April 2, 2024 – After four months on a ketogenic diet, 79 percent of participants showed a “clinically meaningful improvement” in psychiatric symptoms. Researchers theorize that the diet may improve psychiatric symptoms by correcting metabolic issues. 

“The working theory is that we’re providing energy to the brain that circumvents these metabolic deficits,” said Shebani Sethi, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford Medicine and the lead author of the study.

Sethi said researchers know a ketogenic diet can benefit the brain but how much the diet may help schizophrenia or bipolar, in particular, “is really just emerging.” A ketogenic diet consisting of low-carb, high-fat foods may ease the symptoms of serious mental illness and reduce weight gain and other side effects from the drugs used to treat it, new research shows.

A clinical trial, led by researchers at Stanford Medicine, recruited 23 patients diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder and instructed them to follow a diet consisting of 10 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent protein and about 60 percent fat.