If you’ve done any reading about ketosis, you no doubt read at some point that ketosis is a “natural” state. You may have read on a bit more and learned what is meant by that statement or you may have simply skipped ahead to the keto success stories and decided to give it a try. But we’d like to direct your attention back to that little tidbit of information about keto being “natural” for a moment.
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).
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).
Background and aims: Currently there is considerable interest in ketone metabolism owing to recently reported benefits of ketosis for human health. Traditionally, ketosis has been achieved by following a high-fat, low-carbohydrate “ketogenic” diet, but adherence to such diets can be difficult. An alternative way to increase blood D-β-hydroxybutyrate (D-βHB) concentrations is ketone drinks, but the metabolic effects of exogenous ketones are relatively unknown. Here, healthy human volunteers took part in three randomized metabolic studies of drinks containing a ketone ester (KE); (R)-3-hydroxybutyl (R)-3-hydroxybutyrate, or ketone salts (KS); sodium plus potassium βHB.
Obviously, cutting carbs is much easier than not eating anything at all for days on end. It's also safer for people with diabetes as it leads to a gradual decline in blood glucose . The carbs you have to reduce are known as net carbs. Those are the carbs that your body uses to make glucose. You calculate them by subtracting the grams of fiber from total carbs in a food item.
In terms of getting back into Ketosis, Keto//OS would most likely be a better choice (and a change back to a low-carb diet, of course) because it not only has MCTs, but also provides beta-hydroxybutyrate, which is the product that comes from your liver after it synthesizes acetoacetate. However, since this product also has caffeine (great for workouts), you might want to go with the decaf if you’re strictly looking for a ketosis jumpstart.
Hi! My question is, how low must my current daily carb count be in order to benefit from taking your exogenous ketones? I am a 33 year old female, keeping total carbs at 100-125 grams per day. My priority is fat loss, and I do HIIT training 4-5 days a week. I’ll soon be adding in heavier strength training. I don’t function well eating less than 100 total carbs a day. Could this even benefit me? And if it will benefit me, would the befits outweigh the sodium content? I keep my sodium at 2,000 mg a day, as I’m trying to avoid water weight.
We’ve all been taught that high sodium intake is bad for us, similar to how we’ve been told for decades that fat is the driver of coronary heart disease, and consuming large amounts will kill us. Sodium has been thought to increase blood pressure, and therefore increase the risk of heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, osteoporosis, and stomach cancer. Thus, many of us tend to avoid consuming foods or supplements with labels that have high amounts of sodium.
In Summary, I think it’s important to do your own research and draw your own conclusion about the long term risks of ketosis. For some people, a ketogenic diet may be a necessity given their health situation. For those of us who do not suffer from such health conditions I would present the question ‘why do you want to follow a strict ketogenic diet for an extended period’, and then follow this up with ‘are the potential risks and sacrifices worth the benefits?’
Intermittent fasting is using the same reasoning – instead of using the fats we are eating to gain energy, we are using our stored fat. That being said, you might think it’s great – you can just fast and lose more weight. You have to take into account that later on, you will need to eat extra fat in order to hit your daily macros (the most important thing). If you’re overeating on fats here, you will store the excess.
As seen in this exercise, glucose tends to fall quite precipitously following exogenous ketone ingestions. Without exception, every time I ingested these compounds (which I’ve probably done a total of 25 to 30 times), my glucose would fall, sometimes as low as 3 mM (just below 60 mg/dL). Despite this, I never felt symptomatic from hypoglycemia. Richard Veech (NIH) one of the pioneers of exogenous ketones, has suggested this phenomenon is the result of the ketones activating pyruvate dehydogenase (PDH), which enhances insulin-mediated glucose uptake. (At some point I will also write a post on Alzheimer’s disease, which almost always involves sluggish PDH activity —in animal models acute bolus of insulin transiently improves symptoms and administration of exogenous ketones does the same, even without glucose.)
You see, when someone says ketosis is a natural state, they mean that ketosis is the body’s backup plan for those times when there isn’t any food to eat. It’s an evolutionary adaptation that developed over hundreds of thousands of years and springs from a time when our distant ancestors often had to go many days between decent meals. Fortunately, these days actual starvation is pretty rare so most people will never be in ketosis. But the physiological mechanism is still there, lurking in the background, readily accessible to anyone who is willing to trick their body into thinking it’s starving.
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There is also evidence that individuals who adhere to a low-carbohydrate or ketogenic diet may require higher sodium intakes. Due to their low carbohydrate contents, these diets reduce insulin levels. Since one of insulin’s roles is to decrease the excretion of sodium in the urine, low-carbohydrate and ketogenic dieters excrete more sodium than normal, and are encouraged to salt their meals to increase their sodium intake.
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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