"I'm in ketosis!" The Ketogenic Diet is the new diet craze in case you haven't noticed.
But what does it mean to be in ketosis? How does it help with weight loss? And how in the world do you get into ketosis?
Don't worry, that's what we're here to explain. And while getting into ketosis is tough, nootropics for Keto may support the process by enhancing cognition and improving ultimate results. So stay tuned for a journey through the ins and outs of ketosis and how nootropics may complement the Ketogenic Diet.
What is the Ketogenic Diet?
The Ketogenic Diet or the Keto Diet is one that has been used to fight different health problems since the 1920s. It was created as an alternative to intermittent fasting, which has shown to help with a variety of health concerns.
But the Ketogenic Diet has become popular most recently as a weight-loss tool. And while there are actually multiple variations of this diet, most variations consist of a high-fat, moderate protein and low carbohydrate ratio.
How Does it Work?
In general, this high fat, low carb ratio is meant to modify how the body and brain use energy. In turn, we lose more fat faster. Here's how it works.
Glucose is produced in the body when we eat carbohydrates. So when we take glucose out of our systems by drastically reducing our carb intake while increasing our fat intake, a couple of things happen.
Glucose is our main source of energy when we ingest moderate to high ratios of carbs regularly. So when we reduce carb intake drastically, our bodies have to find a new main source of energy.
Since we also consume more fat on the Ketogenic Diet, our bodies eventually start to use ketones for energy, which come from stored fat. This process is called ketogenesis. Once we have a high level of ketones in our blood, we are technically in ketosis.
Ultimately, when we're in ketosis, we're burning fat for energy instead of glucose.
This is how we lose weight on the Ketogenic Diet.
However, as we mentioned earlier, there are several different variations of this diet. And not all of them involve ketosis. Let's discuss the differences.
Variations of the Ketogenic Diet
Really, most variations of the ketogenic diet involve increasing our fat intake while reducing our carbohydrate and protein intake. Here's what the variations entail.
The Classic Ketogenic Diet
The Classic Ketogenic Diet is the most strict version, differentiated by a 4:1 ratio of fat to protein and carbs. This means you'll need to eat four parts fat for every one part protein and carbs to get into Classic Ketosis.
The ultimate goals are to reach ketosis and thus, lose fat fast. However, this version of the diet is the hardest one to stick with for most. Hence why we may need extra cognitive support along the way.
Modified Ketogenic Diet
The modified version of the Keto Diet is a little less strict. It's good for those who don't want to get so intense. It's also good if you're trying to ease into or out of full force ketosis.
Basically, this diet requires a ratio of 2:1 - 1:1, meaning fat vs. carbs and protein. It may be better for those who want to avoid digestive issues and nutrient insufficiencies from such a quick, drastic shift.
MCT Ketogenic Diet
MCT stands for Medium Chain Triglycerides, which come in oil form. These MCT oils can help produce ketones in the body so we don't have to eat as much fat to get into ketosis.
Every meal or snack throughout the day should be eaten with MCT oil divided up evenly when on the MCT version of the Ketogenic Diet. The ratio of fat to protein and carbs in this diet is 1:9:1. But keep in mind, there are different types of MCT oils that may affect you differently.
Modified Atkins Diet
The Modified Atkins Diet is a cross between the traditional Atkins Diet and the Ketogenic Diet. The original Atkins Diet limits our carb intake while allowing us to eat as much protein as we want.
However, the modified version requires a macronutrient ratio of 1:1 of fat to carbs and proteins. On this diet, carbs are also limited to 10-20 grams per day. It's different from the traditional Atkins Diet because the daily carbohydrate limit is much lower.
The goal of the MAD is to push us toward ketosis and help with weight loss. Similar to the Classic Keto Diet, the MAD requires we drastically reduce carb intake while increasing our intake of foods high in fat.
Low Glycemic Index
The Low Glycemic Index promotes healthy complex carbs like those in oatmeal instead of unhealthy simple carbs like those in corn syrup. Essentially, complex carbs are made of complex chains that are longer than the chains of simple carbs.
Complex carbs provide more nutrients, vitamins and fiber compared to simple carbs, also known as empty carbs. Hence why this diet suggests you always choose complex over simple.
Actually, this diet isn't even meant to induce ketosis, so it's pretty different from the Classic Ketogenic Diet. Instead, it zeroes in on our glycemic index (GI), which measures the effects of carbs on blood sugar in the body. Here's why.
All carbs end up releasing glucose into our blood. But simple carbs are digested quickly and cause high GI while complex carbs are digested slowly and cause low GI. A lower GI leads to lower insulin levels.
And insulin helps the body store extra calories in body fat. So, decreasing our insulin levels can prevent this extra storage.
In addition, ingesting fats and proteins alongside carbohydrates can slow the digestion of carbs to create a lower GI. This process can elicit weight loss, although it may not last long-term.
The Ketogenic Diet was created as an alternative to intermittent fasting, which has shown to improve all sorts of health issues and functions in the brain and body.<1> When we go a certain amount of time without food, we start using ketones as energy.
So, intermittent fasting can create the same effects as the ketogenic diet, except it's even harder to stick with depending on how you decide to do it. Check out our guide on nootropics and intermittent fasting to learn more about it and its different variations.
Possible Side Effects of the Ketogenic Diet
The Ketogenic Diet isn't all fun and games, especially if you have other physical or mental health issues. Some side effects of the Ketogenic Diet might include:<2>
- Feelings of starvation
- Bad breath
- Nutrient deficiency
- Flu-like symptoms in the beginning
Of course, keep in mind everyone experiences things differently. So, we should all monitor our bodies closely if we decide to commit to a diet like the Ketogenic Diet, ideally under the direction of your doctor.
As such, a wholesome, natural multivitamin containing vitamin D may be helpful while dieting. The Performance Lab® Whole-Food Multi contains vitamin D among other essential nutrients to counteract any deficiencies.
How Does Ketosis Affect Cognition?
Ketosis may help with weight loss, but what can it do for cognition? We'll get into that below.
First off, ketosis has shown to actually protect the brain. To be specific, the ketone bodies produced and used as energy when our bodies start taking in more fat and fewer carbs and protein on the Ketogenic Diet actually have neuroprotective effects.
They can help protect our neurons from damage by changing our energy source, upregulating energy metabolism genes and stimulating the biogenesis of mitochondria in the brain.<3>
Reduce Free Radicals and Oxidative Stress
For example, ketones have shown to protect against damage from oxidative stress.<4> Oxidative stress is caused by an imbalance of antioxidants and free radicals, which happens when too many free radicals are produced in the body.
- Excess free radical production can be caused by things like stress, intense exercise and intake of foods containing simple carbs.
Similarly, nootropic supplements can help protect the brain from free radical damage by promoting mitochondrial efficiency to moderate free radical production. Many also balance inhibitory and excitatory neurons to mediate stress levels.
As we get older, some of our brains can lose the ability to use glucose from carbohydrates as energy. This loss of ability has been linked to chronic memory problems.
However, the Ketogenic Diet gives the brain another source of energy, ketones. Ketones may help with memory problems by giving our brains another source of energy to work with.
For example, one study randomly assigned 23 older adults with mild cognitive impairment to either a high-carb or low-carb diet for 6 weeks. Results showed "improved verbal memory performance for the low-carbohydrate subjects."<5>
Ketosis has even shown promise for helping with chronic memory issues in older men and women.<6>
Similarly, nootropics for memory help boost memory by balancing brain chemicals and protecting the brain from damage. Hence why we think they may work well alongside the Ketogenic Diet.
Speeds up Mental Processing
However, we're not exactly sure how it works. We need more research to decipher the relationship.
Regardless, if you're looking to speed up mental processing, brain-boosting supplements can help with that as well. They can help improve productivity and multitasking abilities while allowing us to stay motivated throughout each day. So, they may be an effective complement to the Ketogenic Diet and its variations.
Sleep, Energy, Mood and Focus
As you can see, the Ketogenic Diet requires a complete makeover in the brain and body when it comes to our energy source. Hence why we may experience fatigue, sleep troubles, mood issues and problems focusing when we first start. Not to mention, we may have trouble maintaining motivation to stick to the diet in the first place.
However, once the body gets used to it, ketosis has shown to improve things like mood, focus, sleep and energy levels.<8> Luckily, nootropics for the ketogenic diet may help make this transition a little smoother by optimizing cognition and motivation during the process. We'll discuss this in more detail below.
Mind Lab Pro® Nootropics for the Ketogenic Diet
Mind Lab Pro® nootropics for the Ketogenic Diet can protect and improve cognition to help maintain mood and motivation while amplifying positive effects.
So, taking them alongside your diet may enhance the neuroprotective benefits of ketosis. They may also help us get into and out of Ketosis a little easier, ultimately helping with weight loss.
PS or Phosphatidylserine is one of the most effective and research-backed natural nootropics out there. Specifically, it can help improve memory and protect the brain, similar to the Ketogenic Diet. It can also help protect against oxidative stress as the ketogenic diet has shown to.
As such, we believe PS may boost the benefits of the Ketogenic Diet on cognition. It may even help those on the diet stick with it by mediating stress. However, we would like to see more research on this to confirm.
Maritime Pine Bark Extract
The Maritime Pine Bark Extract brain booster supports blood flow to the brain while protecting us from free radicals, just like the Ketogenic Diet.
When it comes to cognition, this natural supplement can help with focus, mood and mental processing. It may also help reduce the risk of cognitive deficiencies linked to aging.
As such, we can speculate Maritime Pine Bark Extract is a practical complement to the Ketogenic Diet. It may even help with mood, focus and other issues encountered on the road to Ketosis. However, we would like to see some research on this.
The nootropic Citicoline seems to support Ketosis in several different ways. For one, it's known to support mitochondria and thus, wholesome energy metabolism, similar to the diet. But citicoline takes it a couple steps further.
This brain booster also promotes vital neurotransmitters like acetylcholine, dopamine and norepinephrine. It even protects against free radicals and helps repair cells. In summation, this means citicoline can help enhance focus, motivation, mental energy and memory recall.
These cognitive functions are vital for maintaining a strict diet like the Keto Diet. As such, we think citicoline may really help those trying to stick to it.
Regardless, this nootropic definitely supports the same brain functions as the Keto Diet (and more), so it may enhance the benefits of the diet. We would like to see some research on this, however.
Last but not least, the brain-boosting Rhodiola rosea promotes cognition in a couple of different ways. For example, it's best-known for its potential to strengthen our resistance to stress and keep us calm. Hence why it's considered an adaptogen.
- Rhodiola rosea may also help protect neurotransmitters like norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin, which are important for mental processing.
In the end, we think this nootropic may be another helpful complement to the Ketogenic Diet. It may amplify positive effects on mental processing while helping to reduce our stress levels. This way, we can enter and maintain the diet with less interference in our daily lives.
Mind Lab Pro® helps maximize keto diet results by promoting energy, motivation, stress resistance and more.
In relation, the Ketogenic Diet has shown to support similar cognitive processes. It also supplies us with a new energy source for weight loss: ketones. But the Keto Diet isn't necessarily easy to follow through with.
- We believe nootropic supplements can support optimized cognition on our journey to and through ketosis for weight loss and beyond.
For example, nootropics may help protect the brain from stress and motivational defeat while we transition into ketosis. Not to mention, they may help improve focus during ketosis when it's tough to focus on anything but the carbs you're not eating.
All information considered, nootropics may be a great complement to the Ketogenic Diet. And you can check out our guide on nootropics for weight loss for more information on how nootropics can help us commit to diet and exercise.
BONUS – Ultimate Keto Stack: Mind Lab Pro®️ + Performance Lab®️
Nootropics are just one nutritional pathway that can help optimize ketogenic diet results. Other supplements that provide specialized support for ketosis include:
Performance Lab®️ Energy
Advanced mitochondrial support for cell energy and life vitality*
Acetyl-L-Carnitine, R-Lipoic Acid (Bio-Enhanced®), Coenzyme Q10 (MicroActive® Q10), PQQ (BioPQQ®), Black Pepper Ext. (BioPerine®, standardized for min. 95% piperine)
- Supports ATP energy production, mitochondrial function and overall metabolic efficiency. Promotes clean, crash-free vitality at a cellular level, energizing body and mind without using stimulants.*
If you're looking for even more physical and mental support, Performance Lab® Energy is a metabolic supplement that boosts the same cognitive processes as Ketosis.
For example, it supports mitochondria that create cell energy in the brain. And just like the Ketogenic Diet, it promotes the use of stored fat as energy instead of glucose. As such, it may be the perfect complement for your Ketogenic Diet.
Performance Lab®️ SPORT Fat Burner
Muscle-sparing fat loss support for exercise and fasted training
Ingredients: Coleus Forskohlii (Forslean®), HMB (ß-Hydroxy ß-Methylbutyrate), Cayenne Pepper (Capsimax®) Black Pepper (BioPerine®)
- Supports fat breakdown and mobilization, calorie burning during exercise and metabolism. Optimizes exercise performance and efficiency while preserving muscle tissue during intense training.
Performance Lab®️ SPORT Fat Burner helps to accelerate fat loss while at the same time protecting and promoting lean muscle mass. This is key for ketogenic diets, especially those that involve fasting, which can catabolize muscle and make it harder to maintain ideal body composition.
Whatever keto program you choose for healthy weight management, the right supplements can help maximize your results while supporting your overall health and well-being.
- Wheless JW. History of the ketogenic diet. Epilepsia. 2008 Nov;49 Suppl 8:3-5.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. The truth behind the most popular diet trends of the moment. Mayo Clinic. 2018 Mar.
Erdman J, Oria M, Pillsbury L. Nutrition and Traumatic Brain Injury: Improving Acute and Subacute Health Outcomes in Military Personnel. 11 Ketogenic Diet. National Academies Press (US). 2011.
- Greco T, Glenn TC, Hovda DA, Prins ML. Ketogenic diet decreases oxidative stress and improves mitochondrial respiratory complex activity. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2016 Sep;36(9):1603-13.
- Krikorian R et al. Dietary ketosis enhances memory in mild cognitive impairment. Neurobiol Aging. 2012 Feb;33(2):425.e19-27.
- McDonald TJW and Cervenka MC. The Expanding Role of Ketogenic Diets in Adult Neurological Disorders. Brain Sci. 2018 Aug; 8(8): 148.
- Miutz LM et al. The Effects of a Ketogenic Diet and Exercise Interventions on Cognitive Function. The FASEB Journal. 2017 Apr.
- Garcia-Penas JJ. [Epilepsy, cognition and ketogenic diet].Rev Neurol. 2018 Mar 1;66(S01):S71-S75.