Where did it come from?
The diet was originally developed in the 1920s to help treat epilepsy in children. Doctors found that a diet ratio of 4:1 -- that is, four parts fat to one part protein and carbohydrates -- significantly reduced seizures. The diet dwindled in popularity with the introduction of anticonvulsant medications, but was then rediscovered in the 1990s, complete with made-for-TV movie starring Meryl Streep.
What does "ketogenic" mean?
Remember way back in ancient diet fad history to the Atkins Diet? By eating protein and fat and negligible carbohydrates, you enter a state of ketosis, in which your body burns fats instead of glucose. Atkins is just one of many varieties of ketogenic diet. The one everyone is talking about right now has a whole lotta butter in it.
Does this have anything to do with that Bulletproof Coffee craze?
"Bulletproof coffee," that is, coffee supplemented with nearly 500 calories' worth of butter and oil, drunk each morning as a breakfast replacement, was created by tech entrepreneur Dave Asprey, who gained his inspiration from Nepal's traditional yak-butter tea. Among the many benefits touted by Bulletproof adherents is that this high-fat drink triggers ketosis.
What are the effects of the ketogenic diet?
The good: rapid weight loss. The bad: Like with any diet low in carbohydrates, the first week or two may find you feeling fatigued and foggy while your body adjusts to utilizing fat instead of carbs for energy. This feeling is sometimes called “low-carb flu.” The long-term effects of a ketogenic diet include micronutrient deficiencies, constipation, ketoacidosis (i.e., overly acidic blood -- dangerous for diabetics).
Should you jump on the bandwagon?
While cutting back on simple carbohydrates is a good dietary choice for just about everyone, adhering to a 4:1 ratio of fats to carbs and protein is some serious black-belt-level low-carbing, so talk to a doctor before replacing your fruit bowl with a butter churn.
If all this talk of butter has your mouth watering, Homer Simpson-style, check out some of our richest dairy-inspired recipes using butter, cream, creme fraiche, yogurt, sour cream, and buttermilk: