Ketogenic Diet

Also known as: low-carb diet, ketogenesis.

What is a ketogenic diet?

A Ketogenic Diet (KD) is a high fat and very low in carbohydrate diet that can be used as a medical treatment for epilepsy. It gets its name because it tricks the body into thinking food and caloric intake is low, which in turn causes the liver to make ketones to use as energy. It’s shown effectiveness in controlling many kinds of epilepsy in patients of all ages and for weight loss in adult individuals.

What happens during the treatment?

Initiation of KD should be recommended by a healthcare professional. It also requires medical supervision to ensure safety and to prevent and address potential side effects caused by this diet. It involves eating a diet that’s high in fat, low in carbohydrate and moderate in protein content.

Over time, adherence to a strict ketogenic diet leads to increased ketone production (known as ketosis) and significant improvement in seizure frequency and duration, and in some cases, weight loss in overweight adults.

Is any special preparation needed?

A ketogenic diet may be recommended for individuals who have refractory epilepsy. Assessment by a health care provider is recommended before beginning a ketogenic diet. It is important to obtain detailed medical and dietary history, as well as baseline laboratories.

What are the risk factors?

Some risk factors related to the ketogenic diet include:

  • fatigue
  • bad breath
  • hunger
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • constipation
  • low blood glucose
  • elevation in cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • formation of kidney stones
  • micronutrient deficiencies
  • slower growth velocity (in pediatric patients)

Reviewed by: Cristina Visona, MS, RDNN, CSP, LDN

This page was last updated on: June 10, 2020 02:31 PM

Patient Success Stories

Tomas' Ketogenic Diet Journey

Tomas was a typical, developing three-year-old when he had his first seizure. At first, his parents thought it was related to a temperature spike, but when he had another one the next day, they knew something was terribly wrong. The next 24 hours were a whirlwind. Read More.

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Childhood epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes an infant or a child to have repeated seizures over time. Seizures, also known as convulsions, are episodes in which brain activity is disturbed, causing changes in attention or behavior. Learn more


A seizure is a sudden abnormal burst of electrical activity in one or more parts of the brain that interrupt the normal brain signals and result in a wide variety of symptoms such as loss of conciousness and uncontrollable muscle spasms. Learn more