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"Your Brain on Keto" Article

Would exogenous ketones be beneficial to someone with low GABA that is not Keto dieting (or even low carbing)?

Hope the question makes sense, thanks for any and all responses.

Yes they would. I have read some studies showing beneficial effects of exogenous ketones in that regard.

Excellent article, coach. I love keto but enforcing it on everyone is like telling folks they must wear size 10 shoes.

I think your old mentor Poliquin had a point, though, that fat folks should stick with ‘10 licks of a dried prune’!

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I do not agree 100% with Charles in that regard. I did for a long time. But Charles only looked at it from an insulin sensitivity perspective and not froma cortisol control/neurological one. In our modern society tons of people have chronically elevated cortisol levels and depleted serotonin. With these people carbs, when timed properly and in the right amount, can be a valuable tool.

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I accept that, especially over the longer term. Cortisol is certainly a major player, and it has the potential to be amplified for keto dieters as they often combine it with periods of fasting - which, again cranks ups cortisol.

I quoted Charles with tongue in cheek because I don’t think he really preached a zero carb philosophy. As you know, he was heavily influenced here by Mauro DiPasquale, who was not an advocate of keto dieting per se.

In fact, you and Poliquin appear to be in agreement regarding the value of carbs at night, which makes perfect sense considering the points just made.

I really enjoyed the article for its focus on mood stuff, which is my day job. It’s nice to have this added to the arsenal. I’m just your garden variety psychotherapist, but my interest in all things diet and exercise carries over into my practice. I’ll probably print this one to share.

Thank you. I think that when it comes to dieting, the impact it can have on mood and behavior is the most important thing as we have established that all types of diets can work equally well if they have a similar deficit. But if you feel like crap all the time it is much less likely that you can have long term success with the diet.

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Either keto or time restricting scenario. Type 2B, under stress towards type 3.

Huge carb meal every 5-7 days.

The day after the huge carb meal, the brain is racing, focused, motivated, even memory enhance and creative ideas conection. It’s like caffeine feeling. As far as nutrition and meals come back to the plan.

After two days, crash mood, slowly tendency to depressive thoughts, more agresive sometimes, difficult to focus.

The third day and forth day come back to the balance mood, cognitive skills coming back as well, and behavior optimized.

The fifth and sixth. Very good.

And again…

Looking for an explanation, I discover in the book Neuroscience (Purves) that the main source of de novo glutamate, the new glutamate in the brain, generally is going to come from glucose. It’s that really interesting because hyperglycemic spikes could be one of the main things that cause brain glutamate to spike.

Are you agree?

The changes and alterations from second and the third day could be counterbalanced?

Yes, agreed. Now, glutamate it the right amount is necessary. Mostly for memory and focus. It is the excess that is problematic. But let’s take someone with normal or even low glutamate… putting them on a keto diet will indeed decrease focus and memory and when they reintroduce carbs they will get a sudden improvement in cognition. That’s why I say that the best diet for you is the one that fits your brain chemistry the best

Do you eat lots of fructose? Because excess fructose, especially in people with fructose malabsorption, can cause depression. But usually for short bouts. This is due to the fact that excess fructose binds with serotonin an thus brain levels of serotonin crash. Think this is something to keep in mind for a type 3 or a type 2b under stress. Binging on high fructose foods might be a natural tendency to lower cortisol leverls, but might give the opposite effect. @Christian_Thibaudeau, is this something you have come accros with one of your type 2b or 3 clients in the past?

Not sure why… I’m type 2b but I always felt better higher fat diets… Better pumps and better mode… Tried higher carb cuz intended to be stressed alot and I don’t feel or look the same.

2B will feel mentally better on lower carbs/higher because it helps regulates glutamate (which is mentionned in the article).

2Bs tend to have high glutamate (and low GABA because glutamate is converted to GABA).

A high carbs intake (especially if it leads to hyperglycemia) will increase the production of glutamate (via the hexose monophosphate shunt as well as via the Embden-Meyerhof pathway if that interest you).

So lower carbs = less glutamate being produced = better glutamate/GABA balance = feeling better (less anxious, less mood swings, less cravings,etc.)

Furthermore, ketones improves the efficacy of the glutamate decarboxylaze enzyme which converts glutamate into GABA.

There are other factors at play like a change in the dopamine to serotonin ratio that will lead to an increase in adrenaline production when you are low carbs. But glutamate is the bulk of it.


So it can work for me to lower my carb and still grow? Good thing to have a less mood swings! As I rly swing alot!

Keto is rarely optimal for maximum growth because of the lower IGF-1 level. You can go targeted keto… eating keto all day, except pre and post workout where you have a moderate (30-40g each) amount of carbs.


WOW. It’s almost 10 years since I’ve started playing with Atkins, TKD on and off. And its a lot of skimmed articles, a few read books. Now, I don’t know if these information have escaped me or a part of some more recent research, but in this article they are presented in such a clear and interesting way. Well Done.

I have noticed the mood improvements on myself of course, and from an engeneer’s perspective I always want to try and optimise any system. Take the good of one approach, minimise the bad of the other and in that sense these information seem to open up a door to interesting experimentations by timing of food (micro ingredients, and macro combinations), and timing of excercise within the wake-sleep cycle.

In that regard, immediately the following quesitons pop up:

  1. Is it required to get and stay into ketosis (I belive the determining factor is permeability of the brain/blood membrane for ketones) in order for described chemistry to take place?

  2. Is there a more or less strict division of people into high/low seratonin/dopamine/GABA individuals as such, or it is a looser fluctuating state?

  3. Is there a reliable way to determine to which group you belong?

Yes and no.

Ketones do help in the conversion of glutamate into GABA. So if you have excess glutamate being in ketosis will help. It doesn’t have to be “deep” ketosis though. Exogenous ketones will also do the same thing, so you could go low carbs but not keto, take ketones and you will get the conversion.

And simply eating a lower carbs diet or a low glycemic index will help because, as I mentionned earlier, a high carbs intake (especially if it leads to hyperglycemia) will increase the production of glutamate (via the hexose monophosphate shunt as well as via the Embden-Meyerhof pathway if that interest you).

So lower carbs = less glutamate being produced = better glutamate/GABA balance = feeling better (less anxious, less mood swings, less cravings,etc.).

A low carbs/low glycemic diet could have the same glutamate lowering benefits as a keto diet in the long run. If you produce less glutamate eventually your levels will decrease.

However it might not be the full benefits because you will not get the same increased conversion to GABA.

Thank you @Christian_Thibaudeau