The ketogenic diet has grown in popularity over recent years, typically being discussed in the context of fat loss. The diet’s origins, however, began in treatment of drug-resistant seizure disorders. Over time, more research has shown benefits of the diet (and variations of it) for a number of other metabolic and neurological conditions. These conditions range from cancers and autism to anxiety and migraines.
With the prevalence of mental health conditions in athletes, the potential cognitive and neurological benefits of a ketogenic can be attractive, but how does the diet interact with performance? Many athletes and coaches know the role that stored carbohydrates play in training and competition, so is making progress while on the diet feasible?
In addition to the diet’s impact on health and performance, exogenous ketone supplements have grown in popularity as a way to raise ketone levels in the body without being on a strict ketogenic diet. With all these potential benefits, but also questions about practicality for athletes, I wanted to talk to an expert on the topic of ketogenic diets and exogenous ketones.
Dr. Dominic D’Agostino is one of the world’s top experts in this field and began research years ago on drug-resistant seizures in the military population. This research expanded to other health conditions that intertwined with performance (often in life-or-death situations). In this episode of the Peak Mental Performance Podcast, Dr. D’Agostino and I discuss the diet’s benefits, but also considerations for the athletic population and the potential role of exogenous ketone supplementation.
By the minute:
(2:15) How Dr. D’Agostino got started researching ketogenic diets for the military population
(14:55) What neurological conditions has the ketogenic diet been shown to benefit?
(24:35) Variations of the ketogenic diet
(25:35) Are the brain benefits of the diet from the lack of insulin fluctuations or the ketones themselves?
(34:15) Effects of the diet on anxiety and depression
(40:15) Exogenous ketone supplements
(56:45) Considerations for athletes who want to balance neurological health and performance with a ketogenic diet
(1:03:00) Is there a benefit in combining exogenous ketones with carb refeeds?
(1:13:00) More information for further research on the ketogenic diet