If you’re looking to build muscle, it’s important to intermittently implement a caloric deficit in order to get the definition you have been working so hard for. But dieting can negatively effect mental abilities, so if you feel yourself starting to lose focus, here are some tricks that can help you keep your mental sharpness – and burn fat quickly.
Use these three diet hacks will keep your body burning fat without inhibiting the most important function of all – that of your brain. You will see results faster while continuing to perform with high energy levels throughout your day.
1. COCONUT OIL
Every time that you go more than two hours without eating, your blood sugar drops, which is bad for your energy levels. Energy is what propels us through our day so we can get more done faster.
Eating supplies your body and brain with glucose, which your body converts to adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Your body needs ATP to keep from burning muscle instead of fat as well as to keep your energy levels stable throughout the day. Without ADP, you will feel drowsy, moody, slow and unfocused, and those gains that you have worked so hard for will be eaten into. Coconut oil is the trick to keep this ATP production running while not consuming excess calories.
It’s largely made up of healthy, natural, saturated fats called MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides). Compared to longer-chain triglycerides, such as meats and dairy, these MCTs are easily digested and utilized by the body, rather than stored as fat.
This ease in digestion is due to the fact that MCTs are sent directly to your liver, where they are converted into immediately available energy. In contrast, LCTs (long chain triglycerides), found in many vegetable and nut oils, put strain on your liver, pancreas and entire digestive system, eventually being stored as fat rather than used for immediate energy.
Consuming coconut oil throughout the day will provide your body with an immediately available source of energy, picking you up mentally when you need a boost the most. This creates increased energy levels immediately and stimulates your body’s metabolism, leading to a healthier, more balanced body
There is an additional benefit to this as well – because MCTs create additional ATP, the body will have an increased ability to burn more fat as fuel, rather than tapping into your muscle reserves for energy.
The best way to get the coconut oil to do its magic is to eat small spoonfuls of it throughout the day. This will keep your mind fueled and able, as well as give your body the energy that it needs to function, continuing to burn fat and not muscle.
2. BULLETPROOF COFFEE
Bulletproof coffee is a popular fad right now, and for good reason. But how can this help you specifically when on a calorie-reduced diet?
Bulletproof coffee is a blend of coffee, grass-fed unsalted butter and MCT oil. The butter will help you to feel full and the MCT oil (derived from coconut oil) will be available for immediate energy. In addition to this, the coffee is a stimulant and will wake up your brain, boost your mood, and kick start your body by putting it into ketosis (your body’s fat burning mode) rather than energy-burning mode.
A 2014 study at Johns Hopkins University found that caffeine actually enhances your brain’s ability to form long term memories, thus a deeper level of memory retention occurs after drinking coffee.
Grass-fed butter is full of omega-3 fatty acids – these will reduce your levels of cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that plays a key role in your central nervous system. Cortisol is a key player in learning, concentration, memory and emotion, and it plays a role in the immune system in relation to the inflammatory responses, just to name a few.
When you have healthy levels of cortisol, you feel in a peak mental state, but if you have excess cortisol, you will feel forgetful and rash. Studies have shown that when you are on a diet with restriction of caloric intake, you increase psychological stress, which leads to increased cortisol production.
Grass fed butter can help you fight this. It is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce your levels of cortisol and thus reduce your biological response to stress. In the US, we suffer from a dramatic deficiency of Omega 3 fatty acids, so it is important to make it a point to consume foods with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, especially when under increased stress.
Bulletproof coffee will curb cravings, wake up the brain, and keep you alert and sharp in the moment, while helping you remember those ideas and details later on down the line.
3. ASHWAGANDHA SUPPLEMENT
Ashwagandha is an herb that has been used in Indian Ayurvedic healing for over 3,000 years, and is known for its restorative benefits. It helps combat stress, inflammation, fatigue, lack of energy and difficulty concentrating.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen – an agent that promotes biochemical balance in the brain and body. Adaptogens help you to adapt to stress, keeping your mental function alert even during times of calorie deficit.
It has been shown to enhance GABA receptors and serotonin in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter that blocks impulses between nerve cells in the brain. GABA helps to relieve anxiety, boost mood and improve sleep. GABA also helps to relieve pain from injuries, increase resilience during exercise, burn fat and increase growth of lean muscle mass.
Gaba also helps combat stress and mental flightiness by blocking receptor sites for cortisol.
It has been shown to increase energy levels after one week of use, so try to add Ashwaganda to your daily diet in advance of beginning your cutting regime. Take a 600 to 1,000 mg supplement twice daily.
1. 8 Reasons You Should Be Using Coconut Oil; mensfitness.com
(also pulled info from Coconut Oil: The Good Kind of Fat https://docs.google.com/document/d/1mxc1DIPFYbS-WscS9L4gUJqpnaUbT8O_mr1vUcOxyAU/edit?usp=sharing)
2. 5 Ways Your Health Diet is Making you Tired; health.com
3. 7 Things Coffee Does to Your Body: mensfitness.com
4. Inside the Personal Health Laboratory of Bulletproof Coffee’s Dave Asprey; mensfitness.com
5. How Does Ashwagandha Work in the Brain: ashwagandha.com
6. What is Ashwagandha? Chorpa.com
7. GABA: webmd.com
8. Clayton’s Health Facts: Ashwagandha