Background: Brain energy metabolism is impaired in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), which may be mitigated by a
ketogenic diet. We conducted a randomized crossover trial to determine whether a 12-week modified ketogenic
diet improved cognition, daily function, or quality of life in a hospital clinic of AD patients.
Methods: We randomly assigned patients with clinically confirmed diagnoses of AD to a modified ketogenic diet
or usual diet supplemented with low-fat healthy-eating guidelines and enrolled them in a single-phase, assessorblinded, two-period crossover trial (two 12-week treatment periods, separated by a 10-week washout period).
Primary outcomes were mean within-individual changes in the Addenbrookes Cognitive Examination - III (ACE-III)
scale, AD Cooperative Study - Activities of Daily Living (ADCS-ADL) inventory, and Quality of Life in AD (QOL-AD)
questionnaire over 12 weeks. Secondary outcomes considered changes in cardiovascular risk factors and adverse
Results: We randomized 26 patients, of whom 21 (81%) completed the ketogenic diet; only one withdrawal was
attributed to the ketogenic diet. While on the ketogenic diet, patients achieved sustained physiological ketosis
(12-week mean beta-hydroxybutyrate level: 0.95 ± 0.34 mmol/L). Compared with usual diet, patients on the
ketogenic diet increased their mean within-individual ADCS-ADL (+ 3.13 ± 5.01 points, P = 0.0067) and QOL-AD
(+ 3.37 ± 6.86 points, P = 0.023) scores; the ACE-III also increased, but not significantly (+ 2.12 ± 8.70 points, P = 0.24).
Changes in cardiovascular risk factors were mostly favourable, and adverse effects were mild.
Conclusions: This is the first randomized trial to investigate the impact of a ketogenic diet in patients with uniform
diagnoses of AD. High rates of retention, adherence, and safety appear to be achievable in applying a 12-week
modified ketogenic diet to AD patients. Compared with a usual diet supplemented with low-fat healthy-eating
guidelines, patients on the ketogenic diet improved in daily function and quality of life, two factors of great
importance to people living with dementia.
Phillips et al. Alzheimer's Research & Therapy (2021) 13:51