In the early 1900s, doctors used the keto diet to control seizures in patients with epilepsy. The diet is based on “healthy fasting” and limits a patient’s carbohydrate intake while increasing their fat and protein intake. This type of fasting encourages the body to burn ketones instead of glucose, a process that proved effective for treating epilepsy in children and adults.
According to a clinical trial conducted at Great Ormond Street Hospital in 2008, the ketogenic diet reduced the number of seizures in 40% of children who participated by over half. Those who did not experience better seizure control still reported increased alertness, awareness, and responsiveness.
With the guidance and supervision from epilepsy specialists and dietitians, patients following keto diet plans may experience fewer seizures. Most often, the keto diet helps with:
- Myoclonic astatic epilepsy
- Dravet syndrome
- Infantile spasms
- Tuberous sclerosis
Who Created the Keto Diet?
The history of the keto diet began with Dr. Russell Wilder at the Mayo Clinic 1923. He designed what is now known as the classic ketogenic diet, which measures four parts fat for every one-part protein and carb. All other keto diets are based on this four-to-one macronutrient ratio.
The classic keto diet follows a nutritional plan composed of 90% fats, 6% proteins, and 4% carbs. Meal plans using these portions force the body to use fat instead of carbohydrates for energy. The body then enters a state of ketosis in which the body continues to burn stored fat, resulting in a buildup of ketones within the body. Ketones are thought to be an especially healthy alternative fuel source.
Why Was the Keto Diet Created for Weight Loss?
Although the keto diet’s original purpose was to mitigate epileptic seizures in children and adults, it’s now also used to help modern weight loss patients reach their goals. By following the traditional keto diet and its modified diet plans, patients begin to burn stored fat instead of stored carbohydrates and experience increased weight loss.
A true ketogenic diet for weight loss contains 80% fat, fewer than 5% carbs, and 15-20% protein. To achieve these percentages, dieters must ditch a few carbohydrate-heavy food groups, including grains, dairy, beans, and fruits, and load up on meat, fish, butter, eggs, avocados, oils, nuts, seeds and non-starchy vegetables. Eating greater amounts of protein while on the keto diet might help keep your hunger at bay.
In addition to weight loss, ketogenic diets have also been shown to offer several other health benefits. The keto diet may help patients:
- Improve cognitive functioning
- Reduce inflammation from high blood sugar
- Slow the spread of various cancers
- Reduce sugar addictions
- Increase female fertility
If you’re aiming for rapid and permanent weight loss (or any of the other health benefits mentioned), the keto diet may be for you. It also continues to be effective in decreasing epileptic seizures.
Problems with the Ketogenic Diet
Some people have trouble sticking to a diet with strict carbohydrate restrictions long-term, and they may end up regaining the weight they lost if they revert to an unregulated diet. When someone quits their diet, it’s more tempting for them to rapidly consume foods they couldn’t eat while dieting.
Conversely, when beginning a diet, dieters tend to be highly motivated and push themselves to their physical and dietary limits. Be careful not to push yourself too hard in the beginning—this often leads to burnout and diet failure.
Instead, make small changes that you can fully commit to. For example, if you’re looking to change your whole diet, start by tweaking your breakfast first. Instead of going to the gym for three hours a day, commit to a 15-minute workout twice a week.
Since its beginning, the ketogenic diet has been effective for raising energy levels, lowering weight, and increasing quality of life. Like any other diet and exercise program, it’s up to you to keep it going long-term. Learn more about the ketogenic diet here, and get in touch with the Diet Doc team today for guidance, tips, and help with losing weight on the ketogenic diet.