We came into the ketogenic diet in a non-standard way for Nora. We started with a low glycemic index diet for a few weeks in the fall of 2011, then to a modified Atkins diet for a few weeks, then to a 3:1 ratio ketogenic diet for a few months, and finally to a 3.5:1 ratio ketogenic diet from April of 2012 to April of 2014. Each increase provided better seizure control.
Because we transitioned slowly into the ketogenic diet instead of the traditional 24 hour hospital induction, we had time to develop many of our own tools for tracking Nora’s diet and seizures. When we went full keto, we continued to use these self-developed tools — mainly a Google Docs spreadsheet — with the approval of our neurologist and dietician team. (Although we administered the diet differently, we greatly support the Charlie Foundation’s Keto Calculator, and recommend that tool for administering the ketogenic diet.)
Starting April 2014, after two years of seizure freedom, we slowly weaned Nora by decreasing the ketogenic diet ratio by 0.25 every 3-4 weeks. In December of 2014 we finally weaned down to a 1:1 ratio. We then transitioned to a modified Atkins diet in which only carbs are tracked (as opposed to the full suite of carbs, protein, fat, and fiber). This greatly simplifies administration of the diet, but we still use a simplified version of our spreadsheet.
We get a lot of questions about our methods for administering the diet, and because the modified Atkins diet can be done with less strict medical oversight, we are now posting a version of this spreadsheet in case anyone finds it useful for administering the modified Atkins diet. (For the ketogenic diet, we recommend using the Charlie Foundation’s Keto Calculator as that is a widely supported and vetted tool.)
We recommend using a tool like this if you aren’t sure you are estimating portions right, and want to learn the proper proportions of foods using a gram scale (a traditional kitchen gram scale will be fine, no need to measure to the tenth of a gram as in the ketogenic diet). We have also found it useful in weaning off the ketogenic diet, after you have been accustomed to weighing all food and want to learn how to think in portion sizes again and only count the carbs, not the ratio.
Note that the modified Atkins diet is still a high-protein, high-fat diet. You are still going for a 1:1 ratio. This spreadsheet only helps you count carbs and is not intended to help you plan full meals at a 1:1 ratio. Notice that cheese and meats are not listed (unless it is a product with significant carbs). Add protein and fats to every meal, and use the higher fat foods in the spreadsheet (labeled in green) to supply healthy fats.
The modified Atkins diet is less demanding on the patient than the ketogenic diet, but it is still a restricted diet with potential side effects. We strongly recommend you inform your medical care team if you are going to use the MAD diet for your child. Low carb diets can interact with other medications, and some medical conditions are contraindicated with low carb diets and could be very dangerous. Check with your medical team. If your child is struggling, sick, or is continually not feeling well, stop the the diet and check with your medical team.
You can download the MADSheet (version 1) here: MADSheet-v1.
Instructions are given in the “INSTRUCTIONS” tab in the spreadsheet. Foods with no (or very little) carbs (such as butter) are not listed in the spreadsheet as they don’t need to be calculated and weighed. But they will still be part of most meals. As an example, for a morning snack for Nora I would like 3 grams of carbs of apple and 1 gram of carb of 85% dark chocolate and 3 grams of carbs of peanut butter. Using the MADSheet, I put 3, 1, and 3 respectively in cells J24, J27, and J29. It is then calculated that I need 24 grams of apple, 3.6 grams of chocolate, and 24 grams of peanut butter. If I were doing this for Nora I would then put an additional dollop of butter in with the peanut butter to push the ratio up a bit, but I don’t need to measure that as it doesn’t have any carbs. (In the full keto version of the diet though, I do need to calculate and weigh the correct amount of butter along with everything else.)
Lastly, the MADSheet tool is not intended as an optimized, finished product in any way. We do not guarantee the spreadsheet to be free of errors or bugs. We are providing it as a template or starting point to be modified as necessary to fit the needs of the user. Please delete foods, add foods, change and modify cells and calculations as you see fit. Please take care to double check all calculations and formulas, especially after making modifications. This is not intended as medical advice. Please check all methods with your medical team. Use at your own risk.