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Why Keto May Be the Key to Better Mood and Cognitive Function

Updated: Mar 6, 2023


Keto has become increasingly popular in recent years as a weight-loss tool, but even more importantly as a health-improvement strategy. By drastically reducing carb intake and increasing fat consumption, the body enters a state of ketosis where it burns fat for fuel instead of glucose. While the benefits of keto for weight loss and physical health are well-known, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that keto can also have positive effects on mental health. In this article, we'll explore the link between keto and mental health, including the benefits of keto for mental health, how to implement a keto diet for mental health, and potential risks and precautions to keep in mind.


The Link Between Keto and Mental Health Diet has a significant impact on mental health, and research has shown that living a keto lifestyle can improve various aspects of mental health. One of the ways that keto can benefit mental health is by reducing inflammation in the brain. Chronic inflammation has been linked to depression, anxiety, and a whole host of other mental health conditions, and the anti-inflammatory effects of keto can help to alleviate these symptoms. Additionally, ketones, which are produced by the body during ketosis, have been shown to have neuroprotective properties that can help to prevent cognitive decline and improve brain function. Several studies have also found that the ketogenic diet can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. In a study of overweight women with polycystic ovary syndrome, participants who followed a ketogenic diet for 24 weeks experienced a significant reduction in symptoms of anxiety and depression compared to those who followed a standard low-calorie diet. Another study of patients with treatment-resistant bipolar disorder found that a ketogenic diet improved mood, reduced symptoms of mania, and increased overall functioning.

In addition to its effects on mental health conditions, keto has also been shown to improve cognitive function. A study of older adults with mild cognitive impairment found that a ketogenic diet improved memory and cognitive performance compared to a low-fat diet. Other studies have also found that keto can increase energy levels and improve sleep quality, both of which are essential for maintaining good mental health. Overall, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that keto can have significant benefits for mental health. Next, we'll explore some of the specific ways that keto can improve mental health and well-being.



Benefits of Keto for Mental Health

As we've explained, keto has been shown to have several benefits for mental health. Here are some of the ways that keto can improve mental health and well-being:

  1. Reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression: As mentioned in the previous section, studies have found that the keto diet can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression in people with various mental health conditions. This may be due to the anti-inflammatory effects of keto, as well as the neuroprotective properties of ketones.

  2. Improved cognitive function: Keto's been shown to improve memory, cognitive performance, and attention in both healthy individuals and those with cognitive impairment. This may be due to the increased production of ketones, which can provide an alternative source of energy for the brain.

  3. Better sleep quality: Poor sleep is a risk factor for various mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety. Following a keto diet has been shown to improve sleep quality, likely due to the increased production of the hormone melatonin, which regulates sleep-wake cycles.

  4. Increased energy levels: Keto can lead to increased energy levels and improved physical performance, which can help to boost mood and reduce symptoms of depression.

  5. Reduced inflammation: Chronic inflammation has been linked to various mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline. The anti-inflammatory effects of the ketogenic diet can help to reduce inflammation in the brain and improve mental health.

Not sure we can make it any clearer how sticking to keto has several benefits for mental health and well-being.



Implementing Keto for Mental Health Reasons

Implementing a keto diet for mental health purposes requires careful planning and consideration, especially for those with pre-existing health conditions or those who are taking medications. Here are some tips for implementing a ketogenic diet for mental health:

  1. Consult a healthcare professional: Before starting keto, it's essential that you consult a healthcare professional, especially if you have pre-existing health conditions or are taking medications.

  2. Gradually reduce carbohydrates: To enter a state of ketosis, the body must be in a state of carbohydrate restriction. However, reducing carbs too quickly can sometimes lead to symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, and brain fog. Gradually reducing carbohydrates over a few weeks can help to minimize these symptoms.

  3. Monitor macronutrient intake: To achieve and maintain ketosis, it is essential to monitor macronutrient intake, specifically carbohydrates, protein, and fat. There is no one-size-fits-all macronutrient ratio for keto, but a general guideline is to consume 5-10% of calories from carbohydrates, 20-30% from protein, and 60-75% from fat. We prefer to calculate based in actual values over percentages, but the general values are there.

  4. Choose healthy fats: It is important to choose healthy fats when following a ketogenic diet. Examples of healthy fats include avocados, nuts and seeds, olive oil, and coconut oil.

  5. Incorporate nutrient-dense foods: It's important to incorporate nutrient-dense foods such as leafy greens, non-starchy vegetables, and high-quality protein sources to ensure adequate vitamin and mineral intake.

  6. Stay hydrated: You must focus on staying hydrated when on keto. Drinking water, herbal tea, and bone broth can help to maintain hydration and electrolyte balance. See our other articles on staying hydrated and maintaining your electrolyte levels.

  7. Be mindful of potential side effects: Some people may experience side effects when starting keto, including constipation, nausea, and bad breath. These side effects are usually temporary and can be minimized by staying hydrated, consuming adequate fiber, and practicing good oral hygiene.

By following these tips, it is possible to implement a ketogenic diet for mental health and reap the benefits of improved mental health and well-being.




Potential Risks and Precautions

While keto has numerous benefits for mental health, there are some things to monitor and keep an eye out for. Here are some potential risks and precautions to consider when implementing a keto diet for mental health:

  1. Nutrient deficiencies: Following keto can increase your chances of being nutrient deficient, especially when those that typically come from various food sources of carbohydrates are restricted. It's important to incorporate nutrient-dense foods and consider supplementation if necessary.

  2. Dehydration: The keto diet can lead to increased fluid loss, which can increase the risk of dehydration. It is essential to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, but more importantly is maintaining your electrolyte levels so that you can retain them.

  3. Kidney stones: The high intake of animal protein and low intake of fiber on keto can increase the risk of kidney stones in some people. It is important to stay hydrated and consume adequate fiber to minimize this risk.

  4. Ketoacidosis: Ketoacidosis is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when ketone levels in the blood become too high. This is more common in people with type 1 diabetes and can be prevented by monitoring blood glucose and ketone levels.

  5. Adverse effects on mood: Some people may experience adverse effects on mood when following a ketogenic diet, including irritability, fatigue, and mood swings. These side effects are usually temporary and can be minimized by consuming adequate calories and staying properly hydrated.

  6. Interactions with medications: Keto can interact with some medications, including diabetes medications, blood thinners, and psychiatric medications. It is essential to consult a healthcare professional before starting a ketogenic diet if you are taking medications.

By being aware of these potential risks and precautions, it is possible to implement a keto lifestyle for mental health safely and effectively.



Putting it All Together

We hope we've made it abundantly clear how keto has several benefits for mental health, including improved mood, decreased anxiety and depression, and increased cognitive function. By following the tips outlined in this article, it's possible to implement a keto lifestyle for mental health safely and effectively. As with any dietary approach, the ketogenic diet may not be suitable for everyone, and it is important to listen to your body and make adjustments as necessary. However, for those who are able to follow a ketogenic diet safely and effectively, it may prove to be an effective tool for improving mental health and well-being.

Don't wait any longer to take control of your mental health! Take the challenge and take action today. Your mental health and well-being are worth it. Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below, and let's support each other on the journey to better mental health!

Paoli A, Mancin L, Giacona MC, Bianco A, Caprio M. Effects of a ketogenic diet in overweight women with polycystic ovary syndrome. J Transl Med. 2020 Feb 27;18(1):104. doi: 10.1186/s12967-020-02277-0. PMID: 32103756; PMCID: PMC7045520.

The information provided above is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to provide specific medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please speak with a licensed healthcare professional specific to your situation before making any sudden changes to your diet.

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