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What Is the Serotonin Diet?

B. Miller
B. Miller

The serotonin diet is an eating plan based on improving the mood as well as losing weight by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain. Many people struggle with emotional eating, and this diet helps to curb mood swings and prevent food binges. In addition, those who are on medication for depression often suffer from weight gain due to the medication as well, and the diet can help to regulate that weight gain. The serotonin diet may also refer to a book called "The Serotonin Power Diet" by Judith J. Wurtman, PhD, and Nina T. Frusztajer, MD.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter known as the "feel good" brain chemical, because it acts as both a mood booster and an appetite suppressant. Serotonin occurs naturally in the body, but often at very low levels; much of the serotonin in the body is created from the food consumed. In order for the body to make enough serotonin, it is necessary to consume enough of an amino acid called tryptophan.

Consuming dairy products can increase the body's tryptophan.
Consuming dairy products can increase the body's tryptophan.

Tryptophan is found in the highest concentrations in meat and dairy products, or it can be taken in supplement form. Most people have felt the calming effects of tryptophan after eating a turkey dinner or drinking a glass of milk before bed. The amino acid tryptophan works in conjunction with other amino acids, so it is necessary to eat a balanced serotonin diet to receive lasting effects.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter known as the "feel good" brain chemical, because it acts as both a mood booster and an appetite suppressant.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter known as the "feel good" brain chemical, because it acts as both a mood booster and an appetite suppressant.

There are a number of foods that contain tryptophan. In addition to meats, such as turkey or chicken, or dairy products, such as milk, eggs, and cottage cheese, tryptophan is also found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grain products. Many people find that carbohydrates quickly boost serotonin levels and improve mood; this works because carbohydrates encourage the body to release insulin, which in turn makes it easier for the tryptophan to reach the brain. It is especially important to eat carbohydrates in moderation, however, when attempting to follow the serotonin diet.

Cottage cheese and eggs are high in tryptophan.
Cottage cheese and eggs are high in tryptophan.

"The Serotonin Power Diet" book contains an eating plan for twelve weeks, along with more than 70 recipes. The authors state that it is possible to lose approximately two pounds per week on the serotonin diet, as well as reduce stress and curb emotional eating. However, even those who do not need to lose any weight could potentially benefit from eating foods containing tryptophan, in order to boost the mood, improve feelings of well-being, curb emotional eating, and even help with sleep disturbances.

View the keto cycle app review to learn about the different stages of ketosis and how to achieve them when you are on the serotonin diet. In the app, you can create a virtual shopping list for proper meal planning and read a keto guide for beginners on the serotonin diet. 

There are more than 10,000 recipes in the app, so you have plenty to choose from and never get bored of the same meal. Plus, you can receive free expert advice from keto nutritionists who are standing by waiting to help out!

Discussion Comments


I have been using the Serotonin Power Diet for about one and half weeks now. I have lost five pounds and have been enjoying a better overall mood.


I am not a fan of diets, as I think keeping yourself under strict rules and regulations can become more stressful than helpful. If you focus solely on what you eat, how much to eat, etc., you kind of miss out on living life to the fullest. I do think it is important to eat healthy, of course, but not to extent that you are depriving yourself from other foods that you enjoy on an occasional basis.

I think the key to most things is moderation. Too much of anything can be bad. Even healthy foods and exercise. Too much exercise can take a real tole on anyone’s body. It can set you up for more injuries and such.

I say it is good to eat all the foods that are apart of the serotonin diet, but also include other healthy foods and drinks as well. Occasionally indulge in something that is not healthy for you, so you do not get burnt out on the healthy foods. If you exercise and eat healthy most of the time, you will find your taste buds and body may even change, you may even start to love and crave healthy foods and exercise.


One reason I am so intrigued by this diet is that I am a very emotional eater. If I am feeling down or frustrated, the first thing I do is eat. The worse thing is, I don't eat good food, but crave the junk food that is bad for me.

I find the connection between serotonin and diet very interesting. I know that it can also be hard to get out of the vicious cycle of anxiety medications and weight gain.

If you take anti anxiety medication to help you feel better, these can cause weight gain, and the cycle just keeps repeating itself. This makes it hard to really get on top of anything.

This is one reason I have not wanted to start taking any medications for depression, but want to lose weight and feel better from diet and exercise.

I think this sounds like something I could follow for 12 weeks, especially since there are a lot of recipes to follow. I think it would be worth a try anyway and if I started to lose a few pounds, that would be motivation to keep at it.


@lonelygod - I really liked the serotonin boosting diet because it really encouraged healthy eating, and I found that I was trying foods that I normally wouldn't have touched. While I am not exactly sure if the diet increases serotonin or not, I did feel a lot better and lose weight by using recipes from the book.

The serotonin power diet reviews I read were really mixed before I started. So I think you need to try the diet for yourself and see if the change in foods helps you are not. As always, watch your serving size, because I don't care if you eat too much brown rice or whole wheat pasta, you will gain weight with too much food.


Does anyone have any successful serotonin power diet reviews to offer up?

Right now I am pretty excited about the prospect of using serotonin foods to help me boost my mood and stop my cravings for certain foods. I think that the idea of creating more natural serotonin in your body just makes sense, as scientists have been telling us for ages that serotonin levels have a huge impact on our moods.

I know that I am an emotional eater, so I am hoping that if I can avoid getting angry or depressed I can avoid eating when I am not in complete control of my emotions.


@chivebasil - If you feel like you are overmedicated, you might want to look for a new therapist. You should be comfortable with your level of medication, which is not to say that you won't need to take some. For a lot of people, antidepressants keep their life on track.

If you love food, you might be able to teach yourself to love healthy foods, too! It takes time to reprogram your taste buds, but it can be done and would be really worthwhile. Fruits and veggies can be very flavorful, especially if they're prepared right.

And I notice that you don't mention exercise. Many people find exercise to be the most powerful mood lifter of them all. It has the added benefit of boosting your appetite for healthy food! Good luck with getting to a place where you feel healthy in mind and body.


I am very interested in trying the serotonin diet because in addition to my weight I have also struggled with depression. If I could do something that would simultaneously drop my weight and boost my mood it would be great.

I am in treatment for depression and on several medications but I am beginning to wonder if they are doing me more harm than good. Its kind of like the way I love food. I love it so much that I can't eat healthily and gain a lot of weight. I am so committed to my depression that I throw powerful psychiatric drugs into my body that probably only make me feel worse.

I have heard in the past of a depression diet, foods designed to boost your mood. I don't know if that is the same science as the serotonin diet but they sound similar. I'm going to try this as soon as I can get a copy of the book.


A word of caution to anyone who is thinking of trying this diet. I tried it myself. I went through the entire 12 week course. At the end of it I was 5 pounds heavier than when I started and far from a state of chemically induced bliss.

Really this diet is no different than most of the others. It makes wildly over blown and optimistic claims, it presents you with menus that sound great but taste horrible, it does nothing to reduce the stress of dieting and craving and last but certainly not least, it doesn't take away any weight. Don't be fooled by their pseudo science. The serotonin diet is far from the magic bullet it claims to be.

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    • Consuming dairy products can increase the body's tryptophan.
      By: lidante
      Consuming dairy products can increase the body's tryptophan.
    • Serotonin is a neurotransmitter known as the "feel good" brain chemical, because it acts as both a mood booster and an appetite suppressant.
      Serotonin is a neurotransmitter known as the "feel good" brain chemical, because it acts as both a mood booster and an appetite suppressant.
    • Cottage cheese and eggs are high in tryptophan.
      By: nata777_7
      Cottage cheese and eggs are high in tryptophan.