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How many carbs do I need for optimal brain function outside of ketosis?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created December 20, 2012 at 5:37 PM

Does anyone know, without accounting for exercise, how many grams of carbs a day are desirable to maintain a steady source of glucose for your brain?

If you've read some of my other questions, you know that I'm trying to get back on the paleo wagon and I'm struggling with the introduction of carbs. Previously, I wasn't in school and the eating style I adopted just happened to bring me below 100 or even 50 grams of carbs a day just by default. What I've noticed trying to jump back on that, as a returning college student, is that I can't afford the transition between my brain running on glucose to running on ketones. That aside, I'm also not entirely convinced my cognitive abilities would be the same or improved as some say. I'm open to an opposing view point though.

I'm looking at getting carbs mainly from sweet potatoes and/or whole fruits like bananas and berries. Obviously, I'm not counting whatever trace carbs might be in leafy green vegetables that are part of my diet. I'll also be doing CrossFit workouts about every other day of the week and maybe running one day a week. Anyone have thoughts on how this would increase my carb intake, ideally, and by how much?

I'd also like to bring my bodyfat percentage down and I'm concerned about whether or not a higher carb version of the paleo diet I was doing before will produce the same drastic results I had initially. Any thoughts on the subject would be much appreciated. Oh, and please don't link me to Mark Sisson's "How much glucose does your brain need?" article. I'm talking about it from the standpoint of functioning optimally without disruption or a 4 week adjustment period.

Edit: grammatical stuff.

61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on December 20, 2012
at 08:28 PM

Regardless, alligator, many can thrive on very low carb, whether or not they have a fully functioning pancreas.

D05f3050dc3d973b8b81a876202fa99a

(1533)

on December 20, 2012
at 07:42 PM

That makes sense, wish I could figure out a quick fix but you're probably right. Some trial and error seems to be in order.

3a9d5dde5212ccd34b860bb6ed07bbef

(1782)

on December 20, 2012
at 07:29 PM

you should really qualify this answer with the mention that you also have type 1 diabetes. It would be like me saying "I thrive on a diet devoid of fish, eggs, and beef" while failing to mention that I'm allergic and that consuming them would cause my body a great deal of harm.

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2 Answers

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3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on December 20, 2012
at 06:55 PM

There's no answer to this question. You never burn just glucose or just ketones. You are always burning some of both. And it's not just carbs. Protein and fat can be converted into glucose via GNG.

The point is that whether you are dominate glucose or dominate ketones, your brain will be able to get the energy it needs.

What you need to do is find the style of eating that is healthy and sustainable and do that.

D05f3050dc3d973b8b81a876202fa99a

(1533)

on December 20, 2012
at 07:42 PM

That makes sense, wish I could figure out a quick fix but you're probably right. Some trial and error seems to be in order.

1
27bac964edd249667d0fb749daeeb090

(263)

on December 20, 2012
at 06:33 PM

I thrive with zero carbs! In fact, when I have exams, I make sure I'm in ketosis for a few days before because my brain feels so much sharper.

I also do crossfit in ketosis, and do it well. I had about a 44 minute "Murph" while in ketosis.

It takes a bit of discipline, but it can be done!

61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on December 20, 2012
at 08:28 PM

Regardless, alligator, many can thrive on very low carb, whether or not they have a fully functioning pancreas.

3a9d5dde5212ccd34b860bb6ed07bbef

(1782)

on December 20, 2012
at 07:29 PM

you should really qualify this answer with the mention that you also have type 1 diabetes. It would be like me saying "I thrive on a diet devoid of fish, eggs, and beef" while failing to mention that I'm allergic and that consuming them would cause my body a great deal of harm.

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