AUGUSTA, GA – Additional benefits to the trending ketogenic diet may soon be clearer, thanks to research being conducted by Dr. Maleah Holland, professor of kinesiology in the Augusta University College of Education, and Grant Blume, junior kinesiology student.
Blume has been awarded the Southern Regional Honors Council Student Scholars Grant and an Augusta University Translational Research Program grant for their joint research project, titled “The Effects of Acute and Chronic Ketosis on Golf Accuracy.”
Ketosis is a process in which the body uses stored fat for energy, and the process produces ketones.
“Typically, our brain uses sugar for energy but it can also use ketones,” Holland said. When it does use ketones, they help maintain blood sugar levels and stave off hunger. Generally, that indicates a substance may contribute to weight loss. This relatively novel subject is a focus of Holland’s research, for which she was recently featured in U.S. News & World Report.
But Blume and Holland think ketones may have impact in other areas. Their research, which will also serve as Blume’s senior honors thesis, focuses on the effects of acute and chronic ketosis on putting accuracy in recreational golfers between 35 and 55 years old.
The entire study will be double-blinded and placebo-controlled. Phase 1 of the study will be a cross-over design with placebo taken one week and a ketone supplement taken the alternate week. Phase 2 of the study will not be a cross-over design. Half of the participants will take the placebo and half of the participants will take the supplement; those results will be compared between groups. Holland and Blume will measure participants’ golf accuracy and correlate their accuracy to their blood ketone levels.
Blume said the goal is to find a link between ketones and improved learning so that those whose job requires accuracy or motor learning can improve their performance through ketone supplementation or by following the ketogenic diet.
“The practical applications for this project go beyond athletics,” Blume said. “Any industry or position in which a person may become physically fatigued while doing their job could possibly benefit from additional accuracy or learning through supplemental ketones.”
First responders, police officers and firefighters are among the professions Blume mentioned. In fact, Holland said that she recently completed a study with firefighters who took a ketone supplement, and the data showed that firefighters who used a ketone supplement showed a lower active heart rate than when they did not use the supplement.
“Because ketones are thought to reduce sympathetic drive, they put you more at a rested state, even during intense physical activity,” Holland said.
Holland and Blume will begin their research in May. Blume will present their findings next year at the 2019 Southern Regional Honors Conference.