Does a Keto Diet Help Epilepsy?

A medical expert might suggest a ketogenic diet as an additional epilepsy treatment strategy. Potential advantages vary depending on the kind of epilepsy, age, and the frequency and intensity of seizures.

The neurological condition known as epilepsy is typified by recurrent seizures. Abnormal activity in the brain causes these seizures, which can cause a variety of symptoms including convulsions, unconsciousness, and strange sensations.

The ketogenic diet, also referred to as the "keto diet," is a high-fat, low-carb eating strategy that may be beneficial for certain people in achieving their weight and health management objectives.

Can you go on a keto diet if you have epilepsy?

According to research, some epileptics who have not reacted well to conventional treatments or who have seizures that are difficult to control may benefit from the ketogenic diet.

It's unclear exactly why the ketogenic diet aids in epilepsy management.

Ketosis is a state brought on by the diet. At this point, the body stops using glucose from carbs as its main energy source and starts using ketone bodies made from the metabolism (breakdown) of fat.

Because of their apparent neuroprotective and anti-seizure qualities, ketones may be able to stabilise brain activity and lessen the likelihood of seizures.

Researchers hypothesise that this is because the ketones generated during ketosis may offer brain cells a more effective energy source than glucose. Seizures might benefit from this.

The keto diet may also have other benefits for brain health, such as lowering oxidative stress and inflammation. In addition to balancing the amount of neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) in the brain, this may enhance mitochondrial activity.

Researchers have found that both the frequency and intensity of seizures may be reduced while following a ketogenic diet. The benefits of the diet may minimise negative effects associated with antiepileptic drugs by reducing the requirement for some medications or allowing for a dose reduction.

In addition to controlling seizures, the ketogenic diet may benefit certain individuals with type 2 diabetes and overweight by promoting weight loss, a better cholesterol profile, and glycemic control.

Not every epileptic may get better when following a ketogenic diet.

Since each person is unique, no two people will react to a change in their eating habits in the same manner. Before making any dietary changes, it's imperative to talk to a healthcare provider about the keto diet if you take any drugs or have epilepsy or another chronic disease.

Who may benefit from a keto diet?

A ketogenic diet may help people with epilepsy of all ages, especially those who have hard-to-control seizures and have not reacted well to previous treatments.

Based on specific research, children with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or infantile spasms—two kinds of epilepsy—may benefit the most.

A 2023 study discovered that children with drug-resistant epilepsy who followed a ketogenic diet experienced a marked decrease in the frequency of seizures. They think the anticonvulsant action might be caused by an increase in ketone bodies and beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) levels.

Research on the keto diet's possible advantages for adults is beginning to emerge, despite the diet's extensive study in children with epilepsy.

It is accepted as an alternate therapy for people with refractory epilepsy, or those who struggle to control their seizures.

A ketogenic diet successfully decreased seizure frequency by 50% or more in persons with severely refractory epilepsy (when seizures cannot be fully controlled with medication), according to a 2017 study. However, sticking to the diet is still quite difficult, with about 51% of people dropping off.

According to the same study, the ketogenic diet may also lessen the risk of comorbid conditions including type 2 diabetes and obesity while also enhancing mood and energy levels.

What are the rules of the keto diet?

Consuming a lot of good fats, moderate amounts of protein, and little carbohydrates is the fundamental tenet of the keto diet.

In a regular keto diet, the macronutrient ratio is roughly:
  • 10% carbohydrates
  • 20% protein
  • 70% fats
There are lots of keto-friendly meal options available; nevertheless, you might need to compute nutrient percentages and read nutritional labels.

The following are some typical instances of keto-friendly foods:
  • Breakfast: Think about ordering an olive oil-cooked vegetable omelette. Add the cheese, spinach, and mushrooms. For extra taste, you may top it with bacon or serve it with an avocado side dish.
  • Lunch: Try a salad made of mixed greens with salmon, grilled chicken, or toasted seeds on top. To make a nutritious, high-fat dressing, add sliced avocado, cherry tomatoes, and a drizzle of olive oil.
  • Dinner: Choose baked salmon, grilled beef, tempeh, or tofu. Serve it with roasted vegetables, such as broccoli or cauliflower, fried in butter or olive oil, on the side. In place of regular mashed potatoes, you can also have a tiny serving of creamy mashed cauliflower.
Before beginning any new diet plan, including the keto diet, you must speak with a medical expert or qualified dietitian if you have epilepsy or another chronic illness.

Side effects of staying on a keto diet

Long-term eating regimens, such as the keto diet, may have unintended consequences.

When it comes to the ketogenic diet, these could be:
  • hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • A brief reduction in energy levels
  • constipation
  • abdominal pain
  • vomiting
  • dehydration
These adverse effects can be controlled with the right support and guidance and are frequently transient. Before you begin, you can talk about the potential side effects of a ketogenic diet for epilepsy with a nutritionist or other medical practitioner.

A word of caution

For those thinking about managing their epilepsy with a ketogenic diet, note that caution is advised:
  • Speak with a medical specialist.: They can assist you in researching other diets for epilepsy, such as the ketogenic diet. It's usually necessary to have a detailed plan before making dietary changes.
  • Continue medical treatment: Even while the ketogenic diet might help people with epilepsy, it shouldn't take the place of medical care unless your healthcare professional recommends it. You must keep taking your prescriptions as prescribed and heed the advice of medical professionals.
  • Regular monitoring and exams: You may need to have routine medical checks, which may include blood testing. These could assist your care team in determining whether the diet is having the desired impact, spotting any possible negative effects, and modifying the treatment plan as necessary. If tests are required, a medical expert will advise.
  • Individualized approach: With the ketogenic diet, results can differ. It's critical to understand that what suits one individual may not suit another. Think about closely collaborating with a medical team to tailor the food plan to your requirements.


For those whose epilepsy has not responded to conventional therapies, the keto diet may be able to help. In both adults and children, the ketogenic diet may help lessen the frequency and intensity of seizures.

To guarantee you follow the diet safely and effectively, it's crucial to move gradually and consult a healthcare provider.

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