Ketosis is a metabolic state where most of the body’s energy supply comes from ketone bodies in the blood, in contrast to a state of glycolysis where blood glucose provides most of the energy. Ketosis is characterised by serum blood concentrations of ketone bodies over 0.5 millimolar with low and stable levels of insulin and blood glucose. However, with ketone supplementation (as you’ll learn about later in this article) ketosis can actually be induced even when there are high levels of blood glucose
The difference in peak blood d-βHB concentrations between matched amounts of βHB as ester or salts arose because the salt contained l-βHB, as the blood concentrations of d- plus l-βHB isoforms were similar for both compounds. It is unclear if kinetic parameters of KE and KS drinks would be similar if matched d-βHB were taken in the drinks. Unlike d-βHB, blood l-βHB remained elevated for at least 8 h following the drink, suggesting an overall lower rate of metabolism of l-βHB as urinary elimination of l-βHB was in proportion to plasma concentration. Despite similar concentrations of total βHB, breath acetone was ~50% lower following KS drinks compared to KE, suggesting fundamental differences in the metabolic fates of D- and L-βHB. These findings support both previous hypotheses (Veech and King, 2016) and experimental work in rats (Webber and Edmond, 1977), which suggested that the l-isoform was less readily oxidized than the d-isoform, and is processed via different pathways, perhaps in different cellular compartments. It seems that l-βHB is not a major oxidative fuel at rest, and may accumulate with repeated KS drinks. However, the putative signaling role of l-βHB in humans remains unclear. In rodent cardiomyocytes, l-βHB acts as a signal that modulates the metabolism of d-βHB and glucose, Tsai et al. (2006) although no differences in blood glucose were seen here. Furthermore, L-βHB can act as a cellular antioxidant, although to a lesser extent than D-βHB (Haces et al., 2008).
Great question. So if you are already in nutritional ketosis from your diet, exogenous ketones would still help raise ketone (energy) levels when you want that (maybe for focus at work or energy at the gym. They also help get you back into ketosis after cheat meals and skip the “keto flu” which is the period when your body is using up stored glycogen.
A growing number of people are giving it a try, thanks to exogenous ketone supplements that claim to launch your body into a state of ketosis within two and a half days—even if you’ve been living on pasta and cookies instead of following a low-carb diet. How can that be, though? And can that kind of rapid transformation actually be safe? Here’s what you should know.
Ketone Bodies are then used by tissues as a source of energy3 through a pathway that leads to formation from β-hydroxybutyrate of two molecules of acetyl CoA, which are used finally in the Krebs cycle. It is interesting to note that the KBs are able to produce more energy compared with glucose because of the metabolic effects of ketosis—the high chemical potential of 3-β-hydroxybutyrate leads to an increase in the ΔG0 of ATP hydrolysis.3
Glucose and BHB went down slightly throughout the effort and RQ fell, implying a high rate of fat oxidation. We can calculate fat oxidation from these data. Energy expenditure (EE), in kcal/min, can be derived from the VO2 and VCO2 data and the Weir equation. For this effort, EE was 14.66 kcal/min; RQ gives us a good representation of how much of the energy used during the exercise bout was derived from FFA vs. glucose—in this case about 87% FFA and 13% glucose. So fat oxidation was approximately 12.7 kcal/min or 1.41 g/min. It’s worth pointing out that “traditional” sports physiology preaches that fat oxidation peaks in a well-trained athlete at about 1 g/min. Clearly this is context limited (i.e., only true, if true at all, in athletes on high carb diets with high RQ). I’ve done several tests on myself to see how high I could push fat oxidation rate. So far my max is about 1.6 g/min. This suggests to me that very elite athletes (which I am not) who are highly fat adapted could approach 2 g/min of fat oxidation. Jeff Volek has done testing on elites and by personal communication he has recorded levels at 1.81 g/min. A very close friend of mine is contemplating a run at the 24 hour world record (cycling). I think it’s likely we’ll be able to get him to 2 g/min of fat oxidation on the correct diet.
Participants consumed 13.2 mmol.kg−1 of βHB (6.6 mmol.kg−1 or 1,161 mg/kg of KE) over 9 h, either as 3 drinks of 4.4 mmol.kg−1 of βHB at 3 h intervals (n = 12), or as an initial bolus of 4.4 mmol.kg−1 of βHB given through a nasogastric tube, followed by an infusion of 1.1 mmol.kg.h−1, beginning 60 min after the initial bolus, for 8 h (n = 4). Two participants completed both conditions (total n = 14). In both conditions, the KE was diluted to 1.5 L using the same citrus water as used in Study 2.
Elliot received his BS in Biochemistry from the University of Minnesota and has been a freelance writer specializing in nutritional and health sciences for the past 5 years. He is thoroughly passionate about exercise, nutrition, and dietary supplementation, especially how they play a role in human health, longevity, and performance. In his free time you can most likely find him lifting weights at the gym or out hiking through the mountains of Colorado. He will also host the upcoming BioKeto podcast. You can connect with him on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/elliot.reimers) and Instagram (@eazy_ell)
There is one viable explanation for consuming ketones. If you're in a calorie or carb-restricted state, then maybe during a workout it would make sense. But even then, that really only applies to endurance activities, since it has more to do with enhancing aerobic performance (where oxygen is required), than it does with enhancing high-intensity efforts (where it's not).
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I’ve tried this, got a few bags of one ketone salts bound to mostly potassium and another one bound to calcium. As for working out, I find that consuming 15-20 grams of glucose ( dextrose ) 30 minutes before either a HIIT or a heavy lifting session gives me a much, much bigger boost than ketones. so they just sit in my cupboard. I also got spooked about the amount of potassium i’d consume in one go ( don’t particularly fancy a cardiac arrest ). I find it a bit useful when I have a big meeting or something else that requires super concentration and I’m fasting, other than that – it’s pretty useless. I’d probably use more of it if I could find a formula that’s mostly sodium/magnesium based rather than potassium and/or calcium.
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.
I’m often asked if it’s necessary to buy and use keto products like urine sticks. They’re small test strips that you dip in urine to see if your body is producing ketones (and therefore indicate if you’ve entered ketosis.) There's very little information on how to know that you are in ketosis other than using these ketones supplements because they are as accurate as can be in determining your current state. Outside of that, you can only guess if you are in it or not by your body's performance.
“Consumption of KETO//OS before exercise can result in significant decreases in oxygen demand and increases in performance. We recommend 30 minutes before a workout. Note: Pre-workout use is recommended after building up to a full dose. The best way to maximize energy, appetite control and sustain energy is to take KETO//OS first thing in morning. To maximize benefits, build up to 1 serving 3 times daily – morning, afternoon and early evening. May be used with carbohydrate supplements if desired or by itself as a non-carb, highly efficient energy source.”
Thank you, Mark! I am an ME/CFS patient, and I have improved quite a bit on a ketogenic diet, which I have been following for the past 3 months. I am slowly losing weight (much needed) and I wondered, does using exogenous ketones inhibit fat loss? I’m trying to balance the benefits of continuing weight loss with benefits in dealing with ME/CFS symptoms. Thank you for any info you can offer!
The culprit is often restaurant meals or other meals where the nutrition facts are not available with the food itself. Such “ignorance is bliss” situations allow us to avoid dealing with daunting numbers. Many people don’t hesitate to stop and enjoy a meal at a restaurant, but they freak out when they actually see the numbers on a label. By now, we all know that opting for fatty meat with a side of veggies cooked in butter isn’t that bad after all. It turns out that what you thought to be the safe, “healthy,” doctor-approved choice might not always be what you think it is.
Hey Staci, great to hear you’re getting back into it! To answer your question, it really depends on the individual but there are definitely things you can do to get back into ketosis faster – working out to deplete your glycogen stores or implementing intermittent fasting into your regimen – these are 2 common ways that should kick start you back in the right direction!
Another factor to consider is that in nutritional ketosis the liver makes a steady supply of ketones and continuously releases them into the circulation. In contrast, most ketone supplement protocols involve bolus intakes that don’t mimic the endogenous release pattern. The extent to which this impacts metabolic and signaling responses across different tissues remains unclear.
I began by simply playing all of the games over and over again (each game many dozens of times over the period of a week) to remove any “learning effect.” I then selected two games from each category (for a total of 10 games) and for a period of five days prior to “ketone-day” played each game five times each day. My “before ketones” baseline scores put me in the top 4% of all Lumosity users, so I was already in a good place. But could I improve even more, just one hour after consuming the ketones?
At the same time, research suggests that getting as much of your calcium from your diet, rather than supplements is a good idea. For instance, there is some evidence that the calcium intake from food is better for bone mineral density than the same calcium intake from supplements. Foods that are high in calcium include dairy, leafy green vegetables, fish with edible bones, tofu made with calcium sulfate, and calcium-fortified foods and beverages.
There is so much talk about the benefits of a ketogenic diet and its ability to improve fat burning, brain health, energy and anti-aging. The main units of energy on a ketogenic diet are ketone bodies, of which beta hydroxybutyrate (BHB) is the main player! This article will go over the health benefits of BHB and exogenous ketones. Additionally, this article will cover strategies on using exogenous ketones in your daily life.
There have been studies done on long term ketogenic diets. This 2004 paper inn Experimental & Clinical Cardiology titled ‘Long-term effects of a ketogenic diet in obese patients’ concluded that obese patients following a ketogenic diet for 24 ‘reduced the body weight and body mass index of the patients. Furthermore, it decreased the level of triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and blood glucose, and increased the level of HDL cholesterol. Administering a ketogenic diet for a relatively longer period of time did not produce any significant side effects in the patients. Therefore, the present study confirms that it is safe to use a ketogenic diet for a longer period of time than previously demonstrated.’
This was a big surprise. We were at the very least expecting that drinking a ketone supplement would cause blood ketones to rise, but an average increase of 0.33 mmol/L is very small. The supplement associated with the highest average increase in blood ketones was Prüvit’s Keto-OS Max, but it was only an increase of 0.6 mmol/L. Brianna Stubbs, the ketone researcher I consulted with, agrees that an increase of below 2.0-3.0 mmol/L is unlikely to be of much use.
Your brain has a very tight barrier so not everything in the blood can get through. This is called the blood brain barrier. Because your brain uses 25% of the energy that your entire body uses throughout the day, you need to make sure it is fueled appropriately. Glucose can’t directly cross the blood brain barrier. When you eat carbs, you get swings in energy that is available to cross the blood brain barrier which leads to mental fog.
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.
Exogenous ketones are created in a lab to accelerate both physical and mental performance. These ketone drinks were actually used in pro cycling races back in 2015, trading at prices that would make using your kidney as a bartering tool seem like a cut price deal. Fortunately, they’ve now come down in cost and are used often in between meals as a way of blackmailing your body into getting into ketosis way faster.
I noticed for myself that it helps if I add some highly nutritional foods to my diet before I go into ketogenic diet. Adding minerals and vitamins will aid your body in this difficult process and on top of that if you have a deficiency of some sort you will be even more hungry and it will make your transition more difficult, so why make it harder on your self if you can just add some leafy greens to your diet.
I had heard horror stories about how bad ketone esters tasted (like “rocket fuel”!) so was prepared for the worst. I followed their instructions and drank the contents of the bottle in one gulp, then chased it with a sip of sparkling mineral water. While not the most pleasant aftertaste, the flavor wasn’t any worse than after a shot of well tequila. Within 15 minutes I was already well into therapeutic ketosis, and after 30 minutes my ketone meter displayed a “HI” error message (meaning my level was greater than 8.0 mmol/L)!
I have Type 2 Diabetes. I have bought a product that has Beta Hydroxybutyrate in it. Is it dangerous for me to take it whereas I am a Type 2 diabetic. Can it cause me to go into Diabetic ketoacidosis which is very dangerous for a diabetic even deadly. I have been trying to find an answer to my question and your sight seems to have the best insight on Beta Hydroxybutyrate . I bought the product without knowing it had Beta Hydroxybutyrate in it and have not tried it out of fear that it will cause me to go into Diabetic ketoacidosis. Other people I know have taken it and lost weight and I really want to take it but I am afraid. Just so you know it is on a patch with other elements in it. Please help me I look forward to your answer
I have, though, recently been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. After reading through your blog, I noticed there was a little about Ketogenetic diet and cancer. I purchased the MCT oil powder in hopes that will help me get into ketosis for the purpose of “starving” the cancer cells. Other then focus, I didn’t see any particular format for something like this. Here are my questions: How much of the powder should I take? And do you think the diet plus the MCT oil is a good idea for 1) aiding chemotherapy and 2) helping shrink the number of cancer cells?
I bought this because I didn't want to be sucked into an autoshipment for a ketone supplement like KetoOS, which is HOT right now. I did the comparison on the ingredient list between this product and KetoOS and they are quite similar. I think one of the big differences is that KetoOS has the option of caffeinated or non-caffeinated powders. For the cost and the free shipping (I'm a Prime member), it's something I could easily fit into my budget, rather than the $114 canister you'd get with KetoOS.
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).
In conclusion, drinks containing exogenous ketones, in either ester or salt form, can raise concentrations of blood βHB in humans, although elevation of l-βHB lasts longer after racemic KS consumption. Both KE and KS drinks mildly altered acid-base balance. Exogenous ketones lowered blood glucose and lipids without inhibiting endogenous insulin secretion. The KE delivered highly repeatable blood concentrations of d-βHB, although ketosis was decreased by a meal. Uptake and elimination of d-βHB were similar when several drinks were consumed in succession. The dietary KE could maintain ketosis using drinks taken regularly around a normal meal pattern, or using a continuous infusion via a nasogastric tube. Therefore, ketone drinks are a viable and practical alternative to dietary strategies to achieve ketosis.
How to get into ketosis in 24 hours you ask? Can it be done? Yes, it can happen. But only for people who have already been keto-adapted and may have dropped out of ketosis for a short period of time, like after a cheat day. Those people can follow these steps to get back into ketosis quickly. However, if you are just starting keto you have a lot of work to do before your body will let you get into ketosis.
Too much cortisol tells the liver that you are in physical danger and need a lot of energy fast. The brain doesn’t understand the difference between physical danger and emotional stress. When emotionally stressed, the brain thinks you’re in a life-and-death situation, so the liver comes to your rescue and gives you the glucose you need to fight off your attacker.
The ‘carb-sparing’ effect from BHB suppresses the break down of muscle glycogen. This leads to lower lactate levels. When increasing exercise intensity, fat oxidation (burning) reaches a limit. At that point the muscle burns carbohydrates as fuel. But when consuming Ketone esters, the body does not make this switch. This suggests Ketones are being used instead. 11
If you do the same calculations as I did above for estimating fat oxidation, you’ll see that EE in this case was approximately 13.92 kcal/min, while fat oxidation was only 67% of this, or 9.28 kcal/min, or 1.03 g/min. So, for this second effort (the test set) my body did about 5% less mechanical work, while oxidizing about 25% less of my own fat. The majority of this difference, I assume, is from the utilization of the exogenous BHB, and not glucose (again, I will address below what I think is happening with glucose levels).
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