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What Ketosis Does To The Brain

Ketosis Makes Your Brain Work Better

Ketosis Makes Your Brain Work Better

Every morning for the last four and a half months, I’ve broken off a large chunk of grass fed butter (usually around 50 grams or just over three tablespoons) and a couple tablespoons of coconut oil and thrown them in a blender with my morning coffee. You might have heard of this idea, dubbed ‘bulletproof coffee’ and created by a guy called Dave Asprey.1 You might ask why the hell somebody might want to put butter in their coffee, but all you’d be proving is that you haven’t tried it (because it tastes amazing) and according to Dave Asprey, apparently will help make you healthier, feel better, perform better, think better – everything short of give you superpowers. Now, I didn’t want to like Dave Asprey… he’s just a little bit too charming – especially once you realize he’s created a whole line of supplements and other consumables that meet his extra-special toxin-free super-executive standards. I tried his upgraded mycotoxin free coffee beans and didn’t notice any difference between them and any other local fancy-shmancy coffee I’ve purchased since – not that I doubt that some people are more sensitive to these toxins, I just didn’t notice a difference. Nevertheless, I do like him. He does a good podcast and he clued me into something that I previously would have thought was completely insane, but now am starting to think is key to keep my brain working optimally – eating a high fat diet. A diet that is high in fat (60-70% of calories), is almost by definition low in carbs, and this means that when eating a high fat diet, it is likely that one is at least partially and some of the time in a state of ketosis. For those of you who don’t know, ketosis is what it is called when the body switches over from burning glucose (the kind of sugar Continue reading >>

Tim Ferriss: What Ketosis Does To Your Brain, Why He’s Not Doing Crossfit, And How To “evaluate” Your Husband

Tim Ferriss: What Ketosis Does To Your Brain, Why He’s Not Doing Crossfit, And How To “evaluate” Your Husband

Tim Ferriss, the bestselling author of The 4-Hour Workweek, The 4-Hour Body, and The 4-Hour Chef returns to Fat-Burning Man this week (click here to listen to his first appearance on FBM where we talk about eating crickets and more). The New York Times calls him “A cross between Jack Welch and a Buddhist monk,” and Wired Magazine says he’s “The Superman of Silicon Valley.” Not too shabby, Tim. Tim’s got a new show in the works, including the launch of a new TV series that’s a sort of combination of Jackass, Mythbusters, and A Beautiful Mind. Before we get to the show, here’s the review of the week for my new book, The Wild Diet. 5 STARS— More than recipes…By Michael Wesselson April 13, 2015 I bought this book after listening to Abel’s “Fat-Burning Man” podcast for months. Abel takes a practical and positive approach to eating well and exercise. I have lost 3 inches in my waist from following his simple plan for 3 months. I look better and feel fantastic. I decided to buy “The Wild Diet” book so I could explore new and different recipes and still stay true to my new way of eating. There is a lot more than recipes in this book and I enjoyed having extra information on why this diet works and why traditional American eating and dieting does not. It is especially useful to have this resource because so many friends and family want to know what I have done to lose weight and look so good. Thank you Abel! Thanks, Michael! Get your friends to try the new cheesecake recipe – there’s no turning back… If you haven’t picked up a copy of The Wild Diet, please check it out on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple iBooks, or anywhere books are sold. And don’t forget to leave a review – I read every one! On this show with Tim, we talk about: How to Continue reading >>

Ketosis Makes Your Brain Work Better

Ketosis Makes Your Brain Work Better

Every morning for the last four and a half months, I’ve broken off a large chunk of grass fed butter (usually around 50 grams or just over three tablespoons) and a couple tablespoons of coconut oil and thrown them in a blender with my morning coffee. You might have heard of this idea, dubbed ‘bulletproof coffee’ and created by a guy called Dave Asprey. 1 (this essay was originally posted at Aaron’s blog HERE) You might ask why the hell somebody might want to put butter in their coffee, but all you’d be proving is that you haven’t tried it (because it tastes amazing) and according to Dave Asprey, apparently will help make you healthier, feel better, perform better, think better – everything short of give you superpowers. Now, I didn’t want to like Dave Asprey… he’s just a little bit too charming – especially once you realize he’s created a whole line of supplements and other consumables that meet his extra-special toxin-free super-executive standards. I tried his upgraded mycotoxin free coffee beans and didn’t notice any difference between them and any other local fancy-shmancy coffee I’ve purchased since – not that I doubt that some people are more sensitive to these toxins, I just didn’t notice a difference. Nevertheless, I do like him. He does a good podcast and he clued me into something that I previously would have thought was completely insane, but now am starting to think is key to keep my brain working optimally – eating a high fat diet. A diet that is high in fat (60-70% of calories), is almost by definition low in carbs, and this means that when eating a high fat diet, it is likely that one is at least partially and some of the time in a state of ketosis. For those of you who don’t know, ketosis is what it is called when the Continue reading >>

6 Ways A Ketogenic Diet Improves Brain Function

6 Ways A Ketogenic Diet Improves Brain Function

The ketogenic diet was developed in the 1920’s as a medical approach for reducing seizures in cases of pediatric epilepsy. Although we didn’t fully understand the mechanisms on how this worked, it was understood that elevated levels of ketones in the blood correlated with a significant decrease in epileptic episodes. Since then, we have come understand deeper ways in which a ketogenic diet improves brain function. The ketogenic diet remerged in recent years when people realized they would have more energy and elevated mental acuity when following it. After years of sideways science claiming that the body must have a constant intake of carbohydrate to be healthy, people are discovering the truth. On top of improved mental performance, the ketogenic diet is now being highlighted as a therapeutic strategy for mental illness and neurodegenerative diseases. Here I am going to break down the benefits and applications of the ketogenic diet for brain-related disorders. Low-Carb Vs. Ketogenic Before we get into it, it is important to understand what exactly a ketogenic diet is. If your goal is to employ the ketogenic diet as a healing strategy, it is important to be scientific to improve your chances of success. Many people think that a ketogenic diet is simply a high-fat, low-carb diet. While this is true, it does not provide the whole picture. The goal of the ketogenic diet is to drop blood sugar so low that the body resorts to fats for energy instead. This means if you eat too many carbs or too little fat, you may not fully shift into ketosis. Consuming too much protein can also prevent a shift into ketosis as excess amino acids are converted into glucose. Everyone reacts a little differently and so I usually recommend measuring your blood sugar and ketone levels througho Continue reading >>

How Low-carb And Ketogenic Diets Boost Brain Health

How Low-carb And Ketogenic Diets Boost Brain Health

Low-carb and ketogenic diets have many health benefits. For example, it is well known that they can cause weight loss and help fight diabetes. However, they are also beneficial for certain brain disorders. This article explores how low-carb and ketogenic diets affect the brain. Although there is a lot of overlap between low-carb and ketogenic diets, there are also a few important differences. Ketogenic diet: Carbs are limited to 50 grams or less per day. A major goal is to increase blood levels of ketones, molecules that can partly replace carbs as an energy source for the brain. Low-carb diet: Protein is usually not restricted. Ketones may or may not rise to high levels in the blood. On a ketogenic diet, the brain is mainly fueled by ketones. These are produced in the liver when carb intake is very low. On a standard low-carb diet, the brain will still be largely dependent on glucose, although it may burn more ketones than on a regular diet. Low-carb and ketogenic diets are similar in many ways. However, a ketogenic diets contains even fewer carbs, and will lead to a significant rise in blood levels of ketones. You may have heard that your brain needs 130 grams of carbs per day to function properly. This is one of the most common myths about low-carb diets. In fact, a report by the US Institute of Medicine's Food and Nutrition Board states: "The lower limit of dietary carbohydrates compatible with life apparently is zero, provided that adequate amounts of protein and fat are consumed." Although a zero-carb diet isn't recommended because it eliminates many healthy foods, you can definitely eat much less than 130 grams per day and maintain good brain function. It is a common myth that you need to eat 130 grams of carbs per day to provide the brain with energy. Low-carb d Continue reading >>

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

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 cognitive decline, epilepsy, and Parkinson’s disease, brain glucose uptake is depressed—even before any actual cognitive decline appears. Despite high glucose availability, the aging, epileptic, Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s brain can’t utilize enough of it to handle cognition. Enter ketones. Ketones act as an alternative energy source for the glucose-starved brains. It’s no coincidence that ketogenic diets can improve symptoms (and in some cases abolish them) and cognitive function in all four conditions. Okay, but those are in unhealthy people with existing (or looming) neurological d Continue reading >>

Can Ketones Help Rescue Brain Fuel Supply In Later Life? Implications For Cognitive Health During Aging And The Treatment Of Alzheimer’s Disease

Can Ketones Help Rescue Brain Fuel Supply In Later Life? Implications For Cognitive Health During Aging And The Treatment Of Alzheimer’s Disease

1Research Center on Aging, Sherbrooke, QC, Canada 2Department of Medicine, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, QC, Canada 3Department of Pharmacology and Physiology, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, QC, Canada We propose that brain energy deficit is an important pre-symptomatic feature of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) that requires closer attention in the development of AD therapeutics. Our rationale is fourfold: (i) Glucose uptake is lower in the frontal cortex of people >65 years-old despite cognitive scores that are normal for age. (ii) The regional deficit in brain glucose uptake is present in adults <40 years-old who have genetic or lifestyle risk factors for AD but in whom cognitive decline has not yet started. Examples include young adult carriers of presenilin-1 or apolipoprotein E4, and young adults with mild insulin resistance or with a maternal family history of AD. (iii) Regional brain glucose uptake is impaired in AD and mild cognitive impairment (MCI), but brain uptake of ketones (beta-hydroxybutyrate and acetoacetate), remains the same in AD and MCI as in cognitively healthy age-matched controls. These observations point to a brain fuel deficit which appears to be specific to glucose, precedes cognitive decline associated with AD, and becomes more severe as MCI progresses toward AD. Since glucose is the brain’s main fuel, we suggest that gradual brain glucose exhaustion is contributing significantly to the onset or progression of AD. (iv) Interventions that raise ketone availability to the brain improve cognitive outcomes in both MCI and AD as well as in acute experimental hypoglycemia. Ketones are the brain’s main alternative fuel to glucose and brain ketone uptake is still normal in MCI and in early AD, which would help explain why ketogenic i Continue reading >>

Keep Yourself In Ketosis

Keep Yourself In Ketosis

When talking about a Grain Brain lifestyle, and the very similar ketogenic diet, it’s frequently mentioned that we are aiming to keep our bodies in ketosis. However, if you’re new to my work, it may be that you’re not exactly sure what ketosis is, or why we should be worrying about getting our body into this state. Allow me to explain. Ketones are a special type of fat that can stimulate the pathways that enhance the growth of new neural networks in the brain. A ketogenic diet is one that is high in fats, and this diet has been a tool of researchers for years, used notably in a 2005 study on Parkinson’s patients finding an improvement in symptoms after just 28 days. The improvements were on par with those made possible via medication and brain surgery. Other research has shown the ketogenic diet to be remarkably effective in treating some forms of epilepsy, and even brain tumors. Ketones do more than just that though. They increase glutathione, a powerful, brain-protective antioxidant. Ketones facilitate the production of mitochondria, one of the most important actors in the coordinated production that is the human body. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Our bodies are said to enter ketosis at the point when blood sugar levels are low and liver glycogen are no longer available to produce glucose as a fuel for cellular energy production. At this point, not only is the body doing the natural thing, and burning off fat, it’s also powering up the brain with a super efficient fuel. We can jump start ourselves into ketosis with a brief fast, allowing our body to quickly burn through the carbs that are in our system, and turn to fat for fuel. A ketogenic diet is one that derives around 80% or more of of its calories from fat, and the rest from carbs and prote Continue reading >>

Ketosis For Brain Trauma

Ketosis For Brain Trauma

The brain is a complicated and complex part of the body, which makes treatment of brain trauma just as intricate. So, why are we talking about brain injuries on a blog about the ketogenic diet? —Because there are potential benefits of ketosis for brain trauma. Nutritional ketosis shows promise for helping in the treatment of many different ailments related to the brain. These ailments include epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, autism, and even cancer. In this article, we’ll discuss the significance of ketosis for brain trauma and its possible benefits. Brain Trauma and the Ketogenic Diet Before we get into the specific benefits of the ketogenic diet, specifically for traumatic brain injuries, it’s important to understand a little bit about them. What is Brain Trauma? Traumatic brain injury is sudden external trauma that causes damage to the brain tissue. This could be anything from concussions and other injuries considered fairly mild to severe, instances like hemorrhages. Some of the the main causes of brain trauma are falls, car crashes, or being hit by an object. High-intensity sports like football are also common causes of brain injury by trauma. In the United States, traumatic brain injury is one of the main causes of death and disability. What Happens After Brain Trauma? After a trauma to the brain occurs, several things follow: Swelling: Like with any body tissue after injury, the brain fills with fluid and swells after a trauma. Since an enclosed skull covers the brain, it isn’t able to expand very far inside, and pressure increases in the head. This can cause further injury to the brain after the trauma, if it is not controlled and decreased. Disruption of function: The chemistry of the brain is delicate. When injury happens Continue reading >>

Nutrition And Traumatic Brain Injury: Improving Acute And Subacute Health Outcomes In Military Personnel.

Nutrition And Traumatic Brain Injury: Improving Acute And Subacute Health Outcomes In Military Personnel.

Go to: Since their development to treat epileptic children in 1921, ketogenic diets have been most studied in the context of pediatric epilepsy syndromes (Kossoff et al., 2009), but the ketogenic diet has been further shown to be neuroprotective in animal models of several central nervous system (CNS) disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease, hypoxia, glutamate toxicity, ischemia, and traumatic brain injury (TBI) (see Prins, 2008, for a review). Neurodegenerative disorders and other CNS injuries share some common pathophysiological events with the metabolic injury cascade that follows TBI, such as the increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and mitochondrial dysfunction. Despite evidence of efficacy and a track record of clinical use and animal research on the ketogenic diet’s antiepileptic action, the mechanisms by which the ketogenic diet confers neuroprotection are still poorly understood. The effect of the ketogenic diet on energy metabolism is believed to be a key contributor to the diet’s neuroprotective action, possibly by increasing resistance to metabolic stress and resilience to neuronal loss through the upregulation of energy metabolism genes, stimulation of mitochondrial biogenesis, and enhancement of alternative energy substrates (Bough, 2008; Bough et al., 2006; Davis et al., 2008; Gasior et al., 2006). The ketogenic diet is also hypothesized to promote neuroinhibitory actions. One aspect of this hypothesis is an associated modification of the tricarboxylic acid cycle to increase the synthesis of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), leading to neuronal hyperpolarization (Bough and Rho, 2007). GABA is the primary inhibitor of neurotransmission, making a neuron more refractory to abnormal firing Continue reading >>

A Neurologist On Ketone Drinks & What The Ketogenic Diet Can (really) Do For Your Brain

A Neurologist On Ketone Drinks & What The Ketogenic Diet Can (really) Do For Your Brain

Ilene Ruhoy, M.D., Ph.D. Deciding what to eat for optimal health can be confusing. There are so many different dietary approaches, and each is touted as the most beneficial to our health and waistlines, yet the actual nutrition advice often differs greatly or conflicts. It can be difficult to keep up with all the trends and fads, and sometimes it's hard to know who to trust. I'm often asked for nutritional guidance in my clinic, and recently I've been hearing a lot of questions about the ketogenic diet from my patients. Here's exactly what I tell them. Despite its current surge in popularity, the ketogenic diet has been around for a long time and is commonly used for refractory seizure disorders (epilepsy). In fact, evidence of its efficacy for epilepsy dates back as far as 1921. There are many different types of the ketogenic diet,including the classic version, the medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) diet, the modified Atkins diet, and the low-glycemic diet. Because fasting is a rapid method of achieving ketosis, intermittent fasting diets can also be ketogenic depending on how it's accomplished. But what is ketosis? Here are five simple scientific facts that I often give to my patients: 1. In ketosis, human metabolism switches its main energy source from carbohydrates to fatty acids and ketones once the storage form of glucose (glucagon) is used up. 2. In ketosis, the fat cells break down triglycerides into fatty acids, and those fatty acids are used as the energy source by the liver and muscles. 3. The liver cells take the fatty acids and oxidize them into ketones, which are used as the energy source by the brain, muscles, and other tissues. 4. Ketones are in the specific forms acetoacetate, acetone, and beta-hydroxybutyrate. Therefore, checking beta-hydroxybutyrate seru Continue reading >>

Feeling Euphoric On A Low-carb Diet? The Effect On Your Brain Is Similar To An Illicit Drug

Feeling Euphoric On A Low-carb Diet? The Effect On Your Brain Is Similar To An Illicit Drug

Feeling euphoric on a low-carb diet? The effect on your brain is similar to an illicit drug June 21, 2017 4.02pm EDT Some people on very low-carb diets say they feel euphoric, have clear minds and lose their appetite. Going low-carb might even mimic the effects of GHB – the recreational drug better known as fantasy, liquid ecstasy or grievous bodily harm – on the brain. To understand why we need to look at how the body processes a very low-carb diet, one that typically limits carbohydrates to no more than 50 grams a day. That’s one cup of rice, two slices of bread or roughly 10% of your total daily energy needs. Your body thinks it’s starving A very low-carb diet flips your metabolic switch from burning more carbs than fat, to more fat than carbs. This usually takes a few days in a process known as ketosis. During this time, your body thinks it’s starving. Once it uses up most of your glucose (carb) reserves, the body stimulates the breakdown of stored fat into fatty acids and releases them into the blood. When fatty acids reach the liver they’re converted into acetoacetate, an excellent metabolic fuel that belongs to a family of chemicals called ketones. That’s why very low-carb diets are sometimes called “ketogenic” diets. Acetoacetate decomposes to carbon dioxide and acetone, the smelly solvent best known for its ability to remove nail polish. This is why very low-carb dieters and people who are fasting often have sweet smelling breath. A healthy liver minimises the acetone lost via the lungs by converting most of the acetoacetate it produces to a more stable substance, called beta-hydroxybutyrate or BHB. And this is where those euphoric feelings could come from. BHB is almost identical to GHB, the naturally occurring neurotransmitter, called gamma- Continue reading >>

Ketogenic Diet Can Kickstart Weight Loss And Boost Brain Fitness

Ketogenic Diet Can Kickstart Weight Loss And Boost Brain Fitness

A ketogenic diet is an extreme nutritional intervention based on very low carbohydrate intake designed to mimic starvation and drive the body into ketosis, in which the body shifts from using glucose as its main fuel to using fat. While other low-carb diets like the Atkins and Paleo diets have also focused on carb restriction, the ketogenic diet is far more than the latest fad diet but rather one supported by strong research to improve health, energy, brain function, and weight loss. Although the ketogenic diet (KD) has been studied extensively for weight loss, promising research has shown a wide range of benefits in neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's and Alzeheimer's disease. Promising research has shown that ketones may be neuroprotective, reducing the risk of cognitive decline while boosting memory, energy and mood. The KD provides antioxidant benefits that yield promise in treating cancer, and, in animal models, has been shown to confer longevity. The Science of the KD The goal of the ketogenic diet is to shift the body and brain to preferentially use ketone bodies formed by the mobilization of fat tissue as the fuel source instead of glucose. Ketone bodies such as acetoacetate and b-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) are formed by the body through ketogenesis and can be oxidized as a preferred energy source when energy is sparse as with fasting or high-intensity or prolonged endurance exercise. After three to four days of fasting, the mobilization of ketone bodies from fat stores produces the state of ketosis which can be a physiological response (with low glucose, low insulin) or can be pathological as in uncontrolled diabetes (with high glucose, low insulin). Ketogenesis is an evolutionary adaptation key to our survival in periods of famine to allow the body and brai Continue reading >>

The Fat-fueled Brain: Unnatural Or Advantageous?

The Fat-fueled Brain: Unnatural Or Advantageous?

Disclaimer: First things first. Please note that I am in no way endorsing nutritional ketosis as a supplement to, or a replacement for medication. As you’ll see below, data exploring the potential neuroprotective effects of ketosis are still scarce, and we don’t yet know the side effects of a long-term ketogenic diet. This post talks about the SCIENCE behind ketosis, and is not meant in any way as medical advice. The ketogenic diet is a nutritionist’s nightmare. High in saturated fat and VERY low in carbohydrates, “keto” is adopted by a growing population to paradoxically promote weight loss and mental well-being. Drinking coffee with butter? Eating a block of cream cheese? Little to no fruit? To the uninitiated, keto defies all common sense, inviting skeptics to wave it off as an unnatural “bacon-and-steak” fad diet. Yet versions of the ketogenic diet have been used to successfully treat drug-resistant epilepsy in children since the 1920s – potentially even back in the biblical ages. Emerging evidence from animal models and clinical trials suggest keto may be therapeutically used in many other neurological disorders, including head ache, neurodegenerative diseases, sleep disorders, bipolar disorder, autism and brain cancer. With no apparent side effects. Sound too good to be true? I feel ya! Where are these neuroprotective effects coming from? What’s going on in the brain on a ketogenic diet? Ketosis in a nutshell In essence, a ketogenic diet mimics starvation, allowing the body to go into a metabolic state called ketosis (key-tow-sis). Normally, human bodies are sugar-driven machines: ingested carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, which is mainly transported and used as energy or stored as glycogen in liver and muscle tissue. When deprived of d Continue reading >>

Ketones Suppress Brain Glucose Consumption

Ketones Suppress Brain Glucose Consumption

Go to: 1. INTRODUCTION Neurodegeneration after oxidative stress limits the recovery of tissue response and appears to be caused by impaired glycolysis. If indeed there is a defect in glucose metabolism it might be beneficial to supplement energy metabolism with an alternate substrate. It was suggested that brain can supplement glucose as the principal energy substrate with ketone bodies1–3 without altering oxygen consumption4,5. Classic studies of ketosis induced by fasting or starvation in humans showed that brain function was maintained which was attributed to the utilization (oxidation) of ketone bodies as alternate energy substrates to glucose by the brain6. Rats that have been fasted for 2–3 days showed no difference in cerebral blood flow (CBF) or CMRO27. One mechanism by which ketosis might be beneficial is through the metabolic step where ketones enter the TCA cycle at the level of citrate bypassing glycolysis, the step after pyruvate dehydrogenase complex where the enzyme activity is often impaired. Through feed-back regulation, ketones are known to down regulate glycolytic rates at various levels such as citrate, phosphofructokinase and/or hexokinase. In addition, particularly in brain, ketones are a carbon source for glutamate (anaplerosis) and thus help to balance glutamate/glutamine homeostasis through stabilization of energy metabolism in astrocyte following recovery from a hypoxic/ischemic event. Based on our experiments and evidence in the literature, we have developed the hypothesis that ketones are effective against pathology associated with altered glucose metabolism, the rationale being that ketosis helps to regulate glucose metabolism. In this study, the effects of ketosis on the local cerebral metabolic rate of glucose consumption (CMRglu) were Continue reading >>

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