Every 7 days, animals were briefly fasted (4 h, water available) prior to intragastric gavage to standardize levels of blood metabolites prior to glucose and βHB measurements at baseline. Baseline (time 0) was immediately prior to gavage. Whole blood samples (10 μL) were taken from the saphenous vein for analysis of glucose and βHB levels with the commercially available glucose and ketone monitoring system Precision Xtra™ (Abbott Laboratories, Abbott Park, IL). Blood glucose and βHB were measured at 0, 0.5, 1, 4, 8, and 12 h after test substance administration, or until βHB returned to baseline levels. Food was returned to animals after blood analysis at time 0 and gavage. At baseline and week 4, whole blood samples (10 μL) were taken from the saphenous vein immediately prior to gavage (time 0) for analysis of total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL), and triglycerides with the commercially available CardioChek™ blood lipid analyzer (Polymer Technology Systems, Inc., Indianapolis, IN). Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol was calculated from the three measured lipid levels using the Friedewald equation: (LDL Cholesterol = Total Cholesterol - HDL - (Triglycerides/5)) [51, 52]. Animals were weighed once per week to track changes in body weight associated with hyperketonemia.
A small side effect for some people is “ketosis breath”. Many people on a ketogenic diet have experienced this temporary phenomenon, and those taking exogenous ketones can experience it as well. The smell of your breath when you are early in the ketogenic diet can have a hint of acetone to it, and it might be mildly unpleasant, but it’s also harmless. Most gum is pretty low in carbohydrates and is a great option while your keto breath fades.
The ketone supplements were associated with a 5.4% decrease in physical performance while the artificially-sweetened, non-caffeinated beverage I used as a placebo was associated with a 20.3% increase: a big difference in favour of the placebo. Before you go rushing out to buy some, remember that this experiment was not performed under fully-controlled, laboratory conditions, and we were working with too small a group to prove that the placebo caused an increase in physical performance. But what we can say is that we couldn’t find any correlation between ketone supplements and an increase in physical performance in this experiment. According to Brianna Stubbs, some of the work currently being done on new kinds of ketone salts is starting to show more promise in relation to physical performance, so there may be better news on this down the line.
Also, it’s important to remember that just because something may be SAFE (and to reiterate, I’m not saying a long term ketogenic diet is safe), it doesn’t mean it’s good for you or beneficial. Running Marathons could be considered safe (especially if it’s on a closed race circuit), but does this mean it’s good for you? Or should you be out running marathons every day?
I have tried the following preparations of exogenous ketones: BHB monoester, AcAc di-ester, BHB mineral salt (BHB combined with Na+, K+, and Ca2+). I have consumed these at different concentrations and in combination with different mixing agents, including MCT oil, pure caprylic acid (C8), branch-chained amino acids, and lemon juice (to lower the pH). I won’t go into the details of each, though, for the sake of time.
Halitosis (bad breath) – If you’re on a ketogenic diet you are probably aware that as the body starts to metabolize fat, ketones can cause poor breath. There is very little one can do about this, it’s just the nature of the beast. Unfortunately, this can also arise when using exogenous ketones, but it’s not as lasting as when on a ketogenic diet. Chewing gum or mints is about the best option if it becomes a noticeable issue. This maybe caused by over consumption of the ketone supplement, tailoring the quantity consumed may prevent excess BHB being converted to acetone, which is likely excreted by the lungs.
There are several ways to approach the “intermittent” part of food restriction. One of the most common is limiting the window in which food is consumed to about eight hours a day. Another is fasting for a full 24 hours once a week, or once a month. Fasting beyond three days can be stressful on the body and should be done with medical advice and supervision.
Intellectual property covering uses of dietary ketone and ketone ester supplementation is owned by BTG Ltd., the University of Oxford, the National Institute of Health and TΔS Ltd. Should royalties ever accrue from these patents, KC and PC, as inventors, will receive a share of the royalties under the terms prescribed by the University of Oxford. KC is a director of TΔS Ltd., a company spun out of the University of Oxford to develop and commercialize products based on the science of ketone bodies in human nutrition. At the time of data collection and manuscript preparation, BS was an employee of TΔS Ltd., funded by the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851. SH is an employee of NTT DOCOMO, Inc. (Japan). The other authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.
Miriam, Thank you for the questions. I am going to do my best here to provide you with answers: Q: 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. A: The table lists the BHB and the mineral content from the BHB salts (no added minerals). Therefore, since potassium BHB is not in any of the… Read more »
Ketogenic diets have been successfully used to treat diseases that have an underlying metabolic component, effectively decreasing seizures in recalcitrant pediatric epilepsy (Kossoff et al., 2003), lowering blood glucose concentrations in type 2 diabetes mellitus (Feinman et al., 2015) and aiding weight-loss (Bueno et al., 2013). Emerging evidence supports several clinical uses of ketogenic diets, for example in neurodegenerative diseases (Vanitallie et al., 2005), specific genetic disorders of metabolism (Veech, 2004) and as an adjunct to cancer therapy (Nebeling et al., 1995). Ketone bodies themselves may underlie the efficacy of the ketogenic diet, either through their role as a respiratory fuel, by altering the use of carbohydrate, protein and lipids (Thompson and Wu, 1991; Cox et al., 2016), or through other extra- and intracellular signaling effects (Newman and Verdin, 2014). Furthermore, ketone metabolism may offer a strategy to improve endurance performance and recovery from exercise (Cox et al., 2016; Evans et al., 2017; Holdsworth et al., 2017; Vandoorne et al., 2017). However, achieving compliance to a ketogenic diet can be difficult for both patients and athletes and may have undesirable side effects, such as gastro-intestinal upset (Cai et al., 2017), dyslipidemia (Kwiterovich et al., 2003) or decreased exercise “efficiency” (Edwards et al., 2011; Burke et al., 2016). Hence, alternative methods to raise blood ketone concentrations have been sought to provide the benefits of a ketogenic diet with no other dietary changes.
Appetite suppression: Appetite was measured in 10 males and 5 females after consuming a ketone ester (KE) or a dextrose (DEXT) drink . Desire to eat and perception of hunger dropped after both drinks, but the KE was 50% more effective for 1.5-4hrs. Insulin levels rose for both drinks but were 3x less with the KE drink after 30mins (Fig 2). The hunger hormone, ghrelin, was significantly lower between 2 to 4 hours after drinking the KE (Fig 2). In conclusion Ketone esters delay the onset of hunger and lower the desire to eat. 8
It’s not clear that the Weir coefficients used to estimate EE are relevant for someone in ketosis, let alone someone ingesting exogenous BHB. (The Weir formula states that EE is approximated by 3.94 * VO2 + 1.11 * VCO2, where VO2 and VCO2 are measured in L/min; 3.94 and 1.11 are the Weir coefficients, and they are derived by tabulating the stoichiometry of lipid synthesis and oxidation of fat and glucose and calculating the amount of oxygen consumed and carbon dioxide generated.) While this doesn’t impact the main observation—less oxygen was consumed with higher ketones—it does impact the estimation of EE and substrate use.
Serial drinks or a continuous NG infusion of KE effectively kept blood ketone concentrations >1 mM for 9 h (Figure (Figure6).6). With drinks every 3 h, blood d-βHB rose and then fell, but had not returned to baseline (~ 0.1 mM) when the next drink was consumed. There was no significant difference in d-βHB Cmax between drinks 2 and 3 (3.4 ± 0.2 mM vs. 3.8 ± 0.2 mM p = 0.3), as the rate of d-βHB appearance fell slightly with successive drinks (0.07 ± 0.01 mmol.min−1 and 0.06 ± 0.01 mmol.min−1 p = 0.6). d-βHB elimination was the same after each bolus (142 ± 37 mmol.min, 127 ± 45 mmol.min; and 122 ± 54 mmol.min). When KE was given via a nasogastric tube, the initial bolus raised blood d-βHB to 2.9 ± 0.5 mM after 1 h, thereafter continuous infusion maintained blood d-βHB between 2–3 mM. Total d-βHB appearance in the blood was identical for both methods of administration (Serial drinks AUC: 1,394 ± 64 mmol.min; NG infusion AUC: 1,305 ± 143 mmol.min. p = 0.6).
Athletic performance benefits: The use of exogenous ketone supplements for bettering physical/athletic performance is promising for several reasons. Firstly, taking exogenous ketones (particularly BHB salts) induces acute nutritional ketosis for upwards of eight hours, mimicking fasting physiology (e.g. increases fat burning, insulin sensitivity, etc.).
Second, take a look back at table 2. Kegenix Prime scored as the “winning brand” for 4 out of the 7 markers tested: mental performance, satiety, mental clarity and energy. Compared to the other supplements, it also scored highest for physical performance, although none of the supplements were listed as a “winner” since the placebo outperformed them all for that marker.
Effects of ketone supplementation on blood βHB. a, b Blood βHB levels at times 0, 0.5, 1, 4, 8, and 12 h post intragastric gavage for ketone supplements tested. a BMS + MCT and MCT supplementation rapidly elevated and sustained significant βHB elevation compared to controls for the duration of the 4-week dose escalation study. BMS did not significantly elevate βHB at any time point tested compared to controls. b BD and KE supplements, maintained at 5 g/kg, significantly elevated βHB levels for the duration of the 4-week study. Two-Way ANOVA with Tukey’s post hoc test, results considered significant if p < 0.05. Error bars represent mean (SD)
Fortunately, you don’t need to be a dietary math savant to cash in on these rewards because the supplement eggheads took the liberty of creating exogenous ketones, which act as direct substitutes to the ones your body creates. Unlike other fat burners that give you the skits jitters, these are actually helping exercisers reach new personal bests while getting leaner, and are totally legal. Here’s what you need to know to get a slice of the action safely.
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.
Plenty of supplements make you a fractionally better sportsman and these are no different. The synthetic exogenous ketones helped Olympic-caliber cyclists cover an average of 411 additional meters during a 30-minute time-trial, which resulted in a two percent increase in overall speed, found a paper in Cell Metabolism. That can be the difference between feeling the glorious tug of the winner’s ribbon across your chest or rolling in with the stragglers.
I think almost everyone agrees with me when I say that the ketogenic diet is probably one of the most complex and difficult eating plans out there. Even when you’re not on a diet or trying to lose weight you still have to bring a lot of attention to detail. Getting into ketosis isn’t as important as we would think, but there are still 5 simple steps we can make to get into a ketotic state.
Some think so because higher ketone levels imply increased fuel for the brain and heart (that prefer ketones), and increased protection against inflammation and oxidation. But are the health benefits coming from the ketones themselves, or are they coming from the state you have to put your body in to actually produce them? And if you're kicking yourself out of ketosis by ingesting ketones would you still get the same benefits?
The best time to start a one day fast is in the evening (neither morning nor the night) – preferably, around 6 pm. It won’t make you lose your vital energy during the daytime workouts, nor does it let you sleep with undigested foodstuff in your stomach. Taking late meals and sleeping with undigested food doesn’t allow your body to rest. So the natural healing mechanism of your body fails during the sleep time as the entire resources are busy digesting your food.
Another source of the D-BOHB isomer is an evolutionarily ancient energy source for micro-organisms. Poly-BOHB is a long chain of D-BOHB molecules strung end-to-end. It functions in many single-cell organisms as a concentrated energy source similar to glycogen in mammals, but whereas glycogen breakdown releases individual glucose molecules, poly-BOHB hydrolysis releases single D-BOHB molecules.
The same question posed in a different way can be, what’s better, getting protein from powder or from a grass-fed steak or wild salmon? Omega-3 from supplements or from a variety of healthy wild fish? Just like with health supplements where you consume an isolated nutrient instead of the whole food where it comes from, if it’s possible to get what you need from whole food or nutrition, then that’s probably the best choice.
An alternative to the ketogenic diet is consumption of drinks containing exogenous dietary ketones, such as ketone esters (KE) and ketone salts (KS). The metabolic effects of KS ingestion have been reported in rats (Ari et al., 2016; Kesl et al., 2016; Caminhotto et al., 2017), in three extremely ill pediatric patients (Plecko et al., 2002; Van Hove et al., 2003; Valayannopoulos et al., 2011) and in cyclists (O'Malley et al., 2017; Rodger et al., 2017). However, the concentrations of blood βHB reached were low (<1 mM) and a high amount of salt, consumed as sodium, potassium and/or calcium βHB, was required to achieve ketosis. Furthermore, dietary KS are often racemic mixtures of the two optical isoforms of βHB, d-βHB, and l-βHB, despite the metabolism of l-βHB being poorly understood (Webber and Edmond, 1977; Scofield et al., 1982; Lincoln et al., 1987; Desrochers et al., 1992). The pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of KS ingestion in healthy humans at rest have not been reported.
If you have been reading the science behind the ketogenic diet, you know there can be a lot of benefits associated with choosing this way of eating. There is usually a transition period from when someone chooses to go on a ketogenic diet and implements the changes to their menu to when they actually get into ketosis and are able to produce and burn ketones for fuel.
The salts typically utilize sodium, potassium, calcium, or magnesium as the cation. Because these cations vary in molecular weight and valence (1+ or 2+), the amount of mineral delivered per gram of BOHB varies from 10% for the magnesium salt to 27% for potassium. Given that recommended daily intakes of these various minerals range from a few hundred milligrams up to 5 grams, whereas the daily ketone intake goal to mimic nutritional ketosis blood levels would need to be on the order of 50 grams, achieving this goal with ketone salts would severely challenge human dietary mineral tolerance.
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.
Proper sleep is important for hormone function and repair of the body. Not getting enough sleep is tough on the adrenals and blood sugar regulation. Try to get at least seven hours of sleep per night. If you struggle with quality sleep, create an environment that is conducive for rest. This could be keeping your room cooler, turning off all electronic devices one to two hours before bedtime or using a sleep mask.
More tolerable than MCT oil: MCT oil has been known to cause gastrointestinal distress in users, especially when taken in higher amounts. Exogenous ketones in the form of ketone salts, in comparison, are well-tolerated. Thus they enable one to avoid adverse GI events while providing the body with similar types of benefits. Figure 2 shows Ketone esters can be effective at reducing appetite. A combination of MCT oil and exogenous ketones may aid weight loss and allow a lower loading of ketone supplements, without the GI distress seen with MCT oil.
In a subset of participants (n = 7) the effect of 3.2 mmol.kg−1 of βHB as KE and KS on blood pH and electrolytes after ketone drinks was investigated. Blood d-βHB kinetics were similar to those in the initial experiment (Figure (Figure3A).3A). After 60 min, blood pH declined from 7.41 to 7.31 following a KE drink (p < 0.001, Figure Figure3B).3B). Bicarbonate fell significantly from 23.6 ± 0.7 to 17.0 ± 0.8 mM following KE drinks (p < 0.001), but remained within the normal range (Figure 3C). Both ketone drinks significantly decreased blood potassium concentrations by 0.7 mM (both drinks p < 0.05, Figure 3D) and increased sodium and chloride concentrations (Sodium: both drinks p < 0.05, Chloride: KE = p < 0.05, KS = p < 0.005, Figures 3E,F).
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).
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.
Studies show that exercising depletes both liver and muscle glycogen faster than fasting . For example, swimming for an hour and a half depletes the same amount of glycogen as a 24-hour fast. However, it's a good idea to eat a tiny amount of carbs and protein before and after a workout to prevent muscle damage. Your body can break down proteins in your muscles if glycogen stores get depleted during workouts.
Blood d-βHB, pH, bicarbonate (HCO3-) and electrolytes measured in arterialized blood samples from resting subjects (n = 7) following a ketone ester or salt drink containing 3.2 mmol.kg−1 of βHB. Shaded areas represent the normal range. Values are means ± SEM. (A) Venous blood d-βHB. (B) Arterialized blood pH. (C) Blood bicarbonate. (D) Blood potassium. (E) Blood sodium. (F) Blood chloride. †p < 0.05 difference between KE and KS, *p < 0.05 difference from baseline value.
KE was synthesized as previously described . BMS is a novel agent (sodium/potassium- βHB mineral salt) supplied as a 50 % solution containing approximately 375 mg/g of pure βHB and 125 mg/g of sodium/potassium. Both KE and BMS were developed and synthesized in collaboration with Savind Inc. Pharmaceutical grade MCT oil (~65 % caprylic triglyceride; 45 % capric triglyceride) was purchased from Now Foods (Bloomingdale, IL). BMS was formulated in a 1:1 ratio with MCT at the University of South Florida (USF), yielding a final mixture of 25 % water, 25 % pure βHB mineral salt and 50 % MCT. BD was purchased from Sigma-Aldrich (Prod # B84785, Milwaukee, WI).
Animal procedures were performed in accordance with the University of South Florida Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) guidelines (Protocol #0006R). Juvenile male Sprague–Dawley rats (275–325 g, Harlan Laboratories) were randomly assigned to one of six study groups: control (water, n = 11), BD (n = 11), KE (n = 11), MCT (n = 10), BMS (n = 11), or BMS + MCT (n = 12). Caloric density of standard rodent chow and dose of ketone supplements are listed in Table 1. On days 1–14, rats received a 5 g/kg body weight dose of their respective treatments via intragastric gavage. Dosage was increased to 10 g/kg body weight for the second half of the study (days 15–28) for all groups except BD and KE to prevent excessive hyperketonemia (ketoacidosis). Each daily dose of BMS would equal ~1000–1500 mg of βHB, depending on the weight of the animal. Intragastric gavage was performed at the same time daily, and animals had ad libitum access to standard rodent chow 2018 (Harlan Teklad) for the duration of the study. The macronutrient ratio the standard rodent chow was 62.2, 23.8 and 14 % of carbohydrates, protein and fat respectively.
Patrick Arnold is an organic chemist who is notorious for being the creator of several performance-enhancing steroids. He is arguably one of the strongest influencers on the advancement of sports supplementation. Currently he is focused on developing products under the KetoSports brand, which includes two exogenous ketone products – KetoForce and KetoCaNa.
Hypoglycemia: why not to be concerned – Taking exogenous ketones can drive blood glucose levels quite low, but you are not likely to feel the typical symptoms of hypoglycemia. This is because when ketone levels are high enough, they dominate as fuel in the brain; hence, you will feel just fine despite having low blood glucose. A highly-cited study by George Cahill, found elevated ketone levels could protect fasted participants when they were administered insulin to induce hypoglycemia.
Interestingly, poly-BOHB has recently been reported to have important roles in mammalian mitochondrial membranes, cell membrane calcium channels, and in exotic functions like protein folding (Dedkova 2014). It exists in a variety of chain lengths, ranging from short to very long. It is not clear if humans can digest and use poly-BOHB consumed in the diet, but in animals, poly-BOHB appears to have probiotic and bowel protective functions. This is a rapidly evolving topic that we will be watching closely.
The current USDA recommendations reflect “unachievable goals” that do not match what research suggests our normal physiological ranges might be. There is not enough evidence to show that sodium restriction is associated with less mortality or cardiovascular morbidity in healthy individuals or individuals with high blood pressure, and there is evidence that sodium restriction might actually be harmful to individuals with heart failure. For serious athletes, and individuals who are active daily, the current recommendations might not only be unwise but unsafe. If you are eating a carbohydrate-restricted diet, this applies to you even more. Don’t stress about the high amounts of sodium in a lot of these ketone supplements, being that they allow for a fast delivery of ketones to the body, which has unique benefits that will be discussed in a separate article. Instead, change out the frozen dinner and experiment with an effective dose of exogenous ketones.
Exercising is undoubtedly important when it comes to losing weight. An added bonus of being in a state of ketosis is the ability to improve your exercise performance, but you should also remember that entering ketosis for the first time can be a bit of a challenge for a lot of people. The body is still adjusting to such a dramatic diet change, so exercising may prove to be difficult at first. The key here is to keep going.
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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