Should We Use Exogenous Ketones? Ketosis serves a purpose, and it’s probably why we’re able to survive on this planet. Being able to go without eating and use stored fats for energy is a survival tool and possibly far more as we’re now seeing with the keto diet. But it’s probably not a good idea to constantly take exogenous ketones and eat a high carb diet (high blood glucose levels). It’s not natural for the body to have high blood glucose and use ketones. This is a personal opinion, so
When you restrict carbs, the kidneys excrete a lot of sodium. Not replacing this sodium can leave you feeling light headed. I recommend having a big glass of spring water with ½ teaspoon of Celtic sea salt twice a day (first thing in the morning and midafternoon are two times that work well). A long with this, make sure you use a lot of salt on your meals.
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.
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).
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.
It is important to define what it means to be “in ketosis”. If being “in ketosis” means having ketones in your blood, then of course ketone supplements get you into ketosis. But that is different from being in an endogenous ketogenic, fat-burning state as a result of following a ketogenic diet. Getting this distinction right will go a long way towards stopping ketone salts companies from using misleading marketing about the issue. We need to reach a consensus about what being “in ketosis” means and then force companies to use that definition.
Ketones are also a cleaner-burning fuel than carbs. They’re burned for energy in the mitochondria, and fewer free radicals (a highly-reactive, short-lived uncharged molecule) are generated when compared to burning glucose.15 What’s more, ketone molecules themselves cause a decrease in production of free radicals,21,22 while also increasing glutathione–a powerful antioxidant protecting against mitochondrial damage induced by free radicals.23
Because they’re so expensive, you want to make sure you pick a good one. Griffin and Langer say to ignore the companies that make these supplements sound too good to be true. Just like with any supplement, Griffin says it’s important to look at what’s in it. Beware of products with lots of fillers and instead go for one with a short, straightforward list of ingredients (Griffin likes the options from KetoSports).
If the color is close to the original beige of the test strip, it means there are few if any ketones in your urine and you’ll need to make some dietary tweaks. This may include eating less fat. That’s because if you have doubled down on the healthy fats your body may be rebelling. One way to tell is if you are constipated. If you think this is the case, ratchet back the fats by 50% and see if it makes a difference.
Eating around 20 grams of net carbs a day is as a foolproof way to get you into ketosis a quickly as is humanly possible. However, having 50 grams of total carbs will also get you into ketosis within three days . This amount of carbs is enough to deplete glucose reserves. It's also low enough to prevent fat being used to make glucose and, instead, the body is forced to make ketones.
To determine the reason for the differences in blood d-βHB concentration, the KE and KS drinks were analyzed for enantiomeric purity. The KE contained >99% of the d-isoform, whereas ~50% of the KS βHB was the l-isoform (Figure (Figure1D).1D). Plasma samples from participants who consumed the high dose KS drink (n = 5) were analyzed to reveal higher l-βHB than d-βHB, the total βHB Cmax being 3.4 ± 0.2 mM (Figure (Figure1E),1E), with a total βHB AUC of 549 ± 19 mmol.min. After 4 h, plasma l-βHB remained elevated at 1.9 ± 0.2 mM; differences in urinary excretion of the two isoforms could not explain this observation as both d- and l-βHB were excreted in proportion to their blood AUCs (Figure (Figure1F).1F). Therefore, in order to determine the time required for l-βHB elimination, a follow-up experiment was undertaken in which subjects (n = 5) consumed 3.2 mmol.kg−1 of βHB as KE and KS with hourly blood and breath sample collection up to 4 h, plus additional samples at 8 h and 24 h post-drink. l-βHB was found to be 1.1 ± 0.1 mM at 4 h, and 0.7 ± 0.2 mM after 8 h, but undetectable after 24 h (Figure 1G). Low amounts of d-βHB (0.3 ± 0.1 mM) were present at 24 h, presumably due to endogenous production. Both ketone drinks significantly increased breath acetone concentration, but at a slower rate than blood d-βHB, reaching a peak after 3 h that was twice as high following the KE (87 ± 9 ppm) than the KS (44 ± 10 ppm), suggesting that d-βHB was readily converted to acetone, but l-βHB was not (p < 0.005, Figure Figure1H1H).
Plasma glucose, free fatty acids (FFA), triglycerides (TG) and urinary d-βHB were assayed using a commercial semi-automated bench-top analyzer (ABX Pentra, Montpellier, France), and insulin was measured using a commercially available ELISA assay (Mercodia, Uppsala, Sweden). Both the pure liquid KS and KE, and a subset of plasma (n = 5) and urine (n = 10) samples from a subset of participants in Study 1 underwent analysis using GC-MS and a chiral column, and the concentrations of l-βHB was calculated using the enzymatically determined concentration of d-βHB and the ratio of the d/l-βHB peaks obtained through GC-MS. Acetoacetate was assayed using an enzymatic method (Bergmeyer, 1965), and breath acetone was measured using GC-MS (Study 1) or with a handheld electrochemical device (Study 2; NTT DOCOMO, Japan) (Toyooka et al., 2013).
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.
There’s also the issue of supplement safety in general. All supplements—whether you’re talking about vitamins, minerals, herbs, or other nutritional mixes—are only loosely regulated. “We know that there is contamination of supplements here in the U.S., often from products that are manufactured abroad,” Palumbo says. In that case, “the same concerns apply to this as for any other supplement.”
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.
My two cents: I wouldn’t take ketone supps if not on some sort of low(ish) carb diet because the idea of high levels of BOTH fuels (ie, ketones AND glucose) doesn’t seem physiologically appropriate… more like a recipe for disaster, and by “disaster,” I mean “out-of-control production of Reactive Oxygen Species” — this might not matter if you’re an athlete looking for a quick performance boost, because the fuels are going to be cleared rather quickly… not so much if you’re a desk jockey.
Currently, we lack enough evidence to change the recommendations for calcium intake. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for adults 19-50 years old is 2500 mg. This is well over the RDA of 1000 mg for the same age group. Calcium supplements commonly contain 600-1200 mg. When assessing your own calcium intake, keep in mind that calcium from food sources and calcium from supplements may have different outcomes.
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.
As I mentioned before, this was by no means a scientific experiment carried out under lab conditions, and this means we can only draw tentative conclusions from any of the data. Nonetheless, carrying out the testing in the way described above should give most people a good idea of how well the ketone supplements show the noticeable benefits they are marketed to have and provide a clear enough basis for a decision on whether or not to buy them.
Exogenous ketones are also for those just looking to try it out. It lets anyone be able to access ketones simply by consuming these exogenous forms of ketones. Technically, MCTs are not an exogenous ketone such as BHB salts. They’re not ketones. But they readily convert into ketones. So MCT oils and powders are a great source of endogenous ketones. The end result is similar, and thus this top 5 list includes MCT oil powders as well as BHB salts.
Zenwise Health Keto BHB is an exogenous ketone supplement that features goBHB, an innovative beta-hydroxybutyrate complex that supports the body's fueling processes through nutritional ketosis to promote peak mental and physical performance. Great for reaching ketosis fast, to max out your pre-workout routine, while also promoting overall high-performance, brain function, and maximum endurance. This Keto powder formula features a Raspberry Lemonade flavor that will mix and shake well with any water based drink. Best of all, this BHB is formulated with absolutely no carbs or caffeine for clean energy. Simply mix this BHB powder with water-based drinks or your favorite fruit flavored drink or smoothie, and enjoy.
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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