Can the Keto Diet Help Anxiety?
Can the keto diet help anxiety? The answer is, well, maybe! When you’re dealing with anxiety disorder, managing your symptoms can be challenging. Clinical anxiety is much more than that uncomfortable feeling in your belly, although that can be a significant component. Symptoms may also include fatigue, racing thoughts, and irritability . While medications can help to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety, it can be tricky to find the right balance. Unfortunately for some people, even medication combinations may not completely control their symptoms. For a few people, medication is not an option for other reasons. Those people may find that the keto diet can help anxiety.
What is the Keto Diet?
In short the Keto diet is a is a low-carb, high-fat diet. While the keto diet has gotten a lot of attention lately, it is not a fad diet. It was developed over a century ago as a means to help people with intractable epilepsy . Because of the similarities between epilepsy and some mental health conditions, the diet has been looked at as a possible treatment for those issues.
Scientists don’t know exactly why the ketogentic diet works for anxiety. It might be the increase in fats, being in the state of ketosis, or the reduction in insulin and/or blood glucose levels; it’s even possible that all of these elements together are the cause. What we do know for sure is that the increase in ketones in rats decreased their anxiety symptoms.
So what’s the best way to use the ketogenic diet to help your anxiety?
The answer depends on many factors. However, the first step should always be to have a chat with the doctor that is managing your anxiety medication. Explain to her that you want to try the keto diet, and what your goals are (to get off medication completely, to reduce symptoms that medications cannot alleviate, or something else), and why you think the keto diet will help you reach those goals. Right now is not the time to ask about stopping or even tapering off on your medications. You will want to be well-established on the keto diet, and confident in your ability to maintain it before you begin to taper off.
Once your doctor has given you the approval, you will want to start slow. The beginning of the keto diet can be rough; you can expect some fatigue, and at some point, the keto flu will probably rear its ugly head. Starting slow, with a gradual reduction in carbs/increase in fats, can help you to minimize the effects of such a radical change in your life.
Moreover, for keto to truly impact your anxiety, you will have to look at this as a serious life change. Because the ratios of fats to proteins to carbohydrates have to be specific for the medical benefits to kick in, you will need to maintain this new way of eating every day. There will be few options to have cheat days; if you choose to do so, you may see a return of your anxiety symptoms. You have to look at the ketogenic diet not as a “diet” but as a form of medication that may heal your brain.
Do I have to Maintain Ketosis for the Diet to Work on My Anxiety?
Keto isn’t just great for epilepsy and anxiety. There are a variety of benefits to a keto diet. Those benefits may include weight loss, a reduction in cholesterol, clearer skin, and, after the initial rough phase, increased energy. However, you may obtain these benefits without strict adherence to the keto guidelines. So while you may also be able to see and maintain these effects without following the stringent ratios, you may lose the impact that keto has on your anxiety if you are not following the regimen to the letter.
There is some anecdotal evidence that taking an exogenous ketone supplement may help with anxiety. This is not backed up by scientific research. Scientists think raising the number of ketones in your body probably will not have a lasting impact on your anxiety. The ratio of fat to carbohydrates seems to be a key factor.
For some people, the keto diet may be able to replace medication as a way of controlling many of their anxiety symptoms. It is often beneficial for people who have anxiety. However the decision to adopt the keto diet should not be made lightly.
Is Keto for Everyone?
No. Keto is not work for everyone! My partner Dave did well on the keto diet for several months but had to go off of it because of his chronic illness. He’s now on a modified diet that has more carbs and less fat.
Is Keto a Miracle Cure?
No, Keto is not a miracle cure for anxiety or anything else! It does work well for some people, including me.
As I’ve talked about on Facebook, I take daily anxiety medications to manage my anxiety disorder, which is considered a chronic illness. I see a therapist regularly to help me manage my anxiety. I have had a lot of personal growth because of all the time and energy I’ve invested into combating my anxiety. There is no shame in taking medication for a chronic mental illness like anxiety, or any other condition.
I tell people that I’m doing the keto lifestyle. What that means for me is that I cut out processed foods, I broke my sugar addiction, and I’ve changed my eating habits to be healthier. Yes, I eat high fat, low carb, medium protein. A great side effect for me has been resetting my taste buds so that I now crave healthier foods like salad daily. I’m not worried about keeping my body in ketosis right now, I’m more worried about continuing to eat healthy and making smart choices with my food.