There is so much talk about the benefits of a ketogenic diet and its ability to improve fat burning, brain health, energy and anti-aging. The main units of energy on a ketogenic diet are ketone bodies, of which beta hydroxybutyrate (BHB) is the main player! This article will go over the health benefits of BHB and exogenous ketones. Additionally, this article will cover strategies on using exogenous ketones in your daily life.
However, we will not be commenting on ketone esters since there are big differences between them and ketone salts, and the ketone salts are the ones that have been heavily commercialized and marketed to the public over recent years. Ketone esters may be more difficult to market due to their having an unpleasant taste. We may look more deeply into the esters in the future.
Most of the ketone supplements out there are either underdosed or overpriced - some don't even bother to disclose how much BHB (ie ketones) is used in their product. And why would they? BHB is EXTREMELY expensive. So by not disclosing the amount the can get away with putting in as little as they want and still claim it's a ketone supplement while keeping their costs as low as possible.
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.
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.
Dusty you assume only everyone wants fat burning. I think this is silly. The brain and heart will prefer ketones over carbohydrates when both are present in the blood stream. Look at the research and mechanism. I don’t want fat loss, I want better brain function. I also regularly eat carbs myself. This is one of the reasons I myself use exogenous ketones. No this isn’t a magic fat loss powder, but don’t sit here and quote T-nation trying to rebuttal this article acting like that is a credible source.
These studies were approved by external Research Ethics Committees (London Queen's Square: 14/LO/0288 and South West Frenchay: 15/SW/0244) and were conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki (2008). Studies took place at the University of Oxford between September 2014 and September 2016. Participants were healthy, aged 21–57, non-smokers and had no history of major illness. Female participants were using oral contraception to minimize the effects of menstrual phase on results. Participants provided written informed consent prior to inclusion, and completed a confidential medical screening questionnaire to determine eligibility. Anthropometric characteristics are shown in Table Table1.1. Sample sizes were chosen following an estimated power calculation based on the effect size in previous work using KE drinks (Clarke et al., 2012b; Shivva et al., 2016).
I came across a new company called KetoneAid that has begun producing small batches of ketone monoesters (KMEs). The main molecule in their product (D-β-hydroxybutyrate / D 1,3-butanediol) is based on a five-year, $10M study commissioned by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), looking to create the most powerful source of energy for special operations soldiers such as Navy SEALs, when undertaking very physically and cognitively challenging missions. In fact, the main researcher of the DARPA study is Dr. Richard Veech, the same person that authored the longevity study I just mentioned. Very cool.
Weight loss benefits ushered the keto diet into the spotlight. That’s how most people have likely heard about ketones, a fuel source created naturally by the body when burning fat. But more and more research points to diverse applications of ketones in the blood outside of just fat loss, from improved endurance performance to the treatment of medical conditions like epilepsy.
I’m fasting (5 days fast, 2 days food) in an effort to aggressively lose weight. For the most part, I’m not doing the water & salt-only kind of fast… as I will also drink coffee & bone broth… as well as take Perfect Keto Base. Would it be “gilding the lily” to also add MCT powder to my coffee? I’m in nutritional ketosis… ranging from 0.8 to 2.0 or thereabouts.
Testing BHB levels in the blood is simple but can get pricey if you are doing it many times a day. The Precision Xtra blood glucose and ketone meter is a good buy at $28-$30. The expensive part is the ketone test strips here which can cost $4 each. If you are looking at testing yourself every day it is going to cost you $120 a month and the $30 meter. Here is a starter kit you can get on Amazon.
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.
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At the same time, research suggests that getting as much of your calcium from your diet, rather than supplements is a good idea. For instance, there is some evidence that the calcium intake from food is better for bone mineral density than the same calcium intake from supplements. Foods that are high in calcium include dairy, leafy green vegetables, fish with edible bones, tofu made with calcium sulfate, and calcium-fortified foods and beverages.
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.
The blood levels of BOHB that can be achieved with the salts or ester formulations are in the 1-3 mM range, similar to what can be achieved with a well-formulated ketogenic diet in insulin sensitive humans, but well below levels achieved after a 4-7 days of total fasting (Owen 1969). In more insulin resistant humans, the ester formulation may deliver higher blood levels than a sustainable diet (as opposed to short term fasting). For example, in the Virta IUH Study of over 200 patients with type 2 diabetes, blood ketone mean levels were 0.6 mM at 10 weeks and 0.4 mM after 1 year.
Hi Acadia, just want to clear up a few things you noted in your post: The manufacture of BHB salts involves ionic bonding of an anion (beta-hydroxybutyrate) with a cation (Na+, K+, Ca+, Mg+). At least one of the exogenous ketone products you listed does in fact contain potassium ions. People taking potassium-sparing drugs need to know this and that raises concerns about leaving it off your chart. Some people are genuinely sodium sensitive even to small amounts of salt added to otherwise healthy foods. This can hold true even for those following ketogenic diets. The term you’re looking for… Read more »
BHB isn’t just an energy source for the brain–it has other effects which promote brain health. BHB can trigger the release of chemicals called neurotrophins, which support neuron function and synapse formation. One of these neurotrophins is called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), which is a protein in the brain associated with cognitive enhancement, alleviation of depression and reduction of anxiety.10
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