The chart below shows my ketone and glucose response to consuming 40g of KetoneAid’s ketone esters, which had been calculated to be my optimal serving size based on my weight (170lbs) and type of activity (I am moderately active/athletic, but cognitive experiments are a “low” physical activity). Normally, for increased physical performance ketone esters are consumed along with some glucose, but since I was only focusing on cognitive performance I did not consume any glucose.
As ketone drinks can deliver nutritional ketosis without fasting, we investigated the effect of food on KE uptake and metabolism. It is well documented that food in the gut can slow, or prevent, the uptake of small hydrophilic hydrocarbons, such as βHB (Melander, 1978; Toothaker and Welling, 1980; Horowitz et al., 1989; Fraser et al., 1995), so decreased gut βHB uptake is probably the cause of lower blood βHB following the meal. Despite higher blood βHB concentrations in the fasted state, the meal did not alter plasma AcAc. This suggests that the rate of conversion of βHB to AcAc may not match the rate of appearance of βHB following KE consumption. Alternatively, meal-induced changes in the hepatic ratio of NAD+:NADH may have altered the conversion of βHB to AcAc (Himwich et al., 1937; Desrochers et al., 1992).
Blood glucose concentrations are decreased during both exogenous and endogenous ketosis, although by different mechanisms. During endogenous ketosis, dietary carbohydrate deficit is the underlying cause of low blood glucose, along with reduced hepatic gluconeogenesis and increased ketone production (Cahill et al., 1966). With exogenous ketosis, carbohydrate stores are plentiful, yet ketones appear to lower blood glucose through limiting hepatic gluconeogenesis and increasing peripheral glucose uptake (Mikkelsen et al., 2015). One clinical use of the ketogenic diet is to improve blood glucose control, yet the elevated blood FFA may increase the risk of heart failure (Holloway et al., 2009). Thus, the ability of exogenous ketones to lower blood glucose without elevating blood FFA concentrations could deliver the desired effect of the diet, whilst also decreasing a potential risk.
We demonstrated that therapeutic ketosis could be induced without dietary (calorie or carbohydrate) restriction and that this acute elevation in blood ketones was significantly correlated with a reduction in blood glucose (Figs. 2, ,33 and and4).4). The BMS ketone supplement did not significantly induce blood hyperketonemia or reduced glucose in the rats. The KE supplemented rats trended towards reduced glucose levels; however, the lower dose of this agent did not lower glucose significantly, as reported previously in acute response of mice . MCTs have previously been shown to elicit a slight hypoglycemic effect by enhancing glucose utilization in both diabetic and non-diabetic patients [86–88]. Kashiwaya et al. demonstrated that both blood glucose and blood insulin decreased by approximately 50 % in rats fed a diet where 30 % of calories from starch were replaced with ketone esters for 14 days, suggesting that ketone supplementation increases insulin sensitivity or reduced hepatic glucose output . This ketone-induced hypoglycemic effect has been previously reported in humans with IV infusions of ketone bodies [90, 91]. Recently, Mikkelsen et al. showed that a small increase in βHB concentration decreases glucose production by 14 % in post-absorptive health males . However, this has not been previously reported with any of the oral exogenous ketone supplements we studied. Ketones are an efficient and sufficient energy substrate for the brain, and will therefore prevent side effects of hypoglycemia when blood levels are elevated and the patient is keto-adapted. This was most famously demonstrated by Owen et al. in 1967 wherein keto-adapted patients (starvation induced therapeutic ketosis) were given 20 IU of insulin. The blood glucose of fasted patients dropped to 1–2 mM, but they exhibited no hypoglycemic symptoms due to brain utilization of ketones for energy . Therefore, ketones maintain brain metabolism and are neuroprotective during severe hypoglycemia. The rats in the MCT group had a correlation of blood ketone and glucose levels at week 4, whereas the combination of BMS + MCT produced a significant hypoglycemic correlation both at baseline and at week 4. No hypoglycemic symptoms were observed in the rats during this study. Insulin levels were not measured in this study; however, future ketone supplementation studies should measure the effects of exogenous ketones on insulin sensitivity with a glucose tolerance test. An increase in insulin sensitivity in combination with our observed hypoglycemic effect has potential therapy implications for glycemic control in T2D . Furthermore, it should be noted that the KE metabolizes to both AcAc and βHB in 1:1 ratio . The ketone monitor used in this study only measures βHB as levels of AcAc are more difficult to measure due to spontaneous decarboxylation to acetone; therefore, the total ketone levels (βHB + AcAc) measured were likely higher, specifically for the KE . Interestingly, the 10 g/kg dose produced a delayed blood βHB peak for ketone supplements MCT and BMS + MCT. The higher dose of the ketogenic supplements elevated blood levels more substantially, and thus reached their maximum blood concentration later due to prolonged metabolic clearance. It must be noted that the dosage used in this study does not translate to human patients, since the metabolic physiology of rats is considerably higher. Future studies will be needed to determine optimal dosing for human patients.
First and foremost, one of the most important factors is to be discipline when following the ketogenic diet. This means heavily restricting your carbohydrate intake, while switching to high-fat foods and moderate proteins. The general rule of thumb when it comes to splitting your macros out should look something like this: 5% (carbs)/ 80% (fats)/ 15% (proteins). Although if you’re just starting out, I wouldn’t focus too heavily on macros but rather place more importance in restricting your carbohydrate intake to 20 grams or less. Depending on the individual, most keto diets will allow approximately 20g-70g of net carbs as part of your overall daily intake, but if you’re asking the extreme question of ‘how to get into ketosis in 24 hours?’ then let’s focus on the absolute limit. For a more detailed breakdown, please see my keto shopping list article.
Exogenous ketones provide the body with another fuel to employ. Think about it like an electric car that runs on both gas and electricity: by consuming ketones along with carbohydrates, the body will preferentially burn the ketones first, saving the carbohydrates for later. Exogenous ketones allow us to enter a metabolic state that wouldn't occur naturally: the state of having full carbohydrate stores, as well as elevated ketones in the blood. This could be advantageous to athletes looking to boost their physical performance.
Other studies have found that fasting was as effective as chemotherapeutic agents in delaying progression of different tumors and increased the effectiveness of chemotherapeutic drugs against melanoma, glioma, and breast cancer cells. Although this research may not apply to your life, it does suggest that intermittent fasting can help support your body in times of toxic stress.
When your body transitions from using energy from carbohydrates to ketones, there can be a lot of nasty and unwanted side effects. These include low energy, bloating, irritability, headaches and fatigue. This is because your body is “in between” burning carbs and burning ketones and hasn’t become efficient at burning ketones and producing them from your fat stores yet.
You may wonder why we are emphasizing on using these specific oils. Well, this is because the extra virgin oil is an unprocessed form, and contains lauric acid that is antimicrobial in nature and is good for brain health. (This is the same lauric acid that is naturally found in breast milk as well.) Its antibacterial property also indirectly supports the growth of Candida that keep your gut healthy.
If you stop eating carbs, your body first uses up glucose reserves stored in the liver and muscles. After it burns all that's left of glucose, it has no other options but to start burning fat. It can burn either your body's fat stores or the fat you eat. However, not all cells in your body can use fat to make energy and this is where ketones come into play.
I’m getting an increasing number of questions about exogenous ketones. Are they good? Do they work for performance? Is there a dose-response curve? If I’m fasting, can I consume them without “breaking” the fast? Am I in ketosis if my liver isn’t producing ketones, but my BOHB is 1.5 mmol/L after ingesting ketones? Can they “ramp-up” ketogenesis? Are they a “smart drug?” What happens if someone has high levels of both glucose and ketones? Are some products better than others? Salts vs esters? BHB vs AcAc? Can taking exogenous ketones reduce endogenous production on a ketogenic diet? What’s the difference between racemic mixtures, D-form, and L-form? What’s your experience with MCTs and C8?
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