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Medications That Can Throw Off Your Ketogenic Diet

By Dr. Eric Berg DC
Views: 1677

Our Educational Content is Not Meant or Intended for Medical Advice or Treatment

Feature | Beautiful young woman taking pill at home | Medications That Can Throw Off Your Ketogenic Diet

If you are taking medications while on the keto diet, there are some important reminders you need to take note of to avoid breaking your diet plan.

RELATED: Keto and Intermittent Fasting The Big Overview for Beginners

In this article: 

  1. How Some Prescription Drugs Can Affect Your Meal Plan
  2. Six Guidelines to Follow for Common Medications While on a Ketogenic Diet

Medications to Watch Out For When on Keto Diet


How Some Prescription Drugs Can Affect Your Meal Plan

Close up of senior man and doctor meeting in medical office at hospital | Medications That Can Throw Off Your Ketogenic Diet

It’s interesting that doctors will generally tell you, as their patient, not to take life-sustaining vitamins and minerals because they may interact with the prescription medications you have been given. They hold the prescribed medications at a higher priority than the life-giving vitamins and minerals. Well, here’s a twist to their thinking today: some of the medicines your doctor is giving you may be throwing off your ketogenic diet and knocking you out of ketosis!

The fact of the matter is that almost all medications produced by various pharmaceutical companies contain at least some carbohydrates, according to Jeff Curless, PharmD, author of Medication Management on the Ketogenic Diet. This can actually mean diet failure, which directly affects one’s health, especially if you’re on the ketogenic diet as a “last resort” type of diet. Those with seizures and other neurological disorders may fit into this category.

Neurological Disorders Definition: Diseases of the peripheral and central nervous system which include, but are not limited to, brain tumors, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s disease.

The problem lies in the range of drugs on the market that are considered generic. To be called generic, the only requirement is the specific dosage of the active ingredient. All the other ingredients can be varied in amounts – and even some controlled substances added to the mix.


Six Guidelines to Follow for Common Medications While on a Ketogenic Diet

1. Keep Carbohydrate Content at a Maximum of 500 mg Daily

Woman Taking Medication | Medications That Can Throw Off Your Ketogenic Diet

Your first guideline is to keep the carbohydrate content of all medications for the day to 500 mg or less. Count this carefully, as some medications will contain 160-200 mg carbohydrates per dosage. If you’re taking them three times daily, then you’ve exceeded the amount for the day.

2. Check the Carbohydrate Count in Tube Feedings

Count the number of carbohydrates in tube feedings. High-calorie tube feedings will have more than 100 g of carbohydrates in them. With this amount, one tube feeding means the whole ketogenic diet is worthless for the day!

3. Avoid Liquid Medications Whenever Possible

Whenever possible, avoid medications that are liquid. These are the ones that will generally add sweeteners, and most sweeteners are made from carbohydrate sources, which can throw you off ketosis.

RELATED: What Is a Ketone

4. Examine the Ingredient List if You Don’t See the Carb Count

Positive minded African American man taking medication | Medications That Can Throw Off Your Ketogenic Diet

If you don’t see a carbohydrate count for the medication or treatment on the package insert, examine the ingredient list, searching for sources of carbohydrates. If you see some on the list, call the manufacturer and talk to the consumer education department. Get the answer in writing from them.

5. Don’t Mix Medications in Desserts or Applesauce

Don’t put your medication in applesauce or dessert to mask the bitter taste. The applesauce will contain a minimum of 15 g of carbohydrates per one-half cup and generally may be as high as 38 g. This dose is enough to cancel the benefits of a ketogenic diet.

6. Be Careful of OTC Medications

Beware of over-the-counter medications, too. These may also contain carbohydrates. You can ask the pharmacist who will be assisting you if you need help in reading labels on these prescription medicines.

Here’s a list of some ketogenic diet medications to avoid:

  • Tylenol, cherry flavored pediatric version, 420 mg carbohydrates
  • Tylenol, grape and dye-free cherry flavors, 1,000 mg
  • Tylenol Children’s Meltaways Chewables, 1,000 mg
  • Advil Pfizer, 100 mg tablet Jr Strength, 131.5 mg
  • 200 mg tablet, 258 mg carbohydrates
  • 200 mg Liqui-Gels, 39 mg carbohydrates
  • Aleve Bayer 220 mg tablet, 44 mg carbohydrates
  • Sudafed Nasal Decongestant Maximum Strength, Non Drowsy, 30 mg tablets, 120 mg carbohydrates per tablet
  • Senokot tablets, Purdue Products, 1 tablet, 100 mg carbohydrates
  • Baby Powder – main ingredient is cornstarch (100% carbohydrates) and it’s absorbed through the skin
  • Zantac Boehringer Ingelheim, 70 mg carbohydrates per tablet
  • Mylanta liquid, 700-800 mg carbohydrates per teaspoon


Keep all these in mind when you are taking your medications, because carbs can even be present in these drugs. Make sure you always check the label and limit your drug’s carbohydrate intake to 500 mg daily to strictly stick to the keto diet.

Which of the mentioned medications are you taking? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Source: Curless, Jeff, PharmD. Medication Management on the Ketogenic Diet.


Disclaimer: Our educational content is not meant or intended for medical advice or treatment.


Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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