Mental, emotional, and behavioral effects of ketogenic diet for non-epileptic neuropsychiatric conditions

Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2020 Aug 30:102:109947. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2020.109947. Epub 2020 Apr 17.


Ketogenic diet (KD) is comprised of a distinct macronutrient combination: i.e. 90% fat, 8% of protein and 2% of carbohydrates, typically characterized as a high-fat low-carbohydrate diet. KD's efficacy was largely established for treatment resistant epilepsy in children, but its mental, emotional and behavioral effects remain largely unknown. Nevertheless, the efficacious effects of KD in childhood epilepsy provide rationale for repurposing this approach for other brain-based disorders. Consequently, clinicians and researchers should be aware of the evidence regarding efficacy, as well as the benefits and risks of adopting this diet. Results from animals and humans studies provide equivocal evidence across multiple domains of psychopathology. Conceptually, KD shows promise to serve as an efficacious treatment for mental disorders.

Keywords: Behaviors; Cognition; Ketogenic diet; Mental disorders; Nutritional psychiatry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior*
  • Brain Chemistry
  • Diet, Ketogenic* / adverse effects
  • Emotions*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / diet therapy*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Treatment Outcome