The Daily Tonic is a two to five minute read sharing science backed health news and tips, all while getting you to crack a smile or even lol on occasion.
Who wouldn’t benefit from a little better mental clarity and focus? You could be more productive at work, more present around those you love, and most importantly, you could beat your top score on Wordle and show off to all your friends.
When it comes to diet and optimizing cognitive performance, some of the buzzwords that tend to come up are healthy fats, keto, and intermittent fasting … and for good reason. Your brain is predominantly made up of fat, and numerous studies have linked healthy fats with improved cognition (and brain health in general). Even that naughty ‘C word’ everyone thinks they should avoid (cholesterol) has been shown to be an essential nutrient for proper brain and hormonal health.
A low-carb, high-fat diet like keto has been shown to possibly help with cognition, memory, and focus. There is something about your body switching over to using fat for fuel instead of glucose that seems to help the brain work a little better. This is the same reason why intermittent fasting has been said to increase focus. When you are in a fasted state, your body will also be more likely to switch over and use fat over glucose for energy.
But what about us mere mortals that enjoy carbs and starchy food too much? Are we just committing to a life of brain fog unless we join the keto/intermittent fasting tribe?
Ehh… not necessarily.
Make sure your carbs aren’t “naked”
The brain works perfectly well off of glucose. The problem is that because the brain needs so much energy to function, it is highly sensitive to blood sugar levels. This means that if your blood sugar spikes and drops like a roller coaster every time you eat, so will your ability to focus. It is during those blood sugar crashes where brain fog kicks in; and it can be hard to shake off the fog unless you pump more sugar into your system.
You can see how this becomes a vicious cycle of brain fog and carb cravings all day long for some people.
The solution? You can have carbs and still feel sharp as a tack as long as you don’t have those carbs alone. This is why balanced meals are so important. Is toast for breakfast the end of the world? Not if you have it with a few eggs, some avocado, and some turkey breast.
There are also some carb options that are smarter than others. Simple sugars like candy (duh), sweetened beverages, and highly refined carbs like bagels and pastas are not the best options. More nutrient-dense and fiber-rich options like potatoes or fruit are much better choices.
The key takeaway? If you want to eat with your mental performance in mind, you could try keto or intermittent fasting. But if carbs are a “non-negotiable” for you, just make sure they are never “naked” carbs. Cover those bad boys up with healthy fats and quality protein to make balanced meals and you will be crushing those Wordle scores in no time!
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