Enhance Cognitive Function and Mood on Keto

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 04/09/2024

As the ketogenic diet becomes increasingly popular, it is important to learn about the many health benefits this diet can provide.

Learn about how the keto diet can provide benefits like cognitive clarity, mood enhancement, and preventing insulin resistance.

What is the Ketogenic Diet?

Keto works by reducing carbohydrate intake and upping fat consumption. This switch causes your body to enter a state of ketosis, which burns fat instead of carbs for energy.

While you may think glucose from carbohydrates is necessary for brain function, our brains can also use ketones as fuel. Surprisingly, these tiny molecules might even be more efficient.

Keto foods on a table

The Brain on Keto

Your mind uses about 20% of your daily calories. When not in ketosis, most energy consumed is typically from glucose.

On the flip side, ketosis triggers your liver to churn out ketones. These act like an alternative fuel for your brain.

A wealth of evidence points to the cognitive benefits of the ketogenic diet.

Keto and Epilepsy

The ketogenic diet was first developed as a treatment for epilepsy. The shift from glucose to ketones as an energy source has been linked with fewer seizures in many patients. Some people who had not responded well to traditional treatments found relief through keto.

Keto's Effect on GABA and Inflammation

GABA is your brain’s primary inhibitory neurotransmitter—it calms your nervous system when it gets too excited. On keto, GABA levels rise, which can help improve focus and reduce anxiety. Additionally, the anti-inflammatory effects of ketosis might also play a role here.

A study published in Scientific Reports suggests that elevated ketone bodies lower inflammation in the brain. This could be another pathway by which ketogenic diets enhance cognitive function.

Dangers of High-Carb Diets and Hypoglycemia

High-carb diets can be a silent enemy to our brain health. Let's see how they might cause harm.

The Link Between High-Carb Diets and Cognitive Decline

Feasting on high-carb foods may feel satisfying. However, research shows it could lead to brain atrophy, dementia, and memory loss.

This is because these carbs quickly become sugar in our bodies, causing damage from within.

Hypoglycemia's Impact on Mood Disorders

If you've ever felt hangry - that peculiar mix of hungry and angry - you've experienced one-way hypoglycemia impacts mood disorders such as irritability. It also has links with more severe conditions like anxiety and depression.

Research indicates frequent dips in blood sugar levels can wreak havoc on your emotional well-being over time.

Clock on a plate

Intermittent Fasting for Cognitive Health

Let's lighten the connection between intermittent fasting and cognitive health. But before we dive in, remember this isn't a quick fix. It's about forming habits that support your brain over time.

Neuron Regrowth Through Intermittent Fasting

The human brain is more resilient than you might think. It can regrow neurons, primarily when supported by healthy habits like intermittent fasting. Not only does it boost neuron growth, but it also helps protect existing ones from damage.

Intermittent Fasting and Dementia

We've all had those 'brain fog' days where thinking feels like wading through mud. Now imagine dealing with that daily - that’s what dementia can feel like for many people.

Research shows intermittent fasting may reduce amyloid plaques associated with dementia. By adopting regular fasts into your lifestyle, you're not just feeding your body; you're nourishing your mind, too.

Insulin Resistance and Cognitive Function

When your body's cells resist insulin, it impacts more than just blood sugar levels. It can also have a profound effect on cognitive function and mood.

The Role of Insulin in Neurotransmitter Production

A key player in brain health is neurotransmitters that deliver crucial information to the brain. However, with insulin resistance, this communication system faces challenges.

Insulin is essential in transporting amino acids into cells needed for neurotransmitter production. Disrupted insulin transport can decrease serotonin and dopamine levels, impacting mood regulation and cognitive functioning.

Insulin Sensitivity and Mood Disorders

Mood disorders often come hand-in-hand with insulin resistance. Research suggests that those suffering from depression or anxiety may deal with insulin sensitivity issues.

The keto diet could help fix these issues by improving insulin sensitivity, thus enhancing both mood stability & cognitive performance.

Ketosis and Body Fluids

In a metabolic state where the body primarily burns fat for energy, it's not uncommon for individuals to experience sweat that smells like ammonia while in ketosis.

This peculiar odor can be attributed to the production and excretion of ketones, water-soluble molecules that are a natural byproduct of fat metabolism. When ketones are released through sweat, they can impart an ammonia-like scent.

While this odor might be unusual, it's generally not a cause for concern. However, it's essential to maintain proper hydration and electrolyte balance to manage these changes in body fluids and associated odors during ketosis.

Consulting a healthcare professional is advisable to ensure a safe and healthy ketosis experience if you encounter persistent or severe symptoms.


The ketogenic diet offers numerous health benefits, including cognitive clarity, mood enhancement, and insulin resistance prevention.

By shifting the body's energy source from carbohydrates to ketones, keto fuels the brain efficiently, improves cognitive function, and stabilizes mood.

Additionally, intermittent fasting complements these benefits by promoting neuron regrowth and reducing the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.

While experiencing sweat that smells like ammonia is common during ketosis, maintaining proper hydration and electrolyte balance is crucial. Consulting a healthcare professional is recommended for personalized guidance. Overall, the ketogenic diet shows promise as a valuable tool for optimizing cognitive health and overall well-being.

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