Keto Bombs #2 — Peak Mental Performance

How keto really boosts clear thinking and mental performance

Stanislav Kozlovski
Nov 3, 2019 · 4 min read
Mount Elbrus, Russia

Keto Bombs are a series of short, concise and informative pieces on various aspects of the Ketogenic diet.


ord on the web is that the ketogenic diet improves your cognition. People report it feeling smarter on keto, having more lasting energy and enjoying increased focus.

Anecdotally, it makes a big difference for me and my friends. We both feel like we are riding a buzz all day long — like our brains in overdrive.
Undisturbed focus becomes way easier, our thinking becomes very clear and we do not get tired as easily.

Is there any truth to this? How could the lack of carbs and the presence of ketones in your body evoke such positive effects?

Brain Fuel

The ketogenic state is when your body is no longer utilizing carbohydrates as its primary source of fuel, so the liver starts creating ketone bodies (Acetoacetate, Beta Hydroxybutyrate, Acetone).

You may ask — doesn’t your brain use glucose as its primary fuel source?
Not necessarily, nor as much as you may think. The brain can get up to 70% of its energy from ketone bodies. The rest of the 30% come from glucose, which your body finds a way to produce in keto through gluconeogenesis.

Gluconeogenesis — the process of breaking down non-carbohydrate substrates into glucose (mainly protein).
Even in the absence of sugar and carbs in your diet, your body always maintains a healthy range of glucose inside the system.

High Octane

Photo by Folco on Unsplash

Ketones end up eliciting a bigger response inside the cell’s mitochondria.

Mitochondria — the part of the cell that creates energy from oxygen and nutrients — what allows us to create energy within the body.

There is more energy in a unit of oxygen + a ketone versus a unit of oxygen + glucose.

When you have ketones in the brain, each breath creates more energy than if you were to have glucose.

It is additionally speculated that ketosis increases the production of mitochondria inside the brain, meaning you not only get more out of your cells but you create additional capacity for energy!

Fighting reactive oxygen species

Reactive oxygen species are atoms that can cause chaos inside your body when in excess. Free radicals, which are a type of this, are caused by air pollution, fried foods, tobacco, alcohol, pesticides and other toxins.

Ketone bodies inhibit the production of reactive oxygen species.
They also stimulate the breakdown/excretion of them by stimulating glutathione (an antioxidant that prevents damage caused by reactive oxygen species).

Lowering reactive oxygen species means lowering inflammation inside the body and especially in the brain, which allows us to think clearer.

Glutamate to GABA

Glutamate is something that excites our brain — it causes anxiety, chaos and energy in the brain. GABA is the opposite — it allows you to relax and process information in a calm and collected way. Chronically elevated glutamate is highly inflammatory and is associated with bad sleep, brain fog, anxiety and mood disorders.

In a healthy body, any excess glutamate gets converted into GABA to balance it out.
Ketones help this conversion process — the immediate effects of which are improved focus and lower levels of stress and anxiety. Ketones also increase GABA receptors, allowing you to become calmer.

Ketones are also said to inhibit brain cells’ ability to accept glutamate. Not only do they help the conversion, they also defend your brain from excess glutamate in the first place!

Summary

We went through three of the many benefits that the ketogenic diet has in regards to brain health.
By increasing mitochondria energy production, helping convert glutamate into GABA and reducing free radicals, we saw how the ketogenic diet not only increases energy in your brain but also makes you calmer! This, paired with the fact that less damage is being done to your brain cells, is a lethal combination resulting in unparalleled focus, clear thinking and powerful cognitive ability.


Keto Bombs

Sugar-Free-Zone

Your guide to living a SUGAR FREE low-carb lifestyle.

Stanislav Kozlovski

Written by

A generally curious individual — software engineer, regular gym-goer and coffee lover

Sugar-Free-Zone

Your guide to living a SUGAR FREE low-carb lifestyle.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade