FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Do I need to consult a doctor before going on Modified Atkins Diet (MAD)?
It is critical to have support from your doctor. Testing may be required before starting the diet to establish a baseline to measure changes in cholesterol, uric acid, medication levels and/or other items of concern. A doctor can also assist with complications that may arise and has a network of professionals and resources to draw upon quickly should a medical emergency occur.
Does it work?
In studies conducted so far, yes. About half of all the participants had a 50% reduction in seizures after 6 months. Many were able to reduce their medications.
Can I get more information?
Whether you have seizures or are the primary caregiver for someone with seizures, it is important to understand that you are your best advocate for healing. No one knows your situation better. Knowledge in your hands will be more powerful than anything else. This website is a great place to start. Take a look at our Resources page for recommendations of other sites and books. You can also download the book which details our journey, with our daughter Brooklyn, from this website or you can purchase a hard copy on Amazon.
Where can I find support?
Changing your diet is more difficult than taking medication on schedule. Hundreds of people are doing this successfully, but it is much easier if you have the support and cooperation of your family members. Schools and friends need to be alerted as one well-meaning friend with a piece of candy or a soda could undo weeks of hard work. Joining some of the online forums for both MAD and the Ketogenic Diets can also be a big help. We have a Facebook Group that you can join where you can swap ideas and ask questions to others going through this process. You can also take a look at the recipe section on this website, and for more support groups, please take a look at our Resources page.
What triggers seizures?
A significant part of our journey was learning what triggered seizures in our daughter and taking steps to remove those triggers. Journaling can help tremendously. Does a seizure come after a certain type of food? Are there more seizures on laundry and/or cleaning day (chemicals)? Are they more common in the morning before breakfast (possibly related to blood sugar levels)? Browse the list of seizure triggers on this website to get an idea of what you might be looking to journal and what you may be able to eliminate. This journal would also be a good place to track, or graph, frequency of seizures, number of daily carbs consumed and ketosis level (we checked twice a week and also when there was a change in seizures).
Where can I find recipes?
There are lots of sources of recipes. Check out our recipe section on this website and also our facebook group. Having a dozen printed out and ready to try at the beginning gives you a starting place to learn about counting carbs, cooking low carb and figuring out what foods are tolerated. Why not try a few experimental meals before switching completely to the diet?
Can adults do it?
Yes, with similar outcomes to children and with similar side effects. However, probably a higher percentage of adults than children remain on medications. Today, adults with epilepsy are looking more and more to diet therapy to treat epilepsy. If you are thinking of starting the MAD, speak to your neurologist first, especially if you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, liver or kidney disease, a history of kidney stones, nutritional deficiencies and/or are considering getting pregnant.
Are there any side effects?
Yes, some children and adults lose weight, have increases in cholesterol and occasionally the change in diet can make patients feel ill. Kidney stones are a possibility and medication may or may not be prescribed. For these reasons the MAD should only be attempted with the supervision of a physician.
Can the diet ever be stopped?
Yes, the diet can sometimes be stopped successfully if a patient is seizure-free for a reasonable period of time. It should be stopped if it is not helpful.
How is it different from the Ketogenic Diet?
With the MAD, there is no fluid or calorie restriction or limitation. Fats are not weighed and measured and there are no restrictions on proteins. However, carbohydrate counts are monitored and “counted”. It can be started outside of a hospital and there is no need to fast. The increased flexibility means it is easier to eat at restaurants.
The diet is a “modified” Atkins Diet as it allows for less carbohydrates than the traditional Atkins Diet (15 – 20g/day) and more strongly encourages fat intake. Please remember that no diet should be tried without a neurologist involved.
What is the Modified Atkins Diet?
The Modified Atkins Diet, or MAD, was first formally studied in children and adults, who had never tried the Ketogenic Diet, in 2002. The study was conducted at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore MD, by Dr. Eric Kossoff and his colleagues, with the first paper on this diet being published in 2003. It is less restrictive than the traditional Ketogenic Diet and is an alternative diet used to treat patients with epilepsy. The diet is now over 18 years old.