It’s no secret that most people are overworked, under-rested, and living on a poor diet. It’s also no coincidence that the modern advice to eat a diet high in carbohydrates, low in fat, and with constant snacking or small meals throughout the day has coincided with a rise in diabetes, obesity, and mental issues like anxiety and depression.
Depression is no joke. It’s serious. It affects approximately 3 million people every year, just in the US. Approximately 1 in 5 in the US and Canada will experience a mental health illness in any given year , and almost 7% of the population will have experienced a major depressive episode in the past year.
Starting a ketogenic diet, removing high-carb refined foods, losing weight, and eating whole foods is bound to help with mood and make you happier. This alone could have benefits for those with depression. They have studied rats on a ketogenic diet displayed less behavioural despair — meaning they exhibited less hopelessness, and they were more active than the control group not eating keto.
The general consensus is that the brain functions more cleanly and efficiently when a significant portion of its energy comes from ketones, calming overactive and overly-reactive brain cells.
It should be noted that when the body is initially adapting to burning fat instead of glucose, a period known as the “keto flu,” one might feel worse at first. So it may take several weeks or longer for most people to adapt to a low carb diet.
During that transition time when you are first reducing your carb intake, your body has to make new enzymes to burn fat instead of glucose. While it’s busy making these enzymes, and you are eating less carbs, your brain chemistry is changing, and it’s possible to experience lower mood during this time, but it passes once the body adjusts and is able to level out. As your body adapts and learns how to burn fat instead of sugar, mood levels out, and the depressive feelings lift.