Is keto safe? Putting yourself through this type of therapy isn't always easy and the process can take some getting used to, in particular during the initial stages when people must go through a period of fasting in order to raise ketone bodies faster. Of course, by doing this, it can put your body through a bit of shock and may cause a person to experience some short-term side effects until their bodies begin to adapt to the lifestyle and any BHB supplement they may be taking.
Sure Leslie, the goal is to induce the burning of stored fat in your body. This process usually take a few days of strictly limiting carbohydrate intake. Supplementing with exogenous ketones is a way to shortcut the wait time, essentially “tricking” your body into ketosis. I imagine supplementing with too many could have negative effects on fat loss, but the research is not out supporting that claim yet.
Appetite suppression: Appetite was measured in 10 males and 5 females after consuming a ketone ester (KE) or a dextrose (DEXT) drink . Desire to eat and perception of hunger dropped after both drinks, but the KE was 50% more effective for 1.5-4hrs. Insulin levels rose for both drinks but were 3x less with the KE drink after 30mins (Fig 2). The hunger hormone, ghrelin, was significantly lower between 2 to 4 hours after drinking the KE (Fig 2). In conclusion Ketone esters delay the onset of hunger and lower the desire to eat. 8
Uncontrolled diabetics may face some risks in using exogenous ketones. This is because when the body is unable to produce insulin (type I diabetics and extreme type II diabetics), it is unable to get sugar or glucose into the cells. Therefore, the body will start producing ketones. If these individuals do not use an insulin injection, they can overtime build up unsafe levels of ketones (6).
Ketones naturally exist in the body, being created during the process of fat metabolism and are therefore safe to consume even during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Supplements such as Ketologie’s PROBHB are simply providing ketones from an external (exogenous means literally ‘outside of the body’) source. However, if you suffer from any medical conditions and/or are on medications, it is always advisable to consult your health care provider prior to starting any new nutritional or dietary supplement.
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.
I have tried the following preparations of exogenous ketones: BHB monoester, AcAc di-ester, BHB mineral salt (BHB combined with Na+, K+, and Ca2+). I have consumed these at different concentrations and in combination with different mixing agents, including MCT oil, pure caprylic acid (C8), branch-chained amino acids, and lemon juice (to lower the pH). I won’t go into the details of each, though, for the sake of time.
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Onnit is an incredible company that’s making a massive impacts in the lives of athletes in nearly every sport. From Olympic Gold Medalists, to NFL middle linebackers, Onnit has taken athletic performance to a new level. Providing supplements, food, and training equipment, Onnit was an early adopter of the elite performance booster that is exogenous ketones!
Measurements taken included whole blood glucose and BHB (every 5 minutes); VO2 and VCO2 (every 15 seconds); HR (continuous); RQ is calculated as the ratio of VO2 and VCO2. In the video of this post I explain what VO2, VCO2, and RQ tell us about energy expenditure and substrate use—very quickly, RQ typically varies between about 0.7 and 1.0—the closer RQ is to 0.7, the more fat is being oxidized; the reverse is true as RQ approaches 1.0
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.
Ketones may be a better source of fuel than glucose, and a far better beverage than Fruitopia, but it's a question of whether or not you can spare the extra fuel. Because just like adding sugar to a diet, it's like pressing pause on the fat burning process since the body preferentially burns it for fuel. Adding ketones to the diet does the same thing.
Emerging evidence supports the therapeutic potential of the ketogenic diet (KD) for a variety of disease states, leading investigators to research methods of harnessing the benefits of nutritional ketosis without the dietary restrictions. The KD has been used as an effective non-pharmacological therapy for pediatric intractable seizures since the 1920s [1–3]. In addition to epilepsy, the ketogenic diet has elicited significant therapeutic effects for weight loss and type-2 diabetes (T2D) . Several studies have shown significant weight loss on a high fat, low carbohydrate diet without significant elevations of serum cholesterol [5–12]. Another study demonstrated the safety and benefits of long-term application of the KD in T2D patients. Patients exhibited significant weight loss, reduction of blood glucose, and improvement of lipid markers after eating a well-formulated KD for 56 weeks . Recently, researchers have begun to investigate the use of the KD as a treatment for acne, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), traumatic brain injury (TBI) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) with promising preliminary results [14–26].
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.
That’s not to say that the supplements don’t work. They very well might. But they could also be useless—or even dangerous, says Christine Palumbo, RDN, Nominating Committee member for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. As of right now, there’s no way to know. “Currently, there’s just not enough evidence from research studies to answer those questions,” Barnes adds.
After a minimal amount of internet "research," I decided to try my first exogenous ketones. I have used the ketogenic diet off and on for at 15 years and my body is pretty efficient at fat adapting. (Usually by the end of 2 strict days, I am in ketosis, but not without symptoms and intense cravings.) I can consistently fast from carbs for 20 - 24 hours and do this consistently. However, around hour 20, my mind begins to negotiate that intermittent fasting is advantageous too and that I can afford to have some carbs once a day. Hence the yo-yo effect.
There are a couple factors that will make this look much more viable and achievable. For example, if you were to skip breakfast and have your first meal at 12PM, you could eat up until 8PM. This will also mean that dinner needs to be eaten slightly earlier. But let’s not forget about the fact that if we were to combine this with the 6-10 hours of sleep that you would normally have each night, that’ll take up the majority of your fasting period. Obviously, you’re not restricted to these hours, as everyone has a different schedule. Doesn’t sound as bad as you initially thought? Well let’s make it even more enticing! During your fasting hours, and this is extremely helpful during mornings up until you can have your first meal, non-caloric beverages such as tea and coffee can help starve away those hung pangs. Just make sure you’re taking these drinks on it’s own, without any added sugar or milk. There are many variations of intermittent fasting with the most common being 16/8. But depending on your schedule, there are other options advocated such as 20/4, 22/2, and if you’re crazy enough and can eat a full day’s worth of calories in one sitting then there is also OMAD (one meal a day).
Blood, urine, plasma, and breath ketone concentrations following mole-matched ketone ester or isocaloric dextrose drinks in fed and fasted subjects (n = 16) at rest. Data from both of the two study visits in each condition (fed and fasted) completed by an individual are included in the analysis. Values are means ± SEM. (A) Blood d-βHB. (B) AUC of blood d-βHB. (C) Urine d-βHB excretion. (D) Plasma acetoacetate (AcAc). (E) Measured breath acetone (ppm = parts per million). (F,G) Mean d-βHB Cmax and difference between βHB Cmax over two visits when subjects separately consumed two ketone ester drinks in both the fed (F) and fasted (G) state. X axis = mean d-βHB Cmax of the 2 visits (mM), Y axis = difference between d-βHB Cmax in each visit. 95% confidence limits are shown as dotted lines. Significance denoted by: *p < 0.05 fed vs. fasted.
Blood d-βHB, pH, bicarbonate (HCO3-) and electrolytes measured in arterialized blood samples from resting subjects (n = 7) following a ketone ester or salt drink containing 3.2 mmol.kg−1 of βHB. Shaded areas represent the normal range. Values are means ± SEM. (A) Venous blood d-βHB. (B) Arterialized blood pH. (C) Blood bicarbonate. (D) Blood potassium. (E) Blood sodium. (F) Blood chloride. †p < 0.05 difference between KE and KS, *p < 0.05 difference from baseline value.
How BHB turns into energy is a fairly simple process. As we’ve mentioned, beta hydroxybutryate eventually leads to energy production after you consume it or after your body breaks stored body fat down. It does this by going into the cell, entering the mitochondria (energy factories) at which stage it cleaves the carboxyl acid group and becomes acetoacetate (another “ketone body”). Acetoacetate turns into acetoacetyl-CoA, which then is cleaved to acetone (another “ketone body”) and acetyl-CoA. Acetyl-CoA is the whole reason we want BHB in the first place. This jumps into what is called the Kreb’s cycle (don’t you remember any of your biochemistry classes?) and is churned into ATP — the energy currency of your cells!
Exogenous Ketones have been shown in performance studies of both humans and animals to improve metabolic efficiency, which in essence means that your body is using better fuel that burns more efficiently over longer periods of time, and decreases the amount of fuel you need while performing. Where glucose fails (glycogen depletion), ketones pick up the slack!
And zero-carb, followed by fasting for two meals, and then followed up by a second zero-carb meal is almost always all you need to get into ketosis fast. By Sunday or Monday morning, after a second night of no carbs, you'll be in a deep enough ketosis that hunger will crash and your energy will surge to help you transition into your low-carb diet of choice.
Taking exogenous ketones not only eliminates the need to follow a strict ketogenic diet to achieve ketosis (so you can have your high carb cake and eat it too), it can also help users get there faster. “They can expedite the process of getting into ketosis and becoming fat adapted,” Davis explains. “They can also help people push past the keto flu and potentially experience more mental energy and clarity than from diet alone.”
The salts typically utilize sodium, potassium, calcium, or magnesium as the cation. Because these cations vary in molecular weight and valence (1+ or 2+), the amount of mineral delivered per gram of BOHB varies from 10% for the magnesium salt to 27% for potassium. Given that recommended daily intakes of these various minerals range from a few hundred milligrams up to 5 grams, whereas the daily ketone intake goal to mimic nutritional ketosis blood levels would need to be on the order of 50 grams, achieving this goal with ketone salts would severely challenge human dietary mineral tolerance.
Plecko B., Stoeckler-Ipsiroglu S., Schober E., Harrer G., Mlynarik V., Gruber S., et al. . (2002). Oral beta-hydroxybutyrate supplementation in two patients with hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemia: monitoring of beta-hydroxybutyrate levels in blood and cerebrospinal fluid, and in the brain by in vivo magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Pediatr. Res. 52, 301–306. 10.1203/01.PDR.0000019439.27135.2B [PubMed] [CrossRef]
There are enticing anecdotes of supplemental ketones being used to boost human physical performance in competitive events, notably among elite cyclists. Given that BOHB can deliver more energy per unit of oxygen consumed than either glucose or fatty acids (Sato 1995, Cox 2016, Murray 2016), this makes sense. But what we do not know is if there is any required period of adaptation to the use of exogenous ketones, and thus how to employ them in training. It is clear that exogenous ketones decrease adipose tissue lipolysis and availability of fatty acids, the exact opposite to what happens on a well formulated ketogenic diet. This distinction between exogenous ketones and ketogenic diets on adipose tissue physiology and human energy balance underscores an important reason why these two ketone-boosting strategies should not be conflated.
This is another point that Brianna Stubbs put me onto: often, ketone-salt companies use terms such as “technology developed by Dominic D’Agostino” as a tool to market their products. Dom D’Agostino holds the patent for the technology being used but is not associated with the products and does not necessarily promote them. In many cases, this feels like a marketing strategy that name-drops a famous keto expert in order to make a product sound more legitimate. There is an example of this on Real Ketones’ website.
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.
Intermittent fasting involves merely changing your eating cycle whereby you prolong the period in which you will have your first meal. This diet plan helps to create a smaller eating window. In doing so, it means that you will consume less amount of calories. In addition to depriving the body some calories, intermittent fasting forces the body to begin burning fats. It does so to compensate for the current deficiency.
If you have tried other ketone supplements that haven’t worked as promised or tasted terrible. Have no fear. This stuff is what a ketone supplement should be. It’s incredible what customers tell me. How it’s given them more energy, focus, drive. Helped them lose weight and suppress their appetite. Help them train harder at the gym and all kinds of great stories.*
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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