How the keto diet can support mental health and mood.

How the Keto Diet Can Support Mental Health and Mood

The ketogenic (keto) diet has gained popularity in recent years, primarily for its potential weight loss benefits. However, this low-carb, high-fat diet may also have a positive impact on mental health and mood. In this article, we’ll explore the science behind the keto diet’s effects on mental health, how it may help with specific conditions, and tips for incorporating the diet into your lifestyle.

Understanding the Keto Diet

The keto diet is a low-carbohydrate, high-fat, and moderate-protein diet that aims to shift the body’s primary source of energy from glucose (sugar) to ketones (fat). This metabolic state, known as ketosis, can be achieved by drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and increasing fat consumption. The standard keto diet typically consists of 70-80% fat, 20-25% protein, and 5-10% carbohydrates.

How the Keto Diet Affects the Brain

The brain is a highly adaptable organ that can use different fuel sources for energy. While glucose is its primary source, ketones can also provide energy to the brain when glucose levels are low. This alternative fuel source may have several benefits for brain function and mental health:

1. Increased Energy Efficiency: Ketones are a more efficient energy source for the brain compared to glucose. This increased efficiency may lead to improved cognitive function and overall brain health [1].

2. Reduced Inflammation: The keto diet has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body, which may help alleviate symptoms of certain mental health conditions [2].

3. Increased Neurotransmitter Production: The keto diet may increase the production of neurotransmitters like GABA, which can have a calming effect on the brain and improve mood [3].

4. Neuroprotection: Ketones have been shown to protect brain cells from damage and promote the growth of new neurons, which may help prevent cognitive decline and improve mental health [4].

Keto Diet and Mental Health Conditions

Several studies have explored the potential benefits of the keto diet for specific mental health conditions. While more research is needed, the current evidence suggests that the keto diet may be helpful for the following conditions:

1. Depression: A study published in the journal “Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior” found that a ketogenic diet reduced depressive-like behaviors in rats [5]. While human studies are limited, anecdotal evidence suggests that some people with depression may experience improvements in mood and energy levels on the keto diet.

2. Anxiety: The keto diet’s impact on GABA production may help reduce anxiety symptoms. A study published in the journal “Epilepsy & Behavior” found that a ketogenic diet reduced anxiety-like behaviors in rats [6]. More research is needed to determine if these findings translate to humans.

3. Bipolar Disorder: Some case studies have reported improvements in mood stability for individuals with bipolar disorder following a ketogenic diet [7]. However, more research is needed to confirm these findings and determine the optimal dietary approach for this population.

4. ADHD: While research on the keto diet and ADHD is limited, some studies suggest that a high-fat, low-carb diet may improve symptoms in children with ADHD [8]. Further research is needed to determine the effectiveness of the keto diet for this condition.

5. Epilepsy: The keto diet was initially developed as a treatment for epilepsy, and numerous studies have demonstrated its effectiveness in reducing seizure frequency [9]. Some researchers believe that the same mechanisms that make the diet effective for epilepsy may also benefit other neurological and mental health conditions.

Implementing the Keto Diet for Mental Health

If you’re considering the keto diet to support your mental health, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian before making any significant dietary changes. They can help you determine if the keto diet is appropriate for your specific needs and provide guidance on implementing the diet safely and effectively.

Here are some tips for incorporating the keto diet into your lifestyle:

1. Gradually Reduce Carbohydrates: To minimize potential side effects, gradually decrease your carbohydrate intake over several weeks rather than making a sudden change.

2. Focus on Quality Fats: Choose healthy fat sources like avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and fatty fish to support overall health.

3. Stay Hydrated: The keto diet can cause increased fluid loss, so it’s essential to drink plenty of water and consume electrolytes to maintain proper hydration.

4. Monitor Your Mental Health: Keep track of your mood and mental health symptoms to determine if the keto diet is having a positive impact on your well-being.

5. Be Patient: It may take several weeks for your body to adapt to the keto diet and for you to experience any potential mental health benefits.


The ketogenic diet has shown promise in supporting mental health and mood for some individuals. While more research is needed to fully understand its effects on specific conditions, the current evidence suggests that the keto diet may be a helpful tool for improving brain function and overall mental well-being. If you’re considering the keto diet for mental health support, consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to ensure you’re implementing the diet safely and effectively.

Amanda Dawn

HI! I'm Amanda. A trained chef, nutritionist, and writer who is passionate about helping people live a healthy lifestyle. I lost 75 lbs in my journey and I love to help others enjoy great, wholesome food!

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