The new or Modified Atkins Diet (MAD) is an altered version of the original Atkins diet-- a ketogenic, weight loss eating plan with a very low carbohydrate content.
The modified diet was developed at Johns Hopkins Hospital to provide an alternative to Atkins and offer a less restrictive diet, where unlimited amounts of protein can be eaten and the consumption of fats is more strongly encouraged.
The MAD is one of three alternative diets used to treat seizures in people with epilepsy, the other two being the MCT (medium chain triglyceride) diet and LGIT (low glycemic index treatment).MAD is primarily used when patients who have seizures on a daily basis are not fully responsive to medication.
The diet plan consists of a 1:1 ratio of fat to carbohydrates and protein. High-fat foods such as butter, dense cream and vegetables are included in the diet, along with protein-rich foods such as fish, chicken and red meat. All sweet foods such as biscuits and cakes are completely eliminated. Foods rich in carbohydrates such as pasta, potatoes, bread and cereals are eliminated during the first month, but then gradually introduced later.
Studies have shown that the efficacy of the diet is similar to the original Atkins diet. Studies of children who have stayed on MAD for long periods show a 50% decrease in the number of seizures they experience and some are able to reduce their use of medication. Some children with specific epilepsy syndromes benefit from even greater rates of seizure reduction.
Some further advantages and disadvantages of the diet are listed below.
Once a patient has been free of seizures for around two years, the diet may sometimes be stopped, but it is usually continued. However, if no improvements are seen with the diet, it should be stopped in any case.