Ketosis for Kids
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. It was only in recent years, as the weight loss benefits of the keto diet started to garner widespread attention, which 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 or wonder 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 maladies, it is not merely a matter of eliminating carbs in a child's diet and having them gorge on fat bombs.

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 eschew 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 preparatory 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 malady. 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. And that many medical institutions have their recipes for various keto related foods, such as shakes.

kid thumbs up for the food

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 is any number of websites that offer kid-friendly keto recipes. 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 some 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 myriad 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.

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.