What’s The Primary Fuel For The Brain During Starvation?

If you’re on a low-carb diet you should know the primary fuel for the brain during starvation. The fuel sources include fatty acids and liver-produced ketone molecules. Learn more here!

Primary Fuel For The Brain

Are you considering going on Keto, Atkins, or Intermittent Fasting (IF)? If so, then you should know the basics about ketosis. This includes info like the primary fuel for the brain. The body’s first choice for energy is carbs. However, when carbs aren’t available, the body starts breaking down stored fat for energy.

Every pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories. The brain gets some fuel from this source. However, it gets more energy from something called “ketone bodies.” These molecules and the process known as “ketosis” are what give the ketogenic diet its name. The process is also the same for IF, which requires people to fast for 16 to 24 hours daily.

The liver produces ketone molecules naturally. However, the process is cranked up during fasting or going low-carb. When this happens it causes the vital organ to make more ketone molecules. The human body is hardwired to use Plan B when it’s unable to get the resources it normally needs. So when it can’t get energy from food carbs it starts looking for other sources like stored glucose (blood sugar). The process is different but it still helps to fuel the body and brain.

Starvation Mode: Primary Fuel for the Brain

The body’s first choice for fuel is food carbs. However, sometimes they’re unavailable due to factors like low-carb diets, fasting, calorie-cutting, etc. When this happens the body first starts getting calories from stored glucose (blood sugar).

Then the body starts breaking down stored fat. The percentage of body fat a person has is greatly related to their gender. The figure is usually up to 13% for women and 5% for men.

Depending on the amount of body fat a person has they could go several months without food. For example, the longest world record for fasting is held by the UK’s Dennis Galer Goodwin who went over one full year without eating solid food.  

There are various ways you can start fueling your body with stored fat. They cause the body to go into the metabolic state known as “ketosis” when the body doesn’t get enough energy from carbs. When this happens the body starts breaking down fat for energy.

Low-carb diets like Keto Ultra and Atkins are some of the most popular diet programs that trigger ketosis. They’re low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diets that fuel the body with a healthy fat. That includes foods like:

  • Fatty Fish/Shellfish
  • Eggs
  • Nuts/Seeds
  • Coconut Oil
  • Olives
  • Milk/Yogurt/Cheese

So besides causing the body to break down stored fat, the diets themselves are about three-quarter healthy fat. This is another source of fat the dieter gets besides stored fat.

However, stored fat during starvation mode mostly fuels the body. The primary fuel for the brain is something called “ketone bodies.” As the body breaks down fat for energy this causes the liver to produce more ketone molecules. The molecules can fuel the body, but they mostly are used to fuel the brain.

Besides naturally-produced ketones, you can also boost your ketones through dietary supplements. These products contain external ketones that are believed to fuel the brain with ketone molecules.

Tips to Get into Ketosis Faster

This is a key step when on diets like Keto, Atkins, and Intermittent Fasting (IF) since it can help your body to start breaking down fat for fuel. It will also cause the brain to start getting fuel from ketone molecules produced in the liver. Here are some tips to speed up the process:

Do a moderate and high-intensity workout

This is the way to burn up your carbs and store blood sugar, so your body will start breaking down fat for energy and cranking out more ketones. Make sure your workouts are moderate/high-intensity. That’s because you’ll get minimum results, taking a walk in the park in terms of calorie/carb-burning.

It’s also critical to do both cardio and strength training. A big mistake new exercisers make is thinking doing tons of low-intensity cardio will burn lots of calories. Guess again. You have to do options like high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to maximize weight/fat loss.

Increase protein and fat intake 

You could boost either macronutrient. For example, the protein could be moved up from 20% to 25%, and fat from 75% to 80%. This would usually involve dropping carbs from 10% to % of total calories. One caveat about protein is it’s a good idea to increase it slightly for situations like building muscle mass.

Go lower-carb

If you want to stay in ketosis longer, then make sure you’re consuming a maximum of 50g of carbs daily while on diets like Keto. This will help to maximize how much time you’re in ketosis. Meanwhile, if you go lower-carb (i.e. 20g) this can help you stay in ketosis longer.

There are pros and cons to this approach. While you can stay in ketosis longer, you’ll also be ditching lots of nutrients you’ll have to get from dietary supplements. That explains why many health experts recommend not going on a strict ketogenic diet for more than one month. What does 20g of carbs look like? Some options include one serving of blackberries and raspberries, or a basic vegetable salad with lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and bell peppers. That’s it!

Top Tips to Do Intermittent Fasting Safely

6-hour eating window

If you want to boost fat loss it’s important to fast 18+ hours per day and make your eating window 6- hours. Animal studies show that this is the sweet spot for maximizing fat loss. You can also lose weight if you fast 16 hours/day, for example. However, you can maximize fat loss by fasting 18, 20, or even 24 hours (alternate-day fasting) daily.

Alternate-day fasting is quite tough. It means you alternate 24-hour fasts and 24-hour eating windows. One of the drawbacks of 24-hour fasts is you have about zilch carbs for workouts. On the other hand, you can also burn lots of fat since once your body burns up all the stored blood sugar for the rest of the 24 hours your body will be a fat-burning machine.

Go low-calorie on long fasts

Some fasting diets allow a low amount of calories like 500. This can help to provide some blood sugar to help you get through the day. It can be tough to work, study, exercise when you’re getting no nutrients during your fasting period. Going low-calorie can help to provide some instant fuel during your waking hours in particular.

Use ketone supplements

Some diet programs like Keto Ultra require you to take ketone supplements like external ketones. This can provide various ketosis-related benefits. For example, it can help you get into ketosis faster. Besides that, it can also help you burn fat faster when you’re in the metabolic state.

Boosting your body’s ketone levels can help to fuel your brain since it’s mostly fueled by ketone bodies when in the state of ketosis through the primary fuel for the brain.

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