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Can the Keto Diet Help with Mood Disorders?

Keto for Depression and Bipolar Disorder

For years science has shown the cycle between disturbed sleep and mood disorders.

Poor sleep caused by insomnia or irregular sleep patterns can affect the brain’s chemistry and exacerbate signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety.

This cycle is made worse by emotional instability as it can make falling and staying asleep difficult.

On 14th Feb 2024, a research paper was published in Frontiers which introduced a useful approach for managing severe mental conditions.

They analyzed the link between sleep, diet, and mood disorders and explained some solutions like changing dietary changes and improving sleep habits.

In this article, researchers explain that poor sleep is not only a sign of mood disorders it can also make them worse with time.

Furthermore, they say that oxidative stress could be the reason behind this.

There is an imbalance of free radicals and protective antioxidants which can harm the cells and lead to mood disorders.

The main factor discussed is the effect of a ketogenic diet that can make fat the primary energy source instead of glucose.

Authors have proposed that ketones can possibly protect the brain in the following ways.

  • Previous research has shown that mitochondrial dysfunction can cause mood disorders [ref].
  • Ketones can help restore mitochondrial function and improve brain health.
  • The ketogenic diet can affect the levels of some neurotransmitters like GABA which can help in mood regulation.

Keto for Bipolar Disorder, Depression, and Anxiety:

There is a need for more research and if further studies confirm the effects of a ketogenic diet on mood regulation then patients of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia can receive multiple benefits.

  • This diet can lessen episodes of bipolar disorder and reduce mood swings.
  • Research has shown that the ketogenic diet can have anti-anxiety effects [ref] which makes it even better for bipolar and schizophrenic patients.
  • These ketones can improve cognition [ref]. This will also enhance memory and attention spans in people with mood disorders.
  • Since this diet can be used alongside other medicines it will improve any treatment outcomes.

Limitations and Considerations:

Even though the ketogenic diet can help with mood disorders, it is important to consider the limitations of this study.

There is a need for larger clinical trials to confirm these outcomes. Moreover, this diet is hard to stick to and it requires complete dedication and restriction of carbs which is not easy.

The ketogenic diet has been known to cause the ‘keto flu’ which is a combo of constipation, fatigue, and headache.

Due to the possibility of kidney stones, it is better to consult a doctor before attempting to follow the dietary patterns.

However, this should not be considered a stand-alone treatment for schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.


Keto Reduces Belly Fat and Improves Depression:

Visceral fat or belly fat is deposited around your stomach area and vital organs, it can be a risk factor for several health concerns like Diabetes and heart diseases.

However, belly fat has also been linked with stress and depression. This is often termed “stress belly” or “cortisol belly

Losing weight and reducing belly fat can improve symptoms of depression, in addition to lowering the classic risk factors of diabetes and cardiovascular conditions.

Research has also suggested that keto might be better at handling belly fat than other diets [ref].

When ketosis is induced through this diet the fat is burned for energy instead of carbs.

Nevertheless, you should remember that once you start losing weight overall your abdominal fat will also go down. You can not pick and choose where you lose fat from.


Ketogenic Diet Plan for Depression and Bipolar Disorder:

If you are planning to start your keto journey to reduce body weight or belly fat and improve your mental well-being and symptoms of depression, here is a sample meal plan.

Note: This is only a sample diet plan and should be followed after consulting a professional dietitian.


Food items

Calories (kcal)

Fats (g)


2 full fried eggs in desi ghee30022
1 cup cottage cheese with 1 tbsp chia seeds1808

Mid-morning snack

5 almonds3014


Grilled fish903
¼ avocado906

After-lunch snack

100g boiled chickpeas + lettuce leaves.164 + 52.6 + 0


Seared chicken breast (100g) with bell peppers, onions, and broccoli187 + 17 + 30 + 305.0

This diet plan provides total calories of 1123 Kcal per day and 60.6 g of fat (48.6% of the total calories are provided by fat).

Key Considerations Before Starting Keto for Depression and Bipolar Disorder:

Consulting a healthcare professional

  • Before you start keto discuss your mood disorders and medications with a healthcare professional or a dietitian. They will analyze your condition and choose the food items accordingly.
  • A professional will be able to customize the keto diet according to your likes and dislikes and mood disorder. They will also monitor your progress and keep adjusting the plan as needed.

Understanding keto-adaptation

  • When your body switches from burning carbs to fats it can cause temporary side effects including fatigue, nausea, and headaches (keto flu).
  • But these are easy to manage. Simply drink enough water, take your supplements, and slowly transition into the diet.

Sustainability and long-term commitment

  • You need devotion and long-term commitment before you initiate keto because this diet is restrictive and requires significant lifestyle changes.
  • It might be a hurdle in your social life. In gatherings there are multiple food options so only go for the healthy alternatives.

Individualization is key

  • Every individual will not show the same results when on keto. A customized plan will maximize the benefits and minimize the risks for your mood disorder.
  • Make sure your vitamin and mineral serum levels are appropriate. Pay attention to the ones that help in mood regulation.

What do you think?

Written by Dr. Ahmed

I am Dr. Ahmed (MBBS; FCPS Medicine), an Internist and a practicing physician. I am in the medical field for over fifteen years working in one of the busiest hospitals and writing medical posts for over 5 years.

I love my family, my profession, my blog, nature, hiking, and simple life. Read more about me, my family, and my qualifications

Here is a link to My Facebook Page. You can also contact me by email at or at My Twitter Account
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