The ketogenic diet (Keto diet) is well-known for being a low-carb, high-fat diet for short-term results. Most people know or learn about the keto diet from a weight-loss perspective. It’s also been used for helping patients with diabetes or epilepsy. But there is another less-talked-about benefit of the ketogenic diet: ketosis for mental clarity. Yes, entering ketosis is also known for improving cognition and brain function and while doing keto is not the only way to achieve it, here’s what we’ve experienced ourselves.
Let’s see how a ketogenic diet works and how it can have a positive effect on cognition, which may help you be more productive throughout your day.
Keto and mental clarity
Let’s start by talking a bit about Ketosis. Ketosis is a state the body enters when deprived of carbohydrates (glucose), where your body uses ketones, a natural chemical made in the liver to burn fat as its primary fuel source. Fat via ketones is the brain’s preferred fuel source. By following a low-carb, high-fat diet we achieve ketosis. You can also achieve it by doing intermittent fasting or other types of keto diets. In short, ketosis can make brain fog and/or lethargy disappear.
The basis of the keto diet is that it uses a macronutrient balance to get a certain response from the body. People who follow a ketogenic diet eat normal amounts of protein, higher amounts of fat, and lower amounts of carbohydrates than the average person.
Also, ketogenic diets are therapeutic for epilepsy in children, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, ALS, and West Syndrome. And are also known for improving the behavior of children with autism, serving as antidepressants, and possibly stabilizing mood in bipolar disorder.
An unbalanced diet can lead to a lack of mental clarity, a foggy brain, having a hard time remembering important facts, or struggling to stay focused on tasks. If we want to improve our mental health, focus, and brain function in general, we can use keto for mental clarity. Let’s see how it works.
The increased fat intake from a keto diet can offer benefits for brain function of healthy people since our brains need mostly fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6 to be healthy and function properly. Most part of our brain tissue is made up of fatty acids, so it makes sense that they would be vital for the health of our brain and also for functions such as learning and sensory execution.
Since the human body can’t make essential fatty acids on its own, we must obtain them from our diet. A healthful keto diet should be rich in them. Fats that help maintain the proper balance of omega-3s to omega-6s that should be included in a diet are:
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Animal fats
The benefits of ketosis on brain health
As we’ve seen so far, we know that our brain is made up mostly of fat and that it prefers ketones for fuel instead of glucose. Let’s see how by following a ketogenic diet, we can promote and protect brain function and health. Also, let’s see how keto for mental health works.
1. Low-carb diets may prevent brain diseases
Research has shown that a low-carb diet reduces inflammation in the body’s tissues. Chronic inflammation is a common factor in many diseases. This inflammation can be caused because most carbohydrates are heavily processed foods, which our body can’t digest properly, which causes inflammation to the tissues.
By switching to a more whole-food nutritional approach, like the ketogenic diet, your risk of developing certain diseases can be greatly reduced. Many of these diseases start in our brains.
2. Low-carb diets boost your memory
Going keto may be beneficial to help you retain and recall information. Low-carb diets like keto boost memory now and preserve it in old age. This is because ketosis acts as a natural nootropic (cognition and memory enhancer), so you can achieve the benefits of this substance without having to take a pill!
3. Keto may support improved brain function and performance
The ketogenic diet is the best weapon at your disposal to feel your best and be able to think clearly without the need for other stimulants.
As we said, by having a ketogenic diet, your body is in fat-burning mode. This state naturally produces more mitochondria (the “powerhouse” of a cell). So, in simpler words, the more mitochondria, the better your ability to function. When your brain has more mitochondria, it can work at its very best and a keto diet is a natural way to promote this.
Brain fog can be the result of several things. We have several neurotransmitters in the brain and when they aren’t balanced it’s when your brain feels a little foggy. On keto, your body naturally balances out these neurotransmitters, so this helps clear the fog and allows you to complete complex tasks without any problem. Usually, a keto diet helps people to focus better, sleep better and avoid the mid-afternoon crash.
How to use keto to improve your productivity
As we’ve seen, keto is great for mental clarity, productivity and overall mental health, and great brain function. So, how can the ketogenic diet improve our productivity? Let’s see it!
One common misconception about keto is that most people think they have to eliminate all carbs from your diet in order to maintain the benefits. Well, this isn’t quite true. As we’ve observed, the takeaway here is to not only boost the fats you eat overall in your diet but to optimize more of these fats during meals when you work or focus. By optimizing your carb intake towards the end of the day you will be able to fulfill your body’s carbohydrate needs without feeling lethargic when you need to focus. Here are some tips on how to do it:
- Eat fat-rich foods for breakfast, like eggs and bacon, sausage, or fish. Avoid eating sugary foods and bread. If you only have coffee for breakfast, avoid sugar and milk. Instead use other fats that still taste great in your coffee like coconut, butter, or chocolate.
- For lunch, stick primarily to fatty and high-protein foods and minimize the amount of carbohydrates.
- If you are a snacky person, try to eat high-fat healthy snacks instead of a sandwich or a carbohydrate-based snack. These Funky Fat Chocs are great as a pick-me-up afternoon snack. They are packed with flavor and made with clean ingredients.
- By dinner, make sure to get your day’s worth of carbs. The idea is to plan it for dinner so it helps you relax and fall asleep faster at night. You can find these carbs in vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, and pumpkin. You can also enjoy shirataki noodles. These are easy to digest carbs and contein a good amount of fiber.
You will immediately notice the benefit of a keto diet from the boost in mental cognition without starving yourself of carbohydrates. Obviously, when in doubt, consult your doctor or a professional dietitian who guides you through the process.