In this video I will cover what I would consider to be the 3 most synergistic supplements to a ketogenic diet. These supplements provide a boost in a variety of the ketogenic pathways we have grown to appreciate, aiding to the breakdown and burning of fat, providing the substrates needed for energy production from fat, and giving our bodies the energy boost needed to heighten important body functions such as, brain, skeletal muscle, and immune system function. While there are a wide variety of supplements that can be considered aides to a ketogenic diet, I have narrowed down my top 3 to: Green Tea or more specifically its most active ingredient EGCG , Branched Chain Amino Acids perhaps most predominately Leucine, and Medium chain triglycerides namely the 8-carbon saturated fatty acid called Caprylic Acid.
Let me explain why!
I definitely wouldn’t say that green tea is the most popular synergistic supplement with a ketogenic diet, but it is highly effective in its ability to reduce the tendency to absorb fat and increase the ability to burn fat. It comes down to the potent fat oxidation that green tea promotes from it being a rich source of polyphenol catechins. In particular EGCG or epigallocatechin gallate is the most active of the catechins in green tea and is primarily responsible for the antioxidant, anti inflammatory, and metabolic effects. To break this down even further the boost in fat metabolism comes from EGCG’s direct effect on proteins and phospholipids in the plasma membrane that up regulate mitochondrial function, which we know is the energy factory for all cells in our body, therefore increasing the rate at which fatty acids are metabolized. Or in other words increasing our use of fat to produce energy. In a ketogenic diet where we are primarily depending on fat metabolism for energy, we can see how this boost in fat oxidation can provide improvements in ketone production and can promote further weight loss in the form of body fat or adipose tissue. In addition the naturally occurring caffeine in green tea works synergistically to boost metabolism.
The branched chain amino acids consist of three essential amino acids, meaning they must be consumed and can not be manufactured inside the body, these 3 are: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. We know that in metabolism fueled by glucose protein and amino acid breakdown is inevitable which is what prompts athletes trying to build lean muscle mass to supplement BCAAs. While the ketogenic metabolism has been proven to spare these BCAAs, they also play larger rolls, making their heightened levels even more valuable. As discussed in the “ketogenic effects of muscle building” video, Leucine is able to take on the role of insulin, that is suppressed in a ketogenic diet, and effectively promote muscle protein synthesis. On a smaller cellular level these BCAAs are able to replenish the intermediates for cellular energy cycles, which is a huge benefit in a ketogenic diet were glycolysis is lowered and cellular pyruvate is not as available. In other words BCAAs are able to be broken down into important substrates for cellular energy production, which aids in overall higher energy levels.
Medium Chain Triglycerides are some what of a staple of the ketogenic diet. The structure that allows MCT’s to be metabolized quickly, provides pathways for ketone production even in unadapted individuals. The uses of MCTs can range from a daily ketone boost to aiding in the elimination of the tough to deal with side effects of keto adaptation. Tryglycerides in general are made up of a glycerol bound to three fatty acids, and are ingested, stored and more commonly referred to as fats. The differentiating factor between long chain and medium chain triglycerides are the length of the fatty acids that make up their structure. These shorter, medium chain fatty acids, are metabolized in the liver so readily that they are pushed to the front of the line even before simple carbohydrates, resulting in ketone production even when carbs and glucose are present. This is the mechanism that helps decrease the lack of energy and brain fog during the short keto adaptation phase. The MCT’s promote ketone production before nutritional ketosis has been reached, making up for the deficit in energy due to the considerable reduction in available energy from carbohydrates when switching to a ketogenic diet. The fact that these MCTs are broken down even before carbohydrates makes them a promising supplement even for a diet regimen including carbs, as a way to reap the benefits of the small increase in ketone production without achieving nutritional ketosis.