Ketogenic Diet Research

Ketogenic Diet News and Resources

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What is a Ketogenic Diet?

A Ketogenic Diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that in medicine is used primarily to treat difficult-to-control (refractory) epilepsy in children. The diet mimics aspects of starvation by forcing the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. Normally, the carbohydrates contained in food are converted into glucose, which is then transported around the body and is particularly important in fuelling brain function. However, if there is very little carbohydrate in the diet, the liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies. The ketone bodies pass into the brain and replace glucose as an energy source. An elevated level of ketone bodies in the blood, a state known as ketosis, leads to a reduction in the frequency of epileptic seizures.

The original therapeutic diet for pediatric epilepsy provides just enough protein for body growth and repair, and sufficient calories to maintain the correct weight for age and height. This classic ketogenic diet contains a 4:1 ratio by weight of fat to combined protein and carbohydrate. This is achieved by excluding high-carbohydrate foods such as starchy fruits and vegetables, bread, pasta, grains and sugar, while increasing the consumption of foods high in fat such as cream and butter.


  • Ketogenic Diet on Using a formula-only ketogenic diet for infants and gastrostomy-tube fed children may lead to better compliance and possibly even improved efficacy. The diet works well for children with focal seizures, but may be less likely to lead to an immediate seizure-free result. In general, the diet can always be considered as long as there are no clear metabolic or mitochondrial reasons not to use it.
  • How the Keto Diet Works: According to the Epilepsy Foundation, the diet is so effective for some kids that they can go off “keto” for a few years and remain seizure-free. In 2010, the New York Times profiled the diet as “Epilepsy’s Big Fat Miracle” and despite being prescribed at more than 100 hospitals around the country, researchers weren’t exactly sure how it worked – until now.

Ketogenic News

  • Avocado oil protects against free radicals in mitochondria
    Many studies of antioxidants in vegetables and fruits, such as carrots and tomatoes, have been completed with few encouraging results, says Christian Cortes-Rojo, a researcher at Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolas de Hidalgo in Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico. “The problem is that the antioxidants in those substances are unable to enter mitochondria. So free radicals go on damaging mitochondria, causing energy production to stop and the cell to collapse and die. An analogy would be that, during an oil spill, if we cleaned only the spilled oil instead of fixing the perforation where oil is escaping, then the oil would go on spilling, and fish would die anyway.” Cortes-Rojo revealed the first research results showing the protective effects of avocado oil against free radicals in mitochondria, presenting his group’s work at the annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, held in conjunction with the Experimental Biology 2012 conference in San Diego.
  • Ketogenic diet slows down mitochondrial myopathy progression in mice
  • The ketogenic diet is efficacious in the treatment of Lennox–Gastaut Syndrome (LGS), with approximately one-half of children responding at 12 months
    Seventy-one children (41 males, 30 females, median age 3y 6mo, range 18mo–18y), with LGS were initiated on the ketogenic diet. Using an intent-to-treat analysis, after 6 months, 36 (51%) achieved more than 50% seizure reduction, 16 (23%) experienced more than 90% seizure reduction, and 1 (1%) achieved seizure freedom. Results were similar after 12 months. Age, sex, side effects, valproate use, and history of infantile spasms were not predictive of more than 90% seizure reduction. In the literature, 88 of 189 (47%) children with LGS had more than 50% seizure reduction after 3 to 36 months of ketogenic diet treatment.

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