If you've been hearing a lot about the Ketogenic Diet recently, you're not alone. Many are familiar with this diet, which is frequently touted as a quick way to lose weight. This diet was first developed in the 1920s, originating as a way to reduce seizures in epilepsy patients. Doctors usually recommend Keto to children who are not responsive to seizure medication. Studies have shown that children following the Ketogenic Diet often see a reduction of symptoms of up to 50%, and in some cases have seen a complete elimination of seizures. Recent studies are now linking the diet to Autism treatment, attempting to determine whether it can help people with this condition control their behavior more easily.
Keto is designed as a very low carbohydrate, moderate protein, and high fat diet. Though it is thought to work by using fat as the primary source of energy, the true etiology is still unknown. Traditionally, however, the body burns carbohydrates to produce energy. Since Keto deprives the body of carbohydrates, this allows for stored fat to become an energy source. This process is called Ketosis, and it has been shown to reduce seizures as well as help people lose weight.Though it seems to be effective, this diet is not particularly easy to follow. In fact, your body can be kicked out of ketosis by something as small as eating a piece of fruit. The amount of saturated fat recommended to maintain ketosis in the body can also be worrisome, so patients who have high cholesterol or histories of heart disease should probably avoid this diet. Fortunately, patients who use Keto to treat epilepsy and autism are usually only on Keto for short periods of time. That said, it is important to work closely with a Registered Dietitian when you are implementing this diet. While there have not been many long term studies, Keto is a medical therapy to watch.