What the Keto Diet is and why it is Beneficial for People With Epilepsy

Overview of the Keto Diet

The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate approach to eating that has been shown to be beneficial for people with epilepsy. It mimics the effects of fasting, without many of the drawbacks that typically come along with longer periods of abstinence from food. The main purpose of the diet is to reduce seizure activity by manipulating the body’s metabolism and providing the brain with an alternative energy source in the form of ketone bodies rather than glucose. Unlike traditional epileptic treatments, the ketogenic diet is a non-pharmaceutical approach to managing seizures.

Although the diet may seem restrictive, it provides numerous medical benefits. It helps reduce seizures by helping the body switch its primary source of energy from glucose to ketone bodies while simultaneously decreasing inflammation, improving digestion and increasing mental clarity. Those on the diet often experience fewer side effects associated with epilepsy such as anxiety, dizziness, or depression. In addition, the ketogenic diet is thought to have neuroprotective benefits, meaning it could potentially protect against cognitive decline later in life. Not only can it help reduce epileptic symptoms, but it can also provide an overall healthier lifestyle for those who adopt it.

Use of the keto diet for epilepsy treatment 

The ketogenic diet has been used for centuries as a treatment for epileptic seizures. It is a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet that was first developed in the 1920s by Dr. Russel Wilder of the Mayo Clinic. Studies have shown that this specific diet can help reduce the frequency and severity of epileptic seizures, making it a viable treatment option for individuals with epilepsy.

The keto diet works by completely altering the metabolism of the body. It shifts away from relying on carbohydrates as its main energy source and instead focuses on burning fat as its primary fuel. This shift in energy sources produces ketone bodies in the blood, which can have an anticonvulsive effect on the brain to reduce seizure activity. The diet also helps to regulate levels of insulin and other hormones, minimizing the potential for hypoglycemic episodes that can lead to seizures. All these benefits of the keto diet make it an excellent treatment option for those suffering from epilepsy.

How Other Diets Compare to the Keto Diet for Treating Epilepsy

Recent research has suggested that the ketogenic diet may be an effective treatment for epilepsy. This high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet is thought to reduce the occurrence of seizures by altering brain chemistry and metabolism. While there are several diets that have been found to be beneficial for treating seizures, the ketogenic diet stands out due to its comprehensive approach and ability to provide long-term results.

In contrast to the strict limitations imposed by the ketogenic diet, other diets available for managing epilepsy may offer a more balanced approach. Examples include the modified Atkins diet, which allows for a larger variety of food options, and the Modified Diet Therapy, which focuses on providing meals tailored to individual patient needs. 

Both of these diets can also help reduce seizure frequency in patients, making them viable alternatives to the ketogenic diet. However, it is important to note that they tend to be less effective than the keto diet when compared over longer periods of time. Additionally, due to their lower fat intake, they may not produce the same metabolic benefits as the ketogenic diet. 

All in all, it is safe to say that while other diets may yield positive results for those suffering from seizures, the ketogenic diet offers the most comprehensive and lasting solution.

Benefits of the Keto Diet for Epilepsy Treatment 

  • Reduces seizures: The ketogenic diet has been found to be effective in reducing seizures in up to 50% of children with epilepsy, and it has also been found to be effective in reducing seizures in some adults with epilepsy.
  • Easy to adhere to: The ketogenic diet is also easier to stick to than other diets and offers more variety and easier meal planning.
  • Weight loss: The ketogenic diet can provide potential health benefits, such as weight loss.
  • Improved blood glucose control: The diet can also improve blood glucose control and help in managing diabetes.
  • Improved cholesterol levels: The ketogenic diet may also improve cholesterol levels.
  • Monitoring and guidance: The diet is usually started in a hospital or clinic setting, under the guidance of a trained healthcare professional, which ensures the right balance of nutrients are consumed.
  • Easy to implement: The ketogenic diet is a simple treatment which can be easily implemented and is less costly than other treatments.


Recent studies have researched the effects of a ketogenic diet for treating epilepsy and other neurological disorders. The evidence supporting its effectiveness is robust, with research dating as far back as the 1920s demonstrating significant correlations between dietary control and improved symptoms. Clinical trials conducted in the 1990s highlight individual case successes in those with seizure disorders, leading to further study on the potential for keto diets to reduce episodes of seizures and improve overall quality of life. 

More recent studies have further solidified the connection between diets that are high in fatty acids, low in carbohydrates and moderate in protein, and improved symptom management.

One such trial showed an average reduction of approximately 50% in the number of seizures per month in those using a keto diet, while some participants experienced absolute freedom from seizures within weeks of beginning the diet. Furthermore, not only do these diets prove effective in managing epileptic symptoms, but they also appear to be safer than many prescription medications used to treat seizure disorders.

This evidence clearly points to the efficacy of keto diets for managing various types of epilepsy, suggesting that this type of lifestyle intervention should be considered as a viable option for those living with seizure disorders.