Tips for beginners…..and possibly experts too

If you’re considering using intermittent fasting, exogeneous ketones or the ketogenic diet to treat concussion symptoms then prepare yourself. It’s not an easy ride. I don’t want to turn anyone off but it’s important you manage your expectations – there’s a lot to learn, results may take time and they may not even be obvious.

If you’re not familiar with keto, then that in itself is a steep learning curve.  The science behind it (high fat low carb) goes against the mainstream, plus you are processing this information under the cloud of concussion and any other symptoms – which means you won’t be at your best.  My advice here is to relax. There is zero pressure on you to get this ‘right’ first go. Start small with any changes to your diet and continue building on your successes. It’s ok to make mistakes – that’s simply part of the trial and error process as you work out what suits you best before you make the changes permanent. Your rehabilitation from the symptoms does not include adding more anxiety. Taking an active role through the diet means introducing more fats, not stress. If weight management is one of your goals then that’s another matter, you’ll probably see a more immediate return on your efforts.

If it’s your first experience with either keto or concussion then I found it helps to build a basic understanding of both. It’s quite empowering to get a handle on the science as I felt like I could own the solution more if I understood it more. It seems to be much easier to get quality information on keto than TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). We’ve no doubt come a long way with tbi but the science is still in its infancy. Not to say the effect of keto isn’t, but there’s definitely alot more material out there to work with.

You will come across people who are opinionated on keto or diets in general. They will want to tell you in any number of polite or not so polite ways that what you’re doing is wrong. That’s fine. Your job is not to convince them. Your focus is on contributing towards your well-being. If it helps, let them know that ‘the research suggests I’ll get a better energy supply throughout the day’ if you’re not comfortable sharing your tbi experience,  or ‘the research suggests it will support my rehab’ if you are.

The effect keto will have on your concussion symptoms is hard to understand and indeed, measure. I never sat a baseline memory, anxiety, head pressure or fatigue test prior to the concussions so it’s going to come down to self assessments. Do I feel better across any of the symptoms? If so, how would I describe it? Would the benefits have come with the passage of time anyway? Are other variables at play? It’s easy to doubt yourself along the way especially if others are questioning you. My experience was to push on. The knowledge I was doing something proactive was enough to help mitigate the symptoms even if I didn’t have a recorded measurable difference. If you think taking an active role in your rehab through keto has created a chance for you to get better, then so be it. You lose nothing by taking an interest in looking after yourself.

You’ve heard the cliche ‘it’s a marathon not a sprint’? I think that applies here too. Focus your energy inward on helping yourself by slowly building your knowledge base as you make incremental changes. Take note of what’s working for you and consider ditching the rest. Keep a daily diary of what you’re doing and track your symptoms – it doesn’t have to be a novel but something you can reference later. I’ve found this incredibly powerful (as the days and months can blend into one) so now I have an accurate record of what happened, instead of relying on my concussion tainted memory.

Lastly, this paper is a little dated but worth reading as you continue to build your understanding. It speaks directly to nutrition and TBI https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK209323/

As always, good luck with the keto, the concussion rehab or both.

Eddie

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