The ketogenic diet is not a benign, holistic, or natural treatment for epilepsy; as with any serious medical therapy, complications may result.[28] These are generally less severe and less frequent than with anticonvulsant medication or surgery.[28] 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[38] and cholesterol levels may increase by around 30%.[28] 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.[38] Supplements are necessary to counter the dietary deficiency of many micronutrients.[18]
Variations on the Johns Hopkins protocol are common. The initiation can be performed using outpatient clinics rather than requiring a stay in hospital. Often, no initial fast is used (fasting increases the risk of acidosis, 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.[9]

Long-term use of the ketogenic diet in children increases the risk of slowed or stunted growth, bone fractures, and kidney stones.[18] The diet reduces levels of insulin-like growth factor 1, which is important for childhood growth. Like many anticonvulsant drugs, the ketogenic diet has an adverse effect on bone health. Many factors may be involved such as acidosis and suppressed growth hormone.[38] About one in 20 children on the ketogenic diet develop kidney stones (compared with one in several thousand for the general population). A class of anticonvulsants known as carbonic anhydrase inhibitors (topiramate, zonisamide) are known to increase the risk of kidney stones, but the combination of these anticonvulsants and the ketogenic diet does not appear to elevate the risk above that of the diet alone.[39] The stones are treatable and do not justify discontinuation of the diet.[39] Johns Hopkins Hospital now gives oral potassium citrate supplements to all ketogenic diet patients, resulting in one-seventh of the incidence of kidney stones.[40] However, this empiric usage has not been tested in a prospective controlled trial.[9] Kidney stone formation (nephrolithiasis) is associated with the diet for four reasons:[39]

The information listed below the serving size is listed in grams and percentages. You will learn how to interpret the grams for each nutrient later on in the article. In an attempt to help people determine if the food will reach their nutritional needs, the FDA developed a set of generic standards called Daily Values. You will only find Daily Values listed on food labels. The standard DRIs could not be used because they vary by gender and age, so they are too specific for a food label. The limitation of the Daily Values is that they are based on a 2,000-calorie diet. This means that the percentages are only relevant to someone who is consuming 2,000 calories. For everyone else, these percentages will either be too high or too low. For this reason, it's best to focus on grams and ingredients.


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.

Ranging from just-juice to just-tea cleanses, these typically short-term plans can be dangerous. “Detoxes and cleanses are usually low in calories, protein, and fiber, all nutrients that our bodies need to function,” says Alissa Rumsey, RD, who is in private practice in New York City. “These plans leave you feeling hungry and cranky, causing a rebound food binge once you stop the detox.”

Fiber aids digestion, prevents constipation, and lowers cholesterol -- and can help with weight loss. Most Americans get only half the fiber they need. To reap fiber's benefits, most women should get about 25 grams daily, while men need about 38 grams -- or 14 grams per 1,000 calories. Good fiber sources include oatmeal, beans, whole grain foods, nuts, and most fruits and vegetables.
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