Can My Wife’s Keto Diet Help My MS?

Ed Tobias avatar

by Ed Tobias |

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For the past few months, my wife, Laura, has been following a ketogenic diet, and she’s lost a bunch of weight. But in addition to helping people slim down, the low-carb keto diet may have other benefits, including potentially for those with MS.

A small study that will be released in April by researchers at University of Virginia Health reports that the keto diet may help to reduce some key multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms.

UVA researchers studied 65 people with relapsing-remitting MS who followed a keto diet. According to UVA Today‘s Josh Barney, over 80% of study participants continued with the diet for the full six months of the study. They reported significant MS improvements, including walking farther and faster on the six-minute walking test, having less fatigue and depression, and having a better overall quality of life.

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Fat is OK, but not carbs

The keto diet requires followers to eat some fat during each meal, but only about 165 grams a day. Laura will eat a burger, but she skips the bun, as no bread is allowed. Also on her menu are eggs, bacon, and chicken. She eats about 25 grams 0f carbs a day, which is about equal to a medium banana.

Cheese and green veggies also are on her menu, but forget about sugar. Instead, she soothes her sweet tooth with some blueberries or a few large strawberries.

Her diet allows only about 2,000 calories a day, which isn’t easy, but she’s been doing it since before Thanksgiving.

Keto isn’t perfect

The keto diet is not without its risks, as Harvard Health Publishing noted. Saturated fat, which makes up a large percentage of each meal in the diet, is linked to heart disease, and the keto diet has been associated with an increase in so-called bad cholesterol, or LDL. That fat also could worsen existing liver disease.

The high amounts of protein in a keto diet could stress the kidneys, and because keto is low in fiber, it could also cause constipation, Harvard Health Publishing noted.

Needless to say, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor or nutritionist before starting the keto diet or any MS diet.

Is keto really useful to people with MS?

According to UVA Today‘s Barney, citing researchers, “The ketogenic diet is safe in the short-term and potentially effective in improving MS-related symptoms and overall quality of life.” But until the study is published, we don’t know the specifics about the actual diets the study participants followed. I can’t tell you how much of this and how little of that they ate during each meal, and it may be different from the weight-loss regimen Laura is following. Also, what works for one person with MS may not work for another.

Other MS diets

Though the National Multiple Sclerosis Society says there is no such thing as an MS diet, some people with MS have found a few diets helpful, such as the low-fat Swank diet and the Wahls elimination diet, which are variations of the keto diet. Some people with MS also are big supporters of going vegetarian.

I’m not a fan of diets in general. Don’t hate me: I weigh about the same 140 pounds that I weighed in college over 50 years ago. But since Laura’s been on a keto diet, I’ve been forced to modify some of my bad habits. I won’t ever have the desire to diet the way she is right now — I can’t give up my ice cream. But perhaps you might.

If you’re among the many people who want to find a way to help treat their MS without more medications, the keto diet might be worth investigating. Again, make sure to consult your doctor or nutritionist first. While you’re at it, make sure to visit my personal blog at

Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Ralf Wolters avatar

Ralf Wolters

I tried a ketogenic diet back in 2016. First of all I have to say that it wasn't easy to find useful information on this subject so I made a couple of mistakes. The worst one was making a hard switch from a normal diet to ketogenic from one day to the other. This caused me a very tough week with nausea and tachycardia especially at night. But after that initial week I experienced a huge improvement. My fatigue syndrom had been very much better and I was able to walk twice (!) the way I could walk before. Finally I stopped my ketogenic after four months. The reason for this was that I am a vegetarian which makes it a lot harder to find or create dishes. Also if you have to travel a ketogenic diet can be a big problem - especially for vegetarians and vegans.
My first advice is to consult your doctor before starting a ketogenic diet so the required blood test are done before you start an every now and then while your diet.
Don't start the diet the way I did. Nausea and accelerated hart rate 24/7 isn't funny. So switch your nutrition to ketogenic slowly.
Get a device for measuring your blood ketones. These give much more reliable results than urine tests.
I'm looking very much forward to the study results and I hope everyone will experience the the same (or more) benefit from a ketogenic diet I did.

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Thanks for all of the info, Ralf. My wife has been doing all that you advise, including coordinating with her doctor and getting bloodwork done.


Chooper avatar


Your wife can have sugar, try Monkfruit and ChocZero has delicious chocolate. You can have ice cream too Rebel is delicious. KetoChow has amazing shakes and you can make pudding and ice cream out of them as well. Be sure to always read your labels as many are misleading. I have been Keto almost 4 years and these little things sure do make it easier to stay on this lifestyle change. Good Luck to you both.

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Chooper,

Don't worry, my wife has found a ton of keto goodies that are in the cupboard. Thanks for passing along the suggestions.


Greg Bond avatar

Greg Bond

It interesting how in terms of fat, the Swank and keto diets couldn’t be further apart. Swank limits fat intake to 15 grams, no read meat the first year and only 4 oz/week after that. Wahls is more aligned with keto in this regard and in fact encourages going into the ketogenic zone..

Bottom line I think is to eat a healthy well balanced diet and eliminate processed foods to the extent possible. Thanks

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Greg,

I think you're right. Processed foods seem to be one of the most significant causes for a lot of problems.


Ellen avatar


Hi Ed, Enjoy your articles. I have been keeping carbs down for many years starting before I ever knew I had MS. I felt better in general once I cut down on my favorite sugar products. I don't know for sure if it has benefited my MS, but I think it may have. I still walk and have been off meds about 3 years. I just cannot prove it. I also take a lot of supplements to make up for what I do not eat on this diet. I still take hormones even though I am almost 74. I buy low carb ice cream from Breyers and top it with whipped cream. Only a couple places sell it. Ice cream in general is not terribly carb heavy depending if you watch the amounts. The lo carb ice cream does have a lot of sugar alcohol in it so have to be careful b/c it causes diarrhea ( but has 0 carbs.) So you really do not have to give up ice cream. When I started, I gave myself weekends off to not count carbs. My husband doesn't have MS but has had some other issues. He started cutting down on carbs and does feel better!! I don't look at calories any more.. just net carbs ( carb count minus fiber count.) I started strictly to lose weight at about 60 net carbs/day. Now I am about 100 average plus or minus. So much easier than counting calories. HOpe all is well with you.

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Ellen,

I'm glad you like what I write and thanks, very much, for all of this info. I'm also almost 74 and I'm really reluctant to start down the diet road at this point in my life. I do, however, eat a lot of sugar and that might be a place I can start. If for no other reason, it should be better for my general health. There's no need for me to lose weight, BTW. I've been the same 135-140 pounds since high school!



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