Great question. So if you are already in nutritional ketosis from your diet, exogenous ketones would still help raise ketone (energy) levels when you want that (maybe for focus at work or energy at the gym. They also help get you back into ketosis after cheat meals and skip the “keto flu” which is the period when your body is using up stored glycogen.
Ketones may be a better source of fuel than glucose, and a far better beverage than Fruitopia, but it's a question of whether or not you can spare the extra fuel. Because just like adding sugar to a diet, it's like pressing pause on the fat burning process since the body preferentially burns it for fuel. Adding ketones to the diet does the same thing.
It’s sometimes the case that a person has been attempting to transition to a state of ketosis, but in spite of their best efforts, they seem stuck in a kind of limbo where they’re eating hardly any carbs, but they don’t seem to be losing weight or experiencing the other benefits of the keto diet. But the science is the science, which means if you’re doing everything right you should be in ketosis. If you’re not, or you seem to be drifting in and out of a keto state, it’s not your body’s fault, it’s your diet.
Medium-chain-triglycerides are fats that are easily absorbed by the body and provide a number of really powerful health benefits. Fast energy, appetite control for better weight loss, increased ketone levels—you name it. They are also one of the most convenient and flexible, too. Add it to a shake, make a smoothie, or take a spoonful of it straight with some water for a quick, healthy keto boost that lasts all day. If you’re the kind of person that struggles to stick to a diet or eat a lot throughout the day, MCT oils are the perfect keto supplement.
Over four visits, participants (n = 15) consumed 1.6 and 3.2 mmol.kg−1 of βHB as KE (141 mg/kg and 282 mg/kg of R-3-hydroxybutyl-R-1,3-hydroxybutyrate) or as KS (KetoForce, KetoSports, USA) sodium and potassium βHB, containing 1.6–3.2 g of each cation), plus 6 g of sweetener containing 19 kCal (4 g of carbohydrate) (Symrise, Holzminden, Germany), diluted to 300 ml using water. Drink blinding was not possible due to unmaskable differences in taste (bitter vs. salty).
The CNS cannot use fat as an energy source; hence, it normally utilizes glucose. After 3–4 days without carbohydrate consumption the CNS is ‘forced' to find alternative energy sources, and as demonstrated by the classic experiments of Cahill and colleagues4 this alternative energy source is derived from the overproduction of acetyl coenzyme A (CoA). This condition seen in prolonged fasting, type 1 diabetes and high-fat/low-carbohydrate diets leads to the production of higher-than-normal levels of so-called ketone bodies (KBs), that is, acetoacetate, β-hydroxybutyric acid and acetone—a process called ketogenesis and which occurs principally in the mitochondrial matrix in the liver.6
Bottom line: EK isn't the magic pill for instant weight loss. EK triggers ketosis which is a metabolic state where your body burns fat for fuel. EK increases satiety and feeling full, and boosts energy for exercise which helps you lose weight for the long term. You should always aim for the long term and sustainable weight loss and keep the weight off for good instead of looking for a quick fix.
Are you ready for a very basic metabolism overview? Most modern humans break down carbohydrates into glucose and this then breaks down further and enters mitochondria to produce ATP, which is the energy system of your cells. In other words, you use carbs for energy. When you are on a ketogenic diet, you are breaking down fats into things called ketone bodies, and this is how you provide your body with energy, instead of via carbohydrates. So, you’re either using carbohydrates for fuel or fat for fuel.
More tolerable than MCT oil: MCT oil has been known to cause gastrointestinal distress in users, especially when taken in higher amounts. Exogenous ketones in the form of ketone salts, in comparison, are well-tolerated. Thus they enable one to avoid adverse GI events while providing the body with similar types of benefits. Figure 2 shows Ketone esters can be effective at reducing appetite. A combination of MCT oil and exogenous ketones may aid weight loss and allow a lower loading of ketone supplements, without the GI distress seen with MCT oil.
Keep these studies in mind as your body tries to play tricks on you during your first day of fasting. Even after three days of fasting, health complications are highly unlikely. However, it is important to know about the possible issues that can be caused by fasting. If you choose to incorporate fasting into your daily diet, you typically want to eat every day as well. Occasionally going on a longer period of fasting.
I wrote this post at about the same time Germany won the World Cup in Rio de Janeiro in 2014. There’s been a lot of moving and shaking in the world of exogenous ketones since then, not to mention soccer. Looking back on my post, I still consider it relevant in terms of what exogenous ketones possibly can (and cannot) do for performance. In this case, to see if exogenous ketone esters provide me a “boost” by allowing me to do the same amount of work while expending less energy (and work at a relatively lower VO2) compared to no supplementation.
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