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The History of the Ketogenic Diet


While the prominence of the Ketogenic diet seemingly exploded out of nowhere, the history of this nutritional plan is much deeper than you may realize. While similar to the Atkins diet that was popular during the early 2000s, the Keto diet places more emphasis on the consumption of fat as a primary fuel source. If you are already on a Ketogenic diet, you likely know the science behind why it works, so we won’t bore you with that here.

The Ketogenic diet was originally developed in the 1920s and 30s as an effective treatment for epilepsy as opposed to traditional fasting methods. Unfortunately, the diet was replaced with new anticonvulsant therapies and pharmaceutical drugs that would allow patients to continue to eat what were considered normal meals. However, studies ultimately found that these medications would fail to control convulsions experienced by up to 30% epileptics. For this segment, the diet was re-introduced as the most effective treatment method for controlling or managing the symptoms.

In 1921, an endocrinologist named Rollin Woodyatt found that ketone bodies were produced by the liver when a high-fat, low-carb diet was followed with periods of fasting. Once this study was released, the name “Ketogenic diet” was coined by Russel Wilder from the Mayo Clinic and was considered a primary treatment for epilepsy because of the proven results it provided. It wasn’t until nearly four decades later until the modern tenants of the Ketogenic diet were introduced.

Further research in the 1960s found that MCTs could be quickly transported to the liver to increase the production of ketone bodies. This would occur via transportation through the hepatic portal vein instead of the lymphatic system. After extensive research, the modern Ketogenic diet was introduced in 1971 by Peter Huttenlocher in which 60% of caloric intake was fat content provided by MCT oil. This not only added more protein and carbohydrates into the plan, but it also ensured families could still prepare meals that the whole family could enjoy and benefit from.

While the Ketogenic diet is glamourized by modern stars like Jenna Jameson, Khloe Kardashian and Vinny Guadagnino, the history of this diet is much richer than you may have known. If you are interested in following the Ketogenic diet to achieve real results, try to mimic the original studies for the most impact. Don’t fall for the marketing ploys of modern “Keto-friendly” companies if the nutritional balance isn’t right.

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