In the second of these posts I discuss the Delta G implications of the body using ketones (specifically, beta-hydroxybutyrate, or BHB, and acetoacetate, or AcAc) for ATP generation, instead of glucose and free fatty acid (FFA). At the time I wrote that post I was particularly (read: personally) interested in the Delta G arbitrage. Stated simply, per unit of carbon, utilization of BHB offers more ATP for the same amount of oxygen consumption (as corollary, generation of the same amount of ATP requires less oxygen consumption, when compared to glucose or FFA).
The body will start making ketones when either we go extended periods without food, or we restrict the one dietary component that stops ketone formation – this being carbohydrates and also minimising protein intake as this also can halt ketone. In turn, your primary source of food is fat, with very little carbohydrate and a small amount of protein.”
Before that though, I do want to touch on MCT oil and it’s impact on ketone levels. MCT – or Medium Chain Triglyceride – are fatty acids that bypass the liver – and become quick energy for the brain and muscles. As they are a fat based energy source (and not a carbohydrate) they are quickly converted into ketones. This means MCT oil is a great way to boost ketone levels in the body.
If the goal is to deplete glucose levels so that we can start producing ketone bodies, then forcibly exerting physical energy through exercise is a great way to go about it. Keeping it relatively low intensity to begin with and working out in the morning is recommended as this helps to keep down your cortisol (stress hormone) levels. This only applies at the beginning of your keto adaptation process, as intense workouts such as HIIT once already keto-adapted will be completely fine.
Neuroprotective benefits: A natural part of the aging process is neurodegeneration, which is largely responsible for cognitive defects like Alzheimer’s disease. Recent research suggests that exogenous ketone supplementation can drastically slow neurodegeneration and the resulting decrease in mental function. However, the mechanism behind this finding remains to be elucidated; though, researchers suggest exogenous ketones act to reduce brain inflammation. Glucose, on the contrary, may actually accelerate inflammatory response in the brain.
Appetite suppression: Appetite was measured in 10 males and 5 females after consuming a ketone ester (KE) or a dextrose (DEXT) drink . Desire to eat and perception of hunger dropped after both drinks, but the KE was 50% more effective for 1.5-4hrs. Insulin levels rose for both drinks but were 3x less with the KE drink after 30mins (Fig 2). The hunger hormone, ghrelin, was significantly lower between 2 to 4 hours after drinking the KE (Fig 2). In conclusion Ketone esters delay the onset of hunger and lower the desire to eat. 8
MCT Oil is a keto supplement that helps your body make ketones. The oil contains pure medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are types of fatty acids that your body prefers using for immediate energy. Unlike long-chain fatty acids, MCTs don't require enzymes and bile for digestion and they go straight to the liver where they are used for making free fatty acids or ketones. Studies on MCTs show that they promote weight loss .
Plus, take a look at this promotional video from Prüvit. It claims that “ketones make the fat melt off your body”, which is simply not true (I’ll get back to this later). It also claims that if you wanted to reach ketosis naturally, you would either need to work out 10x harder and longer or be like one of the “extreme people” who “biohack their bodies” to get into ketosis, which “can take weeks or months”. For me, this is irresponsible. A keto diet can be simple and enjoyable, but this video makes switching to a healthy, real food, keto diet sound extreme and difficult while promoting an easy way out in the form of a drink. And that’s just bad advice.
The fate of excess ketones: In the event someone has an excessive amount of ketones in the blood, the body (specifically the kidneys) will work as quickly as possible to filter out ketones via urine rather than converting them to adipose tissue.9 This is not to say that you can’t gain fat if you consume an exorbitant amount of exogenous ketones, but that they are less prone to be converted to fat than other nutrients.
Although most of the research has been done utilizing ketone esters, ketone salt supplementation has the potential to provide additional benefits through the extra electrolytes/nutrients that are required to make the ketones. While ketone esters are expensive due to the manufacturing process involved in making them, ketone salts might be a more convenient option for both inducing a state of ketosis and elevating blood ketone levels for various reasons we will discuss in another article.
Exogenous ketones have become a popular nutritional supplement since their introduction in 2014. Unfortunately there is a lot of inaccurate information and marketing you have to read through to find the truth about them. This article does the hard work for you. It gets right to the true benefits and drawbacks of exogenous ketones supported by research studies.
I just read your comment and was wondering the same thing. I can see how exogenous ketones can be a great energy boost to people on the ketogenic diet, but I don’t see how they can speed fat loss. Keto OS claims you can eat higher carbs and still see the benefits of ketosis. I don’t see how that is possible. the whole point of weight loss through ketosis is the breaking down of your own fat to create energy. I don’t see how exogenous energy will increase natural fat breakdown. I wish I could get a straight answer to this from somebody.
Participants consumed 13.2 mmol.kg−1 of βHB (6.6 mmol.kg−1 or 1,161 mg/kg of KE) over 9 h, either as 3 drinks of 4.4 mmol.kg−1 of βHB at 3 h intervals (n = 12), or as an initial bolus of 4.4 mmol.kg−1 of βHB given through a nasogastric tube, followed by an infusion of 1.1 mmol.kg.h−1, beginning 60 min after the initial bolus, for 8 h (n = 4). Two participants completed both conditions (total n = 14). In both conditions, the KE was diluted to 1.5 L using the same citrus water as used in Study 2.
For whatever reason, many patients won’t attempt a ketogenic diet—even if the evidence is clear that it could help. Doctors are often hesitant to recommend dramatic dietary shifts—even if they believe in their efficacy—to patients who are already dealing with difficult health issues. If you’ve got a picky kid with epilepsy, a pickier adult with Alzheimer’s, or a cancer patient who refuses to give up the familiar-yet-non-ketogenic foods that give him some small manner of comfort in this trying ordeal, exogenous ketones could make a big difference.
But some people chose to use supplements to benefit from ketosis (Therapeutic Ketosis), and finally there is the MCT Ketogenic Diet – which in a form of nutritional ketosis (ULC, limited protein, high fat) with a twist – about 30-60% of the fat intake in the diet comes from MCT (Medium Chain Triglyceride) fats. Sources of MCT fats include Pure MCT Oil, Coconut oil and coconut products. The MCT Ketogenic Diet is often used with epilepsy suffers, as the high levels MCT oil create a higher level of ketones in the blood – which helps prevent seizures.
While exogenous ketones (EK) are a newer supplement, having entered the market for consumers in just the past few years, scientists have been synthesizing ketone bodies in a lab since the 1960’s. They were useful for scientists studying their use for specific disease conditions, most notably childhood seizure disorders, though they were prohibitively expensive for consumers (1, 2).
The Zenwise Keto Life BHB Salt uses a custom calcium, magnesium and sodium ketone complex to help access ketones for fuel without the low carb diet or fasting. This product is another all-natural option that goes as far as using turmeric for its added coloring. It is a proven product with hundreds of happy customers. They seem to have a strong grasp on the lemonade side of the exogenous market with their Raspberry Lemonade and Wild Limeade flavor choices.
I also concluded that post by discussing the possibility of testing this (theoretical) idea in a real person, with the help of exogenous (i.e., synthetic) ketones. I have seen this effect in (unpublished) data in world class athletes not on a ketogenic diet who have supplemented with exogenous ketones (more on that, below). Case after case showed a small, but significant increase in sub-threshold performance (as an example, efforts longer than about 4 minutes all-out).
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Medical Disclaimer: The material on this site is provided for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Always consult your physician before beginning any diet or exercise program.
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