The two compounds commonly referred to as ‘ketone bodies’ (BOHB and AcAc) are produced and used for multiple purposes across nature from algae to mammals, but seldom in concentrations useful for extraction as human food. For this reason, the source of most exogenous ketones is chemical synthesis. Furthermore, most current research and use of ketone supplements focuses on BOHB. That is because AcAc is chemically unstable – it slowly breaks down to form acetone by releasing of one molecule of CO2.
There are enticing anecdotes of supplemental ketones being used to boost human physical performance in competitive events, notably among elite cyclists. Given that BOHB can deliver more energy per unit of oxygen consumed than either glucose or fatty acids (Sato 1995, Cox 2016, Murray 2016), this makes sense. But what we do not know is if there is any required period of adaptation to the use of exogenous ketones, and thus how to employ them in training. It is clear that exogenous ketones decrease adipose tissue lipolysis and availability of fatty acids, the exact opposite to what happens on a well formulated ketogenic diet. This distinction between exogenous ketones and ketogenic diets on adipose tissue physiology and human energy balance underscores an important reason why these two ketone-boosting strategies should not be conflated.
How did I do this? Simple, I went into a full fast and exercised. What prevents you from entering ketosis is all the glycogen stored in your liver and muscles. Your body can use this glycogen instead of ketones to fuel your brain, so until you deplete your stores of glycogen, you won’t be able to enter ketosis. By eating nothing, you are going to tap into the glycogen to fuel your brain because you are eating 0 grams of carbs and will also be using that glycogen to walk around all day.
Caveat emptor: the following post doesn’t come close to answering most of these questions. I only document my experience with BHB salts (and a non-commercial version at that), but say little to nothing about my experience with BHB esters or AcAc esters. But it will provide you will some context and understanding about what exogenous ketones are, and what they might do for athletic performance. We’ll likely podcast about the questions and topics above and cover other aspects of exogenous ketones in more detail.
There’s debate raging about which dietary tactic is the god particle for making you leaner, faster and healthier. How the ketogenic diet option squares off against the low carb route is vital for understanding the ways in which exogenous ketone supplements work. To get into ketosis the natural way, you need to keep your carb intake low enough for long enough for your body to begin using use fat as fuel. Your liver then converts a portion of that fat into energy molecules called ketones. These work together with glucose as a fuel source, but can actually kick in faster, allowing your body to operate more economically during lengthy, high-energy exercise efforts.
There’s some support that exogenous ketones can be helpful for people already dutifully following the keto diet — but research has been limited. One thing we know for sure: These aren’t a get-thin-quick solution. “I think people are drawn to a quick, easy fix, kind of a magic bullet supplement, and it’s not that this won’t contribute to weight loss, but it’s not that magic bullet,” Griffin says.
There is a great deal of positive speculation that exogenous ketones can be beneficial for inflammation, cognitive enhancement, and even protection against certain types of cancer. There is mounting evidence that the ketogenic way of eating can help many people, and when used appropriately with realistic expectations, exogenous ketone supplementation can enhance these positive effects (25).
I don’t recommend that you go straight for a 1-2 day fast, but begin by restricting yourself to certain eating windows. Typically people restrict themselves to the hours of 5pm – 11pm. People often refer to their fasting windows by numbers: 19/5 or 21/3, for example, means 19 hours of fasting and 5 hours eating or 21 hours fasting and 3 hours eating, respectively.
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.
EK use can be compared to the nootropics that have been developed for optimizing focus, memory creation, and faster cognitive performance. While you may not notice this effect on a minute to minute basis if you keep a journal of “forgetful moments” you’ll find that you have fewer of them as time goes on. You’ll also find that you’re able to come up with better ideas, and your workflow is more efficient through the day (10, 11).
Measurements taken included whole blood glucose and BHB (every 5 minutes); VO2 and VCO2 (every 15 seconds); HR (continuous); RQ is calculated as the ratio of VO2 and VCO2. In the video of this post I explain what VO2, VCO2, and RQ tell us about energy expenditure and substrate use—very quickly, RQ typically varies between about 0.7 and 1.0—the closer RQ is to 0.7, the more fat is being oxidized; the reverse is true as RQ approaches 1.0
Exogenous ketones are becoming more popular as advancements in scientific research continue to show how they work to improve both health and performance. At first, the only options for delivering exogenous ketones were unpalatable ketone esters; however, exogenous ketones can now be taken in the form of ketone mineral salts that are more palatable and easily blended in water. Making ketone mineral salts involves combining beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) with mineral salts such as sodium, calcium, magnesium, or potassium. Before considering whether ketone supplements are a good option, most people immediately look at the salt load, and rightfully so. It is important to take into account the nutritional and health impact of not only the BHB but the minerals that are used to make the product.
No additives: Perfect Keto BASE is a bhb supplement keto drink that provides keto salts, contains ZERO carbs, ZERO gums or fillers, and ZERO sugars. Check the labels of other exogenous ketone products and you'll find plenty of gums, binders, fillers and other junk. Not here. Nothing but pure, effective exogenous ketones supplement designed to optimize your ketogenic state
Ketostix are very unreliable. There are many factors which can alter results such as hydration level, if you’ve worked out recently and the amount of unused ketones in your body to name just a few. Never rely of Ketostix to determine whether you are in ketosis or not. The Precision Xtra blood ketone monitor is the gold standard for testing for ketones in your body. After following a ketogenic diet for a while, you should be able to tell if you are in ketosis or not by the way you feel.
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).
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