Important: It is not recommended to follow a diet without first consulting your doctor. This rule is important not only for those who have identified diseases, but also for everyone else.

Unlike most diets today, the goals of the ketogenic diet have been strictly medical from the beginning. They remain on the agenda at the moment. Generally speaking, the word "diet" initially had nothing to do with weight loss. This word means a set of dietary rules that must be followed in a given situation - in the treatment of a particular disease, during postoperative therapy.

The keto diet owes much of its renewed popularity to an American filmmaker whose child has suffered from epilepsy for a long time. Despite the numerous visits of the most famous and prominent neurologists who have tried, it seems, all the most effective antiepileptic drugs that exist in nature, the boy's condition has not improved at all. An almost desperate father read a lot of literature on the treatment of epilepsy in the local library and unexpectedly came across a description of a ketogenic diet that has not been recommended to him by any specialist. He immediately put his son on this diet and to his great joy found that the frequency of the boy's seizures had decreased significantly.

Well, the ketogenic diet was invented to reduce the incidence of epileptic seizures - mainly in children. At the same time, there is no reduction in the caloric content of the diet, just carbohydrates are replaced by fat. The children were on such a diet for 36 hours and the frequency of their seizures decreased.

The ketogenic diet is currently used not only to treat epilepsy, but also for Alzheimer's disease, liver obesity ("red liver") and even some cancers. In general, the benefits in medicine of it are undeniable. What about weight loss?

The keto diet

The ketogenic diet is a diet that consists of foods very high in fat (animal fats and some vegetable oils), animal proteins and very low in carbohydrates, so that about 80% of the body's energy needsare satisfied with the breakdown of fat (fat content in the diet of the average European provides 30-35% of the energy needed by the body during the day). And like what happens during fasting, the breakdown of large amounts of fat leads to increased acidity. This may explain why the use of such a dietary complex leads to a reduction in the incidence of epileptic seizures.

The goal of a ketogenic diet is to put the body in ketosis.

Ketosis is a pathological condition of the body in which ketone bodies predominate in its tissues. The state of ketosis means that the body uses only the fat stored under the skin to cover energy needs, prevents muscle breakdown. While you are in ketosis, you will draw energy from ketones - carbonyl compounds that are formed during the breakdown of fats. By the way, ketones are an excellent source of energy for the brain, almost perfectly replacing glucose.

Another positive feature of ketosis is that in this state you will not feel hungry, therefore you will eat less, which means that you will not fully cover your energy costs.

In order for the body to enter a state of ketosis, the diet is structured in such a way that fats clearly dominate the diet, in addition to being mostly saturated (the diet consists of 90% calories based on calories).

In fact, the diet used by many professional bodybuilders in the last week before the race can also be called ketogenic: it consists only of salmon (usually grilled, but you can also in another form), peanut butter and green vegetables, broccoli, spinach, cabbage). It is even better to add linseed oil or walnut oil to such a diet. There are already many more proteins here, which reduces the problems, but does not eliminate them at all.

Pros and cons of the classic ketogenic diet

The plus is that this diet is very effective, the diet works and how! The main thing is that you will practically not feel hungry, which means that it will be quite easy to withstand the calorie restriction. Ketones are an excellent source of energy for the brain.

It is also important that a ketogenic diet reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease due to a sharp decrease in insulin secretion. But for people leading an active lifestyle - this plus can easily be transformed into a minus, because insulin is a powerful anti-catabolic agent. The reduction in insulin secretion is superimposed on the ability of the ketogenic diet to provoke acidosis in the muscles, which means that proteolysis is enhanced, ie it facilitates the breakdown of the body's own proteins. And catabolism can spiral out of control. Not immediately, of course, but after 3-4 days for sure.

It is simply impossible to follow the classic ketogenic diet for a long time - it starts vomiting in the most natural way. It is not in vain that for children with epilepsy, the ketogenic diet has been limited to a period of 36 hours.

The ketogenic diet is currently used to treat several types of cancer. In particular, it is prostate cancer and here the ability of the diet to reduce the production of IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1) is used.

Another drawback is the decrease in the level of free testosterone in the blood plasma.

The main danger of the keto diet is the increase in ketone levels in the blood, which lowers the acidity of the blood (pH) and can cause death in extreme cases. This condition is called "ketoacidosis". First of all, this applies to people with severe and moderate diabetes. If it is not there, you should not worry about it, because in the blood of healthy people there are exactly as many ketones as the body can process.

It takes time for the body to give up glucose and learn to feed the brain with ketone bodies so that physical and mental activity can decrease during the first week. The main symptoms are lethargy, dizziness and vertigo.

Many people experience this condition extremely painfully and "get out of the race" literally on the second day. But health returns to normal on the third or fifth day, when the body recovers.

Lack of fiber slows down bowel function. The main point of the ketogenic diet is the complete rejection of carbohydrates. Accordingly, the diet should consist of protein and fat, and fiber should be a complex carbohydrate. It is possible to take pure fiber and simply include in the diet green vegetables or lettuce leaves, which contain very coarse dietary fiber.

An important disadvantage of the diet is the lack of micronutrients caused by the exclusion of foods containing carbohydrates from the diet. In general, all meats or dairy products recommended on a ketogenic diet do not have most of the vitamins or minerals. The best way to avoid deficiency is to take vitamins and minerals, supplements containing minerals. A number of minerals, such as zinc or magnesium, are crucial for the body's vital functions and hormone levels.


Ketogenic diets are contraindicated in the presence or indication of a history of liver disease, kidney disease, metabolic disorders (including congenital and genetic metabolic disorders), progressive encephalopathy, as well as diabetes mellitus, diseases of the cardiovascular system, brainand lipid diseases, as with the concomitant use of valproic acid preparations (valproate). Currently, other contraindications for its use are not known.

When prescribing a ketogenic diet, the diet for each child and adult is calculated only by a doctor! Strictly individual, taking into account the diagnosis, age and weight of the child, his nutritional needs. The content of basic nutrients (proteins, fats, carbohydrates) in food is chosen in a certain ratio, which is determined only by a specialist! During treatment, this ratio may change, so it is necessary to constantly monitor the patient by the attending physician, who, if necessary, adjust the diet. The patient's diet includes various types of fatty foods - bacon, heavy cream, vegetable oils, such as flaxseed. In countries where the ketogenic diet is widely accepted, the food industry produces a variety of special foods that can provide a varied and complete menu.

For beginners, nutritionists have developed special milk shakes with a large amount of fat, which can not only be drunk, but also eaten frozen like ice cream. This helps the child to get used to fatty foods and creates the necessary biochemical changes in the body that provide an antiepileptic effect. In the course of treatment, the doctor requires great skill in compiling a menu, otherwise the child will quickly get tired of the monotonous diet and may refuse to eat at all. During various illnesses, such as colds, the metabolism always changes. This may reduce the effectiveness of the ketogenic diet. In such conditions, it is mandatory to consult your doctor so that he adjusts the menu.

What can you eat on a ketogenic diet and what recommendations should you follow?

What you can eat with a ketogenic diet

The ketogenic diet focuses on foods rich in protein and fat. It is important that moderate fat intake is useful and even necessary, because it is fat that causes a long-lasting feeling of satiety.

Fats can be divided into three groups:

  • saturated fats (contained in red meat and dairy products);
  • unsaturated (found in vegetable oils and vegetables);
  • monounsaturated (found in fish and olives).

Fats have many functions in the human body:

  • energy (in the absence of calories, fat can be broken down, supplying the body with energy);
  • protective (cover all organs with a thin layer, have high thermal insulation properties);
  • construction (part of cell membranes);
  • enzyme (some lipids are part of cofactors);
  • hormonal (some lipids are part of hormones, mediators).

The best choices would be foods rich in protein - meat, fish, milk, cottage cheese, eggs, cheese, and their derivatives. Carbohydrates are acceptable, but only in small amounts. 30-50 grams of fiber will be enough for digestion.

Any starchy foods (cereals, pasta, potatoes) and sugar in any form are strongly discouraged. Almost all fruits contain a lot of sugar in one form or another, so they are also prohibited. It is always necessary to look at the composition of the product on the label, because even in a glass of milk there are about 15 grams of carbohydrates. In addition, a list of basic food supplements is being studied, which will also need to be excluded, if only because they are harmful.

Drink plenty of water to promote weight loss. Water helps the body burn more calories and prevents constipation. Limit your caffeine intake. Exercise regularly.

Exercise can help you lose fat faster with a ketogenic diet. Take a walk, bike, run in the park or work out in the gym. Introducing a daily physical activity schedule can help you keep your heart healthy and lose weight.

Sleeps well. During the initial stages of ketosis, you may feel very tired. Sleep at least 7-8 hours a day to regain energy. A good rest will also help you lose weight.

See your doctor if you have symptoms similar to those of a cold. Many people experience fatigue and mild headaches during ketosis. Sometimes side effects become severe enough to justify medical attention.

When does the diet take effect?

The effects of using the ketogenic diet begin gradually in the first 3 months after starting. Prolonged treatment is usually required (for several years, more often 2-3 years), after which there is usually a constant improvement, which continues even with a normal diet. Thus, it is not necessary to follow a ketogenic diet for life.

In many cases, the positive effect is noticed in the first or second week of treatment. However, sometimes within one or two months of using the diet no effect is observed - in this case it is too early to draw conclusions about the ineffectiveness of treatment, perhaps the doctor should calculate more carefully the biochemical parameters.

In the conventional sense, this is rather a variation on the theme of therapeutic starvation, followed by "loading" foods that cause ketosis. During the first three days of therapy, you should completely give up any food and limit yourself to drinking water in any quantity. Mineral water and artificially sweetened drinks with and without gas, as well as juices are prohibited. You can drink green tea. The water can be boiled or purified. During this period it is necessary to reduce the motor activity of the patient, sometimes bed rest is indicated. The next three days should be slow, in a quarter of the usual portion, food should be introduced. In the process of choosing products you should be guided by the principle of 4 parts fat to one part protein and carbohydrates.

The menu is somewhat reminiscent of the so-called fat diet for weight loss. The main thing is that you should completely eliminate foods such as cereals, fruits, plain bread, carrots, beets, potatoes and pasta.


As with any method of therapy, the use of a ketogenic diet is in some cases associated with some side effects, the main ones of which are listed below.

  • Hair loss.Some children experience hair loss or sparse hair growth with prolonged use of the ketogenic diet. It is believed that this complication is mainly related to a lack of diet in minerals.
  • Linear growth retardation.In some patients, this type of developmental disorder has been reported, but its association with the ketogenic diet continues to be discussed to this day. Elevated levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. A ketogenic diet, consisting of almost 90% fat, in some cases leads to an increase in blood cholesterol and other lipids. At any content of lipids (cholesterol - more than 800 mg%, triglycerides - more than 1000 mg%) it is not necessary to stop the diet. Reducing the ratio of fat to protein and carbohydrates from 4: 1 to 3, 5: 1 usually leads to a rapid reduction in lipid levels to acceptable levels.
  • Kidney stones.This complication of the ketogenic diet occurs in about 1 in 6 patients. It is thought to be due to inadequate fluid intake by children. Therefore, when a ketogenic diet is performed, urine is examined to determine the density and to detect blood impurities. If necessary, an ultrasound examination of the kidneys is performed.
  • Drowsiness and lethargymay occur due to excessive ketosis or toxicity of antiepileptic drugs used concomitantly. Drug levels in the blood may increase with a ketogenic diet, even if the dose is not increased. For this reason, it is necessary to check their concentration in the blood and promptly reduce the dose of potentially sedatives such as phenobarbital and benzodiazepines.
  • Disadvantages of the keto diet
  • Constipationis ​​usually due to the relatively small portions of food on the ketogenic diet and limited water intake. Increasing the daily fluid intake by 100-150 ml helps to avoid defecation disorders.
  • Patients' overweightis ​​due to the consumption of excess calories, not fat. Therefore, the energy capacity of the diet when prescribing a ketogenic diet must be adapted to their individual needs.
  • Weight loss.This point can be explained by some individual characteristics of the metabolism, as well as the level of physical activity of the patient. If it turns out that the child's body weight has decreased by 400-500 g in 1 month, the energy capacity of the diet can be increased by about 100 kcal per day. It should be remembered that by increasing the caloric intake of young children or patients with low levels of physical activity, at the same time the amount of energy consumed should not increase by more than 25 kcal.

Once again we remind you that your personal menu for this diet must be made by a specialist!

When using a ketogenic diet, it is required to perform a thorough clinical and laboratory examination of patients before starting treatment with registration of EEG and ECG data, as well as a biochemical blood test.