- The original keto diet, officially the Therapeutic Ketogenic Diet, was designed in 1923 by Dr. Russell Wilder at the Mayo Clinic for the treatment of epilepsy
- In 1971, Peter Huttenlocher devised a ketogenic diet where 60% of the calories came from MCT oil
- In the 1990s, we saw the keto diet begin to take off as a grassroots nutritional movement
- Types of keto
- Your primary goal is to lower your carbs to 20-50 grams per day
At Konscious Keto, we think the ketogenic diet history is pretty impressive. For example, did you know the ketogenic diet started as a treatment for epileptic children to help reduce their seizures?
That’s right, the newest, trendiest diet is actually an anti-inflammatory diet created by a doctor, and it just so happens to be incredibly useful for fat loss.
The purpose of the ketogenic diet is to get into ketosis. This is where your body burns fat for fuel, rather than carbs or sugar. In ketosis, your metabolism changes.
Think of this as the difference between a gas powered car and an electric car. They may look the same on the outside, but one uses cutting-edge technology to create tangible results.
The ketogenic diet history goes back 100 years to the early 1900s. There are five recorded versions of the keto diet, and doctors designed each as effective treatments for diseases that have an underlying metabolic dysregulation, such as epilepsy, cancer, and Alzheimer’s.
The original keto diet, officially the Therapeutic Ketogenic Diet, was designed in 1923 by Dr. Russell Wilder at the Mayo Clinic for the treatment of epilepsy.
The newer ketogenic diets are a variation and will have similar but varying degrees of macronutrients to compliment the diet’s end goal.
The Ketogenic Diet History
While the keto diet started as a lesser known diet in the 20s and 30s, to treat epilepsy, it did grow among the medical community to support other conditions.
It was developed to provide an alternative to non-mainstream fasting, which had demonstrated success as an epilepsy therapy.
However, the ketogenic diet was eventually primarily abandoned due to the introduction of new anticonvulsant therapies. While these are seemingly a great solution, some 20-30% of epileptic people still cannot get their seizures under control through medication alone.
For those people, especially children, the keto diet was reintroduced as a great way to reduce the number of seizures. It was around the 1050s that people also began to start fasting with a ketogenic diet, as this proved to be a very effective combination.
Deeper into the History of the Ketogenic Diet
Fasting plays a pivotal role in the history of the ketogenic diet. Fasting has been known to be a great asset to humankind for thousands of years, going back as far as Ancient Greece.
In the Ancient days, people used fasting in the Hippocratic Corpus, “On the Sacred Disease,” to describe how tasting and food play a role in epilepsy management.
Greek and Indian physicians also write extensively on the topic and describe in “Epidemics” from the collection, how a man was cured of epilepsy when he abstained entirely from consuming food or drink.
This is important to understand, as the history of the ketogenic diet goes back much further than you might initially think. When you are fasting, you are inducing ketosis by restricting food and forcing your body to burn fat for fuel.
The ketogenic diet uses this same principle and can be used in conjunction with many forms of fasting to improve the efficiency of ketosis during times when you must eat.
Imagine, if you have epilepsy, and fasting cures your seizures, how horrible it must be to eat. The keto diet depends on a window frame whereby people could eat without triggering high insulin or inflammatory responses within the body.
The First Modern Study on Ketogenic Diet
In modern times, we saw the first scientific study take place in France, in 1911. At the time, the doctors prescribed potassium bromide for people with epilepsy, but the doctors found that it slowed the patients' mental capabilities.
During the study, doctors treated 20 patients with a plant-based ketogenic diet and combined it with intermittent fasting. Two patients showed significant improvements, although many people struggled to eat the correct foods to make it an accurate result.
Unlike potassium bromide, this ketogenic diet and fasting combo was found to alleviate the results of the seizures without slowing down the mental capacities of the patient.
Also during the early 20th Century, an American called Bernarr Macfadden popularised the idea of fasting as a means of restoring health. His student osteopath, Conklin introduced fasting as a treatment method for controlling epilepsy.
Conklin proposed that epileptic seizures were caused by a toxin secreted in the intestine and suggested that fasting for 18 to 25 days could cause the toxin to dissipate. His epileptic patients were put on a “water diet,” which he reported cured 90% of children with the condition and 50% of adults.
Analysis of the study that was performed later showed that 20% of Conklin's patients became seizure-free, while 50% demonstrated some improvement.
The fasting therapy was soon adopted as part of mainstream therapy for epilepsy, and in 1916, Dr. McMurray reported to the New York Medical Journal that he had successfully treated epileptic patients by prescribing a fast, followed by a diet free of starch and sugar since 1912.
By the 1960s, scientists began to understand further the importance of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) and how they export energy to the liver to create ketones. This effectively solved the mystery of how the keto diet worked and provided scientists with more room to explore.
In 1971, Peter Huttenlocher devised a ketogenic diet where 60% of the calories came from MCT oil, which allowed more protein and carbohydrates to be included compared with the original ketogenic diet, meaning parents could prepare more enjoyable meals for their children with epilepsy.
Many hospitals also adopted the MCT diet in place of the original ketogenic diet, although some used a combination of the two.
And in the 1990s, we saw the keto diet begin to take off as a grassroots nutritional movement for people who wanted to take back control of their health and their weight, thanks to the side effects of accelerated weight loss.
Popular Variations of the Ketogenic Diet
Classic Keto carries a 4:1 ratio, which means that there are four parts fat for every one part protein and carb.
Since fat has a higher caloric content versus protein and carb (fat has 9 calories per gram, while both protein and carb have just 4 calories per gram), 90% of calories come from fat in a classic Ketogenic Diet, while 6% come from protein, and 4% come from carbs.
The main difference between the five types of Ketogenic Diets is this macronutrient ratio. The higher your carb ratio, the further away from ketosis you will be.
The main types of keto include:
- Classic or Therapeutic Keto - Macronutrient Ratio: 4:1
- Modified Keto - Macronutrient Ratio: 3:1 to 1:1
- MCT - Macronutrient Ratio: 1.9:1
- Modified Atkins - Macronutrient Ratio: 0.8:1
- Low GI - Macronutrient Ratio: 2:3
- Intermittent Fasting - Macronutrient Ratio: N/A
You can read more on keto in The Ultimate Guide to the Ketogenic Diet.
The Konscious Keto Diet
Eat fat to lose fat. The promise many of its supporters claim. There’s a lot more to the keto diet than meets the eye.
Yes, you can lose plenty of weight while on the keto diet. There are thousands of real-life success stories to prove that. However, the keto diet is far more than an effective weight loss tool.
At Konscious Keto, we're committed to helping you learn the ins and outs of what the keto diet is on our blog. Today we're going more in-depth and hope you will appreciate the history and background of this unique diet.
With recent breakthroughs in the science and study of nutrition, researchers are beginning to discover the real power of this diet and the numerous benefits it can have on your energy levels and ability to live a healthy, vibrant life.
How Do You Push Your Body Into Ketosis?
Your primary goal is to lower your carbs to 20-50 grams per day. Ketosis can’t happen until your body uses all of its stored carbohydrates.
That said, even if you reduce your carbs slowly, at incremental levels, you’ll still start to look and feel better. So after you lower your carbs, you’ll need to increase your fat intake.
Instead, load up your veggies with a healthy dollop of grass-fed garlic butter or olive oil. Add some rich, heavy cream to your berries. Consume other healthy fats like avocados and olives.
Also, feel free to include a daily dose of Keto Activate. I love the dark chocolate truffle mixed into coffee. Keto Activate contains a triple-mineral blend of essential keto minerals and salts to help get you into ketosis. Another way you can help push your body into ketosis is by fasting.
If you want to give it a try, explore fasting for just 12-24 hours in the beginning to deplete any carbohydrates stored in your body.
The easiest way to make this happen is to have an early dinner the night before and go to bed. The next morning, you’ll want to skip breakfast and have a large lunch.
After lunch, you can have a filling snack and then a nice, delicious dinner a few hours later. And remember to keep the carbs low.
You could also try the 5:2 method where you eat a reduced carb diet for five days then consume 500-600 calories on two different days. The days can be back-to-back or separate.
When Should I Start a Keto Diet?
In most cases, people can expect to see and feel a tremendous difference right away on a keto diet; what version of keto you do should be a discussion between you and your doctor.
As keto can get into your core bodily functions and is prescribed by doctors for the treatment of serious illnesses, it’s advisable to work with your doctors to your goals.
Many people can lower or stop taking their diabetic insulin or heart pressure medication as a positive side effect of the ketogenic diet.
The benefits of a ketogenic diet are seemingly endless; from weight loss to managing severe health conditions, more people are viewing the keto diet as a ketogenic lifestyle choice, and one they very much enjoy.
Instead of depriving yourself and eating low-calorie foods for weight loss, people are experiencing a food revolution by giving up sugar, carbs, and grains. They’re eating keto pizza, ice cream, fat bombs, and delicious, flavor foods that would make your taste buds dance.
Saying no to high-GI foods, which cause inflammation and metabolic problems, can get into ketosis and start to use body fat for energy. The more healthy fats you eat, the more you can shed. If it sounds too good to be true, just thanks scientists for proving otherwise.
To get started on a keto diet, and to learn how it can support your lifestyle goals, check out our guide How to Start a Keto Diet.
You can also download your free 30-day Konscious Keto, and 30 Day Accelerated Meal Plans here.