From Authority Nutrition:
Low-carb and ketogenic diets have many health benefits. For example, it is well known that they can cause weight loss and help fight diabetes. However, they are also beneficial for certain brain disorders. This article explores how low-carb and ketogenic diets affect the brain.
What Are Low-Carb and Ketogenic Diets?
- Carbs are limited to 50 grams or less per day.
- Protein is often restricted.
- A major goal is to increase blood levels of ketones, molecules that can supply energy for the brain.
- Carbs can vary from 25–150 grams per day.
- Protein is usually not restricted.
- Ketones may or may not rise to high levels in the blood.
On a ketogenic diet, the brain is mainly fueled by ketones. These are produced in the liver when carb intake is very low.
On a standard low-carb diet, the brain will still be largely dependent on glucose, although it may burn more ketones than on a regular diet.
The “130 Grams of Carbs” Myth
You may have heard that your brain needs 130 grams of carbs per day to function properly. This is one of the most common myths about low-carb diets.
In fact, a report by the US Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board states:
“The lower limit of dietary carbohydrates compatible with life apparently is zero, provided that adequate amounts of protein and fat are consumed.”
Although a zero-carb diet isn’t recommended because it eliminates many healthy foods, you can definitely eat much less than 130 grams per day and maintain good brain function.
Bottom Line: It is a common myth that you need to eat 130 grams of carbs per day to provide the brain with energy.