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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.
At baseline, 4 h after intragastric gavage, the elevation of blood ketones was inversely related to the reduction of blood glucose compared to controls following the administration of MCT (5 g/kg) (p = 0.008) and BMS + MCT (5 g/kg) (p = 0.039) . There was no significant correlation between blood ketone levels and blood glucose levels compared to controls for any other ketone supplemented group at baseline (Fig. 4a). At week 4, 4 h after intragastric gavage, there was a significant correlation between blood ketone levels and blood glucose levels compared to controls in MCT (10 g/kg) and BMS + MCT (10 g/kg) (p < 0.0001, p < 0.0001) (Fig. 4b).
Taking exogenous ketones not only eliminates the need to follow a strict ketogenic diet to achieve ketosis (so you can have your high carb cake and eat it too), it can also help users get there faster. “They can expedite the process of getting into ketosis and becoming fat adapted,” Davis explains. “They can also help people push past the keto flu and potentially experience more mental energy and clarity than from diet alone.”

Selective attention involves focusing only on relevant information while suppressing the impulse to pay attention to irrelevant distractions. A v-shaped flock of birds are displayed. The center (target) bird points in one direction and is surrounded by birds that either match the target’s direction or do not. The task is to rapidly identify which direction the target bird is pointing.
I carried out a survey among Diet Doctor users as background research to the experiment (a big thank you to the 638 people who responded!). In the survey, 28% of the respondents reported that they do take ketone supplements. The top four benefits that these respondents reported experiencing were increased energy, improved focus/cognition, reduced hunger and weight loss.

After a few days of fasting, or of drastically reduced carbohydrate consumption (below 50 g/day), glucose reserves become insufficient both for normal fat oxidation via the supply of oxaloacetate in the Krebs cycle (which gave origin to the phrase ‘fat burns in the flame of carbohydrate') and for the supply of glucose to the central nervous system (CNS).4
Do you need carbs to train? No. Again this is an anecdote only, but I have done numerous training sessions in a carb deprived state. Heck some of my best training sessions where done in a fasted, carb deprived state. And there are a lot of endurance athletes who are using a ultra-low carb/ketogenic diet and putting up some great times (more on this below).

Taking exogenous ketones not only eliminates the need to follow a strict ketogenic diet to achieve ketosis (so you can have your high carb cake and eat it too), it can also help users get there faster. “They can expedite the process of getting into ketosis and becoming fat adapted,” Davis explains. “They can also help people push past the keto flu and potentially experience more mental energy and clarity than from diet alone.”


Ketosis supplements made in poor quality, have proven to lead to side-effects such as constipation and increased levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in men, and women may also experience amenorrhea or other disruptions to the menstrual cycle. This is why it is really important to know what combination of compounds you are consuming, particularly while you are on this very strict diet because the wrong balance can really mess with you in the long term and won't give you the high performance that you are looking for. 

This research is a good reminder to discuss with your doctor before taking any supplements. Given the widespread use of calcium supplements, more research is required before any final conclusions can be drawn. Several ketone companies have tried to avoid the large sodium loads but instead relied on a bump in the calcium content from the BHB ketone salts, seemingly without consideration for the aforementioned results. Calcium BHB will likely absorb slower compared to sodium BHB due to digestion and absorption kinetics.  For those looking to optimize brain uptake of ketones, this probably isn’t the best strategy (as uptake is directly proportional to the levels in the blood).   Be cautious of supplements running from the sodium and chasing the calcium BHB instead, and make sure you factor that into your overall daily needs.


Neuroprotection: As humans age, the brain becomes more susceptible to neurodegeneration and subsequent conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Exogenous ketone supplementation appears to ameliorate the typical decline in cognitive function that comes with aging. The likely mechanism for this neuroprotective property is that ketone bodies reduce the inflammation and hyperexcitability that is normally exhibited as glucose metabolism declines in the brain.18, 19
Anti-carcinogenic properties: Data seems to suggest that exogenous ketones are an effective anti-carcinogen. The reason behind this is that cancer cells are unable to use ketone bodies effectively, unlike most healthy tissues in the body. In fact, dietary ketone supplementation has been shown to increase survival rates of mice with systematic cancer by as much as 70%.17
Some common short-term effects that some people experience in the early stages of the process are excessive thirst, fatigue and keto constipation. These minor side-effects occur due to a sudden change to a persons diet, but as I said, once your body starts to adjust to the process, you will start to feel normal again, if not better than before you started. We understand that constipation isn't exactly fun, but it's a small price to pay to experience the long-term health benefits. 
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.
Dominic D’Agostino has two in-depth interviews on The Tim Ferriss Show (Part 1, Part 2). Discussion includes exogenous ketones for mitigating the onset of neurodegenerative diseases, using ketones in place of fasting for chemo-protection, benefits of ketone supplementation when consuming carbohydrates, the risks and potential toxicities of ketones.
Selective attention involves focusing only on relevant information while suppressing the impulse to pay attention to irrelevant distractions. A v-shaped flock of birds are displayed. The center (target) bird points in one direction and is surrounded by birds that either match the target’s direction or do not. The task is to rapidly identify which direction the target bird is pointing.

Also, this experiement should be of interest. Two men followed a ‘traditional Eskimo’ diet for 1 year. After the year eating a low carb high fat diet, it was found that the men had a diminished tolerance to carbohydrates, something that did not occur in Eskimos eating the same diet. It took the mean nearly a month of eating a ‘normal diet’ before their glucose tolerance returned to baseline. 
Another factor to consider is that in nutritional ketosis the liver makes a steady supply of ketones and continuously releases them into the circulation. In contrast, most ketone supplement protocols involve bolus intakes that don’t mimic the endogenous release pattern. The extent to which this impacts metabolic and signaling responses across different tissues remains unclear.
BS, KC, and PC designed the research studies. BS, PC, RE, SM, and PS carried out the studies. SH provided the gas analyser used in the study on behalf of NTT DOCOMO Inc. BS, MS, and SM analyzed the data and performed statistical analysis in collaboration with JM. BS wrote the paper with help from KC, PC, and OF. KC had primary responsibility for final content. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Besides cutting carbs, it's important to increase your fat intake, and be moderate with protein. The fat you eat will keep you feeling energized and support ketone production. Protein is also important but if you go overboard with it, your body could enter into a process called gluconeogenesis. In gluconeogenesis, your body makes glucose from protein, and you want to avoid that.
A small side effect for some people is “ketosis breath”. Many people on a ketogenic diet have experienced this temporary phenomenon, and those taking exogenous ketones can experience it as well. The smell of your breath when you are early in the ketogenic diet can have a hint of acetone to it, and it might be mildly unpleasant, but it’s also harmless. Most gum is pretty low in carbohydrates and is a great option while your keto breath fades.
Once the body is able to generate energy with the help of exogenous ketones which are present in the bloodstream, it would start looking for other sources of ketones. This would encourage the body to tap into the vast reserve of fat which is accumulated in the body. Thus, the process of ketosis is accelerated when you consume extra exogenous ketones. This also leads to quicker weight loss and the body entering ketosis faster.
In addition to the Weir coefficients being potentially off (which impacts EE), the RQ interpretation may be incorrect in the presence of endogenous or exogenous ketones. As a result, the estimation of fat and glucose oxidation may be off (though it’s directionally correct). That said, the current interpretation seems quite plausible—greater fat oxidation when I had to make my ketones; less when I got my ketones for “free.”

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