Sometimes waiting for your body to make the switch from carbohydrate metabolism to beta hydroxybutyrate metabolism (aka ketosis) can be an uncomfortable and lengthy process. Another way to get beta hydroxybutyrate into your system so your body is using “clean” energy is by taking it supplementally or through nutrition. A betahydroxybutyrate supplement is what can be used in this scenario. This is an exogenous ketone. Exogenous means you get it from outside of your body. Think EX = exit = outside.
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.
Effects of ketone supplementation on basal blood ketone and basal blood glucose levels: Rats administered ketone supplements did not have a significant change in basal blood ketone levels (a) or basal blood glucose levels (b) for the four week study. Two-Way ANOVA with Tukey’s post-hoc test, results considered significant if p < 0.05. Error bars represent mean (SD)
When the results for the supplement and the placebo were within 0.2 (either % or mmol/L) of each other, we classed the supplement as neither “better” nor “worse” than the placebo. We gave a “winning brand” sticker to the brand that scored highest against the placebo for each marker, but not for physical performance, since none of the supplements performed better than the placebo for that marker.
Emerging evidence supports the therapeutic potential of the ketogenic diet (KD) for a variety of disease states, leading investigators to research methods of harnessing the benefits of nutritional ketosis without the dietary restrictions. The KD has been used as an effective non-pharmacological therapy for pediatric intractable seizures since the 1920s [1–3]. In addition to epilepsy, the ketogenic diet has elicited significant therapeutic effects for weight loss and type-2 diabetes (T2D) . Several studies have shown significant weight loss on a high fat, low carbohydrate diet without significant elevations of serum cholesterol [5–12]. Another study demonstrated the safety and benefits of long-term application of the KD in T2D patients. Patients exhibited significant weight loss, reduction of blood glucose, and improvement of lipid markers after eating a well-formulated KD for 56 weeks . Recently, researchers have begun to investigate the use of the KD as a treatment for acne, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), traumatic brain injury (TBI) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) with promising preliminary results [14–26].
Taking MCT oil (medium chain triglyceride) or coconut oil (contains 60% MCT) can help boost ketone production. This is because your body absorbs MCT very quickly as it bypasses the gallbladder and into the liver to be processed into ketone bodies. Make sure you’re getting unprocessed versions of coconut oil that is labelled as ‘organic’ or ‘extra virgin’. This, along with grass-fed butter, is what I add into my ‘bulletproof’ coffees.
The “BHB salt” is simply a compound that consists of sodium (Na+), potassium (K+), and the ketone body β-hydroxybutyrate. In supplements like Pruvit’s Keto OS these individual components are being held together by ionic bonds; however, when you consume the product, it is absorbed into the blood where it dissociates into free Na+, K+, and BHB since it is a water-based solution. Thus, consuming the product directly and immediately puts more ketones into your blood.
Interestingly, the effects of exogenous ketones on blood substrate concentrations were preserved with the metabolic stimulus of a mixed meal. Following KE drinks, FFA and glucose fell and remained low in both fed and fasted subjects, despite higher insulin throughout the fed arm, suggesting that there was no synergistic effect of insulin and βHB to further lower blood glucose or FFA. In agreement with previous work, the threshold for the effects of βHB on glucose and lipids appears to be low (<1 mM), as there was no significant dose-response relationship between increasing blood βHB and the small changes in plasma FFA, TG or glucose across all of the study drinks (Mikkelsen et al., 2015).
There are many different variations of intermittent fasting as well. Dr. Dom D’Agostino, the well-known ketogenic diet researcher, suggests doing a longer intermittent fast for 3 days, 3 times a year. This means not eating for 3 days, and eating normally until the next fast. Daily intermittent fasts are recommended as well. He says that it is ideal to have one to two meals after fasting for most of the day to reap the benefits of intermittent fasting every day.
When taken as a drink, the ester bonds are broken down to release butanediol (BDO) and D-BHB into the blood. BDO is easily metabolized by the liver to form D-BHB. Then, both molecules of D-BHB reach the blood, as the liver is unable to use ketones. Consumption of this ketone ester elevates blood ketone levels in humans safely, with few side effects.10 HVMN Ketone is WADA compliant and safe to use in all levels of sports. It is designated as a foodstuff and is FDA GRAS. Each lot is 3rd party certified and batch tested for banned substances.
While the KetoneAid folks have been seeing tremendous success working with elite athletes to improve athletic performance, I thought it would be interesting to quantify the effects of ketone esters on cognitive performance. For the week prior to taking the ketones, I re-established baseline scores in a number of cognitive testing areas using Lumosity*:
There is one viable explanation for consuming ketones. If you're in a calorie or carb-restricted state, then maybe during a workout it would make sense. But even then, that really only applies to endurance activities, since it has more to do with enhancing aerobic performance (where oxygen is required), than it does with enhancing high-intensity efforts (where it's not).
There are many places where you can buy ketone supplements especially online. You have Amazon, Craigslist, and eBay to name a few but the thing with that is, they are often over-priced compared to the actual costs from the direct manufacturer. If you buy ketones directly from the official website of the product or brand, you are likely to get a way better deal than buying from any third-party seller that you might bump into on the internet.
The difference in peak blood d-βHB concentrations between matched amounts of βHB as ester or salts arose because the salt contained l-βHB, as the blood concentrations of d- plus l-βHB isoforms were similar for both compounds. It is unclear if kinetic parameters of KE and KS drinks would be similar if matched d-βHB were taken in the drinks. Unlike d-βHB, blood l-βHB remained elevated for at least 8 h following the drink, suggesting an overall lower rate of metabolism of l-βHB as urinary elimination of l-βHB was in proportion to plasma concentration. Despite similar concentrations of total βHB, breath acetone was ~50% lower following KS drinks compared to KE, suggesting fundamental differences in the metabolic fates of D- and L-βHB. These findings support both previous hypotheses (Veech and King, 2016) and experimental work in rats (Webber and Edmond, 1977), which suggested that the l-isoform was less readily oxidized than the d-isoform, and is processed via different pathways, perhaps in different cellular compartments. It seems that l-βHB is not a major oxidative fuel at rest, and may accumulate with repeated KS drinks. However, the putative signaling role of l-βHB in humans remains unclear. In rodent cardiomyocytes, l-βHB acts as a signal that modulates the metabolism of d-βHB and glucose, Tsai et al. (2006) although no differences in blood glucose were seen here. Furthermore, L-βHB can act as a cellular antioxidant, although to a lesser extent than D-βHB (Haces et al., 2008).
Pruvit v Perfect Keto: One of the more popular brands for BHB salts is Pruvit (Keto OS). Pruvit is a good brand, but they do use some additives. Also, Pruvit is an MLM company that has tons of people pushing their products as the best weight loss product in the world. And you have to use one of their representatives’ referral codes to buy it. Learn more about the two in this Pruvit vs Perfect Keto comparison article.
I’m often asked if it’s necessary to buy and use keto products like urine sticks. They’re small test strips that you dip in urine to see if your body is producing ketones (and therefore indicate if you’ve entered ketosis.) There's very little information on how to know that you are in ketosis other than using these ketones supplements because they are as accurate as can be in determining your current state. Outside of that, you can only guess if you are in it or not by your body's performance.
BHB easily crosses the blood-brain barrier resulting in easily accessible energy to the brain and muscle tissues, becoming a source of energy after entering the mitochondria, being converted to Acetyl-CoA, and then ATP through the Krebs cycle (the same process that glucose goes through to become ATP). This ultimately results in many direct benefits, including:
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