For the first part of my experiment, I would simply record my blood ketone and glucose levels over a period of two hours after taking the ketone esters. While I am already fairly keto-adapted and can attain nutritional ketosis fairly easily (> 0.5 mmol/L), it wasn’t until the end of my Five-day Fasting Mimicking Diet that I was even close to reaching therapeutic ketosis levels (>5.0 mmol/L).
Whereas ketone esters are 100% D- form, most ketone salts are a 50/50 mix of left and right-handed beta hydroxybutyrate, which is known as a racemic mixture. These beta hydroxybutyrate molecules are linked to a mineral, such sodium (Na), calcium (Ca), potassium (K), or magnesium (Mg). This kind of ketone supplement gets broken down to left and right-handed version of beta hydroxybutyrate along with the mineral.
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.
When the results for the supplement and the placebo were within 0.2 (either % or mmol/L) of each other, we classed the supplement as neither “better” nor “worse” than the placebo. We gave a “winning brand” sticker to the brand that scored highest against the placebo for each marker, but not for physical performance, since none of the supplements performed better than the placebo for that marker.
Possible GI distress (flatulence) at exceptionally high doses – In the studies referenced in this article, exogenous ketones taken in large doses occasionally resulted in GI distress, especially flatulence. However, the cause of this is hypothesized to be due to the fact that ketones were mixed in a milky fluid that wasn’t very palatable. If you’re taking a nominal dose of exogenous ketones the likelihood of GI distress is rather low. Moreover, if some GI distress is prevalent, it should improve as you become accustomed to taking ketones.
The other option – which is the superior option – is the breakdown of fat into a fuel that can be used by the brain. This is a beautiful solution, because even the leanest individual will have weeks and weeks’ worth of energy stored as body fat. The body breaks down this fat in the liver and converts it into ketone bodies. The brain can then utilise these ketones as a fuel source – forgoing the need for stored glucose or constant consumption of carbohydrates. These ketones can also be used to make ATP.
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).
If you have already mastered the Very Low Carbohydrate (VLC) or ketogenic way of eating, and/or are eating at a caloric deficit, exercising or fasting you are naturally creating the optimal conditions for your body to produce ketones and put your body into nutritional ketosis. By strict adherence to a well-formulated ketogenic diet (complete with higher levels of mineral salts) you should be able to produce all the ketones you need naturally (endogenously). If you are new or inexperienced in ketogenic eating however; or if you or a family member struggles to adhere to a ketogenic diet, then supplementation with exogenous ketones may be very beneficial. Not only will ketone supplements help to mitigate hunger and carb cravings, but they will also help you stave off carb flu symptoms (see below), giving you the best possible chance of long-term success.
The ketogenic journey should be more of a lifestyle than one that acts like a fad. So taking more than a day for your body to enter ketosis should not be the greatest of concern. It’s more important to stay discipline and to consistently keep your body in a fat-burning state. Although, if you are someone who has fallen out of ketosis after a cheat day, or rather somebody who is just starting out and finding it longer than expected to enter ketosis, then this article can definitely help in that respect. It’s nothing new, and it’s definitely no secret but strict dieting, fasting, exercise, controlling stress levels, sleep, and certain supplements can help you boost ketogenesis!
Hi. Thanks for the informative article! I have fallen down the exogenous ketone rabbit hole for the last 2 days trying to figure everything out. I am currently on a nutritional ketonic diet but after 8 months, I am finding it difficult to stay on it 100%. I would like to remain on a low-carb diet, but also have a little more flexibility in my food choices. If you take the expense out of the equation, which product would you recommend for someone who wants to use ketosis as a method of weight loss? Thank you so much.
In a nutshell… WOW! The chart above shows each of the games/categories I played, showing my prior 5-day averages compared to the day I took the ketone esters. Compared to my baselines, my scores increased across the board, with the biggest improvements in spatial orientation (+32.2%), working memory (+23.7%), quantitative reasoning (21.5%), task switching (+14.9%), and information processing (+14.9%). Below are more detailed comparisons:
Price: The supplements are expensive – very expensive. At the top end, if you follow Prüvit’s guidelines on “getting in the n8tive zone” (which is such a gimmicky marketing slogan it almost makes me cringe), you will require 2 servings of their Keto-OS product per day. This means around 60 servings per month, which will set you back a whopping $390 per month if you buy direct from their website! In the case of Prüvit, this is in part due to the multi-level marketing structure they operate under.
The protocols carried out in these studies were approved by the the South West Frenchay NHS REC (15/SW/0244) (Study 1) and London Queen's Square REC (14/LO/0288) (Study 2 and 3). The studies were carried out in accordance with the recommendations of the Declaration of Helsinki, apart from pre-registration in a database. All subjects gave written informed consent in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki.
The keto-esters are more appropriate for delivering higher doses of BOHB, but with repeated dosing can push the limits of taste and GI tolerance. There has been fairly extensive research on a compound 3-hydroxybutyl 3-hydroxybutyrate that is converted via hydrolysis and liver metabolism to yield 2 molecules of ketones, presumably mostly D-BOHB (Clarke 2012 and 2014). In a study involving lean athletes, an approximate 50 gram dose raised blood BOHB levels to 3 mM after 10 min and reached 6 mM by 20 min. Submaximal exercise resulted in increased ketone disposal from 2 to 3 hours and contributed significantly to whole body energy use during exercise (Cox 2016). This product has been shown to significantly reduce appetite after a single dose (Stubbs 2018) but its effect on body weight in humans over a longer period of time has not been studied, nor has its effect on blood glucose control been reported in humans with type 2 diabetes. However a single dose prior to a glucose tolerance test in healthy humans reduced blood glucose area-under-curve by 11% and non-esterified fatty acid area-under-curve by 44% (Myette-Cote 2018).
Keto dieters love exogenous ketones because they help fight the keto flu and get you quickly into ketosis. One study found that taking drinks with exogenous ketones lowers blood levels of glucose, free fatty acid, and triglycerides . The study concluded that exogenous ketones are a practical and effective way to achieve ketosis. Taking exogenous ketones longer will also speed up the process of keto-adaptation.
The liver is always producing ketones to some small degree and they are always present in the bloodstream. Under normal dietary conditions, ketone concentrations are simply too low to be of any significant benefit. A ketogenic diet and exogenous ketone supplements will increase the amount of ketone in your body. The idea that ketones are “toxic” is ridiculous. Ketones are a normal physiological substance that play many important roles in the human body.
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.
Effects of beta-hydroxybutyrate on cognition in memory-impaired adults. – Glucose is the brain’s principal energy substrate. In Alzheimer’s disease (AD), there appears to be a pathological decrease in the brain’s ability to use glucose. Neurobiological evidence suggests that ketone bodies are an effective alternative energy substrate for the brain. Elevation of plasma ketone body levels through an oral dose of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) may improve cognitive functioning in older adults with memory disorders. On separate days, 20 subjects with AD or mild cognitive impairment consumed a drink containing emulsified MCTs or placebo. Significant increases in levels of the ketone body beta-hydroxybutyrate (beta-OHB) were observed 90 min after treatment (P=0.007) when cognitive tests were administered. beta-OHB elevations were moderated by apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype (P=0.036). For 4+ subjects, beta-OHB levels continued to rise between the 90 and 120 min blood draws in the treatment condition, while the beta-OHB levels of 4- subjects held constant (P<0.009). On cognitive testing, MCT treatment facilitated performance on the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive Subscale (ADAS-cog) for 4- subjects, but not for 4+ subjects (P=0.04). Higher ketone values were associated with greater improvement in paragraph recall with MCT treatment relative to placebo across all subjects (P=0.02). Additional research is warranted to determine the therapeutic benefits of MCTs for patients with AD and how APOE-4 status may mediate beta-OHB efficacy.
As stated above, there appears to be a difference between supplemental and dietary calcium intake, which can be important to keep in mind. One study found aggregate calcium intakes above 1400 mg per day (from dietary and supplemental intake combined) to be associated with higher death rates, cardiovascular disease, and ischemic heart disease in women. A 2014 meta-analysis found an association between dietary calcium intake and cardiovascular mortality. The meta-analysis actually found a u-shaped relationship, where dietary calcium intakes that were both lower and greater than 800 mg/day were gradually associated with increased risk of cardiovascular mortality.
Working memory involves temporarily storing and manipulating information. The game involves seeing three cards – a top card with a symbol that then moves along a track and is flipped over, exposing a new card above. The goal is to remember the symbol of the cards two cards back and indicate whether it matches the visible card or not. If you have ever played dual n-back games, this is very similar.
Exercise or performing an extensive workout during the day is a perfect way to burn all those glycogen reserves in your body. Performing a HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training is a perfect type of exercise to do this. So, the next morning when you are awake, get set on an intense exercise session (remember, in the morning, not the afternoon). This will keep the cortisol level lowered during the evening when you wish to have some rest.
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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