Optimizing my cognitive performance and productivity has been my life-long passion and obsession.

7 month ago, along this journey of optimization, the turn came for my next read which was titled: Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar — Your Brain’s Silent Killers.

The promise of this book was just captivating: No more mental fog, increased energy, laser focus, better sleep, you name it. Basically whatever you need in your toolbox for massive productivity.

So, I gave it a try. It’s been 7 months now and the keto diet has become an indispensable part of my lifestyle, part of who I am.

Here is a brief intro to the keto diet and the juiciest benefits that I’ve reaped so far. 

 

Keto Diet as A Productivity Super Hack

No diet will remove all the fat from your body because the brain is entirely fat. Without a brain, you might look good, but all you could do is run for public office. — George Bernard Shaw

The food you consume can be categorized into three macro-nutrients: Carbohydrates, protein, and fat.

Your body converts carbohydrates and protein into glucose (read: Sugar) and uses it as its energy source.

In keto diet, however, you significantly limit your carbohydrate and protein intake (to 5% and 25% of your daily calories respectively); and healthy fats will constitute the majority (75% ) of your daily calories.

Fat is not the enemy in your diet. Fat is your friend. — Jimmy Moore

After several days (3 to 10 days ) — when your body consumes the last remnants of glycogens (carbohydrates stores) — your liver starts breaking down fats into ketones. This process is called ketosis.

keto productivity
Fig 1. Ketones are like rocket fuel for the brain. Photo Credit: TheDigitalArtist AT PixaBay

When in ketosis, instead of glucose, your body uses the ketones as its energy source.

And here’s what I love about it.

The fuel that these ketones provide is like the rocket fuel and it bring you a whole different experience. Now let’s look at some of the benefits of this rocket fuel and the keto diet. 

The Benefits of Keto that I’ve Enjoyed So Far

Keto diet is like the holy grail of health. It is used to reverse type II diabetes, fight cancer, etc. And more recently, the keto diet is considered as a powerful option in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, ALS, and even autism.

Fortunately, I just had to use the keto diet for productivity purposes. And here are the benefits.

1. Far, Far more Energy

This one excites me the most. When I am not in keto, I have to take a couple of naps during the day to stay sharp. Having lunch is like having sleeping pills and at the end of the day, I often feel lethargic (I have 12+ hours workdays).

When in keto, however, I feel like my body is running on nuclear power. I don’t need naps during the day, lunch doesn’t function as sleeping pill, and when I arrive home, I can still continue working (I’ll expand on this one).

2. Laser Focus and Mental Clarity

keto focus

The mental clarity that I experience is like seeing the world in(UHD). The effect of the keto diet on mental performance is so prominent that even navy SEALS are using it to be even more effective.

There are two reasons that the keto diet shine when it comes to focus and energy.

The first reason is that in keto you remove a myriad of toxins that you may have in an ordinary diet. For instance, many grains (like wheat) contain gluten which has significant amounts of glutamate. Glutamate is an excitotoxin. Namely, it overexcites and kills or damages brain cells the results of which include brain fog.

The second reason involves the process of keto itself. When in ketosis, the liver produces beta-hydroxybutyrate (beta-HBA), which in the words of Dr. Perlmutter “is the most important fat for brain energy utilization.” (this is the rocket fuel I mentioned earlier.)

3. No More Ups and Downs

The problem with regular diets is the ebb and flow of your energy level. You drink a sip of coke and your blood gets filled with glucose and your energy touches the roof; and then, of course, it crashes down and you crave more sweets.

I used to experience these annoying \ ups and downs every day. I would realize my lack of energy through two signs: either I would crave food, or more prominently, I would mentally be bored.

When your body runs on ketones, however, you will enjoy a steady flow of energy throughout the day. 

Ketones-vs-Glucose2
Photo Credit: SavageFuel

The reason is that in keto when your body runs out of the fuel (e.g. the fat you provided by having breakfast) it will tap into your stores of body fat and converts them into keto. This is unlike the regular diet where you have to provide your body with food to help it restore your energy. 

4. Rapid Weight Loss

Even though it was not among my goals at all, I lost 15 kilos (33lbs) in the first four months.

I must note that part of the initial rapid weight loss is due to losing body water. And second, I do regular intermittent fasting in keto which helps you boost your way into ketosis and burn fat on a rapid rate (more on this later.)

It is perfectly fine to do keto just to lose weight — as many people do — the efficacy of keto in weight loss is just fascinating

5. No More Cravings

Eating carbohydrates makes you hungry. If you don’t eat carbohydrates, there is no hunger.” ― Jimmy Moore

Before keto, craving for lunch used to be a huge buzz killer for me. Hunger and craving for food would emit noise on my focus. Even though I enjoyed the lunch, it would eat away almost 2 hours during which I could be productive.

So, every day, I would torment myself for losing productivity either due to not having lunch or due to having lunch. Not to mention the lethargy that would hit me after the eating (often happens when you have a carbs-heavy meal which I had.)

But when in keto, and your body is fat-adapted, you will barely feel hunger or cravings.

Even if I choose to have lunch, a keto meal just provide me with more energy and focus. I would not trade the lightness that comes after a keto meal with a burger with extra cheese. 

6. Better Sleep — I Mean, Much Better Sleep

I’ve tried many weird techniques — from polyphasic sleep to Dr.Seth Robert’s elephant tranquilizer cocktail — to reduce my body’s need for sleep. So far, the most stable result I’ve had, without feeling suicidal after a while, has been with the keto diet.

I used to take 8–8:30 hours of sleep each night with a couple of naps during the day. (Too much, I know. It agonized me for a long time). But now, I’m up and running after 7 hours of sleep.

Better yet, I no longer need naps during the day. 

7. The Delicate Pride of Defeating The Giants

Adhering to keto is not easy. In fact, the keto diet has almost the lowest compliance rate (less than 10% according to Tim Ferris.)

Thus, when I seat at the lunch/dinner table with my friends or colleagues, there’s always this sense of pride with me that I am breaking the giant’s horn. 

8. Willpower Gamechanger

Willpower and discipline have been another obsession of mine. I’ve written many articles on it capturing my experiences. I’ve got to admit, when I read about the keto diet and its effect on metabolism, it put everything I knew about willpower under a huge question mark.

Perhaps you’ve heard that willpower is like a muscle that is worn out when you use it. It’s true. For the willpower to work, studies suggest, you need brain fuel which is primarily glucose.

And what is so mind-boggling?

In keto, there is no glucose!

There are ketones which I said earlier are like rocket fuel. Your body always has access to stores of fat in your body (in contrast with glucose) to produce ketones and fuel your brain and body. 

One way I profoundly feel this increased willpower is monitoring my working hours. In a normal diet around 5–6 PM I used to lose the mood for working. When I lose the mood, I know my willpower is depleted and I have to tap into my discipline to continue which can be extremely hard. 

When on keto, however, I easily work past 9:00 PM without feeling any resistant or boredom. I just have the mental energy to continue doing any thought-demanding task.

I know, sounds too good to be true. 

9. Keto Effects Cascades Throughout Your Life

Photo Credit: PublicDomainPicture AT PixaBay

In one of the chapters of his classic book Power of Habits, Charles Duhigg talks about keystone habits:

Keystone habits are “small changes or habits that people introduce into their routines that unintentionally carry over into other aspects of their lives.” — Charles Duhigg

Embarking on keto was pushing the first domino to a better life for me. I rebooted my meditation habit, and after a couple of months, I started doing daily workouts. 

So, keto can be the first step of massive changes in your lifestyle. 

10. Clear Conscious

Before keto, my eating habit was a bit unhealthy. Eating-fast-food-4-times-a week kind of unhealthy. 

In keto, at least I am no longer concerned about getting cancer when I just want to enjoy my food. 

If you are now considering to give keto a try, here’s my recipe for hacking into ketosis. 

How To Hack Your Way Into Ketosis In Less Than Three days

I would suggest you try this hack after you have familiarized yourself enough with the keto diet. There is a lot of nitty-gritty involved that I cannot cover in this article. Assuming you have done you’re homework, here’s the hack:

This plan involves three simple steps:

  1. Bulletproof Fasting
  2. Lots of walking
  3. A fat-heavy dinner

I. Bulletproof fasting

In the first morning, make a bulletproof coffee instead of breakfast. If you haven’t heard of it, here’s the recipe:

  • 1tbs coconut or MCT oil.
  • 1tbs butter
  • coffee

Mix them all in a blender and enjoy the rich and delicate taste. This will be your breakfast. 

Then, you have to skip lunch and take a long walk. 

II. Take a long, long walk

Your body starts entering into ketosis when you have depleted all the glycogen (carbohydrate stores) in your body. 

measuring ketones
This is my ketone meter with which I measure my ketones. If your number is between 2-5 mmol/L it means you're deep into ketosis

Walking or working out, boost the consumption of glycogens. So, the more you move, the sooner your body starts entering into ketosis. 

I have tried 1 hour of walking, and on the third day, I was deep into ketosis. 

Walking or working out, boost the consumption of glycogens. So, the more you move, the sooner your body starts entering into ketosis. 

I have tried 1 hour of walking, and on the third day, I was deep into ketosis. 

III. Have a Fat Bomb for Dinner

For dinner, you must have a fat bomb which can amount to 1000 KCal. 

In keto, 75% of calories come from fat, 20% from protein, and 5% from carbs. But, in terms of volume, half of your plate must be vegetables, 1/4th fat, and the remaining 1/4th would be protein. 

Photo Credit: FatForWeightLoss

The recommended — and most healthy fat — in keto are: Olive oil, butter or ghee (especially grass-fed ones), avocado, MCT oil, coconut oil, eggs. 

Feel free to make your steak in 50 grams of butter along with tons of vegetables. 

If you repeat this process for three days, you will find yourself into the holy state of ketosis very fast.

Final Thoughts

Keto is not a diet. I believe it’s a lifestyle. A lifestyle that optimizes your health, focus, and energy.

Whether you aspire to trim your body, reverse diabetes, or boost your productivity and cognition, keto could work for you. You just have to give it a try (at least two months.)

If you make it to the end of the second month, I believe you won’t go back to your previous eating habits. The benefits are just too enormous to ignore. 

And to make it to the end of the second month, you must have a strong why. Keto went sharply against all my eating habits. But, my passion for productivity paved the way.

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