Tube-Feeding and the Ketogenic Diet

feeding_tubes_bannerThe ketogenic diet can be much easier to manage when your child is tube-fed since the diet can be given with a special ketogenic formula. In addition, research suggests that an all-liquid ketogenic diet may even be more effective, perhaps because there is less room for errors with measuring foods[1].

Tube-feeding can be given in a variety of ways. Whether given via a bolus, syringe, or feeding pump, the ketogenic diet can easily be given with a feeding tube. Ideally, the feeding schedule should be similar to the way your child was previously fed, just with the new formula.

As usual, the ketogenic diet will be started in the hospital under close medical supervision. You will work with your doctor and dietitian to determine the appropriate ketogenic diet ratio and amount of formula you should give to your child daily. Oftentimes your child will be gradually transitioned from their previous formula to the new ketogenic formula over a period of a few days. While in the hospital for diet initiation, your ketogenic diet health care team will teach you everything you need to know about preparing, administering, and managing your child’s new ketogenic diet when you go home.

KetoCal is a nutritionally-complete ketogenic formula that can be used to provide the ketogenic diet for tube-fed children. It comes in a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio, and as a ready-to-feed liquid or easy-to-prepare powder. KetoCal is milk-based so it may not be appropriate for children who have milk protein allergies. However, your dietitian can put together a modular ketogenic tube-feed with a variety of ingredients that are safe for your child’s food allergies. The KetoCal 4:1 powder and KetoCal 4:1 LQ are both low in lactose, so they are usually okay for children with lactose intolerance.

Tips for Tube-Feeding KetoCal:

  • KetoCal LQ Unflavored is the ideal formula for tube-fed children because it is ready-to-feed. No need to mix! Just shake and administer the formula! In some cases, your child’s dietitian may recommend adding extra water or other ingredients to the formula, so be sure to follow these instructions carefully.
  • If your child is using the KetoCal powder, be sure to mix your formula per the instructions given by your child’s dietitian. For best results, be sure to mix with the correct temperature of water to allow the formula to dissolve fully. It is recommended to use water between 113-122 °F. For more information and tips on mixing KetoCal powder, check out our KetoCal mixing video on YouTube!
  • Once the powdered formula is mixed, store in a closed container in the refrigerator and use within 24 hours. Discard after 24 hours and mix a new batch. Be sure to mix or agitate the formula just prior to feeding since some settling may occur.
  • Once the KetoCal 4:1 LQ has been opened, it can be stored in a closed container in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
  • For both the KetoCal Powder and KetoCal LQ, the recommended hang time is 4 hours. The hang time refers to the amount of time the formula can safely remain at room temperature after preparation.
  • Some settling of Ketocal may occur in the feeding bag which is a normal feature of the product. This settling should not block the feeding tube, however, it is recommended that the tube is flushed with water between each feed. It may also help to occasionally agitate the feeding bag.

If you have any questions or concerns, contact your child’s health care team for assistance. For questions about KetoCal, you can also call our Nutrition Services support line at 1-800-365-7354, Option 2.

For assistance with getting insurance reimbursement for KetoCal, contact our Nutricia Product Coverage Navigator program.

-Ellen

[1] Kossoff EH, McGrogan JR, Freeman JM. Benefits of an all-liquid ketogenic diet. Epilepsia. 2004 Sep;45(9):1163.