Dietary‐induced ketogenesis: Adults are not children

Keren Porper, Leor Zach, Yael Shpatz, Bruria Ben‐zeev, Michal Tzadok, Elisheva Jan, Alisa Talianski, Colin E. Champ, Zvi Symon, Yair Anikster, Yaacov R. Lawrence*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


There is increasing interest in the use of a ketogenic diet for various adult disorders; how-ever, the ability of adults to generate ketones is unknown. Our goal was to challenge the hypothesis that there would be no difference between adults and children regarding their ability to enter keto-sis. Methods: Two populations were studied, both treated with identical very low‐carbohydrate high‐fat diets: a retrospective series of children with epilepsy or/and metabolic disorders (2009– 2016) and a prospective clinical trial of adults with glioblastoma. Dietary intake was assessed based upon written food diaries and 24‐h dietary recall. Ketogenic ratio was calculated according to [grams of fat consumed]/[grams of carbohydrate and protein consumed]. Ketone levels (β‐hydroxybutyrate) were measured in blood and/or urine. Results: A total of 168 encounters amongst 28 individuals were analyzed. Amongst both children and adults, ketone levels correlated with nutritional ketogenic ratio; however, the absolute ketone levels in adults were approximately one quarter of those seen in children. This difference was highly significant in a multivariate linear regression model, p < 0.0001. Conclusions: For diets with comparable ketogenic ratios, adults have lower blood ketone levels than children; consequently, high levels of nutritional ketosis are unobtainable in adults.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3093
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021


FundersFunder number
Rosetrees Trust


    • Age‐related differences
    • Epilepsy
    • Glioblastoma
    • Ketogenesis
    • Ketogenic diet


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