When ingesting a diet for nootropic benefit it’s important to eat a minimum of good carbohydrates, and never any processed carbs. High quality fats are a must to ensure proper brain health. The low-carb regimen denies the body of its usual fuel but provides an alternative in the form of high-fat content. With so much emphasis placed on limiting carbs, and what are the good and bad carbs, and the same with fat, people can forget quickly about the other macronutrient, protein.
Protein is critical for synthesizing and regenerating muscle tissue and is absolutely essential. What the body and brain receive from meat and vegetarian sources in the diet is used in many processes, and is also the source of building blocks for growth and development. Too much protein however goes unused, and protein isn’t necessary in large amounts for the average person’s daily activity. If you’re training daily, and pushing the limits on growth, then yes you will need additional protein, but for most even with regular daily exercise, too much is being consumed.
Are You Eating Too Much Protein and Losing Nootropic Benefits?
Too much will render a nootropic diet unsuccessful. The body’s natural process being tapped by a nootropic diet is disrupted when the body taps into energy sources other than the high-fat content of the diet. And that is exactly the case when the body is given more than the necessary amount of protein – the body is given an alternative source of energy. In this case fat is a more effective brain fuel, but too much protein will lead to gluconeogenesis, and the result is the formation of glucose for energy out of protein.
The state that is beneficial for brain and body energy utilization is known as ketogenesis and once triggered, the usual energy source for most, carbohydrates, is reduced. Your brain then turns to fat, which then drives better cognitive processing. Afterall, your brain is comprised of roughly 60% fat. This state is maintained while this balance of energy source maintains your brain and body. This energy pathway becomes disrupted when another energy source comes into play – protein.
The body breaks down the fat into fatty acids, which produce the energy that is used for fuel by the body. This process is known as ketosis. Ketone levels are monitored for those who adhere to a ketogenic diet to determine whether their bodies have reached a state of ketosis. It can be quite difficult to reach this point, and many never actually do, but don’t fret. Eating low carb, high fat and moderate protein is enough to keep you healthy and striving towards longevity regardless of whether or not you hit ketosis. It takes time and additional dedication to reap the additional benefits of this desired state, specifically increased burning of fat stores. Just know that this diet is wholly beneficial for brain health and function and feel good about that.
Is gluconeogenesis a scourge of ketosis that decreases nootropic benefits?
Gluconeogenesis, simply put, is a biochemical process that the body employs to produce new glucose. And the body does this by breaking down non-carbohydrate sources, and one of them is protein.
When the amount of protein taken in is larger than the recommended amount for nootropic benefit, the body is utilizing components for gluconeogenesis. This counters the process that turns fat or fatty acids into ketones, effectively, disrupting ketosis. And when ketosis is not achieved, then the nootropic benefits for brain improving brain health cannot be deemed successful.
Getting the right amount of protein for nootropic benefits
While a ketogenic diet demands high amounts of fat, chances are, you are eating this along with too much meat and subsequently too much protein. That means your body would turn to protein as a primary energy source, instead of using fat which is what was intended for in the first place. Many fall into the trap of thinking they are in a state of ketosis, when in fact they are not. Really you should test, and can with simple urine strips.
The right amount of protein to ensure brain health benefits from fat energy utilization is somewhere between the amount of carbohydrates allowed and the amount of fat recommended. This is better understood as low carbohydrates, moderate protein, and high fat. I typically recommend 70-75% fat, 25%-20% protein, and 5-10% carbs. Make sure your carb source is coming from whole vegetables, nuts, seeds, minimal grains, and no processed carbs. We break this down further in our post on carbs you should and should not eat.
Now, you may ask, why not low protein, compared to moderate amounts. If the protein can be used as fuel which keeps the body from going into ketosis, shouldn’t that be kept low as well? While the logic dictates such, there are other uses for protein in the body aside from being used for energy.
Protein is also a building block for muscles in the body. Moderate amounts of protein will ensure that your body is given the right amount to be used for maintaining muscle structure and function, but not too much that the body utilizes the protein for energy instead of fat.
How to make sure that the amount taken is the right amount?
How the body responds to any regimen is different from one person to another. While there is no fixed amount, the recommendations are at least best practices and can help you navigate your way to the ideal ratio for yourself. You should always continue to play around with the amounts to determine the best efficacy for you, but staying within or near the recommended boundaries for macronutrient distribution is still ideal for the majority of people. We always do our best to account for the variations that are found from one person to the next, hence the need for a recommended range. So how do you find out where in this range is optimal for you? Well, it is by in large, a process that requires trial and error, and most importantly, close monitoring of the body to determine whether it has gone into ketosis.
An average person on a keto diet is recommended to have the following macronutrient ratios:
- 75% fat
- 20% protein
- 5% carbohydrates
For the most part, the recommended amount of protein is about 4 to 6-ounce portions of meat for every meal. The trick, therefore, is figuring out which part of this range is the appropriate amount to maintain your body in a ketogenic state, without depriving yourself the necessary materials to maintain lean body mass.
The key to ketosis and subsequent nootropic brain health is monitoring closely the amount of protein, and watching the ketone levels in the body, and to adjust the amount of protein as you see fit. Here are some tips on how to go about this.
- Count your calories – figure out how many calories your food has. There are plenty of guides online to help you with this, or you can look for apps to aid you
- When you count your calories, determine the appropriate amount of macronutrients and start below the recommended threshold with 60% of fat, 35% of protein, and 5% carbs. For beginners, slowly elevating your fat intake and reducing your carb and protein intake provides a smooth transition as you are likely currently very high in carb and too high in protein. As you continue to monitor and take note of the number of calories that you take in, you’ll be able to understand better how your body reacts to these amounts and adjust accordingly.
- Once you have determined the proper amount, keep to that plan and make sure that there are no deviations to ensure that the ketogenic state that the body has gone into is maintained.
- Adjust the amount accordingly based on the ketone readings you observe. Yes, get the keto strips and test. They’re not expensive and worth knowing if you’re actually in ketosis or not. As you progress the right way, there are changes to your body to be expected. These changes will reflect how your body processes carbs, protein and fat, and that is why regular monitoring and adjustments should be done.
Monitoring Ketone Levels For Nootropic Success
There is no better way to know whether your body has entered a state of ketosis than by measuring the levels through testing of the urine, blood, and by testing your breath as well.
The urine testing involves a qualitative test – meaning the exact amount is not measured, but the presence of ketone is well established. This is thru the use of urine strips. These contain colored strips which change color or hue in reaction to the composition of the urine. These are affordable and are the quickest evaluation available.
Blood testing, on the other hand, involves taking a small sample, often a finger prick is more than enough. This is one of the most accurate; however, it is quite expensive.
A third option for determining whether the body is in ketosis is the breath test. Once in ketosis your breath will smell of acetone.
What to do when you’ve consumed too much protein?
There are exogenous ketones available in the market which will help drive the body back into ketogenesis right away. But best not to let the body get into this situation in the first place. Careful monitoring of the food that is eaten prevents this from happening at all. Saves you the trouble of having to look for ketones, and you subsequently miss out on the nootropic benefits, while your body utilizes the excess protein you have consumed for energy.
What are the benefits of keeping protein within moderate amounts?
There are plenty of benefits that we can get from maintaining the proper amounts of meat in our meals.
- Ketosis is sustained – the body is kept in ketogenesis by not reversing the state of ketosis by not overcoming the body’s preference for fat as an energy source.
- Muscle mass is not compromised – meat is the primary source of building blocks for the muscles, both in development and repair. While it can be used as an energy source that renders the ketogenic diet useless, there is an amount where muscle synthesis continues uninhibited but energy utilization from protein will not take place.
- Less financial burden – decreasing the amount of protein will mean less spending on meat or meat products. That means more budget to go to other things you need to spend for.
- Better carbon footprint – by reducing your protein consumption you are reducing your meat consumption, and thus adding less to a process that promotes cattle herding practices that are disruptive to the ecosystem. Increased demand for meat products means larger herding areas, some of which are converted areas, and larger cattle populations. Large cattle operations clear cut forests increasing C02 and methane into the atmosphere. You’re not only keeping yourself healthy, but you promote a healthier environment as well when you consume less meat. Buying locally from small grazing herds is better to. You can influence the system with your purchases, and suppliers typically adjust.
Making Sure That You Reap All of The Benefits of Nootropics For Better Brain Health
Make sure that you look into the portions of fat, protein, and carbohydrate in your food often to ensure that the proper amounts are being served. Look closely at how your body has responded so far to your diet, and ensure that you adjust your intake accordingly. Make sure as well that you are maintaining your ketogenic state by frequently monitoring your ketone levels. This will naturally lead to better brain health and nootropic benefit secondary to the increased fat content.
While at times it may seem that you might be depriving yourself of a proper amount of food, you may opt to try out meal supplements. Nootropic supplements are developed to modify and improve brain health and fill in the gaps left behind when you aren’t able to eat as robust of a nutrient profile as you’d like. They help you with your state of focus and boost your nutritional requirements, and won’t compromise your diet regimen. Nootropics can be alternative sources of energy from fats, collagen and organic greens, which will provide you with the nutritional support that is lacking from your programmed intake.
Momental Supplements Mind and Mend
Momental nootropics are supplement products which are keto friendly. These provide support for your mental faculties and provide neuroprotection, improved memory, enhanced focus, and recovery all without disrupting the ketosis that your body is in. Using Mind and Mend daily will ensure that you aren’t falling short of what your body needs.
The Bottom Line for staying in ketosis and reaping brain health benefits
Bear in mind that low carbs and high fat alone do not guarantee that you are going to enter a state of ketosis. Keep the protein within moderate amounts to ensure that you don’t break out of ketosis. Always monitor and test to make sure that you are achieving what you have set out to do.
All in all, make sure that you keep watch on what you are eating and make sure that they are in the proper amounts. A proper diet is successful only if you adhere to the program and not deviate too much from what is recommended. There are ways at which you can augment your diet without compromising on what you are trying to achieve, and that is by getting yourself meal supplements. Most of the time, the will to adhere to any lifestyle choice is one of the most important factors in keeping yourself healthy.