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Is keto safe for my brain?

‘People say that the keto lifestyle is dangerous for me because my brain needs dietary carbohydrates to function. So now I am worried: are they right?’

This is a very common question and trust me, you have nothing to worry about!

Let me start by saying that keto does not mean ‘zero carbs’. A correctly formulated basic ketogenic diet always contains between 20-30 grams of net carbohydrates. Which accounts for a whole lot of vegetables and even some low carb fruits. So for those that want the variety and taste vegetables can bring to their meals there is nothing to worry about.

But even if you were to eat zero carbs, as is common for example on the carnivore lifestyle, you need to remember there is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate. Yes, you heard me correctly:

There is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate

A very common misconception is that the body, but specifically the brain, needs carbohydrates to function. However, besides for some basic metabolic functions that need glucose exclusively, our bodies are build to either use glucose OR ketones for energy. The body actually has those two options. And guess what: glucose is the less efficient of the two.

As long as you eat sufficient protein your body can produce glucose all by itself for those few metabolic functions where it is needed. This process is called gluconeogenesis: the transformation of non-carbohydrate sources (such as amino acids from protein and fatty acids from fat) into glucose. Pretty clever, right?

So again: there is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate. Human beings can thrive on a zero carb diet provided they eat sufficient protein and healthy fats.

Don’t feel like going zero carb? There is absolutely no need to: just make sure you keep following a properly formulated basic ketogenic diet and enjoy your veggies!

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