The ketogenic diet has become really popular. And rightly so. It is very effective at weight loss plus the health benefits it offers make it one of the best diets currently out there. There is one more benefit that this type of diet just recently got known for. Research has shown that there is a clear link between keto diet and anxiety. You read it right. A high fat, low carb diet can actually help you overcome anxiety. Here is how it exactly does that.
What it is
Before talking about the link between keto diet and anxiety, it is important to know the basics about a ketogenic diet. A keto diet, as mentioned earlier, is a high fat, low carb diet. You cannot get a more straightforward definition than that. You have to increase fat intake while radically reducing your carbohydrate count. The logic behind this is that when there is a drastic reduction of carbohydrates, the body enters a state of ketosis. Here, the body burns through the glucose and starch and since these are insufficient to fuel the body, it uses fats as an alternative source of energy. Ketones are the by-product of this process and these provide so many health benefits to the body.
How to do it
There are different ways to go about a ketogenic diet. This is essential to understand especial if you want to understand the relationship between keto diet and anxiety. There are typically four ways to achieve ketosis:
- Regular. This is the standard approach. Here, the ratio observed is 75% fat; 20% protein; and 5% carbohydrates. You will have to be consistent with this ratio in all your daily meals.
- High Pro. As the name suggests, this is a type of ketogenic diet with higher protein. Here, the ratio observed is 60% fat; 35% protein, and 5% carbohydrates.
- Cyclical. This is far more advanced and is usually used by professional athletes who can hire nutritionists to keep track of their intake. Here, you do five days of either regular or high pro keto diet. On the two remaining days, you have to increase your carbohydrate intake.
- As needed. Again, this is far more advanced and nutritionists are usually present to keep track of your progress (or lack thereof). Here, you either do regular or high pro but when you are about to hit the gym or do any strenuous activity, you have to load up on carbohydrates.
Benefits of ketogenic diet
One more thing before we move on to talking about keto diet and anxiety. Here are some of the benefits of a keto diet:
- Gives a feeling of satiation
- Expedites healthy weight loss
- Regulates blood sugar levels
- Lowers cholesterol
- Enhances insulin sensitivity
- Helps prevent diseases including:
- Cardiovascular ailments
- Brain injury
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
Keto diet and anxiety
In one research, this became an unforeseen result of a ketogenic diet. There is a clear link between keto diet and anxiety. Ketones and the feeling of satiation can actually improve one’s mood. Here are some ways keto diet and anxiety are linked in a positive way:
- Ketones can help improve mental health. Altered glucose metabolism, as research would show, has positive effects in mental health. This is because ketones, which is the by-product of this process, constantly provides the brain a steady supply of fuel.
- Ketones manage symptoms of mood disorders including anxiety. Sugar is the usual culprit behind many concerns with mood. Lack of sugar or overconsumption brings about drastic mood swings that could leave a person in a state of perpetual anxiety. This is where keto diet comes in. Since the body no longer has to rely on sugar alone, one can achieve mood stability which, in turn, can help manage symptoms of anxiety and other mood disorders.
- Ketones have positive neurological effects that even extend to offspring. Research shows that ketogenic diet are have antidepressant and antianxiety properties. In fact, in one experiment where pregnant rats were subjected to a ketogenic diet, their offspring consistently shows better physical activity and reduced levels of susceptibility to stress.
- Ketones improve gut health. Another study showed the link between gut health and anxiety. Because a high fat diet improves the gut, it also can counter symptoms of anxiety.
- Ketones keeps hunger pangs in check. Yet another cause of anxiety is not achieving the feeling of satiation. Hunger may lead to the temptation to gorge on sugar which could then lead to a sugar crash which exacerbates symptoms of anxiety and depression. A keto diet coupled with intermittent fasting (IF) can fix that. IF is a healthy way to fast where you pace your eating in way that your body has enough time to take in food, digest, and absorb all the good stuff from what you eat. Pair that with healthy keto choices and you keep symptoms of anxiety and depression in check.
A word of advice
Just because there is a positive link between keto diet and anxiety, it does not meant that you should jump into it without taking into consideration some essential things. It would be best if you could plan out your program with a keto expert and emphasize that your current goal is to manage symptoms of anxiety. That goal serves as your guide as you prepare an excellent keto plan that provides a custom fit for you and your health and dietary considerations. Remember, you have to strike the right balance of ketones in your body. Too much ketone production may lead to life-threatening side effects. Your doctor or a trusted keto expert can help you avoid such a situation while you achieve a plan that can target both a keto diet and anxiety.
With so much research showing the positive connection between keto diet and anxiety, it only reinforces the many benefits a ketogenic diet has to offer. However, if you want to maximize said benefits, you must do your keto diet right. Consult a physician or a trusted keto expert to help your create a good plan for you especially if it is your first time to try a ketogenic diet.