The effects of a Ketogenic Diet on physical performance and mental performance. June 27,2021 (HPN) – Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison conducted an 8-week investigation to test the effects of a ketogenic diet on cognitive and psychological functions. In a sample of overweight or obese adults, researchers found that the ketone diet increased aerobic fitness and cognitive function but had no effect on body mass index, triglycerides, or blood pressure. During the study, which was supported by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, total physical performance was assessed using a battery of tests. “While this preliminary analysis indicates benefits of ketones on cognitive and physical performance, more work needs to be done in order to confirm this finding and to determine the safety and effectiveness of this ketogenic diet,” said principal investigator Dr. David A. Loose.
The effects of a Ketogenic Diet on blood pressure and cardio-vascular endurance are unclear at this time, but future studies should provide more evidence of the benefits of this type of diet. Previous studies have suggested a positive association between a ketogenic diet and a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers. However, some of these previous studies were too small and some participants were not healthy, according to the latest research. The primary focus of the current study was to test the generalizability of the results for a broader population.
Among the test subjects, there was a significant difference in energy expenditure between those on the ketogenic diet and those on a low-calorie diet only. Those on the ketogenic diet spent significantly less energy than did those on the low-carbohydrate group. This study’s main finding, according to Dr. Michael Allen, senior author of “The Obesity Solution: Eating For Energy” (Yale University Press, 2021), is that “ketosis may be a key process for controlling obesity.” He went on to conclude that, “If true, this suggests that a ketogenic diet can be used as a powerful tool in weight loss.”
The study found that, in addition to less energy intake, those on the ketogenic diet had significantly lower body weight compared to those on a low-calorie diet only. This is in agreement with previous studies that suggest a limited contribution to overall body weight when carbohydrates are ingested only partially (Erickson & Butler, 2021). One of the reasons why the ketogenic diet is so effective at reducing body weight could be because of its ability to increase endogenous production of energy. Our bodies cannot produce carbohydrates by themselves, so we must increase our supply through dietary intake and exercise.
Many people think that the ketogenic diet is primarily concerned about lowering the amount of carbohydrates taken in a day. Although this is a factor, some foods and beverages are better sources of energy than others. While you should generally avoid simple or refined carbs such as sugar, you do not need to totally eliminate them from your diet. In fact, the incidence of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension would be lessened if people were to completely cut out simple carbohydrates.
One of the other medical world benefits associated with the ketogenic diet is epilepsy. This condition, which is associated with seizures, is believed to be caused by a high level of glucose in the brain. In recent years, there has been an increasing amount of evidence that suggests there is a strong link between epilepsy and ketone bodies, especially the ketone bodies created by the liver. Many researchers believe that the ketones act in the brain as signaling agents, helping to control seizures and other symptoms of epilepsy. Many people have benefited from this type of medical treatment and the seizures and related complications have gone away.
In addition to epilepsy, the ketogenic diet is also widely used in the treatment of other medical conditions that have similar long-term adverse effects. In the case of kidney stones, for example, doctors often prescribe patients to restrict their ketone intake for some time until the stones are dissolved. They also may advise patients to drink very clear liquids so as to avoid other potential side effects, such as nausea and vomiting. In the case of epilepsy patients, it is not uncommon for doctors to strongly recommend that patients stop all sugars and carbs, except the occasional fibrous snack. It is also not uncommon for doctors to strongly discourage the use of fruit juices and vegetable juices.
Because ketone bodies are generated during the ketogenic diet, they are considered to be very much like glucose, which is the glucose that is produced in the body by the breakdown of fat. However, unlike glucose, ketone bodies are produced without the need for respiration by the liver. This can produce long-term adverse effects because ketones tend to stay in the body and can even accumulate in organs. This can cause organ toxicity, kidney damage, nerve damage, and severe inflammation, especially in cases where the liver has been overworked. In the future, these effects may become less acute if the liver continues to produce enough ketones in spite of excessive workload.