Ketogenic Diet: A New Fad Or Forgotten Cure?

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Have you heard of the “KETO” Diet (another name for a ketogenic diet)? Some people swear it saved their life and made them feel better, others claim it increased their cholesterol so much, that their cardiologist almost had a heart attack.

The classic Ketogenic Diet is composed primarily of fat (80-90%), with the remainder filled in with protein (8%-15%) and, to a minimal degree, carbohydrates (2%-5%). The goal is to mimic the body’s state during fasting without impairing its ability for growth.

The foundation of this diet includes: beef, pork, poultry, fish, eggs, cheeses, avocados, olive oil and coconut oil. Also included is a variety of non-starchy vegetables, such as salad greens, green beans, kale and broccoli.

Let’s look at the latest data on this diet:

The Ketogenic diet was first introduced to treat children with epilepsy in the 1920s and 30s. It was developed to provide an alternative to fasting, which had demonstrated success as an epilepsy therapy. A similar approach was adapted by Dr.Joslin, the founder of the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, who recommended a diet consisting of “meats, poultry, game, fish, clear soups, gelatin, eggs, butter, olive oil, coffee, tea” with no more than 5% of total energy coming from carbohydrates, to treat diabetes in 1921. [1]

It was mostly abandoned until 70s, but now more and more research is coming to prove its benefits.

Epilepsy: The Ketogenic diet is now widely used for patients who have failed two mainstream medications, with systematic reviews finding seizure-reduction rates as high as 85% after treatment. [2]

Type 2 diabetes and Obesity: The Ketogenic diet improves blood sugar control and contributes to weight loss. [3] Also, it was recently reported that ketogenic drink supplements may improve blood glucose control and insulin sensitivity, a sign of the continued desire to provide ketogenic diet benefits, without the burden of making patients commit to it in full. [4]

Why is it more effective than a low-fat diet:

  • higher fat content in the ketogenic diet contributes to satiety
  • changes in appetite-regulating hormones help decrease hunger
  • ketone bodies generated during ketosis may directly suppress appetite
  • ketogenic diet may not lead to a slowdown in metabolism, exhibited by a low-fat diet [5]

Cancer: The theory being that cancer cells use glucose as the main source of energy, and cutting off the tumor supply of energy will aid in containing its spread. [6]

Neurodegenerative disorders, like Alzheimer’s dementia, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, Autism Spectrum disorders, even Traumatic Brain Injury and Migraines are improved by a Ketogenic diet. [7]

Endurance athletes: The Ketogenic diet helps to significantly reduce body mass and body fat percentage, with improvement in athletic performance, fat oxidation and 6-second sprint power. [8]

But the Ketogenic Diet is not without risks! This is NOT a do-it-yourself diet!

If it’s not followed correctly, without supervision by a healthcare provider and regular blood work monitoring, it can lead to serious complications, including low blood sugar in diabetics, fatigue, constipation, hormonal disturbances, impaired kidney and heart function, increased levels of bad cholesterol, arrhythmia and palpitations, dehydration and kidney stones, electrolytes abnormalities, confusion, significant weight loss, and even sudden cardiac arrest. [9]

For more information on the Ketogenic Diet and other approaches to a healthy lifestyle, please schedule an appointment with Dr. Koganski at 215-750-7000, or


[1] Wheless JW1. History of the ketogenic diet. Epilepsia. 2008 Nov;49 Suppl 8:3-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2008.01821.x.

[2] Martin K, et al. Ketogenic diet and others dietary treatments for epilepsy. Cochrane Database System Review. 2016;2 CD001903.

[3] Hussain TA, et al. Effect of low-calorie versus low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet in type 2 diabetes. Nutrition 2012;28:1016-1021.

[4] Étienne Myette‐Côté, et al. Prior ingestion of exogenous ketone monoester attenuates the glycemic response to an oral glucose tolerance test in healthy young individuals. The Journal of Physiology. 2 March 2018

[5] Bueno, N.B., et al., Very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet v. low-fat diet for long-term weight loss: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Br J Nutr, 2013. 110(7): p. 1178-87.

[6] Schwartz K, et al. Treatment of glioma patients with ketogenic diet: report of 2 cases treated with IRB-approved energy-restricted ketogenic diet protocol and review of the literature. Cancer Metabolism. 2015;3,3.

[7] Gano LB, et al. Ketogenic diets, mitochondria, and neurological diseases. J lipid research, 2014; 55, 2211-2228.

[8] McSweeney FT, et al. Keto-adaptation enhances exercise performance and body composition responses to training in endurance athletes, Metabolism.2017, Nov 3.

[9] Abbasi, J., Interest in the Ketogenic Diet Grows for Weight Loss and Type 2 Diabetes. JAMA, 2018. 319(3): p. 215-217.


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