On National Keto Day, January 5, we are reminded that people on ketogenic diets cut carbs out of their diet to an extent where the body starts to consume fat — instead of carbohydrates — for fuel. The obvious benefit of fat used for energy is weight loss, but it also helps epilepsy patients avoid seizures, and is shown to increase cognitive brain function.
For those wanting to start keto, be aware of possible side effects dubbed the “keto flu.” However, there are plenty of reliable resources online and celebrities like the Kardashians and Halle Berry also swear by it!
History of National Keto Day
The ketogenic diet as a modern health strategy started in the 1920s, as a treatment for epilepsy in both children and adults. Later, with the introduction of effective anticonvulsant prescription drugs for seizures, keto fell out of favor with the medical community. However, some providers still recommended the regimen of the 4:1 fat to protein intake ratio and reduction in grain-based foods, sugars, and high-carb fruits, instead of the medicines.
Finally, in 1994, Hollywood producer Jim Abrahams, whose son’s epilepsy was controlled by the keto diet, established the Charlie Foundation for Ketogenic Therapies. This led to broad media coverage including an interview on “Dateline” and a made-for-TV movie starring Meryl Streep directed by Abrahams himself. Soon after, his foundation published a cutting-edge scientific study of ketogenics, and a renewed national and international interest began to grow.
So how did doctors in the early 20th century know that carb reduction would be of benefit to epileptics? The real history goes back to ancient Greece, where it was written by physicians in the “Hippocratic Corpus” that epilepsy was not supernatural as commonly believed, but a biological ailment that could be treated by severe fasting.
In 20th-century treatments and studies, it was discovered by neurologists that a starch and sugar-free diet could replicate the results of the total fasting version, and that fine-tuning and experimentation of course led to today’s version of keto, spurred on to a great extent by the national preoccupation with weight loss.
Today, the brain-health benefits of the keto diet are known to apply to Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, insomnia, and more. The Vitamin Shoppe founded National Keto Day on January 5, 2019, to educate and bring awareness to the ketogenic diet and further highlight the many health benefits a keto lifestyle offers.
National Keto Day timeline
A Cochrane systematic review analyzes over a dozen trials and overwhelmingly confirms the efficacy of keto in treating childhood epilepsy.
The ketogenic diet becomes available in 45 countries and expands to include variants like the modified Atkins version.
NBC’s “Dateline” does a story on producer Jim Abraham’s son Charlie, then two years old, whose severe epilepsy is successfully controlled by the keto diet.
Dr. Russell Morse Wilder of the Mayo Clinic first uses the term “ketogenic diet” to describe the high-fat, low-carb regimen for treating epilepsy.
National Keto Day FAQs
What happens if you cheat day 1 on keto?
Here are all the things that go down when you add carbs back in with a ketogenic diet cheat day. Blood sugar will spike, making an abundance of quick energy available and causing the body to switch back to glucose as a source of fuel. Ketone production will stop.
How long should you do keto for?
The recommended aim is to try it for at least six weeks. If you feel exhausted after this time period or hate eating the food, the diet is probably not for you. However, if you feel energetic after keto flu symptoms subside, this could indicate success.
Will I gain weight after keto?
Re-gaining post-Keto weight can be scary once you reintroduce carbs to your diet, but eating healthy fats and lean proteins can continue weight loss.
How to Observe National Keto Day
Start the keto diet
When done correctly and with care, keto is an excellent strategy for weight loss and increased brain function. There are drawbacks, but perhaps if Kim Kardashian can master the diet and maintain it while living a productive life, so can we.
Support anti-epilepsy foundations
If inclined, the most prominent organization to donate to or volunteer at is The Epilepsy Foundation, which has branch offices in many major cities. Consider giving time and resources to them or another nonprofit.
Try fasting for part of the day
There are many scientifically-backed benefits to fasting, and is a practice which dates back centuries that plays a central role in many cultures and religions. Aside from this, many successful keto dieters include occasional fasting in their plan, to a positive effect.
Why We Love National Keto Day
Ketosis is a normal, natural metabolic state
We know that fasting or selective fasting produces ketones, but did you know that things like intense exercise can do the same thing? Ketosis is a standard human biological process, it’s just that this is enhanced and maximized during the keto diet. All without the risky side-effects of medications!
Keto can also help treat diabetes
A study of patients with obesity and Type-2 diabetes on the keto diet showed the majority were able to reduce or eliminate insulin treatment. Anyone who doesn’t like needles can appreciate that!
It represents naturalistic medical practices
We’ve seen the ads for prescription medicines on TV, where the visuals show a happy story of well-adjusted people, but the narrator is intoning the whole time, “This may harm you, this may even kill you.” Well, keto has its own challenges, but it lacks the risk of some pretty nasty side effects.
National Keto Day dates