Ketogenic Diet Improves Mental Health, Reducing Stress and Enhancing Mood

Ketogenic Diet Improves Mental Health, Reducing Stress and Enhancing Mood
Study: Ketogenic diet has a positive association with mental and emotional well-being in the general population

In a recent study published in the esteemed journal Nutrition, researchers from Northumbria University in the UK explored the correlation between adherence to a ketogenic diet and various facets of mental health, including tranquility, satisfaction, attentiveness, and emotional wellness, within the broader healthy populace.


The ketogenic diet, characterized by high fat and low carbohydrate intake, prompts a metabolic shift from glycolysis to fatty acid oxidation, providing alternative energy sources for both body and mind. While historically utilized in epilepsy treatment and studied in neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental conditions, its effects on the general populace remain under-researched. Further investigations are warranted to comprehensively grasp the long-term psychological implications of the ketogenic diet across diverse populations and conditions.

About the Study

This study encompassed two cohorts, each recruited through opportunistic sampling on social media platforms, in adherence to ethical standards set by Northumbria University and the Declaration of Helsinki. All participants furnished informed consent prior to data collection.

In cohort 1, recruitment spanned from February to October 2021. Participants completed two online assessment tools: the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS-10) and the Bond-Lader visual analog scales (BL-VAS). The PSS-10 evaluated general stress perceptions, scoring from 0 to 40, indicating varying stress levels. BL-VAS gauged mood through 16 opposing mood pairs, providing scores for attentiveness, satisfaction, and tranquility, on a sliding scale from 0 to 100.

Cohort 2, assembled from January to July 2022, employed distinct psychological assessment tools: the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS-21) and a 3-item loneliness scale. DASS-21 comprised three subscales for depression, anxiety, and stress, each rated on a severity scale from 0 to 3. The loneliness scale, rated from 1 to 3, elucidated levels of loneliness among participants.

Both cohorts utilized an online platform for uniform demographic, socioeconomic, and dietary data collection. Participants reported on an array of variables, including dietary habits assessed via a short-form food frequency questionnaire, facilitating comparison of dietary patterns between ketogenic and non-ketogenic diets, factoring in frequency of consumption of ketogenic-friendly and non-ketogenic food items. Data underwent analysis for psychological and dietary metrics, probing differences and correlations within and between groups.

Study Results

Cohort 1 initially enlisted 361 participants, with exclusions for various reasons, resulting in 260 participants completing the PSS-10. Transition between survey platforms further reduced this to 147 participants completing the BL-VAS. This cohort scrutinized perceived stress and mood discrepancies between ketogenic and non-ketogenic diet adherents.

Cohort 2 commenced with 399 participants, dwindling to 276 post-exclusions. Employing DASS-21 and a 3-item loneliness scale, this cohort assessed psychological well-being.

Demographically and socioeconomically, Cohort 1 revealed notable age and Body Mass Index (BMI) disparities between ketogenic and non-ketogenic diet groups, with ketogenic participants generally older with higher BMIs. Findings unveiled elevated instances of high blood pressure among ketogenic diet adherents. Dietary analyses depicted greater consumption of ketogenic-friendly foods and reduced intake of non-ketogenic foods among ketogenic dieters.

Cohort 2 mirrored similar age and health differentiations, with ketogenic participants again older, albeit with insignificant BMI disparities between groups. Health assessments and dietary habits echoed Cohort 1 patterns, with ketogenic participants reporting superior subjective health and stricter adherence to ketogenic dietary guidelines.

Psychologically, Cohort 1 indicated improved mood and reduced stress levels among ketogenic diet adherents, with marked variances in attentiveness, satisfaction, and tranquility. These disparities persisted despite adjustments for demographic and health-related covariates.

Cohort 2 similarly demonstrated diminished depression, anxiety, stress, and loneliness among ketogenic dieters. However, improvements in loneliness lacked statistical significance post-covariate adjustments.

Moreover, duration of ketogenic diet adherence correlated positively with psychological benefits in both cohorts. Conversely, actual ketosis levels exhibited negligible correlations with psychological outcomes, suggesting greater influence of dietary consistency duration over immediate metabolic state.


In essence, the study posited that a ketogenic diet would bolster psychological well-being, findings which were corroborated. Ketogenic diet adherents reported notably heightened tranquility, satisfaction, attentiveness, and reduced stress, depression, and anxiety levels. Though improvements in loneliness were statistically insignificant post-demographic adjustments, diet duration correlated with amplified benefits. Furthermore, the study intimates that ketogenic diets may ameliorate mental health via mechanisms akin to anxiety medications.

For more information: Ketogenic diet has a positive association with mental and emotional well-being in the general population, Nutrition,

Driven by a deep passion for healthcare, Haritha is a dedicated medical content writer with a knack for transforming complex concepts into accessible, engaging narratives. With extensive writing experience, she brings a unique blend of expertise and creativity to every piece, empowering readers with valuable insights into the world of medicine.

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