A small-scale study was published in the Journal of Eating Disorders looking at the effect of a ketogenic diet on three obese patients who experienced frequent bouts of binge eating disorder throughout their adult lives.
A team of researchers led by Matthew Carmen at The University of Michigan identified three individuals to take part in the study based on their history of binge eating and food addiction problems.
Each of the three patients were initially taught how to adopt a long-term ketogenic based diet. The main premise was they should strive daily to eat a macronutrient combination of around 10% carbohydrate, 30% protein, and 60% fat for a period of no less than 6 months.
Another key component was that unlike many alternative diets, the patients were instructed not to count calories at all.
They were also advised to expect short-term side effects from switching to the new diet, such as headaches, fatigue, and constipation, of which they all experienced and overcame.
The Study Results
While the number of participants was quite small, the results of the study were encouraging, nonetheless:
- All three patients “reported significant reductions in binge eating episodes and food addiction symptoms including cravings and lack of control”
- The patients lost between 10 – 24% of their total body weight
- They reported maintenance of treatment gains in terms of weight and eating habits 9 – 17 months after the initiation of the study
The authors noted the many caveats of such a small study but did point out their report demonstrates the possibility of adhering to a ketogenic diet as a potential aid in binge eating and food addiction.
Studies like the above show promise for treatment in the field of eating disorders in a way often overlooked in the past. It’s one of the reasons why we focus so heavily on metabolic psychiatry in our online Fellowship training for mental health providers. If you are a psychiatrist, psychologist, clinician, nurse, provider or other mental health professional working in the field of mental illness, this popular training will provide you with the latest research, practical interventions, and useful clinical tools to implement with your patients.