How the Ketogenic Diet Increases Mental Performance
By now we’ve all heard it, we know that the ketogenic diet improves mental performance. But how? How does it actually do this within our bodies and within our brains? Well let’s dive into the facts and learn exactly why we should be paying attention to the amount of ketones that are in our blood so that we can have that improved mental performance. I’m Thomas DeLauer with Keto-Mojo and we’re going to dive into some science.
The first thing that I want to talk about is a study that was published in a journal known as the Neurobiology of Aging. What this study did was looked at a group of 23 individuals who were suffering from some form of cognitive impairment, meaning they were suffering from short term memory loss or they just had some kind of cognitive decline. They divided these subjects into two groups: one group was on a ketogenic diet and one group was on a high carb diet. Over the course of six weeks, and at the end of six weeks, they measured their overall short-term verbal memory. What they found is that the keto group had a significant improvement in their short-term verbal memory.
Now what exactly does this mean? Well verbal memory is literally like it sounds. It’s the ability to collect information, process it in the brain, and then be able to articulate it verbally, that’s why it’s called verbal memory. There are three components to verbal memory that we have to look at. The first is capacity; how much vocabulary you can obtain and gather. Then there’s duration; how long you can hold on to that information and how long it can be in your memory bank. The third is the encoding process; how well do you actually encode that information and make it part of your brain’s pattern, so you truly understand and comprehend that information. By looking at the study, we know that there is an improvement in short term verbal memory, and we can definitely conclude that the ketogenic diet helps us there.
There are some other components that we want to look at with regards to mental performance. This next one is one that we’re all familiar with and that’s focus or lack thereof. We’ve all been in a situation where we just can’t focus. We feel like we’re distracted by just about everything or we feel like our brains are foggy. Well, a lot of times this happens simply because of an imbalance between what is called the GABA and glutamate in the brain. These are basically two chemicals that are constantly battling with each other, but 90% of the synaptic processes that occur within our brain require glutamate. Most of the time when we’re operating, when we’re talking, when we’re reading, when we’re even having conversations or even thinking a lot, we’re activating that glutamate cycle, 90% of the time. Any excess glutamate should be converted into what is called GABA, gamma-aminobutyric acid.
Now GABA is what allows you to feel calm, cool and collected and make more relaxed decisions. You can kind of do the math. The more that we’re going and going and going, the more that we’re in that glutamate cycle and don’t have excess glutamate to convert into GABA so we perpetually get more and more stressed out. This is a big problem, but that’s where ketones come in. You see ketones give the brain an additional source of energy, which means that they don’t have to lean on the glutamate quite as much, and they run on the ketones, as sort of a third-party source of fuel. Therefore, the glutamate can go ahead, and it can go through its conversion process and become GABA, so you’re literally getting the best of both worlds. You’re getting the ability to gain that mental performance and gain that clean energy from the ketones, while you’re also able to have more of that GABA that’s going to make you feel calm and allows you to be a good leader and be the best person that you can possibly be. Ketones help the brain even more. When it comes down to the mitochondria, which is the energy powerhouse within a cell, studies have shown that the hippocampus portion of the brain actually ends up having genetic changes in the mitochondria when ketones are present. Meaning that the brain literally becomes more efficient at utilizing fuel. You’re literally changing the mitochondrial machinery within your brain.
The last thing that we really should cover is BDNF, brain-derived neurotrophic factor. BDNF is like fertilizer for you brain. It grows new synaptic pathways, it grows new synapsis, it grows new neurons, it literally allows your brain to grow and get bigger and stronger. Now what’s really cool is that studies are showing that ketones actually trigger the expression of BDNF, meaning they sort of unlock it and allow BDNF to do its job. Combine this with the focus aspects, the mitochondrial machinery changes, and of course the short-term verbal memory, you have a perfect storm of mental clarity and very good aptitude when it comes down to your ability to use your brain more effectively and efficiently. So make sure that you’re measuring your ketones. That way you know that these changes are taking place in your body, you’re not just guessing. You can literally use the Keto-Mojo meter to test your blood and find out exactly where you stand on the spectrum of ketones. This is going to help you identify what you should eat, what you shouldn’t eat so you can optimize your body and your brain. As always keep it locked in here and I’ll see you in the next video.