If you read about ketosis in magazine or heard about it in a podcast and wanted to jump on the bandwagon, then I think you should avoid it. Remember, it is a strict diet, and the potential health downsides may not be worth the upsides, unless you are working with a medical professional and or you are tracking your labs to see what’s going on with your health (thyroid).


Compared to our other cellular gasoline (carbs), we can store an unlimited supply of energy from ketones in our body within our fat. When you’re reliant on carbohydrates, you’re forced to keep your tank partly full as we can only store just over 2,000 calories of glycogen from carbs. An empty carb tank results in carb-withdrawal symptoms from not being able to switch into a ketone or fat burning metabolism.

A lot of people who use ketogenic diets will include a regular (i.e. weekly) carb refeed meal. There are various reasons behind doing this. If you are doing a lot of glycolic based training, then the carb refeed can help bump up muscle glycogen levels and in turn boost performance. Others use these refeeds as a way to keep their thyroid health in check, and finally some people use these refeeds as a ‘cheat day’ – so that they can still enjoy the pleasures from carbohydrates!
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.
As Dr. Ryan Lowery pointed out to me, ketone supplements could play an important role in the future for elite sports performance, for example, or for people with brain injuries who cannot metabolize glucose properly. I am encouraged that scientists are working to develop these possibilities and, as long as plenty of peer-reviewed scientific research is done into the products being developed, I could feel more positive about the ketone salts in the future. For now, that scientific support is lacking.
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.
Effects of ketone supplementation on body weight: Rats administered ketone supplements gained less weight over the 4-week period; however, did not lose weight and maintained healthy range for age. KE supplemented rats gained significantly less weight during the entire 4-week study compared to controls. BMS + MCT, BMS, and BD supplemented rats gained significantly less weight than controls over weeks 2–4.MCT supplemented rats gained significantly less weight than controls over weeks 3–4, Two-Way ANOVA with Tukey’s post hoc test, results considered significant if p < 0.05. Error bars represent mean (SD)
So I’ve been primarily on a Keto diet for almost 6 months. During this time, I have fine tuned a lot to get my ketone levels up (Eating more fat and less protein). Most recently, I have used blood measurements for my ketone levels and I fluctuate between .6 and 2.6. The higher readings I get on the days I workout in the morning (about 5 hours before I draw blood and take a reading). I don’t have any problems sticking to the diet. It only seems to get easier. I’ve also incorporated 16 hour fasts which also are becoming easier over time. My priority and motivation for doing a keto diet is first and foremost weight loss. So far I have lost 40 pounds and I need to lose about 20 more. I do however want to improve my performance (running) and strength (I am doing the Stronglifts 5×5 program now).
For all studies, the area under the curve (AUC) of blood [βHB] was calculated using the trapezium rule. In Study 3, for each of the three drinks, the initial rate of d-βHB appearance was estimated using d-βHB concentrations at baseline and 30 min post-drink, and d-βHB elimination was estimated using the AUC between the post-drink peak (60 min) and trough (180 min) d-βHB concentrations, with a baseline correction to the value at 180 min.
Before that though, I do want to touch on MCT oil and it’s impact on ketone levels. MCT – or Medium Chain Triglyceride – are fatty acids that bypass the liver – and become quick energy for the brain and muscles. As they are a fat based energy source (and not a carbohydrate) they are quickly converted into ketones. This means MCT oil is a great way to boost ketone levels in the body.
Intense exercise -- more than just fidgeting or pacing -- uses ketones, when glucose is in short supply, which means the body has to create more ketones to replace what you use. This is great for those who are used to a moderate to intense activity level, but intensity is a fine dance between encouraging ketone production and elevating cortisol for the rest of us.
At day 29 of the study, animals were euthanized and brain, lungs, liver, kidneys, spleen and heart were harvested and weighed. Organ weights were normalized to body weight. Ketone supplementation did not significantly change brain, lung, kidney, or heart weights compared to controls (Fig. 5a, b, d, f). MCT supplemented animals had significantly larger livers compared to their body weight (p < 0.05) (Fig. 5c). Ketone supplements BMS + MCT, MCT and BD caused a significant reduction in spleen size (BMS + MCT p < 0.05, MCT p < 0.001, BD p < 0.05) (Fig. 5e). Rats administered KE gained significantly less weight over the entire study compared to controls. BMS + MCT, BMS, and BD supplemented rats gained significantly less weight than controls during weeks 2 – 4, and MCT animals gained less weight than controls at weeks 3 – 4 (Fig. 6). Increased gastric motility (increased bowel evacuation and changes to fecal consistency) was visually observed in rats supplemented with 10 g/kg MCT, most notably at the 8 and 12-h time points. All animals remained in healthy weight range for their age even though the rate of weight gain changed with ketone supplementation [53–54]. Food intake was not measured in this study. However, there was not a significant change in basal blood glucose or basal blood ketone levels over the 4 week study in any of the rats supplemented with ketones (Fig. 7).
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.
Hi all…thanks for your articles and info. I am currently on a paleo diet, but want to lose more weight and bring it up a notch w/ ketogenic diet and be in ketosis. Not sure which product is best? Do you take the MCT oil and also a ketone powder. I know it may be difficult at first, but I am up for the challenge as we start the new year and would like to loose 40 lbs by May/June. Please advise as to what products are best so I can purchase. THANKS
The Zenwise Keto Life BHB Salt uses a custom calcium, magnesium and sodium ketone complex to help access ketones for fuel without the low carb diet or fasting. This product is another all-natural option that goes as far as using turmeric for its added coloring. It is a proven product with hundreds of happy customers. They seem to have a strong grasp on the lemonade side of the exogenous market with their Raspberry Lemonade and Wild Limeade flavor choices.
Animal research findings report that BHB supplementation also enhances oxygen utilization, especially in the central nervous system (CNS).[11] While molecular oxygen is a crucial molecule for health and longevity, too much of it can be potentially toxic and speed the effects of aging in tissues throughout the body.Therefore, using a BHB supplement can effectively mitigate the toxic buildup of molecular oxygen, particularly in the CNS/brain.
The benefits of intermittent fasting translate to untrained overweight and obese individuals as well. One study published in Obesity Reviews found that eating fewer calories is effective for fat loss, but it does come with some muscle loss. However, if the subjects fasted for 24 hours and ate as much as they wanted on the next day for a period of 12 weeks, they lost significantly less muscle mass.
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.

LDL is the lipoprotein particle that is most often associated with atherosclerosis. LDL particles exist in different sizes: large molecules (Pattern A) or small molecules (Pattern B). Recent studies have investigated the importance of LDL-particle type and size rather than total concentration as being the source for cardiovascular risk [56]. Patients whose LDL particles are predominantly small and dense (Pattern B) have a greater risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). It is thought that small, dense LDL particles are more able to penetrate the endothelium and cause in damage and inflammation [82–85]. Volek et al. reported that the KD increased the pattern and volume of LDL particles, which is considered to reduce cardiovascular risk [73]. Though we did not show a significant effect on LDL levels for ketone supplements, future chronic feeding studies will investigate the effects of ketone supplementation on lipidomic profile and LDL particle type and size.
MCT Oil is a keto supplement that helps your body make ketones. The oil contains pure medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are types of fatty acids that your body prefers using for immediate energy. Unlike long-chain fatty acids, MCTs don't require enzymes and bile for digestion and they go straight to the liver where they are used for making free fatty acids or ketones. Studies on MCTs show that they promote weight loss [5].

Two ground-breaking studies have recently been published on the effects of intermittent fasting on males. One group of researchers studied the effects that 16 hours of intermittent fasting had on males that lift weights. They found that muscle mass stayed the same, fat mass decreased significantly, and the males who fasted for 16 hours a day burned more fat for fuel compared to the control group that only fasted for 12 hours.
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.
While ketone salts are widely available, unfortunately in the near-term ketone esters are in short supply and the only people who will be able to afford taking them several times per day will be elite athletes, the military, corporate CEO-types, and professional poker players. Even with economies of scale and ramping up production, the cost of raw materials to produce pure ketone esters will keep their price tag prohibitively high for most people, but could realistically get down to a few dollars per gram.
LDL is the lipoprotein particle that is most often associated with atherosclerosis. LDL particles exist in different sizes: large molecules (Pattern A) or small molecules (Pattern B). Recent studies have investigated the importance of LDL-particle type and size rather than total concentration as being the source for cardiovascular risk [56]. Patients whose LDL particles are predominantly small and dense (Pattern B) have a greater risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). It is thought that small, dense LDL particles are more able to penetrate the endothelium and cause in damage and inflammation [82–85]. Volek et al. reported that the KD increased the pattern and volume of LDL particles, which is considered to reduce cardiovascular risk [73]. Though we did not show a significant effect on LDL levels for ketone supplements, future chronic feeding studies will investigate the effects of ketone supplementation on lipidomic profile and LDL particle type and size.
Of course, there may be some people who choose to take these supplements because they genuinely do feel they benefit from them. This is of course your choice and this article in no way aims to shame or criticize anybody. However, I do think that, for most people, eating a low-carb diet based on real foods is a lot more likely to be associated with the benefits that the supplements claim to provide than the supplements themselves.
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.)

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