The impact of the modified Atkins diet on lipid profiles in adults with epilepsy

Mackenzie C. Cervenka, Katlyn Patton, Ani Eloyan, Bobbie Henry, Eric H. Kossoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: The modified Atkins diet (MAD) is a high fat, low carbohydrate ketogenic diet used to treat intractable seizures in children and adults. The long-term impact on fasting lipid profiles (FLPs) remains unknown. This study was designed to detect significant lipid changes in adults on MAD. Methods: Patients were observed prospectively. A FLP was obtained in all patients at the first visit then serially. Patients were started on a 20 g per day net carbohydrate limit MAD. They were screened for risk for coronary heart disease and counseled to reduce saturated fats by a registered dietitian if deemed at risk. Patients that remained on MAD for 3 or more months with one or more follow-up FLP were included. Results: Thirty-seven patients (14 male), mean age 33 years (SD 13, range 18–59) met study criteria. Median diet duration was 16 months (range 3–41). Total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) increased significantly over the first 3 months of MAD (P = 0.01 and 0.008, respectively), but were not significantly different from baseline after 1 year of treatment (P = 0.2 and P = 0.5, respectively). High-density lipoprotein levels trended upward in the first 3 months (P = 0.05) and triglycerides remained unchanged (P = 0.5). In 12 patients followed for 3 or more years, no cardiovascular or cerebrovascular events were reported. Discussion: Although total cholesterol and LDL increased over the first 3 months of the MAD, these values normalized within a year of treatment, including in patients treated with MAD for more than 3 years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-137
Number of pages7
JournalNutritional Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2016


  • Cholesterol
  • Epilepsy
  • Hyperlipidemia
  • Ketogenic diet
  • Lipoprotein
  • Modified Atkins diet
  • Seizure
  • Triglycerides

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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