my regimen along with either flax seed oil or some nuts in order to satisfy my hunger.
"Not only do I love IQ BAR's all-natural taste and smooth-yet-crunchy texture, but also its ingredient list," says registered dietitian Kathleen Wright, R.D. IQ Bars are loaded with healthy fats, fiber, and protein from plant-based foods like nuts, seeds, and fruit, she says. This low net carb, high-fat treat promotes sustained energy throughout the day and makes a perfect keto-friendly choice for snackers on the go. (But read this first: Is It Healthy to Eat a Protein Bar Every Day?)
In this guide the only form of pure fat we use is butter. If possible, coconut oil would really be a nice upgrade. We couldn’t fit coconut oil into our $5 a day keto on a budget meal plan, but it’s cheap if you buy in bulk. Another good substitution would be olive oil or coconut oil and vinegar instead of the premade salad dressing. Most cheap premade dressings will use oils that are frowned upon on keto like canola or vegetable oil.
Fat is the cornerstone of the keto diet, making up the bulk of calories. An individual consuming 2,000 calories per day would need to consume 144 to 177 grams of fat. Fats make up 70-80% of your calories. Since fat is the main source of nutrition on a ketogenic diet, it’s important to source high-quality, healthy fats, which you’ll read about below.
Which leads us to your personality. You need to be VERY strong willed to follow this diet. It follows very strict rules and you need to be able to commit to this. It makes it hard to eat out with friends or eat with friends in general. It’s hard to find food that fits this diet in common restaurants, but and this takes us to the next point, your health goals might be more important.
Variations on the Johns Hopkins protocol are common. The initiation can be performed using outpatient clinics rather than requiring a stay in hospital. Often there is no initial fast (fasting increases the risk of acidosis and hypoglycaemia and weight loss). Rather than increasing meal sizes over the three-day initiation, some institutions maintain meal size but alter the ketogenic ratio from 2:1 to 4:1.
The ketone bodies are possibly anticonvulsant; in animal models, acetoacetate and acetone protect against seizures. The ketogenic diet results in adaptive changes to brain energy metabolism that increase the energy reserves; ketone bodies are a more efficient fuel than glucose, and the number of mitochondria is increased. This may help the neurons to remain stable in the face of increased energy demand during a seizure, and may confer a neuroprotective effect.
The ketogenic diet reduces seizure frequency by more than 50% in half of the patients who try it and by more than 90% in a third of patients. Three-quarters of children who respond do so within two weeks, though experts recommend a trial of at least three months before assuming it has been ineffective. Children with refractory epilepsy are more likely to benefit from the ketogenic diet than from trying another anticonvulsant drug. There is some evidence that adolescents and adults may also benefit from the diet.
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 >