Russell Morse Wilder of the Mayo Clinic built on this research and coined the term ketogenic diet to describe a diet that produces a high level of ketone bodies in the blood (ketonemia) through an excess of fat and lack of carbohydrates. Our product selections are tested by the editor and approved by experts. We may earn a commission through links on our site. Meet the bodybuilders, biohackers, scientists, doctors and hucksters behind the nutrition craze.
The ketogenic diet was developed in 1924 by Dr. Russell Wilder at the Mayo Clinic as a treatment for epilepsy. It was very popular in the 1920s and 1930s until the introduction of anticonvulsant drugs. However, it is still used as a means of therapy for those who have a pharmacological resistance to epilepsy.
Fasting and other dietary regimens have been used to treat epilepsy since at least 500 B.C. To mimic the metabolism of fasting, the ketogenic diet (KD) was introduced by modern physicians as a treatment for epilepsy in the 1920s. For two decades this therapy was widely used, but with the modern era of anti-epileptic drug treatment its use declined dramatically. By the end of the 20th century this therapy was only available in a small number of children's hospitals.
In the last 15 years, there has been an explosion in the use and scientific interest in Kawasaki disease. This review traces the history of one of the most effective treatments for childhood epilepsy. The ketogenic diet was originally designed not for weight loss, but for epilepsy. In the 1920s, doctors realised that keeping their patients on low-carbohydrate diets forced their bodies to use fat as a primary fuel source, rather than the usual glucose.
When only fat is available to burn, the body converts fats into fatty acids, and then into compounds called ketones, which can be absorbed and used as fuel for the body's cells. However, the no-sugar principle of Banting's diet was the same as that of today's ketogenic technique, which is used therapeutically to treat epileptic seizures and holds promise for controlling type 2 diabetes. The ketogenic diet is a science-based, low-carbohydrate, moderate-protein, high-fat diet with a history dating back to the early 1920s to control seizures in epileptics. A classic ketogenic diet consists of 90 percent of calories from fat, 6 percent from protein and 4 percent from carbohydrates.
A keto diet forces the body into a state called ketosis, which means that the body's cells rely heavily on ketones for energy. In recent years there has been an explosion of the low-carb keto diet, both for personal use and in scientific research. And because people who do keto often lack nutrients like vitamin C, magnesium and fibre, there has been a supplement gold rush for the brands behind the products that make staying on the diet easier. An individualised and structured diet containing highly ketogenic medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which allows for more carbohydrates and protein than the classic keto.
The idea that a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet could benefit certain people was put aside by the medical community until ketogenic diets began to be used clinically in the 1920s. Recent research by Phinney showed that those who followed a ketogenic diet and received dietary counselling for one year significantly reduced their use of diabetes medications and lost an average of 9 kilos. He found no significant difference in the amount of weight loss per year between people following a low-fat diet and those following a low-carbohydrate diet. The number of people seeking the keto diet doubled immediately and the upward trend continued as other lifestyle gurus, such as Dave Asprey and Mark Sisson, jumped on board.
Modifying the restrictive nature of the classic keto can be helpful when starting the diet, or when narrowing it down to a more sustainable diet in the long term. The keto diet is designed to force the body into a state of ketosis, where it burns fat instead of carbohydrates for energy. Unfortunately, keto diets are probably more likely than many others to end with weight regain because they can be difficult to maintain over the long term, Carson said.