Modified Atkins Diet for Adults with Epilepsy

What is the modified Atkins diet (MAD)?

The modified Atkins diet (MAD) is a high fat, low carbohydrate, moderate protein diet that imitates the metabolic state of fasting to induce ketosis while maintaining adequate nutrient intake.

Compared to the traditional ketogenic diet, MAD is less restrictive. The food is measured with household measurements like tablespoons, cups, or servings rather than on a food scale. Patients can also eat out at restaurants.

Carbohydrates are limited to about 20 g net carbs a day (net = total carbs – fiber). Patients choose what to eat. 

The ratio of fat to the combination of protein and carbohydrate is about 1.5:1
High-fat foods such as bacon, mayonnaise, heavy whipping cream, and oils are allowed.
There is no restriction on the number of calories consumed per day.
There is no fluid restriction or limitation. Fluids are encouraged and help avoid side effects.
Certain fruits, vegetables, nuts, avocados, olives, and cheeses may be consumed.
Foods can be eaten in restaurants and outside the home.  

Modified Atkins diet in treatment of epilepsy

Who are candidates for the MAD?

MAD is mostly used for patients who still have frequent seizures despite anti-seizure medications. Research studies show that about 40% of patients have a 50% or more seizure reduction and 15% of patients became seizure free.

What will you expect in the clinic?

We have a team approach to treat epilepsy in the GW diet clinic. You will meet with a physician and a registered dietitian at the clinic visit.

At initial visit, the epileptologists will review your medical history and may order lab tests to ensure the safety to start MAD.
Typically, anti-seizure medications are unchanged at the initiation of diet.
A dietitian will discuss the MAD and provide diet/nutrition consultation at the end of the clinic visit.
Once you start the diet, blood and urine will be monitored every 3 months. And you will check urine ketones once or twice a week.

Starting the diet
Once the team determines the MAD diet is right for you, the dietitian will review your diet history and provide a personalized diet “prescription”.  A thorough education session will be presented to introduce the diet and provide helpful resources to get you started.


Epilepsy Foundation - Modified Atkins Diet

Charlie Foundation - Diet Plans - Modified Atkins

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