Can the Keto Diet Help Prevent Migraine Attacks?

The ketogenic, or keto, diet is a diet rich in fats, moderate in protein, and very low in carbs.

It has long been used to treat epilepsy, a brain disorder that causes seizures.

Owing to its therapeutic effects in managing epilepsy, the keto diet has been suggested to alleviate or prevent other brain disorders like migraine.

This article examines the evidence to determine whether the keto diet can help prevent migraine.

The keto diet and migraine

Keto refers to a diet that consists primarily of fats with very few carbs — usually less than 50 grams daily (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source).

For reference, the average American adult consumes 200–350 grams of carbs daily (2Trusted Source).

Carbs are found in a variety of foods, such as fruits, breads, cereals, pasta, milk and other dairy products, as well as starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn.

Normally, your body breaks down carbs from these foods into glucose to supply your cells with energy.

Yet, when you severely restrict carbs from your diet for 3–4 days, your body must look for alternative fuel sources to meet its energy needs (1Trusted Source).

It does so by breaking down fats in your liver to produce ketones, which your body and brain can easily use for energy.

Your body enters a metabolic state called ketosis when blood ketone levels rise above normal.

It has been suggested that these ketones have protective effects against migraine (3Trusted Source).

Migraine is characterized by headaches that cause severe throbbing or pulsing pain, usually on one side of your head (4Trusted Source).

This pain may be accompanied by other symptoms, such as nausea and sensitivity to light or sound.

While the exact mechanism remains unclear, it’s thought that the ketones produced while on a keto diet restore brain excitability and energy metabolism to counteract brain inflammation in people with migraine (5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).

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