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@Clues 2024

The Brain Energy Model of the Mind

“Do human cells have “drivers” making the cells stop and go? It turns out that they do. The drivers of human cells, and human metabolism, are called mitochondria. And they are the common pathway to mental and metabolic disorders” - Dr. Christopher Palmer, author of the book "Brain Energy: A Revolutionary Breakthrough in Understanding Mental Health"

The brain energy theory of mental health, championed by Dr. Christopher Palmer and other specialists in metabolic mental health, posits that mental health conditions may be linked to the brain's energy metabolism. In simpler terms, this theory suggests that the way our brain processes and utilizes energy from food might play a crucial role in our mental well-being.

At the core of this theory is the idea that the brain, being the most energy-consuming organ in the body, requires a stable and efficient energy supply to function optimally. Any disruption in energy metabolism could potentially lead to mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, or even more severe conditions like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

An interesting anecdote involving Dr. Palmer highlights the potential benefits of this approach. He treated a patient diagnosed with schizophrenia, who had been on various medications for years, with little to no improvement. Dr. Palmer suggested a change in the patient's diet, specifically, a ketogenic diet. This diet is high in healthy fats, moderate in protein, and low in carbohydrates, which can help the body produce ketones, an alternative energy source for the brain. Remarkably, the patient's symptoms improved significantly within weeks, supporting the idea that targeting brain energy metabolism could be a promising approach for treating mental health disorders.

Another noteworthy example comes from a patient with treatment-resistant depression. After trying numerous medications without success, this patient, under the guidance of a metabolic mental health specialist, switched to a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet. Within a month, the patient's depression and anxiety levels had significantly decreased.

While these anecdotes offer fascinating insights, it's essential to remember that individual cases may not apply to everyone, and more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of metabolic interventions for mental health. However, these examples provide a compelling case for exploring the brain energy theory of mental health and its potential implications for treating mental health disorders.


One example of the brain energy theory in practice is Dr. Georgia Ede, a psychiatrist who has written extensively about the benefits of the ketogenic diet for mental health. Dr. Ede has spoken publicly about her own struggles with depression and anxiety and has reported that adopting a ketogenic diet has greatly improved her mental health.

Another example involves Mikhaila Peterson and Jordan Peterson, who have publicly spoken about their experiences using a carnivore diet for mental health reasons. Mikhaila Peterson, in particular, has been a vocal advocate for the carnivore diet as a means of managing her autoimmune disorders and depression.

The carnivore diet is an extreme form of the low-carbohydrate, high-fat ketogenic diet that consists solely of animal products, such as meat, fish, and eggs. Advocates of the diet claim that it can help to improve a wide range of health conditions, including autoimmune disorders, mental health issues, and weight loss.

Mikhaila Peterson has reported that adopting a carnivore diet has significantly improved her physical and mental health. She has described experiencing significant reductions in joint pain and inflammation, and an improvement in her mood and energy levels. Jordan Peterson has also reported experiencing improvements in his health after adopting the carnivore diet.

However, it's important to note that the carnivore diet is an extreme and controversial dietary intervention that lacks scientific evidence to support its safety and effectiveness. The long-term health effects of following such a restrictive diet are not well understood, and there is a risk of nutrient deficiencies if the diet is not carefully planned.

In addition, there have been several anecdotal reports of individuals with bipolar disorder and other mood disorders who have reported improvement in their symptoms after adopting a ketogenic diet. However, it is important to note that these reports are largely anecdotal and more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of the ketogenic diet for managing mental health issues.

Important People in the Brain Energy Model

Some notable figures in the field include:

  • George A. Bray, who is a leading expert on obesity and metabolism, and has studied the relationship between energy availability and brain function in the context of weight loss and weight gain.
  • Robert Sapolsky, who is a neuroendocrinologist and has written extensively about the relationship between stress, energy availability, and brain function.
  • Mark P. Mattson, is a neuroscientist and professor who has conducted extensive research on the effects of fasting and calorie restriction on brain health., and is one of the key figures behind intermittent fasting having written the book "The Intermittent Fasting Revolution"
  • Daniel Amen, who is a psychiatrist and the founder of Amen Clinics, which specializes in brain imaging and the use of dietary and lifestyle interventions to improve brain function.
  • Christopher Palmer is a psychiatrist and researcher who specializes in the study of the brain and its relationship to metabolism and mental health.

Questions for Self-Inquiry

Here’s a list of questions to ask yourself if you want to apply this theory to yourself:

  1. How do I feel physically? Do I feel energized, fatigued, or somewhere in between?
  2. How has my physical energy level impacted my emotional and mental states?
  3. What factors contribute to my feelings of fatigue or sluggishness?
  4. How is diet affecting my mood and energy levels?
  5. How can I use an understanding of brain energy and metabolic processes to improve my mental well-being, such as through diet or exercise?