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High-fat, low-carb ketogenic diet benefits range from epilepsy to weight loss

Turn to low carb high protein diets for weight loss.
Turn to low carb high protein diets for weight loss.
Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

For a child with severe epilepsy, life can be severely restricted. In recent years, however, physicians and families have been turning to an old remedy that's found new life: High fat low carb ketogenic diets. And those same diets can also boost weight loss.

At age three, Ben Fountain experienced up to 50 epileptic seizures daily. He had to wear a helmet, and the medications typically used to control epilepsy did not work.

Then physicians advised his parents to put him on a high fat ketogenic diet. The result: Ben no longer suffers.

A group of experts from Johns Hopkins have created a manual for both parents and physicians to help them understand how to customize ketogenic diets for the use of epilepsy. Entitled "Ketogenic Diets," it provides information on the newest research for using the approach to treat other neurological disorders.

But it's not only for severe medical problems. High fat low carb ketogenic diets also can boost weight loss, and the most well-known plan is the Atkins diet.

Sharon Osbourne has added star power to the Atkins plan. She lost 30 pounds on the diet, Colette Heimowitz, VP of Nutrition at Atkins Nutritionals, Inc, author of "The New Atkins for a New You Workbook: A Weekly Food Journal to Help You Shed Weight and Feel Great," told me in an exclusive interview on Thursday.

How does the low carb high fat (LCHF) approach accelerate weight loss? It causes the body to burn fat for energy, explained Colette, who also concocted a cookbook "The New Atkins for a New You Cookbook: 200 Simple and Delicious Low-Carb Recipes in 30 Minutes or Less."

"The key to losing weight is lowering carbohydrate intake and replacing high sugar carbs with healthy fats," she told me. "When carbs are low enough the body will burn fat for fuel so you lose the extra fat you have stored on your body and you burn the fat you are eating for energy."

When the Atkins diet book was first published by Dr. Robert Atkins, it drew criticism for emphasizing saturated fats. Now, however, new studies have shown that certain fats benefit health as well as weight loss.

In the category of healthy fats: "Monounsaturated fat like nuts, avocado, salmon, and olive oil. It also includes some saturated fat like eggs, cheese, butter, and coconut oil," said Colette.

The Atkins diet recently underwent a makeover as a result of the latest research. It now places more emphasis on fiber and the type of fats chosen for weight loss, detailed in "The New Atkins Made Easy: A Faster, Simpler Way to Shed Weight and Feel Great -- Starting Today."

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