Everyone knows that if you’re planning on
joining the military, then you’d better be ready to be told what to do. From day one you’ll be told what to wear,
where to go, what to do when you get there, who to talk to or not talk to, and even what
time you’ll get to sleep. Meal time however has always come with some
freedom- you’re free to swap MREs between soldiers and if you have the luck of eating
at a chow facility then you typically have a decent selection of food to pick from. Now though the US military is considering
a new mandatory diet to enforce on its troops, as its researchers investigate a super diet
which many hope will produce a super soldier. The 90s had the Atkins diet, and if you have
a facebook account then you’ve probably seen an aunt or friend post about the miracles
of the Keto diet. You’re probably used to hearing about all
sorts of fad diets by now though, from all-carbs to no-carbs, to the hilariously misguided
paleo diet that is supposed to be based off the types of foods that early man ate. You know, back when people died at age thirty
and also ate food that no longer exists. The slew of miracle diets has probably worn
you down, but it turns out that the US military thinks there really might be something to
the keto diet after all. Currently the Pentagon is investigating a
keto- or ketogenic- diet and its physical and mental health effects on soldiers. The diet takes its name from the physiological
state known as ketosis, which is when your body is burning almost nothing but fat for
energy, while turning some of that fat into ketones in the liver, directly juicing the
brain with energy. Typically our diets consist of a mixture of
carbohydrates and fat, and so our bodies have a great deal of carbs to burn off before it
gets to the fat- which it prefers to burn last as fat is basically an insurance policy. That’s right, that spare tire you’ve been
carrying around your mid section is your body’s way of keeping you alive, because back before
Uber Eats and supermarkets on every corner, humans had to hunt and gather for their food,
and food could be scarce indeed. On the off chance that you came across a glut
of food though- like say a bunch of woolly mammoths entered into a suicide pact together
and ran themselves off a cliff- then your body would greedily turn all that extra food
into nice thick fat that it stored around the body. Then when lean times came again the body would
burn up all that stored fat. So now next time somebody says you need to
lose weight, just remind them that your body is operating at peak evolutionary efficiency
and doing all it can to keep you alive. A Keto diet basically starves you of carbohydrates
and instead focuses on foods that are rich in fat, which paradoxically then makes the
body burn that fat, and the fat you’ve been saving up for hard times, more efficiently. As fat is a much richer energy source than
carbs, proponents of the Keto diet claim that the diet gives the body more energy and makes
it perform better. Always looking for a way to get an edge on
the battlefield, the Pentagon then decided to put its best BS detectors on the job and
started investigating the effects of a keto diet on its troops. Partnering with researchers at the Ohio State
University, the study followed twenty-nine soldiers in total over a twelve week exercise
training program. Fifteen of the soldiers would eat only a keto
diet, while the other fourteen at a normal diet. All twenty nine partook in the same exercises
and training programs with their performances observed side by side. After twelve weeks the study showed that the
troops partaking in the keto diet saw a whopping sixteen pound (7.7 kg) weight loss, along
with dramatically improved body composition. The keto soldiers also showed a 48% improvement
in insulin sensitivity, which means that their body’s cells could use blood glucose more
effectively thus reducing their blood sugar levels. As far as physical performance though, both
groups of soldiers showed very similar progress through the physical training aspects, and
neither group out performed the other physically, showing similar scores in aerobic capacity,
maximal strength, power, and speed through an obstacle course. Clearly the keto diet is great for weight
loss, but there’s one group of soldiers who have taken heed of the Ohio State University’s
results and become very interested in the diet. That group is the US Navy and its community
of divers and Navy SEALs, as research has shown that individuals in ketosis are able
to stay underwater for longer periods than those not in ketosis. Being in ketosis dramatically changes the
way your body handles oxygen deprivation and allows a human diver to stay underwater at
deeper depths and for longer amounts of time. That’s likely no big surprise to whales and
dolphins, whom naturally indulge in a keto diet every day of their lives, proving that
nature is as usual way ahead of the curve versus humans. Lisa Sanders, director of science and technology
at the US Special Operations Command, recently stated that her labs are partnering with civilian
labs to see what effects ketosis has on altitude-induced hypoxia. If the body can process oxygen better even
at low quantities, much as its better able to resist oxygen deprivation during diving,
then that means that soldiers would be able to better operate in low-oxygen environments
such as high altitudes. This would give US forces an unparalleled
edge over their enemies when fighting in mountainous regions, and could be especially critical
for special operations forces. Sanders also commented that her labs are investigating
alternate ways of inducing ketosis in the human body, as achieving a natural state of
ketosis through diet typically requires five days of eating a keto-only diet. This would mean that soldiers operating at
high altitudes would have to prepare for five days before going on their mission, which
would be an extremely unlikely luxury. If ketosis could be induced quicker though,
soldiers would be faster prepared to undergo deep or long dives, and to operate in higher
altitudes. Staying within the bounds of a keto diet though
requires careful meal preparation, as you must intake less than fifty grams of carbs
a day- something which would not be easily achieved on a hectic modern day battlefield,
and yet another reason alternate means of inducing ketosis would be ideal. However, while the Pentagon’s study showed
that the keto diet had no direct impact on soldier’s physical performance- other than
making them more fit by losing weight- other studies have shown that a keto diet may in
fact be giving the brain a boost. Individuals with epilepsy have been shown
to suffer fewer seizures while on the diet, granting much needed relief that doesn’t come
at the cost of taking a bunch of drugs with terrible side effects. The keto diet sounds great, and while it clearly
falls far short of the health benefits your aunt posts about on Facebook, it has proven
effective at weight loss and may be giving your brain a boost. However, no long term research has been done
on the effects of a keto diet on a human over the long term, and as with any extreme diet,
there are bound to be risks involved. Humans evolved to be omnivores, and straying
too far into specialized diets always carries serious risks. Yet some of the risks of a keto diet are already
apparent amongst its practitioners, and the most common side effects include high cholesterol,
constipation, bad breath, and high-pressure projectile diarrhea. Just kidding, we made that last one up- but
what we did not make up is the far more suffered and appropriately termed, Keto Crotch. This side effect is exactly what it sounds
like- practitioners of the keto diet very often report that their crotches begin to
smell terribly, and that should come as no surprise as any extreme diet can result in
drastic PH changes in the body. When you disturb the body’s PH balance, it
likes to remind you that it’s still in charge by making you stinky. There’s no known cure for keto crotch, though
we guess that frequent bathing is probably a good place to start, and maybe it wouldn’t
hurt to keep an air freshener in your underwear. A keto diet may not lead to super soldiers
in the end, but it might lead to much more fit and leaner soldiers, which would improve
the overall health of the US fighting force. If government labs can figure out how to induce
ketosis without undergoing a five day diet change, it would also give US troops an edge
in mountain combat, and give its divers and Navy SEALs much greater endurance at deeper
depths when carrying out dangerous missions. Perhaps, with all the resources of the US
military behind it, research into the keto diet could even discover a cure for keto crouch,
putting to rest the fears and suffering of millions of keto practitioners around the
nation. Think you would ever risk a smelly crotch
for weight loss? What’s the craziest diet you ever tried? Also, be sure to check out our other video,
Why the military can’t quit Windows XP! Thanks for watching, and as always, don’t
forget to like, share and subscribe. See you next time.