The “BHB salt” is simply a compound that consists of sodium (Na+), potassium (K+), and the ketone body β-hydroxybutyrate. In supplements like Pruvit’s Keto OS these individual components are being held together by ionic bonds; however, when you consume the product, it is absorbed into the blood where it dissociates into free Na+, K+, and BHB since it is a water-based solution. Thus, consuming the product directly and immediately puts more ketones into your blood.
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).
Exogenous ketones are ketones that come in the form of a powder that you mix with water to drink them. Exogenous ketones are controversial in the keto world. The problem is the marketing of them have made some people believe that all they have to do is use this product to get into ketosis. If your blood glucose is too high your body will not use the ketones and they will go to waste.
Blood d-βHB concentrations rapidly increased to a maximum of 2.8 ± 0.2 mM following the KE drink and to 1.0 ± 0.1 mM following the KS drink (Figure (Figure1A).1A). After the peak was reached, blood d-βHB disappearance was non-linear, and followed first order elimination kinetics as reported previously (Clarke et al., 2012b; Shivva et al., 2016). d-βHB Tmax was ~2-fold longer following KS drinks vs. KE drinks (p < 0.01, Figure Figure1B),1B), and KS d-βHB AUC was ~30–60% lower than the KE drink (p < 0.01, Figure Figure1C1C).
For whatever reason, many patients won’t attempt a ketogenic diet—even if the evidence is clear that it could help. Doctors are often hesitant to recommend dramatic dietary shifts—even if they believe in their efficacy—to patients who are already dealing with difficult health issues. If you’ve got a picky kid with epilepsy, a pickier adult with Alzheimer’s, or a cancer patient who refuses to give up the familiar-yet-non-ketogenic foods that give him some small manner of comfort in this trying ordeal, exogenous ketones could make a big difference.
When you are in a state of ketosis, the body turns fatty acids into ketones - these appear as beta-hydroxybutyrate in the blood. Measuring blood ketones is regarded as the gold standard and most accurate way to track ketone levels. Testing this way can be expensive, its can cost up to $3 a strip, so if you're testing multiple times a day it can get pricey.
Beta hydroxybutyrate floats around in your blood, and importantly, can cross different barriers to be able to be turned into energy at all times. One of the most important areas where this happens is in the brain. The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is usually a very tightly regulated interface that doesn’t allow the transfer of many molecules, but since BHB is such a rock star and so hydrophilic, your brain knows to let it in so it can bring energy to the party at any time. This is one of the main reasons why increased levels of ketosis lead to improved mental clarity, focus and reduction in neurodegenerative diseases.
It's important to listen to your body when going through the ketogenic process. This means that you should only eat when you're hungry and not every single time you get a craving. It's our obsession with food that causes us to stuff ourselves whenever we feel like it, and you should know by now that it's not healthy to do that. When you make it a point to eat only when you're hungry, you're diminishing any food intake that your body doesn't really need.
While exogenous ketones (EK) are a newer supplement, having entered the market for consumers in just the past few years, scientists have been synthesizing ketone bodies in a lab since the 1960’s. They were useful for scientists studying their use for specific disease conditions, most notably childhood seizure disorders, though they were prohibitively expensive for consumers (1, 2).
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.).
Consuming exogenous ketones isn't the same as following a ketogenic diet–the ketones in the blood haven't been naturally produced by the breakdown of fat stores. However, scientists believe many of the health benefits of the keto diet and fasting (aside from weight loss) are triggered by ketones. Therefore, raising ketone levels through either endogenous or exogenous ketosis could help to improve health and performance by:
The classical KD consists of a 4:1 ratio of fat to protein and carbohydrate, with 80–90 % of total calories derived from fat . The macronutrient ratio of the KD induces a metabolic shift towards fatty acid oxidation and hepatic ketogenesis, elevating the ketone bodies acetoacetate (AcAc) and β-hydroxybutyrate (βHB) in the blood. Acetone, generated by decarboxylation of AcAc, has been shown to have anticonvulsant properties [28–32]. Ketone bodies are naturally elevated to serve as alternative metabolic substrates for extra-hepatic tissues during the prolonged reduction of glucose availability, suppression of insulin, and depletion of liver glycogen, such as occurs during starvation, fasting, vigorous exercise, calorie restriction, or the KD. Although the KD has clear therapeutic potential, several factors limit the efficacy and utility of this metabolic therapy for widespread clinical use. Patient compliance to the KD can be low due to the severe dietary restriction - the diet being generally perceived as unpalatable - and intolerance to high-fat ingestion. Maintaining ketosis can be difficult as consumption of even a small quantity of carbohydrates or excess protein can rapidly inhibit ketogenesis [33, 34]. Furthermore, enhanced ketone body production and tissue utilization by the tissues can take several weeks (keto-adaptation), and patients may experience mild hypoglycemic symptoms during this transitional period .
Plus, take a look at this promotional video from Prüvit. It claims that “ketones make the fat melt off your body”, which is simply not true (I’ll get back to this later). It also claims that if you wanted to reach ketosis naturally, you would either need to work out 10x harder and longer or be like one of the “extreme people” who “biohack their bodies” to get into ketosis, which “can take weeks or months”. For me, this is irresponsible. A keto diet can be simple and enjoyable, but this video makes switching to a healthy, real food, keto diet sound extreme and difficult while promoting an easy way out in the form of a drink. And that’s just bad advice.
Getting enough sleep not only helps in the production of growth hormones vital for muscle growth, but it plays a particular role as already discussed. If you’re intermittently fasting then sleep is crucial is helping you sustain the fast. 6-10 hours of your day will be dedicated to sleep, helping you to reboot and not think about food during this time. That means less time for you to actually be fasting! Stress is another factor – if we don’t get enough sleep, we’ll tend to feel more stress and agitation throughout the day. Ensuring that we’re well rested plays a huge part in keeping down cortisol levels so that are insulin and blood sugar levels don’t spike.
Exogenous ketones cause the body to rely less on fat as fuel (see Fig 3). Fat takes longer to metabolise for energy than muscle glycogen. This is why fatty acids are not the preferred fuel under heavy exercise. This could be useful for keto-adapted athletes performing high-intensity cardiovascular or strength training.12 This is particularly useful for the Keto-adapted athlete who wants to undergo high-intensity cardiovascular or strength training.
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.
One thing to remember here is that even if your calculated daily ‘keto approved’ protein allowance is (let’s say) 150g, that doesn’t mean you can eat 150g in one meal and still be in ketosis. You may find that you can’t eat more than 40g of protein at a time, otherwise you will drop out of ketosis. OR, you may find you can eat 50g of protein but you need a LOT of fat. Whereas a small serve of 15g of protein without fat might knock you out of ketosis.
Satiety decreased in both cases, slightly less with the supplements than with the placebo: participants reported feeling less hungry after taking the supplements than after taking the placebo. However, we are doubtful whether this would be enough of a difference to impact food intake and therefore induce weight loss indirectly, compared to not taking a supplement at all. Especially since, as noted before, BHB switches off lipolysis.
The table below shows the same measurements and calculations as the above table, but under the test conditions. You’ll note that BHB is higher at the start and falls more rapidly, as does glucose (for reasons I’ll explain below). HR data are almost identical to the control test, but VO2 and VCO2 are both lower. RQ, however, is slightly higher, implying that the reduction in oxygen consumption was greater than the reduction in carbon dioxide production.
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