The ketogenic diet is not a benign, holistic, or natural treatment for epilepsy; as with any serious medical therapy, complications may result. These are generally less severe and less frequent than with anticonvulsant medication or surgery. Common but easily treatable short-term side effects include constipation, low-grade acidosis, and hypoglycaemia if an initial fast is undertaken. Raised levels of lipids in the blood affect up to 60% of children and cholesterol levels may increase by around 30%. This can be treated by changes to the fat content of the diet, such as from saturated fats towards polyunsaturated fats, and if persistent, by lowering the ketogenic ratio. Supplements are necessary to counter the dietary deficiency of many micronutrients.
“So, what should you eat? It’s true that low-carb diets tend to be the most popular because they offer the fastest results, but they can be difficult to sustain. I recommend striving for a more balanced plan that focuses on fruits and veggies, lean proteins and whole grain carbs. And never cut calories too low (this causes your metabolism to slow, and you can start losing muscle mass). For a healthy daily calorie count, allow 10 calories per pound of body weight — so a 150-pound woman should shoot for a 1,500-calorie target. That way, you should be able to lose weight no matter how much you exercise.”
So is a once-a-day salad a good habit? “In general, it’s a smart idea, but it depends on what’s in your salad,” says Turoff. “For a well-balanced meal, salads should have a protein source, like chicken or tofu, nonstarchy veggies,” and a dressing for fat, she says. People run into trouble, she adds, when their salads have nuts, dressing, cheese, and avocado, for a total of four servings of fat or more.
^ Ketogenic "eggnog" is used during induction and is a drink with the required ketogenic ratio. For example, a 4:1 ratio eggnog would contain 60 g of 36% heavy whipping cream, 25 g pasteurised raw egg, saccharin and vanilla flavour. This contains 245 kcal (1,025 kJ), 4 g protein, 2 g carbohydrate and 24 g fat (24:6 = 4:1). The eggnog may also be cooked to make a custard, or frozen to make ice cream.
Husain began fasting in 2016, along with other members of Harlem’s First Corinthian Baptist Church. When her congregation stopped in 2018, she kept going. She now details her fast on her YouTube channel, hoping to inspire others to take the plunge. She says that it’s prompted her to read the Bible more and really dig into her faith, but it’s also helped her recognize how important it is to live a healthy life. She became a vegetarian two years ago, inspired by how good she felt on Daniel’s diet.
Aim to fill half your plate with fruits and veggies at every meal, recommends the United States Department of Agriculture. Try to “eat the rainbow” by choosing fruits and veggies of different colors. This will help you enjoy the full range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that the produce aisle has to offer. Every time you go to the grocery store, considering choosing a new fruit or vegetable to try. For snacks, keep dried fruits in your workout bag and raw veggies in the fridge.
^ Freeman JM, Vining EP, Pillas DJ, Pyzik PL, Casey JC, Kelly LM. The efficacy of the ketogenic diet—1998: a prospective evaluation of intervention in 150 children. Pediatrics. 1998 Dec;102(6):1358–63. doi:10.1542/peds.102.6.1358. PMID 9832569. https://web.archive.org/web/20040629224858/http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/press/1998/DECEMBER/981207.HTM Lay summary]—JHMI Office of Communications and Public Affairs. Updated 7 December 1998. Cited 6 March 2008.
You should aim to score your carbs from high-fiber, water-rich fruits and vegetables to naturally boost hydration and keep your digestive system humming along. Unsure of whether a produce pick is low in carbs? Reach for options grown above the ground (leafy greens, peppers, and stalk-shaped vegetables), rather than below ground (root veggies like potatoes, carrots, and parsnips), as they typically offer fewer carbs.
Focus on exercise: The most compelling studies favor physical activity for mental acuity, says Gary W. Small, M.D., the director of the UCLA Longevity Center and a coauthor of The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program ($14, amazon.com). A study from the Annals of Internal Medicine found that people who were fitter at midlife had a 36 percent lower risk of developing dementia later in life than did their less-fit peers. “When people exercise, the areas that control memory, thinking, and attention increase in the brain,” says Small. “Regular exercisers also have less of the abnormal protein deposits in the brain that have been linked to Alzheimer’s.” That’s not to say that diet has no impact, says Small: “It’s just that the effects of exercise are more pronounced based on the evidence we have now.” Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (such as fish, nuts, and flaxseed) and antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables (like strawberries and spinach) have been shown to improve brain health, while refined sugars and processed foods can have the opposite effect.
Swanson, a professor of neurology who has researched the impacts of ketogenic diets on inflammation in the brain, got curious about the ketogenic diet when trying to treat the inflammation that persists for days after a person suffers a stroke. When he tried inducing a ketogenic state in mice with stroke injuries, he said, “I was overwhelmed by the effect.” Blocking glucose metabolism worked to suppress inflammatory genes, which in turn helped stroke healing.
Your body does not store protein the way that it stores carbohydrates and fats. This means that your diet is the critical source for this essential nutrient. More is not better, so there is no need to go above the recommendations. In fact, research has shown that very high protein diets can lead to increased calcium loss and weakened bones. Be sure to add a protein source to each meal to curb your hunger and keep you healthy.
Much like its nut butter cousins, tahini packs in some solid nutrition, including about 5 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber (as well as vitamins and minerals) per 2 tablespoon serving. It’s made from ground, hulled sesame seeds, so it may be a nut butter option for people who are allergic to tree nuts and peanuts (though sesame seed allergies are also common).
Feeling guilty about that giant ice cream sundae you enjoyed at your niece's birthday party? Don't beat yourself up! It takes a lot of calories—3,500—to gain a pound of body fat. "So really, that one off day doesn't usually result in any significant weight gain," says Newgent. It's about what you do the next day and the day after that's really important—so don't stay off-track. So be sure to whittle away at those extra calories over the next day or two, preferably by boosting exercise rather than eating too little. Starvation is not the healthy answer!
The group that exercised and changed its diet at the same time showed the greatest improvements in cognitive tests after six months. They improved their test scores by nine years, to resemble those of people 84 years old. The control group showed a continued decline in their brain test scores, and the researchers did not see a significant benefit from either exercise or change in diet alone.
Before starting, ask yourself what is really realistic for you, Mattinson suggests. Then get your doctor’s okay. You may also work with a local registered dietitian nutritionist to limit potential nutrient deficiencies and talk about vitamin supplementation, as you won’t be eating whole grains, dairy, or fruit, and will eliminate many veggies. “A diet that eliminates entire food groups is a red flag to me. This isn’t something to take lightly or dive into headfirst with no medical supervision,” she says.
Similar to the CICO diet, the Body Reset has gained popularity via social media, and there isn’t any definitive research that suggests the approach is safe and effective. Celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak created the plan, which is essentially a three-phase liquid diet comprised of smoothies and moderate exercise. While U.S. News notes you may lose weight on the diet, it may be tough to stick with, and isn’t safe for people with diabetes and heart disease. (38)
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.
To see if I was a good fit for the keto diet, Wali requested I have some lab work done, including a cholesterol panel and a fasting insulin level test. My results came back normal, which meant there was no medical necessity for me to go on the diet. If I were pre-diabetic or insulin-resistant, Wali would have been more likely to make the keto diet part of my treatment.
If you eat fewer calories than you burn, you'll lose weight. But when you're hungry all the time, eating fewer calories can be a challenge. "Studies show people who eat 4-5 meals or snacks per day are better able to control their appetite and weight," says obesity researcher Rebecca Reeves, DrPH, RD. She recommends dividing your daily calories into smaller meals or snacks and enjoying most of them earlier in the day -- dinner should be the last time you eat.