Is the Keto Diet Safe for Kids? Benefits and Side Effects

The keto diet is gaining popularity, and many people lower carbohydrates and switch to fat. According to nutritionists, keto helps to lose weight, forcing the body to burn fat for energy. It has become such a fashion that some parents even began to incorporate it into their children’s lives.

Is the keto diet safe for kids? Stay with us, and we will explain the most important keto diet benefits, as well as disadvantages of the keto diet and the best keto supplements.

Keto Diet for Epilepsy Treatment in Children

The keto diet is the principle of nutrition based on a specific ratio of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates consumed in food. It appeared in the first half of the twentieth century. Doctors noticed that the predominance of fatty foods in the menu allows reducing the frequency of seizures in children with epilepsy in almost 90% of cases. Anticonvulsant treatment was not yet developed at that time, and “fatty” foods became one of the effective ways to fight the disease.

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A therapeutic diet based on this method was developed in the 20s of the 20th century in the USA. It is a special regimen for the patient, with a particular focus on fats. The patient should consume proteins in moderation, while carbs intake should be minimized.

The advent of medications that can relieve seizures pushed medical nutrition into the background until the end of the century when a famous film director in Hollywood began to use it for his child, who had many serious side effects.

A keto diet has arisen to alleviate the condition of children with epilepsy and can be used for this purpose as prescribed and under the supervision of a physician today. It should not be used instead, but in addition to the chosen therapy, and a doctor must control the whole procedure. No one knows for sure who first noticed the connection between an increase in the amount of fat in food and weight loss, but the keto diet for weight loss has begun to gain popularity. However, it is not recommended for children to lose weight with the help of fatty foods - it can be harmful to their bodies.

A keto diet has arisen to alleviate the condition of children with epilepsy and can be used for this purpose as prescribed and under the supervision of a physician today. It should not be used instead, but in addition to the chosen therapy, and a doctor must control the whole procedure. No one knows for sure who first noticed the connection between an increase in the amount of fat in food and weight loss, but the keto diet for weight loss has begun to gain popularity. However, it is not recommended for children to lose weight with the help of fatty foods - it can be harmful to their bodies.

Basic Principles of a Keto Diet

The point of the diet is that during the digestion of food, fats turn into specific metabolic products - ketones, which, getting into the brain, provide an anticonvulsant effect. That is why it is called ketogenic ​- it leads to the production of ketones in the body, which are, in fact, a therapeutic agent for epilepsy. This diet for kids is not to lose weight but to fight the disease.

A therapeutic diet involves the consumption of 3 to 4 grams of fat for every gram of protein and carbohydrates. Even though proteins and carbs should be consumed in moderation, it is necessary to provide the body with a sufficient amount of protein. To find the optimal ratio of nutrients for a particular case, it is necessary to consult with a doctor or a professional nutritionist. During treatment, the initially selected diet can be adjusted by the specialist according to the patient's condition.

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Nutrition for epilepsy should include various types of fatty foods, such as, for example, butter, bacon, heavy cream, vegetable oils, and mayonnaise. In countries where a diet with increased fat content has found widespread use in nutrition, the food industry produces many specialty products for a more varied menu.

Sugar consumption should be as limited as possible. So, children with epilepsy must be careful when taking sugar-containing medications (for example, cough syrups), vitamins, when using toothpaste with added sugar, and other non-food and food products that may include it.

A diet is prescribed, as a rule, for people with forms of epilepsy resistant to the effects of anticonvulsant drugs. There are also many types of research about keto diet for Parkinson’s and keto diet and acne treatment effects.

Keto has its contraindications as well. They include:

  • Functional disorders in the work of the heart, liver, kidneys;
  • Presence of ongoing encephalopathy;
  • Mitochondrial diseases;
  • Endocrine diseases (e.g., diabetes mellitus).

Besides, the need for surgical intervention may be a relative contraindication.

Is It Really Good for Kids?

According to Google, “keto for children” was the most frequently searched phrase in January and August of 2019, and cookbooks called “keto children” were published this summer. However, nutritionists do not want to expose children to such a strict regimen, especially if they are teenagers or younger. A diet is good, but the professionals should closely monitor a kid. Parents must pay attention to the food list for the keto diet because children need different amounts of nutrients, including carbohydrates and fruits. However, this is what is excluded from the keto diet so that the body can burn fat for energy.

Thus, it is much easier to burn extra pounds, and this leads to weight loss. However, the diet includes the so-called “keto flu,” which causes nausea, fatigue, and nervousness. It is extremely risky for children, as their body needs energy for development. A lack of carbohydrates is not beneficial for growing bodies. It robs the brain of fuel, and it can cause difficulty in concentration, which negatively affects their school performance and various physical activities.

Eliminating carbs also means reducing the consumption of fruits, cereals, and even potatoes. However, this limits the intake of vitamin B, potassium, and magnesium. Fibers are also crucial for the baby's body, and they are found in ‘forbidden’ cereals. Keto diet and sleep are not very compatible as well if to speak about kids.

According to nutritionists, if you want to try a keto diet for weight loss for your child, it is better to refuse from sweets, chips and stick to important nutrients such as fruits and vegetables. Try a low-carb type, which is similar to keto, but not so strict: it allows fruits and vegetables. However, weight loss should be agreed with a specialist.

Another argument against the keto diet for children is that severe restrictions lead to eating disorders. When you teach your child a strict diet, you tell him/her that food is harmful; you make him/her ashamed of the body. It’s better to explain to them how to eat healthily and not to starve. Experts advise parents to prepare healthy foods instead of dieting and limiting carbohydrate intake.

Conclusion

Even if adults are trying a keto diet, they should always have something outside the regime for children at home. It may be a great temptation for you, but a small body needs carbohydrates to produce vital energy.

​Please tell us if you have ever practiced the keto diet for your kids. We would like to know your experience in the comments below!

Rich is a father of two sons with epilepsy. That’ why he started to study everything about the keto diet for his kids’ treatment. Now he shares his researches in the keto blog and helps others to choose the right nutrition to stay healthy.

Rich

rich
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