Andrew Huberman Keto Diet: Recommendations [2024]

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Andrew Huberman, a neuroscientist and professor at Stanford University, has discussed the potential benefits of the ketogenic diet and its impact on mental and physical health.

Huberman’s insights into the mechanisms behind the keto diet’s effects on the brain and body have shed light on its potential therapeutic applications.

In this post, we’ll explore Huberman’s perspective on the keto diet, its role in weight loss and appetite control, mental health benefits, practical implementation strategies, and the importance of ketones in brain function.

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Andrew Huberman Keto Diet

Andrew Huberman Keto Diet

Andrew Huberman, a neuroscientist at Stanford University, has discussed the ketogenic diet and its effects on weight loss, appetite, and mental health in several podcast episodes and interviews.

According to Huberman, reducing carbohydrate intake, as in a ketogenic diet, can help many people lose weight by suppressing appetite.

When eating a high-carb diet, blood sugar levels increase, stimulating appetite and driving people to eat more. In contrast, on a keto diet, people often naturally eat less because the combination of protein, fat, and low carbs is more satiating.

Huberman explains:

“For a lot of people when they reduce their complex carbohydrate intake…they find they lose significant amounts of weight, some of which is water weight…but the idea is that for a lot of people just getting that protein should be the main focus.”

He recommends focusing on getting enough high-quality protein (around 1g per pound of body weight), mostly from animal sources like meat, fish, and eggs.

The remainder of calories can come from healthy fats, vegetables, and some low-sugar fruits like berries.

Andrew Huberman Keto Mental Health

Beyond weight loss, the ketogenic diet was originally developed as a treatment for neurological conditions like epilepsy – not as a trendy diet.

When the brain metabolizes ketones for fuel instead of glucose, it can help stabilize overexcited brain activity.

This happens through increased levels of the neurotransmitter GABA, which has an inhibitory effect in the brain.

Huberman explains:

“The ketogenic diet, by way of increasing ketone metabolism or shifting brain’s metabolism over to ketones tends to modulate GABA such that GABA is more active and adjust the so-called GABA glutamate balance.”

This change in brain chemistry may explain why the ketogenic diet shows promise for treating certain psychiatric disorders.

Huberman cites the work of Dr. Chris Palmer of Harvard Medical School, who treats conditions like depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia by putting patients on a ketogenic diet – an approach called “metabolic psychiatry.”

Preliminary evidence suggests the ketogenic diet may help stabilize mood in bipolar disorder and act as an antidepressant, especially in patients who don’t respond to typical medications.

Related: Andrew Huberman OCD Treatment

Andrew Huberman Keto Diet Implementation

Andrew Huberman Keto Diet Implementation, steak

While Huberman sees potential in the ketogenic diet for mental and physical health, Dr. Palmer emphasizes the importance of personalizing your approach:

“The real answer is that I don’t have a one-size-fits-all recommendation for any person. So the first thing that I’m going to assess with the patient is, what symptoms are they having? What is their current diet like? And what are they willing to do?”

Factors like current weight, activity levels, and food preferences all impact how he guides patients in implementing a ketogenic diet.

In general, he recommends restricting carbohydrates (especially refined carbs and sugars), focusing on adequate protein intake, and eating plenty of non-starchy vegetables and healthy fats.

For some, a strict ketogenic diet may be warranted, while others may do well with a more liberal low-carb approach or shorter-term keto diets.

The key is finding a sustainable nutrition plan that provides the brain health and weight loss benefits of ketosis.

Sample Keto Diet Plan

Below, we have put together an example of a ketogenic diet plan based on everything Professor Huberman and his guests have shared on the topic.

Protein Sources

  • Meat (beef, pork, lamb, etc.)
  • Poultry (chicken, turkey, duck)
  • Fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel, etc.)
  • Eggs
  • Protein Powder
  • Note: Aim for approximately 1g of protein per pound of body weight.
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Fat Sources

  • Olive oil
  • MCT Oil
  • Avocado
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Butter and ghee
  • Fatty fish
  • Moderate amounts of saturated fats from animal sources
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Carbohydrate Sources

  • Non-starchy vegetables (leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, etc.)
  • Limited amounts of low-sugar fruits (berries)
  • Avoid high-carb foods like grains, sugars, and starchy vegetables

Sample Meal Plan

  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with spinach and avocado
  • Lunch: Grilled chicken salad with mixed greens, olive oil, and vinegar dressing
  • Dinner: Baked salmon with asparagus and butter
  • Snacks: Handful of nuts, sliced cucumber with olive oil and salt

Andrew Huberman on Ketones

Ketones are a byproduct of fat metabolism that can be used as an alternative fuel source for the brain when glucose is limited, such as during fasting or on a ketogenic diet.

Andrew Huberman has discussed the role of ketones in brain function and their potential therapeutic applications.

In an interview with Dr. Chris Palmer, Huberman explored the idea that exogenous ketones (ketone supplements) could be used to mimic the effects of a ketogenic diet on brain metabolism and mental health.

Dr. Palmer explains:

“The ketogenic diet is actually not necessarily about ketones themselves. Ketones are one of a multifaceted story there. The real issue is metabolically compromised tissues, whether it’s brain cells or other tissues. If you’ve got a metabolically compromised cell, that cell is sending out a distress signal and if it can’t use glucose effectively, it is going to suck up those ketones and then start running on all cylinders or closer to it.”

In other words, while ketones themselves can be beneficial, the full metabolic shift induced by a ketogenic diet – including lower blood glucose, improved insulin sensitivity, and increased mitochondrial function – may be necessary to optimize brain metabolism and alleviate symptoms of certain conditions.

Huberman sees the potential for exogenous ketones as a complementary tool alongside a moderately low-carb diet or for individuals who cannot adhere to a strict ketogenic diet.

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Andrew Huberman Ketone Esters

In addition to discussing the potential benefits of the ketogenic diet, Andrew Huberman has also shared his personal experience with using exogenous ketone supplements.

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Ketone esters are a form of exogenous ketones that have been shown to rapidly increase blood ketone levels, even in the presence of some carbohydrate intake.

Huberman has experimented with ketone esters and found them to have a noticeable impact on his mental and physical performance.

Huberman shares:

“I’ve started using liquid ketone esters. And I do eat some carbohydrates each day, usually in proportion to how much high-intensity exercise I’m doing. Those liquid ketone esters, for me, at least subjectively, I feel greatly increase my energy levels and my ability to focus mentally. And they improve my sleep. This is my observation tracking some data but just, again, subjectively.”

Huberman notes that while he doesn’t follow a strict ketogenic diet, he has found benefits from incorporating ketone esters into his routine, particularly in conjunction with his workout routine and moderate carbohydrate intake.

However, he also acknowledges that individual responses to ketone esters may vary and that more research is needed to understand their potential applications and long-term effects fully.

Huberman emphasizes that ketone esters are not a replacement for a well-formulated ketogenic diet, particularly for those using the diet for therapeutic purposes.

Andrew Huberman on Ketosis and Measuring Ketones

Ketosis is a metabolic state in which the body primarily uses ketones for fuel instead of glucose.

Andrew Huberman has discussed the importance of achieving and maintaining ketosis for those following a ketogenic diet to optimize its potential benefits for mental and physical health.

In a conversation with Dr. Chris Palmer, Huberman explored the various methods for measuring ketones and determining whether an individual is in a state of ketosis.

The most common methods include:

Urine strips: These strips measure the presence of acetoacetate in the urine. While not as accurate as blood testing, they can provide a general indication of ketosis.

Blood ketone meters: Similar to glucose meters, these devices measure the level of beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) in the blood, providing a more accurate assessment of ketosis.

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Breath ketone meters: These devices measure the presence of acetone in the breath, another ketone body produced during ketosis.

Huberman and Palmer note that achieving a state of ketosis is crucial for experiencing the potential therapeutic benefits of the ketogenic diet, particularly for neurological and psychiatric conditions. Palmer shares:

“The interesting thing is I noticed a pattern, that when they were trying the diet and not getting ketones, they often did not get a clinical benefit. It was once they got into ketosis that I began to notice the clinical benefit and the powerful antidepressant effect.”

FAQ

What is the Andrew Huberman slow carb diet?

The slow carb diet, popularized by Andrew Huberman’s friend Tim Ferriss in his book “The 4-Hour Body,” is a low-glycemic eating plan that emphasizes the consumption of slow-digesting carbohydrates and protein-rich foods. The goal is to minimize insulin spikes and promote fat loss while maintaining muscle mass.

Does the brain prefer ketones or glucose?

When ketones are available, especially at high levels, metabolically compromised brain cells may preferentially use them for energy.

What ruins ketosis?

Consuming high-carbohydrate foods, especially those high in sugar and refined carbs, can quickly raise blood glucose levels and kick the body out of ketosis.

Are you smarter in ketosis?

While not related to IQ, there are potential mental health benefits associated with the ketogenic diet, including improved brain metabolism and stabilization of mood disorders.

Do ketones increase ketosis?

Exogenous ketone supplements can rapidly increase blood ketone levels, even in the presence of some carbohydrate intake. However, ketone supplements are not a replacement for a well-formulated ketogenic diet.

Why do I feel so much better in ketosis?

Dr. Palmer suggests that the improved mental clarity and well-being experienced by some people in ketosis may be due to the stabilizing effect of ketones on brain metabolism, particularly in regions that are metabolically compromised.

Can you physically feel ketosis?

Some individuals report increased energy levels, mental clarity, and reduced hunger when in a state of ketosis.

Why am I gaining weight on ketones?

The source material does not address weight gain while using ketone supplements. However, Huberman emphasizes that ketone supplements are not a replacement for a well-formulated ketogenic diet and that individual responses may vary.

Can ketosis be healthy?

Huberman discusses the potential health benefits of the ketogenic diet, including improved brain metabolism, stabilization of mood disorders, and weight loss. However, he stresses the importance of personalizing the approach and working with a qualified healthcare practitioner to monitor progress and adjust the diet as needed.

Is ketosis good for mental health?

Dr. Palmer cites research suggesting that the ketogenic diet may have potential benefits for mental health, particularly in stabilizing mood disorders like bipolar disorder and treating depression in individuals who do not respond to conventional medications.

How do I know if I’ve achieved ketosis?

You can test whether you are in ketosis with urine strips, blood ketone meters, and breath ketone meters.

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About the Author

Drew Wilkins is a fitness and nutrition expert with a Master's in Biokinesiology (emphasis in Sports Science) from the University of Southern California and over a decade of experience as a personal trainer, nutrition consultant, and wellness coach. An avid surfer and soccer player, he brings a unique perspective to his research, advocating for a balanced approach to health that includes physical fitness, nutrition, and mental well-being.

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