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Can a Ketogenic Diet Reduce ADHD Symptoms?

The low-carb, high-fat keto diet is popular for a reason: it is a powerful tool for achieving and maintaining weight loss, plus it’s shown to help patients with seizures, diabetes, and high blood pressure. So could it be used to treat ADHD symptoms naturally as well? Here's what the science tells us to date.

5 Comments: Can a Ketogenic Diet Reduce ADHD Symptoms?

  1. I am a 37 year old male andI was diagnosed with ADD at 19. I struggled all my life with focus, productivity, depression and anxiety and have been medicated for such issues since then. When I couldn’t refill my ADD meds (I am on generic Adderall) I couldn’t do anything. I am highly irritable and I’m patient. While on my meds, I would have few good days of feeling focused and productive and far more mediocre to bad days. I knew I could feel better somehow and would read an article or maybe a medical study from time to time. I never found any answers. Flash forward to today.

    I have been doing NSNG (No Sugar No Grains for over 3 years. And I can confidently say that, for whatever reason, when I am not in a state of ketosis all of my symptoms come back. My wife and I will periodically check our ketones from time to time with a blood monitoring device. An ideal state of ketosis is .07 or higher. Just this last week, I have been feeling like crap and unmotivated. It is a struggle to just finish a day at work. Two days ago I check my ketones and i was at a .03. I am now doing everything I can to increase that number in order to go back to the person I always knew I could be.

    I have several issues with Ms. Langer.

    Langer is also against labeling foods as good or bad. “It’s never a good thing to tell a child that otherwise healthy foods are ‘bad or ‘off limits’ unless there is a serious, legitimate reason for avoiding those foods,” Langer says. “I don’t think ADHD qualifies as this.”

    Does this mean that copious amounts of sugar (juice boxes, candy, cereals, flavored yogurts, etc. etc) are safe to eat all day every day? I have never heard of anyone being told that they need to eat more sugar in their diet.

    “It can also establish unhealthy eating behaviors in children that may then end up as disordered eating.”

    I ask you to show me the science that proves this. If doing something as simple as avoiding sugar and grains is helping me and my mental health, isn’t that a good reason not to consume it? If I ingest something poisonous I can get sick, or worse, die. How do I avoid that situation from happening? By not eating poisonous materials! I know how I can and will feel when I get kicked out of ketosis, therefore, I avoid foods that will make that happen. If it took something as simple as not eating something to stay alive, would you not do it? So what if I don’t want to eat donuts, cupcakes, dinner rolls, sugary cereals (which are obviously not healthy in the FIRST PLACE) daily? I feel better for not doing that. I know smoking will increase my chances of getting cancers, so, I avoid smoking to stay healthily, And that’s why I do what I do. Because I am and feel healthy physically and mentally.

    This is not a “diet”, it is a “lifestyle”! It is not restricting. I am avoiding the foods I should avoid anyway!

    I love bacon, sausage, butter, fatty steaks and other meats, avocados, nuts and seeds, nut butter, cheese, salamis, veggies, plain greek yogurt, olive oil, chicken thighs, herbs and spices. Do you know how much stuff you can make with just those ingredients?

    In short, I know I feel better when in ketosis. I have been my own guinea pig since my 20s and I have found something that IMPROVES my mental set backs and doesn’t just manage it.

    I also want to say that I never read or respond to comments in articles. I find it a waste of time. However, I am hoping that there is a parent or an individual who is wondering what else s/he can do to improve their life. I feel that this is it. A keto flu is just a few weeks and it will pass. It DOES suck. But so does detoxing from opioids and heroine, and I imagine that is far worse. The reason why we don’t have much evidence is because no one is doing studies about it. We obviously need more studies done with good science, research, testing methods and so forth. I close with a great quote…

    ‘Let thy food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food’

  2. When I am on a fairly strict paleo-keto diet my symptoms almost completely disappear. Often, I only require medication for particularly difficult tasks.

  3. This comment: Langer is also against labeling foods as good or bad. “It’s never a good thing to tell a child that otherwise healthy foods are ‘bad or ‘off limits’ unless there is a serious, legitimate reason for avoiding those foods,” Langer says. “I don’t think ADHD qualifies as this.” is why there’s still diet issues in Western med.
    There’s plenty of evidence that there are bad foods for ADHD!
    I know from first hand experience that it makes a difference getting gluten and inflammitory foods out of the equation as well as with our 9 yo.
    Additionally, I switched to a keto diet and have also noticed major improvement in neurologic function when I increase fat intake over standard keto ratios. Also, in our house rice is a go to due to my wife’s allergies and if I stay off the starch of the rice that also leads to more stability. With wife’s allergies and my celiac and ADHD, we monitor/and are aware of a lot of things. The value of this is not recognized by Western med because the doc’s egos are to swollen to accept our efforts to help them…

  4. I’ve had positive experiences doing keto. My mental energy and focus has improved. I also should note, I fast for around 16 hours a day. The combination of both has really helped my productivity.

  5. I’ve been on the Keto diet before for about a year and a half. I was on no medication at the time, and I noticed that my attention span was AWESOME on Keto. I never had any blood sugar spikes so my emotional regulation was soo soo much easier. The other weird side effect of Keto was that I ended up feeling caffeine much more, so consumed less and felt way less manic and little anxiety. Cannot recommend keto enough. Another unintended but cool thing about being on Keto for so long is that even if I had a slip up and wanted to “cheat” I felt sugar and carbs so instantly and so intensely that it was a very good deterrent from cheating, so staying on the restricted diet was really pretty easy.

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