Kids And Keto
Is It The Right Way For Your Children?

Keto for Kids

Most people don't realize it, but the keto diet was developed a century ago not for adults but for adolescents who developed various seizure disorders. It's still employed for just that purpose today in medical centers all over the world.

Only in recent years, as the weight loss benefits of the keto diet started to garner widespread attention, did this virtually carb-free way of approaching food came to be adopted by adults.

As such, when you read a title like "Keto for Kids” you shouldn’t be shocked if the author has lost their mind.

Below we’re going to look at the various benefits - medical and otherwise - to be gained by placing your kids on a keto lifestyle.

Origins and Applications

As we mentioned, the lifestyle was designed to help kids with seizure disorders and other medical issues [1] bring some level of normalcy to their life. And it's still used as part of epileptic treatment regimes in hospitals the world over.

But keto has a variety of other applications when it comes to children's health [2] as well...

Particularly when it comes to health issues related to blood glucose levels including:

flexing little girl
  • ​Dravet Syndrome
  • ​Glucose Transporter Type-1 Deficiency
  • ​Lennox Gastaut Syndrome
  • ​Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Deficiency

Keep in mind that, although the lifestyle has proven useful when dealing with some seizure disorders as well as the above-listed diseases, it is not merely a matter of eliminating carbs in a child's diet and having them gorge on fat bombs.

It’s not easy to get the right balance of healthy fat, protein, and carbs even as an adult, so don’t expect this to be easy for children. But the benefits are significant and with the help of some meal planning you can keep your kids more than happy.

Clinical Administration of the Diet for Children

children havinf fun on recess

Since fasting can help jump-start the ketone creation process, a hospital might suggest a child lay the groundwork for their experience by fasting for one or two days before starting on the lifestyle itself.

Alternatively, the hospital may skip fasting and instead recommend the child increase their fat intake gradually over the course of several days before starting on the low-carb diet.

No matter which route is chosen the child will, of course, be carefully monitored throughout.

Once the preparation phase of treatment is complete, the medical team will start the transition to ketosis, often by having the child drink low-carb shakes

Rest assured that in every clinical setting dealing with this type of treatment there is always a physician, nurse and a registered dietician on hand to ensure that A) the child’s overall nutritional needs are being met and B) that the child is not experiencing any adverse side effects. [3]

At the same time that the child is beginning their keto therapy, their parents are being thoroughly trained and educated on exactly how to integrate the keto diet into the daily life of their child.

They will be taught how to check for ketones in their child's urine, and they will also learn about the vast numbers of products that contain hidden carbohydrates including toothpaste, mouthwash, and some common medications.

The entire process of getting to a state of ketosis on the keto diet will typically take between one and two weeks.

If the child can make a successful transition to ketosis (and the parents can help them maintain that state), it is likely they will not need to take nearly as much medication to deal with their particular illness.

Follow up visits will be necessary, however, for the medical team to monitor the child’s condition.

Maintaining Ketosis in Children

In most cases, the ratio of fat to protein/carbs on the keto diet is 4/1 for children.

Parents may also need to weigh their children's food to ensure compliance. Also, depending on the weight of the child, it's possible the medical team may decide to adjust the amount of protein the child is ingesting.

It's also the case that different medical institutions sometimes have different ideas regarding the amount of unhealthy fat that should be consumed by children on the ketogenic diet.

kid thumbs up for the food

Many medical institutions also have their recipes for various keto related foods, such as shakes, which would often be recommended by dieticians.

Non-Medical Uses of the Lifestyle

Sometimes, parents wish to investigate the keto diet for kids for non-medical reasons. This makes perfect sense since it’s no secret the typical Western diet today is one laden with destructive, carbohydrate-rich foods.

Keto for kids allows parents to instill in their children a healthier relationship with food and parents are often surprised at how many keto-friendly foods are out there that will appeal to their child's palate, including:

  • ​Keto pancakes and waffles, bacon and eggs and smoothies for breakfast.
  • ​Keto pizza, meatballs, enchiladas and chili for lunch.
  • ​And fat bombs, keto cookies, and nut or seed butter for dessert and/or snacks.

There are a number of websites that offer kid-friendly keto recipes.

However, parents should keep in mind that if their child is on the keto diet for medical purposes, they should clear any recipes with the medical team before serving them to their children.

So, Is Keto Safe for Kids?

kid eating in the table

There are precise ways the ketogenic diet for kids is beneficial. Kids typically need lots of iron and fat in their meals, and the low-carb lifestyle provides both.

Besides, if kids build a taste for keto friendly foods early on it will help steer them away from the high carb foods that are always being dangled in front of them by slick advertising.

This will provide countless health benefits as they grow up.

It’s an unfortunate fact that obesity has reached epidemic proportions and that type II diabetes is increasingly common among children, all because more kids are developing an unhealthy relationship with food early on in life.

The ketogenic diet for children can serve as an effective alternative to junk food. Keto for kids can help them build the kind of healthy eating habits that will pay many dividends as they grow into adults.

As such, concerned parents who want the best for their kids should investigate and consider the many benefits the lifestyle has to offer.


Frequently Asked Questions

Does keto help ADHD?
Yes, keto can help with ADHD and has been shown to improve the condition in children significantly.

From a diet perspective, there are two things that are always recommended to parents of children with ADHD. Firstly, to increase the amount of healthy fats like omega 3 and 6.

Secondly, to reduce carbs, especially sugar, to avoid the blood glucose rollercoaster.

And these are two things a keto diet will provide.

Can keto diet help autism? 
Yes, the keto diet has the potential to help manage the symptoms of autism.

Studies have been conducted where autistic children were put on intermittent ketogenic diets to observe the behavioral impact. The results showed that there is enough evidence of some improvements in symptoms.

What is a keto baby?
Keto baby is a term used in the low carb community to describe a pregnancy that was conceived while on or because of the keto diet.

There are direct links between the positive digestive effects of keto and hormone balance that can help with fertility issues. The term is also used to highlight the fact that breastfed babies are in a state of mild ketosis due to the high fat and moderate carb content of breastmilk.

How many carbs does a child need per day?
A child needs about 130 grams of carbs on a normal non-keto diet.

However, in most Western countries that number far exceeds 130 grams, and is especially high on sugar. For a keto diet, an adult will aim to keep carbs to under 50 grams per day, but that will need to be adjusted for a child based on age and weight.

About the Author

Ryan is a personal trainer, athlete, health enthusiast, and entrepreneur. He is researching and expanding his knowledge about the ketogenic diet. He spends most of his time writing content about his new learnings of the ketogenic diet and shares it on Ketogenic Supplement Reviews. You can find me on: Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.