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The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, very low-carb diet. It usually limits carbs to 20-50 grams daily. This forces the body to break down fat for energy.

The body breaks down fat into molecules called ketone bodies. These ketone bodies can be used for energy. The classical ketogenic diet, which is used to reduce seizures in children, requires 4 times as many calories from fat as from carbohydrate and protein.

A very strict form of the ketogenic diet is used for seizure disorders in people with hard-to-treat epilepsy. Less strict forms of the ketogenic diet are used for obesity, diabetes, Parkinson disease, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support many of these uses.

Don't confuse the Modified Atkins Diet, a type of ketogenic diet, with the Atkins diet. Also don't confuse the ketogenic diet with "Keto diet pills." These are not the same and don't have the same effects.

Natural Medicines rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
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  • Diabetes.  Following the ketogenic diet seems to improve glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes.
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  • Epilepsy.  Following the classical ketogenic diet seems to be beneficial for various types of drug-resistant epilepsy disorders. Less restrictive ketogenic diets seem to be less effective.
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  • Obesity.  The ketogenic diet seems to help reduce weight in overweight and obese adults, although it is unclear whether it is superior to other diets. Oftentimes the ketogenic diet is combined with calorie restriction and/or exercise.
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When taken by mouth: The ketogenic diet is likely safe for most adults when used for up to 1 year. The most common side effects include constipation, fatigue, dizziness, weakness, nausea, diarrhea, and stomach pain. The long-term safety of the ketogenic diet in adults is unknown. It is important to ensure any diet remains balanced and contains nutrient-rich foods.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if the ketogenic diet is safe when pregnant or breast-feeding. Ketone bodies are chemicals made in the body when people follow a ketogenic diet. These chemicals might pass from the mother to the baby and slow down growth during pregnancy and after birth. Don't follow this diet unless under the care of a doctor.

Children: The ketogenic diet is possibly safe when used by children under the care of a doctor, short-term. There is some concern about the ketogenic diet when used long-term. When used for more than 2 years, the ketogenic diet has been linked with slowed growth, fractures, and kidney stones in children.

Heart conditions: Use with caution. The ketogenic diet might worsen certain heart conditions.

Diabetes: Following a very-low carbohydrate ketogenic diet might increase the risk for diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a serious complication of diabetes. If you have diabetes, speak with a healthcare professional before starting the ketogenic diet.

Acid reflux: Some ketogenic diets are high in fat. High-fat diets can worsen symptoms of acid reflux.

High levels of fat in the blood: Some ketogenic diets are high in fat. Diets high in fat can increase levels of cholesterol and other fats called triglycerides. This might be a problem for people who already have high levels of these fats in the blood. Talk to your doctor before starting the ketogenic diet.

Liver disease: The ketogenic diet might cause liver injury and may worsen symptoms of liver disease.

Problems breaking down fats in the diet: The ketogenic diet forces the body to break down fat for energy. For people unable to break down fat, the ketogenic diet might lead to serious adverse effects, including coma or death.

Kidney disease: The ketogenic diet may worsen kidney disease and has been linked with kidney stone development.

Weak and brittle bones (osteoporosis): Long-term use of the ketogenic diet may weaken the bones. Use caution if you are at risk for or have a history of osteoporosis.

Swelling (inflammation) of the pancreas (pancreatitis): The ketogenic diet may increase the risk of developing pancreatitis. Use caution if you have a history of pancreatitis or have very high triglyceride levels.

Surgery: Certain medications used during surgery contain carbohydrates. Talk to your healthcare provider before any surgery if you are using the ketogenic diet to reduce seizures. Changes to some medications used during surgery might be needed.

There are no known interactions with medications. Before taking this product, talk with your health professional if you take any medications.

Herbs and supplements that might lower blood sugar: The ketogenic diet might lower blood sugar. Following the ketogenic diet while taking supplements with similar effects might lower blood sugar too much. Examples of supplements with this effect include aloe, bitter melon, cassia cinnamon, chromium, and prickly pear cactus.

There are no known interactions with foods.

The classical ketogenic diet requires 90% of daily calories to come from fat. But there are many other, less restrictive versions of the ketogenic diet that typically allow 20-50 grams of carbs daily. Variations include the medium chain triglyceride diet, modified Atkins diet, modified Mediterranean diet, and low glycemic index treatment. Speak with a healthcare provider to find out which variation of the ketogenic diet might be best for a specific condition. The ketogenic diet isn't suitable for everyone.

Classical ketogenic Diet, Classic Long-Chain Triglyceride Ketogenic Diet, Keto Diet, Low Carbohydrate Diet, Low Glycemic Index Treatment, Medium Chain Triglyceride Diet, Modified Atkin's Diet, Very Low Carbohydrate Diet, Very-Low-Carbohydrate Ketogenic Diet.

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