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Why does going from lowish- to low- carbohydrate diet reduce cognition?

aaron_c

Senior Member
Messages
691
I have been struggling to improve mental focus enough to, for instance, read scientific articles or make salad dressing. Recently I found that iron deficiency might play a role in my poor cognition, and I was able to study for an hour or two each day--until I went from a lowish carbohydrate diet (fruit smoothie for breakfast, tacos and salad for lunch, salad with beans or meat for dinner) to a low carbohydrate diet (replacing the morning smoothie with eggs, salsa, spinach and beans).

Has anyone else experienced problems concentrating on a fairly low carbohydrate diet? Is this just part of our mitochondrial issues?

Thanks!
 

Skippa

Anti-BS
Messages
841
The first answer is that the brain can only accept glucose as energy, so until you are generating enough ketonic (or whatever the hell they call it) energy you'll perhaps be running at a brain defecit (lol).

There are more steps involved in getting low carb diet energy into a form usable all over.

And that is the limit of my knowledge here, tum te tum...
 

aaron_c

Senior Member
Messages
691
I've had recent issues with fungal infections. I was hoping that a low carbohydrate diet--at least in the short term--might improve those symptoms (yes, I have read that yeast can switch to using amino acids for energy...my hope was that this switch takes some time and energy on their part).

So another way of phrasing my question is: Is this fatigue from fungal die-off, or just from the limitations of my biochemistry? I tend to think that too much gets attributed too easily to stuff like fungal die-off, so instead I am mostly asking for information on the mitochondrial dysfunction end of things--where I hope to get better, more specific theorizing.
 

picante

Senior Member
Messages
829
Location
Helena, MT USA
I guess I would start checking blood glucose at various times. From Chris Kresser's website:
One caveat here is that very low-carb diets will produce elevated fasting blood glucose levels. Why? Because low-carb diets induce insulin resistance. Restricting carbohydrates produces a natural drop in insulin levels, which in turn activates hormone sensitive lipase. Fat tissue is then broken down, and non-esterified fatty acids (a.k.a. “free fatty acids” or NEFA) are released into the bloodstream. These NEFA are taken up by the muscles, which use them as fuel. And since the muscle’s needs for fuel has been met, it decreases sensitivity to insulin. You can read more about this at Hyperlipid.

So, if you eat a low-carb diet and have borderline high FBG (i.e. 90-105), it may not be cause for concern. Your post-meal blood sugars and A1c levels are more important.
http://chriskresser.com/when-your-“normal”-blood-sugar-isn’t-normal-part-2/
 

Dmitri

Senior Member
Messages
219
Location
NYC
Can you estimate what percentages of your calories come from protein, fat and carbohydrates?
 
Messages
516
As far as all information I've ever read on popular diets is concerned, it's normal even for healthy people, for reasons alluded to by Skippa. Myself I can't low carb and have not in years (save short fasts, also aborted) in part for this very reason and because I could never adapt cleanly.

Eggs may exacerbate it.

The perfecthealthdiet author recommended against low carb for fungal infections because glucose is needed for the immune response.

If you still want to push through, the 'remedy' is caffeine and high dose coconut oil, not that I'd recommend that for anyone in poor health anymore.
 

Lazy Caveman

Another lazy caveman
Messages
9
I've found mental clarity improved by carbs-from-veges, rather than the low carb foods in typical low-carb diets.
For example, I have a pile of cabbage or salad greens for lunch, with some meat or fish or seeds.
Then salad, veges and meat for dinner.

I know there are still carbs in such a quantity of salads or veges, but I seem to stay more alert than when eating bread or rice or pasta, or even low carb eggs/protein etc without all those veges.

So in this respect, I think the original diet is better (ref. original post in this thread).
 
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Lazy Caveman

Another lazy caveman
Messages
9
One more thing. Yes, caffeine helps in the short term. It can buy a few hours productivity. But for me the cost is a general decline in my overall state of health. I'm recently down to 2 coffees per week, and feeling much better.

Yes, I agree coconut milk is also good ( along with the other oils like fish, flax seed, sesame paste, evening primrose).
 

ryan31337

Senior Member
Messages
664
Location
South East, England
In my own limited experience with low-carb and keto diets I'd echo what others here said, in some cases the effect is not a gradual curve, its pretty much binary - even after the awkward adaptation phase. If I stray from 20-30mg of carbs p/day and stop seeing the signs of ketosis I lose most of the benefit in energy.
 

brenda

Senior Member
Messages
2,263
Location
UK
I find l have to work on it daily. Some days l need less carbs. Jack Kruse says we need more carbs in the summer and less in the winter of we eat too many carbs in the winter we will put weight on. He thinks we should only go keto in winter.

We need the cold temperature s to go ketogenic. I have found this works for me. I could never stand the cold till l went low carb and now barely need my heating on and have Hashis.
 
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Messages
516
One more thing. Yes, caffeine helps in the short term. It can buy a few hours productivity. But for me the cost is a general decline in my overall state of health. I'm recently down to 2 coffees per week, and feeling much better.

Absolutely, if I mention caffeine it's with the disclaimer I may forget to write that I can barely tolerate it myself regardless of diet, even with high carb (at most 50mg/day caffeine and still disrupts sleep, can't attenuate and body never accommodates the norepinephrine/blood pressure effects, I think I'm genetically predisposed to this), and although it can work to get (other) people through low carb it's with the caveat you're running on norepinephrine nonstop, though you'll get a lot of that anyway.
 

ebethc

Senior Member
Messages
1,901
When I went from high carb to high fat/low carb, it took me weeks to adjust. I could barely move during the interim. No energy. Once the body adjusted, I finally didn't need to eat so frequently, feel much better.
Good luck w/ your brain.


what kinds of fats do you eat?

how do you defined "low carb"? x grams per day? if so, how many grams?

overall, do you feel better than high carb or other diets?

thx
 

ahmo

Senior Member
Messages
4,805
Location
Northcoast NSW, Australia
@ebethc I render fat from the butcher, pur it into muffin tins, use 1/2 per meal, which is about 1 Tb I think. Plus coconut oil, olive oil, ghee. More recently I started MCT oil, which is a formulation made from coconut oil, and now I'm eating olives by the handful. I use these things according to self-testing. My body wants the animal fat daily, but ghee about twice a week. When I was highly stressed, no MCT oil...I don't have an explanation, just my body's negative response. And why the sudden reliance on olives, I can't say...maybe because I just started eating more and body liked it. Also, macadamias have become my sole nut, and my body has become very reliant on them, about 1kg./week!!!

Low carb...I'm eating a carrot a day, down from the many a day when I was under extreme oxidative stress. And now, in the heat, I've been eating 1-2 pieces of watermelon, and a small peeled cucumber. I don't know if the macadamias have any carbs.

In my past, when I was reliant on carbs, I was always in need of food, sort of hypoglycemic. Now I never feel hungry or crave foods. This diet is better than anything I've ever done. cheers.
 

ebethc

Senior Member
Messages
1,901
@ahmo - have you ever tried inositol? it has some effects on insulin resistance, and the carb comments made me think of it