It is a good idea to weigh the pros and cons before deciding to add a calcium supplement to your diet. This includes exogenous ketone supplements. If you have any risk factors for osteoporosis, have low bone density, or have issues that prevent you from consuming a nutrient-rich diet, then the benefits of calcium supplements will likely outweigh the risks. But don’t forget that there are other avenues to improving your bone density, like strength training, and, more importantly, a well-balanced diet.
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.

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 
But going keto takes work. You have to overhaul your diet, restrict certain classes of foods, and pay close attention to what you eat. People prefer to avoid work if they can. They like shortcuts. Exogenous ketone supplements promise a shortcut—swallow this pill or mix this powder into your water and see your ketones skyrocket without changing the rest of your diet.
We designed a test for each of the chosen benefit claims and enlisted the help of four of our Diet Doctor teammates to try out the supplements and go through the testing. They were Jonatan and Giorgos from the video team, Emőke from the recipe team and Erik from the IT team. We had a mix of people who were naturally in endogenous ketosis during testing, and people who were not.
Ketone Salts: While the body uses and makes BHB ketones salts naturally, in supplement form ketone salts are synthetically (lab) made compounds that combine sodium (and/or potassium, calcium, or magnesium) with BHB. The salt is used to raise the pH and make things less acidic. Currently, all ketone supplements on the market are made from ketone salts. While they raise ketone levels, most people will only experience mild nutritional ketosis (~0.6-1.0 mmol/L).

Another factor to consider is that in nutritional ketosis the liver makes a steady supply of ketones and continuously releases them into the circulation. In contrast, most ketone supplement protocols involve bolus intakes that don’t mimic the endogenous release pattern. The extent to which this impacts metabolic and signaling responses across different tissues remains unclear.
The classical KD consists of a 4:1 ratio of fat to protein and carbohydrate, with 80–90 % of total calories derived from fat [27]. 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 [35].
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.
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.
In terms of epigenetic signaling, initial studies of the effects of BOHB on class-1 histone deacetylase activity against oxidative stress (Schimazu 2013), NLRP3 inflammasome suppression (Youm 2015), mouse longevity (Roberts 2017), and other epigenetic regulatory effects suggest that levels as low as 1 mM have potent effects. Furthermore, the association between very mild ketonemia and reduced coronary mortality with SGLT2 inhibitor use in patients with type 2 diabetes (Ferranini 2016) suggests that there might be clinical benefits with chronic BOHB levels as low as 0.3 mM (Gormsen 2017. Vetter 2017).
As Dr. Ryan Lowery pointed out to me, ketone supplements could play an important role in the future for elite sports performance, for example, or for people with brain injuries who cannot metabolize glucose properly. I am encouraged that scientists are working to develop these possibilities and, as long as plenty of peer-reviewed scientific research is done into the products being developed, I could feel more positive about the ketone salts in the future. For now, that scientific support is lacking.

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.
It is a good idea to weigh the pros and cons before deciding to add a calcium supplement to your diet. This includes exogenous ketone supplements. If you have any risk factors for osteoporosis, have low bone density, or have issues that prevent you from consuming a nutrient-rich diet, then the benefits of calcium supplements will likely outweigh the risks. But don’t forget that there are other avenues to improving your bone density, like strength training, and, more importantly, a well-balanced diet.
Ketogenesis is the metabolism of fatty acids by β-oxidation. 4 This process gives acetyl CoA which then leads to β-hydroxy-β-methyglutaryl-CoA (HMG-CoA) as seen below5. HMG-CoA converts into Acetoacetone which can switch back and forth to BHB. Acetoacetone to Acetone conversion is irreversible (on the left below). Acetoacetate and BHB (via acetoacetate) are used to produce energy when converted back into acetyl-CoA within a cell’s mitochondria whilst Acetone is excreted in the breath and urine.4
Even though endurance athletes can train in a carb depleted state, they will generally consume carbohydrates in the lead up to a race (the athlete is seeking to increase the ability to run off fats by training in a carb depleted state, then benefiting from both fats AND carbs come race day). Likewise, with the brain, even though the brain can function off ketones, does it mean it’s the best state for brain function?

There is so much talk about the benefits of a ketogenic diet and its ability to improve fat burning, brain health, energy and anti-aging.  The main units of energy on a ketogenic diet are ketone bodies, of which beta hydroxybutyrate (BHB) is the main player!  This article will go over the health benefits of BHB and exogenous ketones. Additionally, this article will cover strategies on using exogenous ketones in your daily life.

For the first part of my experiment, I would simply record my blood ketone and glucose levels over a period of two hours after taking the ketone esters. While I am already fairly keto-adapted and can attain nutritional ketosis fairly easily (> 0.5 mmol/L), it wasn’t until the end of my Five-day Fasting Mimicking Diet that I was even close to reaching therapeutic ketosis levels (>5.0 mmol/L).
Thank you, Mark! I am an ME/CFS patient, and I have improved quite a bit on a ketogenic diet, which I have been following for the past 3 months. I am slowly losing weight (much needed) and I wondered, does using exogenous ketones inhibit fat loss? I’m trying to balance the benefits of continuing weight loss with benefits in dealing with ME/CFS symptoms. Thank you for any info you can offer!
There is a great deal of positive speculation that exogenous ketones can be beneficial for inflammation, cognitive enhancement, and even protection against certain types of cancer. There is mounting evidence that the ketogenic way of eating can help many people, and when used appropriately with realistic expectations, exogenous ketone supplementation can enhance these positive effects (25).
If you have been reading the science behind the ketogenic diet, you know there can be a lot of benefits associated with choosing this way of eating. There is usually a transition period from when someone chooses to go on a ketogenic diet and implements the changes to their menu to when they actually get into ketosis and are able to produce and burn ketones for fuel.
It’s sometimes the case that a person has been attempting to transition to a state of ketosis, but in spite of their best efforts, they seem stuck in a kind of limbo where they’re eating hardly any carbs, but they don’t seem to be losing weight or experiencing the other benefits of the keto diet. But the science is the science, which means if you’re doing everything right you should be in ketosis. If you’re not, or you seem to be drifting in and out of a keto state, it’s not your body’s fault, it’s your diet.
Comments are welcomed and encouraged. The purpose of comments on our site is to expand knowledge, engage in thoughtful discussion, and learn more from readers. Criticism and skepticism can be far more useful than praise and unflinching belief. There’s an art and science to critical thinking and how to conduct yourself. There’s a multitude of fallacious appeals we could spell out, but a good rule of thumb is not to attack the person, attack the ideas. Don’t look for the flaws in the person, look for the flaws in the hypothesis. Let’s keep the brawling to movies depicting minor league hockey teams and political “news” shows. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

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