Is the Ketogenic Diet Worth Trying?

By Joanne Oh

Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons

If you’ve ever picked up a health centered magazine, then you’ve most likely heard of the ketogenic diet. Introduced in the 1920s, the ketogenic diet was used by physicians in order to imitate the biological conditions of fasting. However, in recent years, the ketogenic diet has been rebranded as a method for weight loss and an obesity treatment. Given the diet’s popularity, many of you may wonder whether this diet is worth your time and money. Today, we’ll be diving into what the science says about the ketogenic diet.

If you follow a ketogenic diet, it is required for your diet to consist of 80-90% fats, while carbohydrates and proteins comprise the remainder of the diet. By increasing your fat intake, the goal is to increase the number of ketone bodies, or alternative energy sources to glucose. This is to activate ketosis, or a state where the central nervous system no longer uses glucose as its main energy source. However, studies show that glucose is the preferred energy source for the body.

Studies show that glucose is the preferred energy source for the body.

Multiple studies have found that a ketogenic diet is effective for weight loss, but scientists are unsure of whether to attribute this to the satiety factor of protein, the way it is digested in the body, or the diet itself. Many studies have reported that the diet can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease through the decrease in cholesterol and increase in high density lipoprotein. Studies on animal models have shown a reduction in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinsin’s disease and Alzeihmers. However, more studies need to be conducted on human models before the ketogenic diet can be assigned as a treatment. Currently, the majority of studies on the ketogenic diet focus on its efficiency in treating epilepsy. A study by the American Medical Association, found, however, that the diet can have adverse effects including lethargy, dehydration, increase in infections, severe constipation, and vomiting.

In conclusion:

  • If you want to try a ketogenic diet, wait for 3-4 days, since that is how long it takes for the central nervous system to discontinue the use of glucose and for ketosis to begin.

  • If you are hoping to lose weight, lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, or are seeking an alternative treatment to epilepsy, the ketogenic diet is worth trying.

  • Glucose is the preferred energy source for the body. Therefore, be cautious if you decide to start a ketogenic diet and please make sure to consult your physician

  • As seen in the study of epilepsy patients, the ketogenic diet may have negative side effects. Therefore, if starting the ketogenic diet, it is best to carefully monitor symptoms and speak often with your doctor.

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Works Cited

A Low-Carbohydrate, Ketogenic Diet versus a Low-Fat Diet To Treat Obesity and

Hyperlipidemia. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2004;140(10):769-777. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-140-10-200405180-00006

Gasior M, Rogawski MA, Hartman AL. Neuroprotective and disease-modifying effects of

the ketogenic diet. Behavioural Pharmacology. 2006;17(5-6). doi: 10.1097/00008877-200609000-00009

Neal EG, Chaffe H, Schwartz RH, et al. The ketogenic diet for the treatment of childhood

epilepsy: a randomised controlled trial. The Lancet Neurology. 2008;7(6):500-506. doi:10.1016/S1474-4422(08)70092-9

Paoli A. Ketogenic Diet for Obesity: Friend or Foe? International Journal of Environmental

Research and Public Health. 2014;11(2):2092-2107. doi:10.3390/ijerph110202092

Rho J, Stafstrom C. The Ketogenic Diet as a Treatment Paradigm for Diverse Neurological

Disorders. Frontiers in Pharmacology. 2012;3:59. doi:10.3389/fphar.2012.00059

Wheless JW. History of the ketogenic diet. Epilepsia. 2008;49(s8):3-5. doi:


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