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» Modified Atkins Diet

Modified Atkins Diet

This diet is based upon Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution. The Atkins' diet may induce ketosis as does the ketogenic diet, without restrictions on calories, fluids, protein, or need for an inpatient fast and admission. The modified protocol includes:

  • Carbohydrates restricted to 10 g/day for the first month
  • Fats (e.g., 36% heavy whipping cream, oils, butter, mayonnaise) encouraged
  • Clear, carbohydrate-free fluids not restricted
  • Low-carbohydrate multivitamin (Unicap M) and calcium (Calcimix) supplementation
  • Low-carbohydrate, store-bought products (e.g., shakes, candy bars, baking mixes) discouraged for at least the first month

Efficacy

According to a study published in Epilepsia, 47(2):421–424, 2006 [A Modified Atkins Diet Is Effective for the Treatment of Intractable Pediatric Epilepsy (.PDF file)]:

A modified Atkins diet appears to be an effective and well-tolerated therapy for children with intractable epilepsy, based on results from this small, open-label prospective study. At the 6-month period, 65% had a >50% response, and 35% had a >90% response. A striking similarity exists to a large published prospective study of the traditional ketogenic diet, in which 51% had a >50% response and 32% had >90% seizure reduction, with an intent-to-treat analysis (11). Also in that study, 71% were able to stay on the diet for 6 months, similar to the 80% in this study.

This study raises important questions on the current use of the traditional ketogenic diet. The first is whether higher ratios with more fat, less protein, and fewer carbohydrates are truly necessary for efficacy. Our results also question whether ketosis is as important as previously reported (10,12). Eighty percent of children with a loss of large urinary ketosis over the study period did not lose seizure control, and the same percentage with trace or zero ketosis at 6 months were still improved. Preliminary efficacy of a low–glycemic index diet with lower levels of ketosis also suggests this may be accurate (13).

Potential Adverse Events

According to Atkins Diet Alert:
No published studies have addressed the long-term effects of low-carbohydrate diets. The longest studies have followed dieters for only 12 months, which is not sufficient to assess whether dieters are at risk for the problems seen in studies of general populations consuming large amounts of meat, fatty dairy products, and the cholesterol, saturated fat, and animal protein they contain. However, long-term studies of the general population following a variety of diets and short-term studies of individuals on low-carbohydrate diets raise important concerns:
  • colon cancer
  • heart disease
  • impaired kidney function
  • complications of diabetes
  • osteoporosis
  • constipation
  • head ache
  • bad breath
  • muscle cramps
  • diarrhea
  • general weakness

Cost

For the cost of a little research (ie. the Atkins book referenced above), you can pretty much try this diet on you own with just a little supervision from your doctors. The original study called for:

  • Calendar provided to document seizures daily, urine ketones semiweekly, and weight weekly
  • Evaluations in clinic at 1, 3, and 6 months on the diet
  • Complete blood count, complete metabolic profile (SMA-20), fasting lipid profile at baseline, 3, and 6 months; urine calcium and urine creatinine obtained at 3 and 6 months

I rated it a 8 for the chart, for the medical supervision and testing.

Type

This is a diet that needs to be adopted as a permanent lifestyle change. It requires continuous active participation to maintain seizure control.

Latency

Seizure control could start occurring within days to weeks of starting the diet. In the study, the best seizure control was reported at six months.

Special Notes

This diet is easier to maintain than the Ketogenic diet.

Return to the chart of alternative epilepsy treatments.

This page last modified September 26, 2011.

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