top of page

Why KETO is so good for the BRAIN

Updated: Dec 30, 2022

The ketogenic diet has a ridiculously broad spectrum of benefits. Weight loss, cardiovascular health, better immune function, obliteration of belly fat, even decreased risk of cancer—all documented effects of the ketogenic diet. It really is an abundance of riches. If you’re considering switching to keto odds are one of these things sounds particularly relevant to you, but the reality is that you can potentially experience all of them as a ketogenic eater. You can eat keto to lose a few pounds and shed some unhealthy belly fat and end up turning your immune system into an impenetrable fortress. Go figure.

But with all that being said, where it really gets interesting with keto is the brain. There’s no part of the human system that benefits so dramatically from ketogenic eating. Your brain loves ketones and this is plainly evident when we look at the effect they have on cognitive function and capacity of your brain cells, which we will in just a sec. It’s pretty mind-blowing what they do for your grey matter (pun not exactly intended).

Take a simple example of keto’s brain-boosting power: MCT’s. Short for medium-chain triglycerides, this quintessential keto fuel shows quickly and clearly what fat can do for cognitive function. Due to its structure this type of triglyceride skips through digestive steps and gets converted directly into ketones which your brain then happily devours for fuel. This gives you a quick but also sustained boost to cognitive activity in a way that carbs simply can’t do. Glucose flames out a lot more quickly and leaves you with the all-too-familiar brain fog. This is why MCT oil is the main ingredient in almost every “bulletproof” coffee recipe and why it’s a keto staple. And the great news is you can get it straight from a natural source—coconut oil contains 54% MCT’s. As a “food first” guy this is my recommendation.

The keto connection to brain health is actually very old news. The ketogenic diet was first implemented by the Mayo Clinic as a treatment for epilepsy in the 1920’s, to a great degree of success. There’s even evidence that dietary remedies for seizures (fasting particularly) go all the way back to 500 B.C. While epilepsy is thankfully a rare affliction it’s clear that special things happen when glucose is removed from the equation and ketones become the brain’s primary source of fuel. For both the diseased and the normally functioning brain ketogenic eating patterns can work wonders, and in ways that you might not expect. Some real cerebral magic happens when ketones are added into the mix. Let’s take a look at how.