The Atkins diet limits carbohydrates and emphasizes protein and fat intake for weight loss. A modified version of the Atkins diet may benefit adults and children with seizure disorders. Ketogenic diets high in fats but severely restricted in carbohydrates, calories and fluids have a long history of use in treating epilepsy. Similar to but less restrictive than the ketogenic diet, the modified Atkins diet, or MAD, is easier to follow, requiring no calorie or fluid restrictions, although it does limit carbohydrate intake to around 15 g per day, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Undertake this diet as a seizure treatment only under your doctor’s supervision.
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The modified Atkins diet allows for unlimited intake of fats and proteins. Allowed breakfast foods include high-fat meats such as bacon, sausage and ham, as well as eggs and cheese. You can add small amounts of low-carb vegetables to eggs for omelets. Low-carb breads may be allowed in small amounts, as long as the total carbohydrate intake remains within the prescribed levels. You can use butter liberally. Pancakes can be made from soy or almond flour, which are not made from grains. Don't drink fruit juices, which contain large amounts of carbohydrates.
Lunch and Dinner
You can eat as much as you’d like of any meats, regardless of fat intake, for lunch and dinner. Mix tuna or chicken salad with mayonnaise, a high-fat, low-carb food. Low-carb vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, onions, spinach, cabbage, string beans, spaghetti squash and Brussels sprouts. Limit fruits to the allowed carbohydrate count, which will add up to very little fruit. An average apple, for example, contains 21 g of carbohydrate.
Snack Foods and Desserts
Snack foods often contain large amounts of carbohydrates and can pose a dilemma for people on this diet. You can try low-carb flavored gelatin with real whipped cream made with artificial sugar or a handful nuts as long as you keep the carb count within limits. You can also make muffins and other snacks by using almond flour, made from ground almonds and artificial sweeteners. Although they're an acquired taste, pork rinds also supply fat without carbs and make a crunchy substitute for chips.
Around 66 percent of children following this diet at Johns Hopkins had a 50 percent reduction in seizure activity, according to Epilepsy.com. It’s important to note, though, that even though the modified Atkins diet has more leeway than the ketogenic diet, it may not work if your carb count goes too high. Recipes that substitute alternative flours and sugars often contain around 5 g of carbohydrates per serving, so don’t plan on eating them every day at every meal, or you’ll exceed your carb count.
- Johns Hopkins Medicine; Modified Atkins Diet Can Cut Epileptic Seizures in Adults; January 2008
- Atkins for Seizures; The Modified Atkins Diet (MAD) for Seizures
- MyKetoCal: NEW! KetoCal® Recipes — Modified Atkins Diet (MAD)
- Fitness and Freebies.com: Carb-Counters Cheat Sheet for Fruits and Vegetables