Ketogenic diets are this year’s weight-loss silver bullet.
While we should approach every diet with a healthy dose of skepticism, the more studies being conducted on ketosis—the state your body enters when producing elevated amounts of ketone bodies, which are constructed via fatty acid metabolism in your liver—the more promising following a ketogenic diet is looking.
Weight loss is a touchy topic that I’ve tackled over the past 15 years in the health and nutrition field. It hasn’t been easy, but I love a good challenge.
In the case of ketogenic diets, two new studies published in Cell Metabolism show how cutting back carbohydrates not only helps with weight, but may stretch out your life while improving your memory along the way—in mice, at least.
We are kind of like mice, right? And life is our maze…and weight loss is the cheese? Ok, back to the ketogenic diet…
A quick recap about fat loss: your body burns fat as well as carbs for energy.
Since we are addicted to carbs, with pretty much every processed food from a box or wrapped in plastic being carb- or sugar-dominated (which equates to the same thing once the saliva begins breaking down the nutrients in your mouth), we use the carbs and store the rest as fat.
Obesity…Diabetes…Weight Gain…Heart Disease…Frustration…Etc…
The simple, not so simple formula:
Remove the carbs and your body turns to fat for energy. Burn the fat, lose weight.
Unfortunately your brain can’t burn fat for its outsized energy needs. It requires sugar. Or ketone bodies if you decide to starve your body of glucose.
What to do? Eat lots of fat, consume fewer carbs.
In the past 3 months I’ve helped over 5,000 inside The 3-Week Ketogenic Diet and the success stories are pouring as fast as the weight is coming off: Read them here for yourself.
Two Ketogenic Diet Studies To Support My Program
In the first study, mice were fed three diets: zero carbohydrates, a nutrient-balanced diet (the control group), and a high fat diet with just 15 percent carbohydrate intake, a percentage arrived at when researchers slowly added carbs to a carb-restricted diet to find the baseline in which mice remain in ketosis. After 15 percent their bodies suppressed ketosis, and would be little different than the control group.
The mice were put on a cyclic ketogenic, high-fat, or control diet in mid-life. The cycle was one week, so they would eat this way for a week, then every mouse would spend a week on their respective diets. (Ketogenic- and high-fat only mice did not fare as well.)
Interestingly, the high-fat group ended up heaviest, though the ketogenic and high-fat groups both had a higher caloric intake than the control group. In terms of longevity, the ketonic group proved most successful, at least through midlife. After thirty months of age, their mortality rate was the same as the control and high-fat groups.
As for memory, the researchers write: In healthspan testing, we found a striking effect of Cyclic KD [ketogenic diet] on memory as well as more modest effects on a broader range of measures. We saw consistent memory improvement in two distinct tasks over 6 months.
The ketogenic group showed normal cognition wear with aging, but performed better in a visuospatial learning and memory test than the other groups, in which the mice learned to avoid (or not) an electric shock. The KD mice also showed improvement in late middle age (28-30 months) in novel object recognition.
Anything that helps memory in aging bodies is a boost, especially given the crippling rates of dementia affecting millions of humans each year. An increase in midlife mortality rates means we’d be healthier during our prime.
The second study also began at 12 months of age. It focused on calorie restriction, which, coupled with carbohydrate restriction, promotes production of ketone bodies. This study also featured the same three dietary guidelines: no carbs, low carbs, and a control group. While the first study showed better rates of midlife mortality, this one offered an optimistic view of longevity:
The results clearly demonstrate that lifespan is increased in mice consuming a ketogenic diet compared to a standard control diet.
The ketogenic group showed even better results in memory:
Our results show that a KD slows cognitive decline and preserves motor function in aging mice. It should be noted that although the LCD [low carbohydrate diet] did not significantly differ from the ketogenic group in longevity, the two diets differed in their ability to preserve physiological function with age. This suggests that ketones may be necessary to elicit an extension of healthspan.
The role of ketones is playing a bigger role not only in general research but at pharmaceuticals companies as well. Researchers from these studies are interested in the physiological mechanisms behind ketones in hopes of isolating them for usage in pill form. If their protective effects can be better understood, perhaps humans won’t have to fast or restrict carbs to reap the cognitive and longevity benefits.
As one researcher, molecular biologist Eric Verdin: We’re very excited to see such a profound effect on brain function by following a ketogenic diet. Until then read this extensive article on how to lose 50 pounds or more using a ketogenic diet.
Sorry, I got all sciencey on you, and now the reason you’re really here, for the FREE (information) food!
15 Ketogenic Foods To Improve Brain Health and Memory
Your mom got it right when she told you to eat your broccoli. It’s one of the best brain foods out there. Thanks to its high levels of vitamin K and choline, it will help keep your memory sharp.
It’s also loaded with vitamin C — in fact, just one cup provides you with 150 percent of your recommended daily intake. Its high-fiber levels mean that you’ll feel full quickly, too.
2.) Coconut Oil
Ahh, coconut oil, one of the most versatile — and good for you — foods out there. With 7 Reasons To Eat 2 Tbsp Of Coconut Oil Daily, there’s almost nothing that coconut oil can’t help.
And when it comes to your brain, it’s full of benefits, too. Coconut oil works as a natural anti-inflammatory, suppressing cells responsible for inflammation. It can help with memory loss as you age and destroy bad bacteria that hangs out in your gut.
For a vegetable with such few calories (just 16 per cup!), celery sure does offer a lot of benefits. Its high levels of antioxidants and polysaccharides act as natural anti-inflammatories and can help alleviate symptoms related to inflammation, like joint pain and irritable bowel syndrome.
Because it’s so nutrient-dense — packing loads of vitamins, minerals and nutrients with very little calories — it’s a great snack option if you’re looking to shed pounds. And while we often eat celery stalks, don’t skip the seeds and leaves; both provide extra health benefits and taste great in things like stir fries and soups.
4.) Egg Yolks
On the nutritional naughty list for years, egg yolks are finally experiencing their well-deserved day in the sun. If you’ve been eating only egg whites, the yolk’s on you. Yolks contain large amounts of choline, which helps in fetal brain development for pregnant women. It also breaks down bethane, a chemical that produces hormones related to happiness. That’s right, eggs can make you happy!
If you’ve kept away from eating eggs whole because of cholesterol concerns, there’s good news. Studies show that eating eggs had no effect on the cholesterol levels of healthy adults and might, in fact, help raise good cholesterol levels.
It’s also one of the most inexpensive sources of protein out there; just be sure you’re buying organic, free-range eggs.
5.) Dark Chocolate
Not all chocolate is created equal; in fact, dark chocolate can actually be good for you! Chocolate is chockfull of flavonols, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They can also help lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to both the brain and heart.
But don’t go wild munching on Hershey’s Kisses just yet. Most of the chocolate you see on supermarket shelves is highly processed with few benefits. The rule of thumb is the darker the chocolate, the more health benefits.
Skip milk and white chocolates and opt for a minimally processed dark chocolate with at least 70 percent of cocoa. This ensures you’ll get your choco fix and its brain benefits!
6.) Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Real extra virgin olive oil is truly a brain food. Thanks to the powerful antioxidants known as polyphenols that are found in the oil, including EVOO in your diet may not only improve learning and memory, but also reverse the age- and disease-related changes. The oil also helps fight against ADDLs, proteins that are toxic to the brain and induce Alzheimer’s.
As great as extra virgin olive oil is, remember that it’s not a good option for cooking, as it hydrogenizes and begins decomposing at high temperatures. The best way to get your fill is by eating it cold or at room temperature.
Isn’t it great when a simple spice has amazing health benefits? That’s the case with turmeric, an ancient root that’s been used for its healing properties throughout history. Thanks to curcumin, a chemical compound found in turmeric, the spice is actually one of the most powerful (and natural) anti-inflammatory agents.
Turmeric also helps boost antioxidant levels and keep your immune system healthy, while also improving your brain’s oxygen intake, keeping you alert and able to process information. Talk about a super spice!
It turns out that eating walnuts can keep you from going nuts. Just munching on a few walnuts a day can improve your cognitive health. Their high levels of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals also improve mental alertness. The vitamin E in the nuts can also help ward off Alzheimer’s.
9.) Green, Leafy Vegetables
It turns out that Popeye was onto something with his spinach obsession. Getting regular helpings of leafy green brain foods — like kale, Swiss chard and romaine lettuce — can help keep dementia at bay according to new research.
In the study, which evaluated the eating habits and mental ability of more than 950 older adults for an average of five years, those adults who ate a serving of leafy green veggies once or twice a day experienced slower mental deterioration than those who ate no vegetables, even when factors like age, education and family history of dementia were factored in.
Green, leafy vegetables are also loaded with vitamins A and K (just one cup of kale has more than 684 percent of your recommended daily serving!), which help fight inflammation and keep bones strong.
Proving that great things do come in small packages, blueberries are a fruit I try to eat daily. That’s because they’ve got so many great health benefit while tasting like an all-natural candy!
For starters, it’s one of the highest antioxidant-rich foods known to man, including vitamin C and vitamin K and fiber. Because of their high levels of gallic acid, blueberries are especially good at protecting our brains from degeneration and stress.
We already knew that rosemary oil has a variety of benefits, but did you know that the herb does, too? Carnosic acid, one of the main ingredients in rosemary, helps protect the brain from neurodegeneration. It does this by protecting the brain against chemical free radicals, which are linked to neurodegeneration, Alzheimer’s, strokes and normal aging in the brain.
It also helps protect eyesight from deteriorating, thanks to its high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
If you like seafood, get excited, because salmon is one of the most nutritious, brain food-friendly foods out there! It’s packed with omega-3 fatty acids to help keep your brain running smoothly — goodbye, brain fog — and improve memory.
If you have kids, feeding them salmon can help prevent ADHD by improving their focus. And these same fatty acids can also help prevent cancer and kill tumors — not bad for a four-ounce serving of fish!
Please note that these benefits are for Alaskan wild-caught salmon — farm-raised and regular wild-caught salmon can be filled with mercury and toxins.
It might be their funny shape or memories of bad recipes eaten during childhood, but beets seem to be an intimidating food for many people, even vegetable lovers. That’s a shame, because these root vegetables are some of the most nutritious plants you can eat.
They reduce inflammation, are high in cancer-protecting antioxidants and help rid your blood of toxins. The natural nitrates in beets actually boost blood flow to the brain, helping with mental performance. Plus, during tough workouts, beets actually help boost energy and performance levels. I love them roasted or in salads.
14.) Bone Broth
Bone broth is the ultimate food for healing your gut and, in turn, healing your brain. This ancient food is full of health benefits, ranging from boosting your immune system, overcoming leaky gut, improving joint health and overcoming food allergies.
Its high levels of collagen help reduce intestinal inflammation, and healing amino acids like proline and glycine keep your immune system functioning properly and help improve memory. Bone broth is what I prescribe most frequently to my patients because it truly helps heal your body from the inside out.
This fruit is one of the healthiest ones you can consume and one of my all-time favorites. While avocados often get a bad rep because of their high fat content, it’s important to note that these green powerhouses are packed with monosaturated fats or the “good” kind, keeping blood sugar levels steady and your skin glowing.
Containing both vitamin K and folate, avocados help prevent blood clots in the brain (protecting against stroke) as well as help improve cognitive function, especially both memory and concentration.
They’re also rich in vitamin B and vitamin C, which aren’t stored in your body and need to be replenished daily. Plus, they have the highest protein and lowest sugar content of any fruit. Not too shabby! Avocados’ creamy texture makes them a smart addition to smoothies and a replacement for fats in baked goods.
What Do Successful Keto Dieters Know That You Don’t?
Being a successful ketogenic dieter, involves more than just knowing which foods to eat and which foods to avoid. Understanding meal structure, macronutrient balancing, food quality, and mindset strategies are all very important to successfully losing weight on a ketogenic diet.
Inside The 3-Week Ketogenic Diet I provide you with everything you need to know about losing unwanted fat, getting lean metabolically active tissue, and setting goals that you’ll actually achieve.
Most people that start the ketogenic diet aren’t prepared for the challenges that come with starting a program, which is why it’s important to have a proven program and a support system.
Everyday, I answer questions and see questions inside our private Facebook support group “The Healthy Fat Loss Inner Circle.”
The 3-Week Ketogenic Diet is not for everyone though, it’s only for people committed to losing a lot of weight in a healthy way. But, don’t take my word for it, here are a handful of what people are experiencing inside: