Ketones are an alternate energy or fuel source for brain and body that our bodies have naturally produced and used for millennia. Ketones have recently leapt to the forefront of health and wellness conversations worldwide as the scientific body of research that seeks to understand their numerous unique properties and profound systemic effects has begun to grow (see below).
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
Many of us have heard the saying, “Don’t blame the butter for what the bread did.” Similarly, don’t blame the sodium for what the fries did. Sodium has been shown to help maintain fluid balance, normal muscle and nerve function, and blood pressure and volume. The movement of sodium ions and other electrolytes across cell membranes helps to facilitate muscle contraction and nerve impulses. Electrolytes also help to maintain fluid balance across intracellular and extracellular spaces and blood volume.
Funding. This work supported by an Industrial DPhil Fellowship to BS from the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851. JM was supported by the EPSRC Doctoral Training Centre and Prize Fellowship; Ref: EP/M508111/1. The funding sources were not involved in the design, conduct or analysis of this study. TΔS Ltd. provided the ketone ester, ΔG®, and NTT DOCOMO Inc. provided the acetone meter for the study.
Personally, I do this on Friday night to Saturday night, so if something happens and my hunger hasn't crashed by Sunday morning, I have another day that I can go zero carb to keep the momentum going. While the body will trigger ketosis as soon as you run out of glycogen, hunger is attached to your triglyceride and insulin levels, which might take an extra day to normalize.
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.
Ketosis is a natural process that more and more people are flocking to these days in an effort to stay fit and healthy. Studies show that it has a host of health benefits and plays a key role in maintaining or changing your physical appearance by helping you lose weight. This is due to the fact that when the body is in a state of ketosis, it converts fat into compounds known as ketones, effectively turning fat into a source of energy.
It's important to listen to your body when going through the ketogenic process. This means that you should only eat when you're hungry and not every single time you get a craving. It's our obsession with food that causes us to stuff ourselves whenever we feel like it, and you should know by now that it's not healthy to do that. When you make it a point to eat only when you're hungry, you're diminishing any food intake that your body doesn't really need.
This is another point that Brianna Stubbs put me onto: often, ketone-salt companies use terms such as “technology developed by Dominic D’Agostino” as a tool to market their products. Dom D’Agostino holds the patent for the technology being used but is not associated with the products and does not necessarily promote them. In many cases, this feels like a marketing strategy that name-drops a famous keto expert in order to make a product sound more legitimate. There is an example of this on Real Ketones’ website.
Supplemental BHB’s are ideal for people new to the ketogenic way of eating. The changes that happen in your brain and body when adapting to a VLC diet are both immediate and profound. For example, our kidney’s start processing minerals salts much more efficiently. Ironically, after years of being advised to decrease our intake of salt (sodium), it turns out that for people transitioning away from the Standard American Diet (SAD diet) towards a lower carb or ketogenic diet there is actually a need to increase dietary mineral salts such as potassium, sodium, magnesium and calcium. During the process of becoming keto-adapted, it is very important to increase your intake of these essential minerals, in order to prevent the onset of unpleasant symptoms (known as “keto flu”).
Ketone monoester and diester compounds may circumvent the problems associated with inorganic ion consumption in KS drinks. KE ingestion rapidly increased blood ketone concentrations to >5 mM in animals (Desrochers et al., 1995a,b; Clarke et al., 2012a) and the first oral, non-racemic KE for human consumption, (R)-3-hydroxybutyl (R)-3-hydroxybutyrate, raised blood βHB concentrations to 3–5 mM in healthy adults (Clarke et al., 2012b; Shivva et al., 2016) and athletes (Cox et al., 2016; Holdsworth et al., 2017; Vandoorne et al., 2017). However, the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of this KE with confounding factors, such as prandial state or multiple KE drinks, have not been characterized.
However, with the ketone esters, the effects are nearly immediate, and my entire body was humming throughout the entire day, but not in a jittery way. I was full of mental and physical energy that lasted without any sort of crash (it was a gradual taper). During my cognitive tests, things felt almost effortless as I played the various games. After my experiment was complete I continued writing code for several hours, then went to the gym to work out. I did forget to each lunch though, so there must be some suppressive effect on appetite.
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.
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