Plant or meat based diets for mental health?


What’s the difference? Complete proteins have the essential amino acids in the right ratio… Isn’t that what you call balance?

(Of course just containing in traces wouldn’t give it but if it’s based on complete protein, that’s good enough - we may be aware about the presence of incomplete protein so eat enough protein that if it’s somewhat less in the end, it’s still enough.)


Maybe it was too much fat for him. Even I who always ate very high-fat and loved it, had nausea when I stopped eating my vegs so my food got way fattier per volume. I ate more protein and less fat for a while and it passed. Many people are worse with high-fat food and problems with too much fat easily causes nausea so maybe it was a factor in his son’s vomiting? Maybe not but it’s my guess.

If he ate very differently before, no wonder if he has problems (though vomiting is quite serious but some people are more sensitive…). I don’t know if it would be better for him to do it more gradually? I definitely needed that, I just couldn’t go extreme low-carb in one jump (it was 3) despite as it turned it, it’s where my body likes to be best. So even if a woe is totally for someone, it may be not working well right away.

(Mario) #43

Hi Shinita. Thanks for sharing your insights. I am thinking similarly. My son is a very exacting and radical mind. Just switched cold turkey and something in that didn’t agree with him. Maybe too much fat. Someone else suggested too much protein. And of course I then read about ketoacidosis and get concerned. But it wasn’t that. He would have been in the ER with that from what I am reading.

I am lining up a few nutritionists for him to talk with. And they claim they have experience with keto for mental health purposes.

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #44

There are two possibilities: first, there is more food poisoning out there in the U.S. than people think. A nurse practitioner is convinced that the “stomach flu” is really the result of eating something with salmonella or E. coli in it. So it’s possible that something your son ate had gone bad, without anyone’s realising it.

Second, it’s possible that he is allergic to something that he ate.

A less-likely possibility is that he simply got sick, and it was coincidental. Not everything that happens is necessarily connected (post hoc, propter hoc is considered a logical fallacy, not because it’s never true, but because it is untrue often enough that we can’t rely on it for proof).

One possibility is the olive oil. It is mostly polyunsaturated fatty acids (77%). Eating too much polyunsaturates is known to cause queasiness, and it’s possible your son is extra-sensitive. Not only that, but the peanut butter probably has some soybean oil in it, which is lower in polyunsaturates but has its own problems.

Personally, I’d stick to the animal fats, such as butter/ghee, bacon grease, lard, and tallow. Or possibly coconut oil, which is mostly saturated fat, a small percentage of mono-unsaturated, and an even smaller percentage of polyunsaturated.

Is your son willing to eat meat? Poultry? Fish? They might be easier on the stomach than peanut butter and almonds (which are also not carb-free and so should be eaten in moderation, in any case).

Also, dairy causes problems in some people, and not just in the lactose-intolerant. A number of people who can digest lactose find that they nevertheless have a sensitivity to one or more of the proteins in milk products. (Sometimes switching to goat dairy helps, but not always.)

In any case, if your son is willing to try again, see if he will consider eating only whole foods. Even peanut butter is usually more processed than is good for us (reading the ingredients carefully is really important). Beef is considered to be the ultimate elimination diet, since we evolved eating ruminant animals, so unless your son has an aversion to meat, he might want to try a beef-only diet for 90 days. If that goes down with no problems, then he can start adding other foods back, one by one, to see whether he can tolerate them, as well.

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #45

Ketoacidosis is a very specific condition resulting from lack of insulin. Diabetic ketoacidosis is not a concern if the pancreas is producing any insulin at all. The diagnostic is hyperglycaemia combined with serum β-hydroxybutyrate of 10.0 mmol/dL or above. (Though I understand symptoms are not seen until β-hydroxybutyrate reaches double that.)

There is such a thing as euglycaemic ketoacidosis, which is a possible side effect of certain drugs. Is your son taking an SGLT-2 inhibitor?

(Mario) #46

All very fair points, and I initially also questioned whether it was really due to the diet, or did he happen to just pick up a bug. And you are right, it could be one of the foods he ate having gone bad too. Had not considered that.

As far as peanut butter, he buys the one that has two ingredients: organic peanuts and salt. He likes peanut butter a lot and don’t want to remove that unless there is a concern around processing.

As far as meat he is not a big meat guy. I’m not either. He can eat organic chicken but beef won’t be a main thing for him at this point. Not that he can’t get there. Same with fish - he should incorporate some fish.

(Mario) #47

yes when I read about ketoacidosis I got very concerned. And I was reading about non-diabetic ketoacidosis. There are apparently cases where this happened on non-carb diets. But that’s where the internet is dangerous: you read about symptoms there and it’s immediately worse case scenario.

He is not on any medication. The latest he was on recently was gabapentin and we stopped that a good two months ago.

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #48

Two ingredients? Marvelous!

It’s not that meat is required for keto, but it sure makes things easier. Only you and your son can determine whether the adjustment would be worthwhile, however.

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #49

If you are taking one of the meds that can cause euglycaemic ketoacidosis, your physician should be warning you about the possibility at the time of prescribing. The other situation where it can arise, and a physician might not know to warn the patient, is when a woman on a ketogenic diet tries to fast during pregnancy or lactation (doesn’t apply to your son, of course, lol!). I hasten to add that the problem is not the diet—far from it!—it’s trying to fast under such a heavy metabolic load. Women on keto can safely fast at other times, as many of our members can attest.

I’m glad your son was able to stop taking the gabapentin, as it can have some serious side effects. My dad was prescribed it for pain relief after a fall, and we discovered too late that his rapid decline might have been hastened by the drug. (Or possibly not, in fairness to the physician who prescribed it.)


Reading propganda written by idiots isn’t research. Eating the real food your body is designed to eat and thrive on isn’t a “negative contributor to mental health”.

(Greta) #51

Hi Mario,

I love Dr. Chris Palmer. I like reading his posts and watching him on social media.

He points out that the ketogenic diet is used to treat epilepsy resistant to medication. Well, about 1/3 of patients get great control, 1/3 improve, 1/3 the diet does not help.

He says that medication for seizure control is used in psychiatry to treat bipolar disorder. It is no stretch at all to then use the ketogenic diet, WHICH HAS BEEN EXTENSIVELY STUDIED to treat seizures, to then use for patients not responding to medication for serious mental health problems like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia (he says schizophrenia is the same disorder as bipolar on the same spectrum.

I don’t know if the ketogenic diet helps me. I did a strict protocol after buying books on it years ago-buying books that parents use to control seizures in their children.

My mental health was worse when I was heavier, period. Losing the weight made more difference than anything. I lost it in a higher protein version of low carb. I couldn’t lose much weight in that ketogenic diet and tend to eat too much higher fat food, unable to get satiety.

That said, I still love Dr. Palmer and would try it again if I ever get worse.

I’ve lost half my body weight-most of it came off in the past few years. I have not had an incident in the past year. My biggest problem is anxiety. Anxiety is probably at least 80% lower than most of my life. I haven’t had much in the way of intense anxiety for quite a long time.

I was in bad shape at several points in my life. All of them happened when I was over 250 pounds, and something happened to tip me over.

My career, my finances, my life has been negatively impacted. Anxiety and fear have kept me from what I should do.

I am the in the best shape I have been for at least the past 30 years.

I think the ketogenic diet should be tried. But if it doesn’t cause weight loss, if one is overweight, then something else should be tried, like adding fasting, maybe protein if satiety is an issue, because getting metabolically healthy is extremely important.

Dr. Palmer says that the brain is just one more organ in the body that takes a hit from metabolic derangement.

I dont follow Dr. Georgia Ede and Amber O’Hearn. I have nothing against carnivore and have many days where I don’t eat plant foods. I think they take away from the bigger answer which is to lose weight-their message I think can steer people away from weight loss lever. Ketosis is fabulous and I love it, but for the long haul weight loss I believe is going to bring healing, not just mitigation.

Amber o’Hearn in particular liked to show up and start criticizing higher protein side of low carb. I don’t get why she was showing up to start a protein argument. No one was talking to her; why show up and do that? We weren’t going into her feed and criticizing her posts. I mean, who cares? Why do that? This was a few years ago and annoying.

(Megan) #52

No. Read what Paul wrote that i quoted above.

(Megan) #53

So he went full out on fat trying to do the “medical” version of keto? The protocol for that has experimented with over the years and it’s been found it doesn’t have to be so extreme for some (many?) people to be helpful - meaning definitely keep carbs very low (this site recommends 20g a day or less) but more protein has been found to be ok.

I’d really encourage him to start off with “regular” keto - very low carb, enough protein to meet his body’s needs, then fat to satiety. Let his body adjust. Huge dietary changes, regardless of what they are, can cause our bodies to have a bit of a fit while it adjusts. For example, when I went carnivore I had the most insane diarrhea for at least 4 weeks while my gut microbiome changed and I “detoxed” etc, then everything settled and has been totally smooth sailing since.

What is he eating currently? Metabolic health, for me, has involved removing all grains and other starches, next to all processed foods (I’ll eat a bit zero sugar of bacon sometimes), all seed oils (highly highly processed) and all sugar. When I did keto I got my carbs from green leafy veg and cruciferous veg, and a few dairy carbs from heavy cream and very low carb unsweetened greek yoghurt. I had a bit of olive oil and some avocados but most of my fat came from animal sources.

I listened to a 3 hour talk by Dr Palmer yesterday. One thing he said was the “diet” he recommends for his patients isn’t the same for everyone. Some people need a lot of dietary changes to address their mental health issues, others need minimal.

Keep us posted! Maybe your son would like to make an account and hop on here too.

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #54

The therapeutic ketogenic diet that was originally devised to treat epilepsy was an extremely high-fat diet that was deficient in protein. It has since been shown that a ketogenic diet with a more normal level of protein intake can still be effective in treating epilepsy.

The key is to deal with the damage caused by excessive insulin by lowering the carb intake as much as possible. The mental afflictions that Dr. Palmer treats with a ketogenic diet are all, in one way or another, caused by or related to insulin resistance of the brain. The fact that lowering insulin also permits the body to shed excess fat is more in the nature of a side effect. The fat loss is a result of the metabolic healing, not a cause of it.

But any diet low enough in carbohydrate to allow insulin to drop sufficiently (i.e., below 25 μU/mL) is a ketogenic diet.


But that was the same… It’s all about the amino acid profile… If it’s incomplete, we can’t use all the protein…

(Mario) #56

Hi Greta. Thank you for sharing your path, and congratulations on what you have been able to achieve! Most impressive, both from a physical and mental health perspective!!

I just recently came across Dr Palmer when he was on the Huberman Lab podcast. Ironically, or maybe serendipitously, my son told me a little while ago he wanted to try keto. He hadn’t heard about Dr Palmer.

It’s impressive and very promising, but I also realize it does not work for everyone.

My son does not need to lose weight and one of the nutritionist I interviewed (to see who would be a good match) told me my son should do a low carb diet, not keto (given him throwing up), and that keto would make him lose too much weight anyways.

I did not move forward with her, because the benefits come from ketosis (from what I understand), and he can manage his weight loss even on keto.

Thank you again to you and everyone else on here. It’s a whole new world for me and wow am I impressed!

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #57

Although many people come to a ketogenic diet to lose weight, that is really a function of how many obese people there are in our society. So it makes us lose sight of the fact that a ketogenic diet is not a weight-loss diet, it is a weight-normalisation diet. The weight we lose is excess stored fat, but many people find themselves adding lean mass at the same time as they are shedding fat (though this often drives them crazy, because the scale doesn’t budge!).

At any rate, the point is that the “weight” people lose on keto is mostly fat, while lean mass is preserved. If someone developed a bit of extra muscle to haul around a hundred extra kilos, they might lose that extra (since the body tries to be as efficient as possible), but ordinarily people find that they either retain their muscle mass or even add more.

Also, although people often make a distinction between “keto” and “low-carb,” a diet low enough in carbohydrate to bring insulin down below just under 25 μU/mL is going to result in ketosis, regardless. If a person is highly insulin-sensitive, 100 g/day of carbs might be low enough to be ketogenic; if that person is highly insulin-resistant, 20 g/day of carbs might not be low enough. It all depends.

(Edith) #58

Also, you may find Dr. Georgia Ede’s website helpful:

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #59

And here is a link to a study in which Dr. Ede was recently involved:


The list of actual foods is linked to in the paper. It is based on the diet that Dr. Eric Westman developed from the Atkins diet, for use by his patients at the weight-loss clinic at Duke University.


There is some reason to say that? Surely, if he vomits much, he loses weight - but of course he wouldn’t do that. Keto doesn’t guarantee fat-loss even if one has lots to lose and actively tries to lose fat… If he eats enough, he won’t lose fat especially that he doesn’t need it.
But it’s a moot point if he can’t do keto. Low-carb sounds a nice idea as a starting point and you would see if it helps, if it makes keto possible later… Or some else conclusion may come of it. I don’t know about mental health vs eating so I don’t know what would help but maybe it’s not (just) about carbs… So a certain type of low-carb would be right. Certain type of keto would e wrong, that’s sure as one can do keto very unhealthily… Even if it’s not inherently a bad one. One person’s ideal keto may be horrible for someone else. I just don’t know how these are regarding mental health but the physical part is important for everyone.