Scientists from Massey University and elsewhere found that a keto diet may improve cognitive function in people with sleep deprivation.
The keto diet is primarily used to help reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures in children.
Unlike other low-carb diets, which focus on protein, a keto plan focuses on fat, which offers as much as 90% of daily calories.
A keto diet aims to force the body into using a different type of fuel. Instead of relying on sugar (glucose) that comes from carbohydrates (such as grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits), the keto diet relies on ketone bodies, a type of fuel that the liver produces from stored fat.
Extended wakefulness, or sleep deprivation, can impair cognitive performance and brain blood sugar metabolism.
Since a keto diet provides an alternative fuel source, it may provide a metabolic benefit during sleep deprivation.
In the current study, researchers tested this view and examined the health effect of a keto diet on cognitive function and sleepiness in seven male military personnel.
These people ate a keto diet or a carb-based diet for 14 days, immediately followed by 36 hours of extended wakefulness and separated by a 12-day washout.
The team examined cognitive performance, mood, sleepiness, and blood sugar levels every two hours during extended wakefulness.
They found that in the keto diet group, blood sugar was lower compared with the carb-based diet group.
In addition, the keto diet improved cognitive task performance, memory test performance, vigor, fatigue, and sleepiness compared with the carb-based diet.
Based on the findings, the researchers suggest that a keto diet provides beneficial effects on cognitive performance, mood, and sleepiness during 36 hours of extended wakefulness compared with a carb-based diet.
The research was published in The Journal of Sleep Research and conducted by Lydia Rose Henderson et al.
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