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Can the Keto Diet Give You a Mental Edge?

Studies point to yes, so long as you're willing to commit.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The following article is based on excerpts from Ben Angel's book, Unstoppable: A 90-Day Plan to Biohack Your Mind and Body for Success. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | IndieBound. And be sure to order The Unstoppable Journal, the only journal of its kind based on neuroscience, psychology and biohacking to help you reach your goals.

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You’re on the right track if you’re working on your diet to give you optimum performance. You understand the negative impact of processed foods and the inflammation sugar can cause in your body, but you’re wondering if the ketogenic diet is the best choice to keep your energy levels up for the day ahead. As defined on Medical News Today, "The keto diet is an eating plan that focuses on foods that provide a lot of healthy fats, adequate amounts of protein and very few carbohydrates. The goal is to get more calories from fat than from carbs." For most people wanting to shed some pounds and kick the sugar habit, it’s a win-win call to action, and the ketogenic diet is a great, therapeutic way to get you started and see results. 

There are other benefits as well. Researchers are now using the ketogenic diet alongside cancer treatments to help reduce blood glucose, which in turns reduces the insulin hormone that can cause complications in certain cancers. As that same Medical News Today summary notes, "In a 2013 meta-analysis of 13 different randomized controlled trials, researchers found that people following ketogenic diets lost two pounds more than those following low-fat diets over one year." People on the diet also experienced a significant drop in levels of total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or "bad" cholesterol, and triglycerides, as well as an increase in high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol. 

It’s also been proven that the ketones created in our liver help create a protective barrier for neurological functions. Many scientists are now using it in Alzheimer's studies, with excellent results. That’s obviously very promising and motivating, but is this diet for everyone?

Related: 5 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Maintain Keto on the Road

Keto-endorsing nutritionists teach their clients to recognize that if you’re already struggling with low energy, brain fog, fatigue and anxiety, the amount of time you put into preparation and mental fortitude may push you over the edge. In other words, you may fail before you even begin. 

There is a way to identify where a person currently sits on the continuum of resiliency I call The "Identity Gap Formula For Success." It takes a comprehensive approach by factoring in triggers that impede our ability to have unstoppable energy, focus and drive through biohacking. I represent this through identity types in the same way a battery is charged. There are four identity types: the Catalyst, Synergist, Guardian and Defender. Our goal should be to ensure our physical and psychological energy is above 50 percent, which is where the Synergist and Catalyst reside — a state in which we are conscious creators who are motivated, focused and driven. But it’s the Defender and Guardians who should think twice about taking on a new dietary challenge. 

If you are currently procrastinating, making excuses or experiencing intense fatigue or depression, then you are most likely a Defender. You’re in self-preservation mode because you’ve run out of physical and emotional energy, like when your mobile phone turns on battery-save mode. You may make rash decisions or find yourself acting out of character because you are no longer operating from your prefrontal cortex, which is in control of personality, rational thinking and emotional control. The Guardian is not much better, since they are only operating at 25-50 percent of their capacity. They are barely protecting their energetic resources to get through their day. 

The keto diet features a "detox" period when you begin. The first week or two can cause side effects known as “the keto flu.” This is a time when you often betray symptoms of illness since your body is burning off the last reserves of glucose in your blood. You should start to feel better after a couple of weeks, but if you still feel awful, you may not be properly fueling your body.

As a Defender or Guardian type, you cannot maintain this new stressor, and you will likely fall off the program, experiencing that infamous "hangry" by eating carbs and processed sugars just to feel better again. Then, of course, you beat yourself up for failing before even beginning. 

There is a way, though, to get the help you need. First, you’ll need to start slowly cleaning up your diet by getting rid of sugars and highly processed carbs, so the drop in blood-glucose energy isn’t so drastic that it triggers intense brain fog. Guardians and Defenders can then begin to incorporate intermittent fasting, which has many benefits, such as weight loss, increased growth of human growth hormones, lower blood-glucose levels, better insulin resistance and even a lighter wallet. 

Then, by working closely with a functional-medicine doctor, you can find out the root cause of your lack of energy, focus, brain fog, depression and anxiety. Functional medicine looks deeper into the causation of your illness, which could actually be side effects of food intolerance, inflammation or medication you may be on. A functional-medicine doctor can also look closely at any essential mineral or vitamin deficiencies you may be experiencing that can mimic psychological disorders. The keto diet can be the next best step for you, as long as you ease into the process by working on your diet and slowly incorporating intermittent fasting. 

Synergists and Catalysts are prime identities that could easily segue into the keto way of eating and gain its many neurological and physiological advantages, in addition to employing intermittent fasting as a great way to stack its many benefits. As with any eating protocol, it’s all about personalization. Do what’s right for you, and adjust as you need to.

Related: 5 Products to Help You With the Keto Diet

Are you ready to become unstoppable?

Visit and take your FREE 60-second online quiz now. By answering a series of simple questions, my software will analyze your results and provide you with a comprehensive report that will indicate your identity type and lead you to the tools and tips you need to close that gap between who you are and who you could be. Take the quiz to get started!

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