Hybrid strategy: A hybrid strategy is to follow a low-carb/high-fat ketogenic diet to induce nutritional ketosis and use ketone supplements strategically. Supplements like Ketone salts or MCT oil can help ease the transition into ketosis, they can be an effective tool when we are knocked out of nutritional ketosis and they can help push ketone levels higher in the body for added benefit.
EK use can be compared to the nootropics that have been developed for optimizing focus, memory creation, and faster cognitive performance. While you may not notice this effect on a minute to minute basis if you keep a journal of “forgetful moments” you’ll find that you have fewer of them as time goes on. You’ll also find that you’re able to come up with better ideas, and your workflow is more efficient through the day (10, 11).
The ketone esters are, hands-down, the worst tasting compounds I have ever put in my body. The world’s worst scotch tastes like spring water compared to these things. The first time I tried 50 mL of BHB monoester, I failed to mix it with anything (Dom warned me, but I was too eager to try them to actually read his instructions). Strategic error. It tasted as I imagine jet fuel would taste. I thought I was going to go blind. I didn’t stop gagging for 10 minutes. (I did this before an early morning bike ride, and I was gagging so loudly in the kitchen that I woke up my wife, who was still sleeping in our bedroom.) The taste of the AcAc di-ester is at least masked by the fact that Dom was able to put it into capsules. But they are still categorically horrible. The salts are definitely better, but despite experimenting with them for months, I was unable to consistently ingest them without experiencing GI side-effects; often I was fine, but enough times I was not, which left me concluding that I still needed to work out the kinks. From my discussions with others using the BHB salts, it seems I have a particularly sensitive GI system.
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.
Hi Mark, sorry this is off topic but not sure where to send a question for a future Ask Mark. I’m about to go into my yearly physical and I am wondering if there is any specific bloodwork that you like to do for your annual check up. I’m 47 year’s old and the than the basic blood work like lipid panel, etc..I’m going to ask my doctor to test my testosterone, HbA1C, fasting insulin, and Vitamin D levels. I’m also going to ask my doctor to do a stool test to check for parasites or other infections I may have picked up from open water swimming for triathlons. Can you recommend any other blood work that might be useful? Thanks!
Also, this experiement should be of interest. Two men followed a ‘traditional Eskimo’ diet for 1 year. After the year eating a low carb high fat diet, it was found that the men had a diminished tolerance to carbohydrates, something that did not occur in Eskimos eating the same diet. It took the mean nearly a month of eating a ‘normal diet’ before their glucose tolerance returned to baseline.
One monk, for example, set out to do a 40 day fast with medical supervision while maintaining his daily activities in the monastery. After 36 days, the medical professionals had to step in due to “profound weakness” and low blood pressure when standing. Although the monk fasted for 15 days longer than Ghandi, the medical professionals were able to stop the fast in time so that he could recover.
The liver is always producing ketones to some small degree and they are always present in the bloodstream. Under normal dietary conditions, ketone concentrations are simply too low to be of any significant benefit. A ketogenic diet and exogenous ketone supplements will increase the amount of ketone in your body. The idea that ketones are “toxic” is ridiculous. Ketones are a normal physiological substance that play many important roles in the human body.
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.
A typical serving of racemic ketone salts contains around 12g of beta hydroxybutyrate, of which only half is the D- form (6g). Compared to the 40g ketone esters I consumed (which are 100% D- form), I would need to consume somewhere around seven to nine packets of ketone salts to get the same amount of D-β-hydroxybutyrate (some D- form is wasted burning of the L- form), along with the huge amount of salts contained and more than a gallon of water (since the powders must be mixed). Even if one could consume that amount of ketone salts, they will probably suffer from what people often refer as “disaster pants” (aka diarrhea) due to the amount of salt consumed.
I came across a new company called KetoneAid that has begun producing small batches of ketone monoesters (KMEs). The main molecule in their product (D-β-hydroxybutyrate / D 1,3-butanediol) is based on a five-year, $10M study commissioned by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), looking to create the most powerful source of energy for special operations soldiers such as Navy SEALs, when undertaking very physically and cognitively challenging missions. In fact, the main researcher of the DARPA study is Dr. Richard Veech, the same person that authored the longevity study I just mentioned. Very cool.
A lot of people who use ketogenic diets will include a regular (i.e. weekly) carb refeed meal. There are various reasons behind doing this. If you are doing a lot of glycolic based training, then the carb refeed can help bump up muscle glycogen levels and in turn boost performance. Others use these refeeds as a way to keep their thyroid health in check, and finally some people use these refeeds as a ‘cheat day’ – so that they can still enjoy the pleasures from carbohydrates!
As repeated KE consumption would be required to maintain nutritional ketosis, we investigated the kinetics of drinks in series and of continuous intra-gastric infusion. During starvation, the accumulation of ketones (>4 mM) reportedly inhibited ketone clearance from the blood, however the underlying mechanism is unknown (Hall et al., 1984; Wastney et al., 1984; Balasse and Fery, 1989). In Study 3, βHB uptake and elimination were identical for the second and third KE drinks, suggesting that βHB may have reached a pseudo-steady state should further identical boluses have been given at similar intervals. Furthermore, when the KE was given at a constant rate via a NG tube, blood ketone concentrations remained ~3 mM. Therefore, repeated KE drinks effectively maintain ketosis at the intervals and doses studied here.
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.
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.
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.
Bottom line: EK isn't the magic pill for instant weight loss. EK triggers ketosis which is a metabolic state where your body burns fat for fuel. EK increases satiety and feeling full, and boosts energy for exercise which helps you lose weight for the long term. You should always aim for the long term and sustainable weight loss and keep the weight off for good instead of looking for a quick fix.
Anti-carcinogenic properties: Data seems to suggest that exogenous ketones are an effective anti-carcinogen. The reason behind this is that cancer cells are unable to use ketone bodies effectively, unlike most healthy tissues in the body. In fact, dietary ketone supplementation has been shown to increase survival rates of mice with systematic cancer by as much as 70%.17
The major determinant of whether the liver will produce ketone bodies is the amount of liver glycogen present (8). The primary role of liver glycogen is to maintain normal blood glucose levels. When dietary carbohydrates are removed from the diet and blood glucose falls, glucagon signals the liver to break down its glycogen stores to glucose which is released into the bloodstream. After approximately 12-16 hours, depending on activity, liver glycogen is almost completely depleted. At this time, ketogenesis increases rapidly. In fact, after liver glycogen is depleted, the availability of FFA will determine the rate of ketone production. (12)
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!
I carried out a survey among Diet Doctor users as background research to the experiment (a big thank you to the 638 people who responded!). In the survey, 28% of the respondents reported that they do take ketone supplements. The top four benefits that these respondents reported experiencing were increased energy, improved focus/cognition, reduced hunger and weight loss.
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.
Skipping breakfast on a keto diet is a popular way to boost ketone levels. Despite the age-old myth that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, research shows that breakfast skipping is not only safe but beneficial. Skipping breakfast causes intermittent ketosis and also suppresses appetite . Make sure your next meal of the day isn't too late in the evening as studies show that eating meals late at night causes weight gain and impairs fat metabolism .
Plenty of supplements make you a fractionally better sportsman and these are no different. The synthetic exogenous ketones helped Olympic-caliber cyclists cover an average of 411 additional meters during a 30-minute time-trial, which resulted in a two percent increase in overall speed, found a paper in Cell Metabolism. That can be the difference between feeling the glorious tug of the winner’s ribbon across your chest or rolling in with the stragglers.
First, there’s something unnatural about having elevated levels of ketones and glucose together. It’s really hard to make that happen using traditional whole foods. The closest natural approximation you could get to it would be the traditional coconut-rich diets of the Kitava people in the South Pacific, where the medium chain triglycerides (MCT) in the coconut fat increased ketone production alongside the carbs in the fruit and tubers they ate. They had excellent metabolic health, but they weren’t anywhere close to a ketogenic diet. Coconut fat isn’t as ketogenic as purified MCT oil, let alone exogenous ketones.
You see, when someone says ketosis is a natural state, they mean that ketosis is the body’s backup plan for those times when there isn’t any food to eat. It’s an evolutionary adaptation that developed over hundreds of thousands of years and springs from a time when our distant ancestors often had to go many days between decent meals. Fortunately, these days actual starvation is pretty rare so most people will never be in ketosis. But the physiological mechanism is still there, lurking in the background, readily accessible to anyone who is willing to trick their body into thinking it’s starving.
As KE drinks achieved a significantly higher d-βHB concentrations than KS, we investigated factors that may be important in the use of ketone drinks to achieve nutritional ketosis. Initially we determined the repeatability of blood ketosis following KE drinks and found little variation in kinetic parameters between individuals. Variability between participants was less than within the population, and accurate individual prediction of the d-βHB Cmax following a body-weight adjusted KE drink was achieved. Variability within individuals was likely due to normal daily changes in GI function, including gastric emptying, portal blood flow or intestinal transit time, which may alter KE hydrolysis and absorption.
So I’ve been primarily on a Keto diet for almost 6 months. During this time, I have fine tuned a lot to get my ketone levels up (Eating more fat and less protein). Most recently, I have used blood measurements for my ketone levels and I fluctuate between .6 and 2.6. The higher readings I get on the days I workout in the morning (about 5 hours before I draw blood and take a reading). I don’t have any problems sticking to the diet. It only seems to get easier. I’ve also incorporated 16 hour fasts which also are becoming easier over time. My priority and motivation for doing a keto diet is first and foremost weight loss. So far I have lost 40 pounds and I need to lose about 20 more. I do however want to improve my performance (running) and strength (I am doing the Stronglifts 5×5 program now).
When our cells undergo the process of autophagy, non-essential parts like damaged proteins are recycled and invading microorganisms and toxic compounds are removed. This means that autophagy plays an important role in stopping the aging process, reversing disease, and preventing cancer, but it doesn’t happen all the time. Fasting, protein restriction, and carbohydrate restriction are the three main ways that can initiate different autophagic processes — all of which are not the same. This is part of the reason why a ketogenic diet has so many positive effects, and it also shows you why intermittent fasting is a way to improve your diet even more.
Lots of good info but some things are just plain wrong. It takes 2 days max to get into ketosis if you stop eating carbs. Your body can only store roughly 2 days worth of glycogen. When those stores are exhausted your body will immediately turn to fat. It may take a week or several weeks to get “keto adapted” but it simply won’t ever take you more than 2 days to get into a state of ketosis.
Despite the recent growth of the ketone salt market, there is very little published work analyzing the effects of these products on any biomarkers or performance measurements in humans. Several studies have been carried out in rats,6,7 with blood BHB levels being relatively low (<0.5 mM) post-consumption of salt drinks. In humans, ketone salts provided peak D-BHB levels of 1 mM, whereas the same amount of BHB in a ketone ester (BD-BHB) raised blood BHB to 2.8 mM.5
Effects of ketone supplementation on body weight: Rats administered ketone supplements gained less weight over the 4-week period; however, did not lose weight and maintained healthy range for age. KE supplemented rats gained significantly less weight during the entire 4-week study compared to controls. BMS + MCT, BMS, and BD supplemented rats gained significantly less weight than controls over weeks 2–4.MCT supplemented rats gained significantly less weight than controls over weeks 3–4, Two-Way ANOVA with Tukey’s post hoc test, results considered significant if p < 0.05. Error bars represent mean (SD)
I also concluded that post by discussing the possibility of testing this (theoretical) idea in a real person, with the help of exogenous (i.e., synthetic) ketones. I have seen this effect in (unpublished) data in world class athletes not on a ketogenic diet who have supplemented with exogenous ketones (more on that, below). Case after case showed a small, but significant increase in sub-threshold performance (as an example, efforts longer than about 4 minutes all-out).
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