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What Ketosis Does To The Brain

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The Fat Burning Brain: What Are The Cognitive Effects Of Ketosis?

41 Comments Although mainstream sources still mistake “the brain needs glucose” for “the brain can only run on glucose,” regular MDA readers know the truth: given sufficient adaptation, the brain can derive up to 75% of its fuel from ketone bodies, which the liver constructs using fatty acids. If we could only use glucose, we wouldn’t make it longer than a few days without food. If our brains couldn’t utilize fat-derived ketones, we’d drop dead as soon as our liver had exhausted its capacity to churn out glucose. We’d waste away, our lean tissue dissolving into amino acids for hepatic conversion into glucose to feed our rapacious brains. You’d end up a skeletal wraith with little else but your brain and a hypertrophied liver remaining until, eventually, the latter cannibalized itself in a last ditch search for glucose precursors for the tyrant upstairs. It would get ugly. That’s adaptation. But is there an actual cognitive advantage to running on ketones? Maybe. It depends. It certainly helps people with neurodegeneration. People whose brains suffer from impaired glucose utilization see cognitive benefits from ketones. In Alzheimer’s disease, aging-related cog Continue reading >>

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  1. ufojoe

    Lots of assertions that need to be backed up.
    What does it even mean to say "the brain prefers ketones"?
    All the studies on healthy people that I'm aware of have shown ketosis doesn't improve brain function, and might impair some aspects. [1][2]
    Then saying the brain is 60% fat therefore it needs lots of fat is just bad unsupported logic. The thing you would want to know is how much much and what type of fat should be available for optimal maintenance of brain tissue. The answer usually isn't straight forward, given the body has feedback mechanisms that can turn up maintenance processes based on a lack of nutrient availability.

  2. snocorgurgl

    I agree about these kind of claims. They're ridiculously over-simplified.
    However, the cognitive effects of keto have been pretty real for me. I think the overwhelming enthusiasm for keto in terms of cognitive enhancement and mood is because of selection bias of 'unhealthy' people who cannot tolerate high carbohydrate diets. Definitely more trials on healthy samples are needed.

  3. [deleted]

    Yeah I have a feeling that there is a segment of the population that otherwise deals poorly with blood sugar spikes and troughs, keto probably positively impacts that, that's my theory as for why it works for me. Anecdotally I will never return to a carby diet; in terms of science simply saying "existing science says bad" isn't a strong backup either. There is a dearth of science re: keto because it's in its infancy for anything besides epilepsy and there aren't a lot of pharmaceutical or agricultural interests paying for keto studies like there are for drugs and carb diets.

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