What is a ketogenic diet?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

The Ketogenic diet consists of consuming foods that are high in fat and low in carbohydrates and proteins. The restriction on carbohydrates and proteins causes the body to use fat as an alternative of source of energy.

A ketogenic diet is a diet that is very high in fat and low in carbohydrates. A ketogenic diet is a dietary therapy to treat epilepsy. It dates back to the early 1900s. Until the early 2000s, the ketogenic diet was traditionally used for children. It's a fairly strict diet that has seen an explosion in use in the past decade and requires some education prior to use.

The ketogenic diet begins with a period of fasting. There is a ratio typically of 4:1 of fat over carbohydrates. Through the ketogenic diet, fat becomes the main source of energy. Combined with the low intake of carbohydrates, the body makes ketones -- a substance made when the body breaks down fat for energy. The body uses ketones when there is not enough insulin to deliver sugar from the blood to the body's cells.

A ketogenic diet offers adequate amounts of protein for body growth and repair while supplying a sufficient number of calories for maintaining a healthy weight. Foods included in this diet are:

  • butter
  • cream
  • lard
  • olive oil
  • duck fat

Grains, bread and pasta are typically avoided.

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