Mar 24, 2017


And Why We Believe It is the Most Accurate

What are Ketogenic Diets and Why They are Used

Ketogenic diets are characterized by minimized intake of carbohydrates. When the amount of carbohydrates is low enough in relationship to the fat in the diet, this causes the body to start producing molecules called 'ketones' from fat which the body uses for energy instead of glucose. This is known as being in 'nutritional ketosis,' which means that the body is in fat-burning mode.The more ketogenic a diet is, the more it utilizes the burning of fat for metabolism rather than glucose. Ketogenic diets have been demonstrated to have the ability to trigger burning fat without the loss of muscle mass (Ackerson, n.d,), and reviews of the medical research literature report a wide range of additional health benefits from ketogenic diets (Paoli, Rubini, Volek & Grimaldi, 2013). Some of these health benefits include eliminating or improving diabetes (Saslow et al,, 2017), cancer (Klement, 2017), as well as as well as improving neurological function and helping eliminate or improve epilepsy (Neal et al., 2009) or psychiatric disorders (Ede, 2017).

In modern times, aggressive efforts by the pharmaceutical industry to popularize drug treatments have caused many to ignore the existence of side-effect-free natural approaches to managing diabetes, epilepsy and a growing number of other diseases. In the pre-medication era, the effectiveness of ketogenic diets in helping with such disorders was first demonstrated in the 1920’s by Rollin T. Woodyatt, M.D. (Root, 1955). Woodyatt's research caused him to receive the 1948 Banting Medal for Scientific Achievement, which is the highest scientific award of the American Diabetes Association (American Diabetes Association, n.d.).

The Formula

For treating diabetic or epileptic patients, Dr. Woodyatt developed and used a formula which yields a ketogenic ratio for accurately pre-planning ketogenic meals. Woodyatt first published this formula in his paper "Objects and Methods of Diet Adjustments in Diabetes" (Woodyatt, 1921). This formula has since then been embraced and used by many researchers such as Collens & Shelling (1927). Zilberter (2011) is another such researcher who explains:
“... Woodyatt (1921) suggested the following equation for calculating KD composition:
KR = (0.46 pg + 0.90 fg):(1.0 cg + 0.58 pg + 0.1 fg)
Where KR is “ketogenic ratio,” g is grams, P is protein, F is fat, and C is CHO.
Wilder and Winter (1922) defined the threshold of ketogenesis explaining it from the standpoint of condition where either ketone bodies or glucose can be oxidized. They arrived, together with Shaffer and Woodyatt, at the conclusion that KR for induction of ketogenesis should be 2:1 or higher.
This is a very important point, not only methodologically, but also ideologically. The KR invariably indicates whether the CHO proportion is low enough for allowing the fat-mobilizing pathway and ketogenesis, or high enough for blocking it and supporting glycolysis instead." 
Thus, as can be seen by Woodyatt's formula above, how ketogenic one's food is depends on varying amounts of contribution from ketogenic macronutrients (portions of protein and fat) versus glucogenic macronutrients (portions of carbohydrate, protein and fat).

A Simplified Faulty Approach

Woodyatt's formula acknowledges that proteins, fats and carbohydrates make different contributions to the degree of ketosis, but many mistakenly use another popular keto-ratio formula which wrongfully assumes that protein is equally anti-ketogenic as carbohydrate. This simplified faulty approach adds protein and carbs together in a ratio against fat, which can cause one to easily underestimate the amount of protein needed to maintain adequate muscle mass for a given ketogenic ratio. Popular web-based calculators using this flawed approach include KetoCalculator, described in a paper published in the journal Epilepsia (Zupec-Kania, 2008). As explained here, the ketogenic ratio that KetoCalculator yields "is the relationship between grams of fat to the combined grams of protein and carbohydrate," an incorrect assumption that may underestimate the amount of protein which may harm especially growing children.

Does Woodyatt's Formula Have Shortcomings?

Woodyatt's formula can only calculate a ketogenic ratio based on the ketogenic/glucogenic attributes in food, while one's actual level of ketosis would depend on one's individual metabolism (how much glucose and fat the body actually burns). In the case that one consumes less calories than one burns for energy, some of the fat burnt would be coming from the body's own storage reserves instead of from food, which can cause one's actual degree of ketosis to be higher than the ratio for the food indicated by Woodyatt's formula. For example, an obese man can be put on what is called a 'protein sparing fast' for a few days, meaning he only eats protein three times a day and nothing else. He could end up in deep ketosis due to burning a lot of fat coming from his own body's storage reserves only instead of from food, despite the Woodyatt formula not showing ketosis based on his fat-free diet. But since the actual degree of ketosis can only be greater than that indicated by Woodyatt's ratio and cannot be less, the formula can still not cause one to believe one is ketogenic when one is not. In summary, if one is using up the body's stores for fat, one can only be more ketogenic than the amount Woddyatt's formula indicates, never less.

The research literature contains papers which point out the above, stating that Woodyatt's ketogenic ratio can indicate the actual degree of ketosis only in "isocaloric conditions" where the amount of calories consumed equals the amount of calories one's body burns (Cohen, 2009). Such papers have suggested adjustments to the original formula which we have not implemented due to their controversial and possibly inaccurate nature.

While Woodyatt's formula lets one accurately PRE-PLAN ketogenic meals, conventional tools such as urine tests, painful blood tests or expensive breath ketone analyzers let one see if one is in nutritional ketosis AFTER one's meals. The Internet contains independently posted modern-day success stories (Korsunsky, 2016) utilizing Woodyatt's formula using the KetoCalc app.


Ackerson, C. (n.d.). Will I Lose Muscle on a Ketogenic Diet? Retrieved October 26, 2017, from

American Diabetes Association. (n.d.). Banting Medal for Scientific Achievement. Retrieved October 26, 2017, from

Cohen, I. (2009). A model for determining total ketogenic ratio (TKR) for evaluating the ketogenic property of a weight-reduction diet. Medical Hypotheses, 73(3), 377-381. Retrieved October 26, 2017, from

Collens, W. S., & Shelling, D. H. (1927). A Simple Method For Deriving The Formula For A Diabetic Diet. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 88(6), 396. Retrieved October 26, 2017, from

Ede, G. (2017, June 30). Ketogenic Diets for Psychiatric Disorders: A New 2017 Review. Psychology Today. Retrieved October 26, 2017, from

Klement, R. J. (2017). Beneficial effects of ketogenic diets for cancer patients: a realist review with focus on evidence and confirmation. Medical Oncology, 34(8), 132. Retrieved October 26, 2017, from

Korsunsky, D. (2016, September 20). Stories of Transformation – Hobie Simons & The Ketogenic Ratio. Retrieved October 26, 2017, from

Neal EG, Chaffe H, Schwartz RH, Lawson MS, Edwards N, Fitzsimmons G, Whitney A. & Cross JH. (2009). A randomized trial of classical and medium-chain triglyceride ketogenic diets in the treatment of childhood epilepsy. Epilepsia, 50(5) , 1109–1117. Retrieved October 26, 2017, from

Paoli, A., Rubini, A., Volek, J. S., & Grimaldi, K. A. (2013). Beyond weight loss: a review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 67(8), 789–796. Retrieved October 26, 2017, from

Root, H. F. (1955). Dr. Rollin Turner Woodyatt. Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association, 66, liv–lv. Retrieved October 26, 2017, from

Saslow, L. R., Mason, A. E., Kim, S., Goldman, V., Ploutz-Snyder, R., Bayandorian, H., … Moskowitz, J. T. (2017). An Online Intervention Comparing a Very Low-Carbohydrate Ketogenic Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations Versus a Plate Method Diet in Overweight Individuals With Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 19(2), e36. Retrieved October 26, 2017, from

Westman, E. C., Yancy, W. S., Mavropoulos, J. C., Marquart, M., & McDuffie, J. R. (2008). The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-glycemic index diet on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Nutrition & Metabolism, 5, 36. Retrieved October 26, 2017, from

Woodyatt, R. T. (1921). Objects And Method Of Diet Adjustment In Diabetes. Archives of Internal Medicine, 28(2), 125-141. Retrieved October 26, 2017, from

Zilberter, T. (2011). Carbohydrate-Biased Control of Energy Metabolism: The Darker Side of the Selfish Brain. Frontiers in Neuroenergetics, 3. Retrieved October 26, 2017, from

Zupec-Kania, B. (2008). KetoCalculator: A web-based calculator for the ketogenic diet. Epilepsia, 49, 14-16. Retrieved October 26, 2017, from

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