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Getting into a state of ketosis normally involves eating a ketogenic diet consisting of around 80 percent fat, 15 percent protein, and 5 percent carbs. Over time, the body transitions from burning carbs for fuel to burning ketones—an alternative fuel source that the liver makes by breaking down fat, explains keto diet expert Amy Davis, RD, LDN. Since advocates say that ketosis can help you lose weight fast, think more clearly, and feel more energized, it’s tempting to try.
At baseline, 4 h after intragastric gavage, the elevation of blood ketones was inversely related to the reduction of blood glucose compared to controls following the administration of MCT (5 g/kg) (p = 0.008) and BMS + MCT (5 g/kg) (p = 0.039) . There was no significant correlation between blood ketone levels and blood glucose levels compared to controls for any other ketone supplemented group at baseline (Fig. 4a). At week 4, 4 h after intragastric gavage, there was a significant correlation between blood ketone levels and blood glucose levels compared to controls in MCT (10 g/kg) and BMS + MCT (10 g/kg) (p < 0.0001, p < 0.0001) (Fig. 4b).
Individuals who have clinically unregulated blood sugar, such as those with diabetes, are cautioned to consult their trusted healthcare provider before choosing to use exogenous ketones. While it can be done safely, especially in the presence of a well-formulated ketogenic food plan, there may be a risk of blood sugar dropping unexpectedly low. There may be therapeutic value in this application, but close monitoring is key.
This was a big surprise. We were at the very least expecting that drinking a ketone supplement would cause blood ketones to rise, but an average increase of 0.33 mmol/L is very small. The supplement associated with the highest average increase in blood ketones was Prüvit’s Keto-OS Max, but it was only an increase of 0.6 mmol/L. Brianna Stubbs, the ketone researcher I consulted with, agrees that an increase of below 2.0-3.0 mmol/L is unlikely to be of much use.
1 – If you’re not looking to spend a ton of money up front while testing the ketogenic lifestyle – no problem! For starters, you need to try nutritional ketosis before ever worrying about exogenous supplementation. If you don’t like the diet, it’s not going to matter how many supplements you by. However, if you want to get an idea if exogenous ketones are for you, we would suggest a simple MCT Oil, or a great beginner exo keto like Keto CaNa.
A small side effect for some people is “ketosis breath”. Many people on a ketogenic diet have experienced this temporary phenomenon, and those taking exogenous ketones can experience it as well. The smell of your breath when you are early in the ketogenic diet can have a hint of acetone to it, and it might be mildly unpleasant, but it’s also harmless. Most gum is pretty low in carbohydrates and is a great option while your keto breath fades.
Ketone Esters: These are not normally found in the body, but exogenous ketone esters convert into BHB once it is in the body. They are also synthetically (lab) made compounds that link an alcohol to a ketone body, which can then be metabolized by the liver into a ketone. They are like ketone salts on steroids as they have 5-10 time more BHB per serving/maximum daily intake than ketone salts. To date, pure ketone esters have been very expensive to produce and have only been available to researchers, elite athletes (Tour de France cyclists), and the US Department of Defense (people have spent more than $20,000 to have an independent lab produce a single serving!).
Recent studies suggest that many of the benefits of the KD are due to the effects of ketone body metabolism. Interestingly, in studies on T2D patients, improved glycemic control, improved lipid markers, and retraction of insulin and other medications occurred before weight loss became significant. Both βHB and AcAc have been shown to decrease mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) production [36–39]. Veech et al. have summarized the potential therapeutic uses for ketone bodies [28, 40]. They have demonstrated that exogenous ketones favorably alter mitochondrial bioenergetics to reduce the mitochondrial NAD couple, oxidize the co-enzyme Q, and increase the ΔG’ (free enthalpy) of ATP hydrolysis . Ketone bodies have been shown to increase the hydraulic efficiency of the heart by 28 %, simultaneously decreasing oxygen consumption while increasing ATP production . Thus, elevated ketone bodies increase metabolic efficiency and as a consequence, reduce superoxide production and increase reduced glutathione . Sullivan et al. demonstrated that mice fed a KD for 10–12 days showed increased hippocampal uncoupling proteins, indicative of decreased mitochondrial-produced ROS . Bough et al. showed an increase of mitochondrial biogenesis in rats maintained on a KD for 4–6 weeks [44, 45]. Recently, Shimazu et al. reported that βHB is an exogenous and specific inhibitor of class I histone deacetylases (HDACs), which confers protection against oxidative stress . Ketone bodies have also been shown to suppress inflammation by decreasing the inflammatory markers TNF-a, IL-6, IL-8, MCP-1, E-selectin, I-CAM, and PAI-1 [8, 46, 47]. Therefore, it is thought that ketone bodies themselves confer many of the benefits associated with the KD.
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.
And now, you can take ketone supplements (salts and esters), known as exogenous ketones, without actually restricting anything. According to those promoting this nasty-tasting supplement, that means you can have a brain and body fuelled by ketones, along with all of the supposed health benefits that come with running on fat. Well, don't fall for it.
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.
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.
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Anti-cancer potential: Recent research suggests that ketogenic diets can blunt malignant tumor growth. This is due to the fact cancer cells can’t metabolize ketones effectively to nourish their growth and replication. Astonishingly, one study found that supplementing with BHB salts increases odds of survival in mice with systemic cancer by up to 70% in comparison to mice who didn’t receive exogenous ketones.
The effects of the two exogenous ketone drinks on acid-base balance and blood pH were disparate. In solution the ketone salt fully dissociates (giving a total of 3.2–6.4 g of inorganic cation per drink), allowing βHB− to act as a conjugate base, mildly raising blood and urine pH, as seen during salt IV infusions (Balasse and Ooms, 1968; Balasse, 1979). Urinary pH increased with the salts as the kidneys excreted the excess cations. In contrast, KE hydrolysis in the gut provides βHB− with butanediol, which subsequently underwent hepatic metabolism to form the complete keto-acid, thus briefly lowering blood pH to 7.31. Electrolyte shifts were similar for both KE and KS drinks and may have occurred due to βHB− metabolism, causing cellular potassium influx and sodium efflux (Palmer, 2015).
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.
I had the chance to interview Dr. Ryan Lowery, Ph.D. about this in person. He performs some (not peer-reviewed) research on different brands of ketone salts and is listed as one of the “specialists” on Prüvit’s website. He suggested that we had perhaps ran the tests too long after the supplements were taken, stating that blood ketones tend to peak at 30 minutes. This is, however, not what Prüvit themselves state in their article on the 59-minute test, or the promise to reach ketosis in 60 minutes on the Kegenix Prime packaging. Plus, do you really want to spend up to $390/month on a product that gives you the benefits of ketosis for half an hour?
MCT Oil is a keto supplement that helps your body make ketones. The oil contains pure medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are types of fatty acids that your body prefers using for immediate energy. Unlike long-chain fatty acids, MCTs don't require enzymes and bile for digestion and they go straight to the liver where they are used for making free fatty acids or ketones. Studies on MCTs show that they promote weight loss .
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.
I’m not sure whether I am leto-adapted but have been following the keto program for about 6 weeks. The scale and the eye confirm I have been burning fat. I’ve been using ketostix to keep track of ketones as I don’t prefer to prick my fingers to get blood measurements. I have reached my weight loss goal and planning to transition to maintenance in the next couple of weeks. I’m curious if exogenous ketones will be aid in maintaining my weight.
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.
To be in ketosis, you need to get very specific about the macronutrient ratios hanging off your fork. This means eating 75% fats, 20% protein and 5% carbohydrates. It’ll see you getting 5-10% of your total calories from carbohydrates, which is roughly 25-30g of carbs per day, and diligently keeping this below the 50g threshold creates the ketosis that burns stored fat. Unlike the no-limit-protein option on the table when going low carb, eating more than 0.67-0.81g of protein per pound of bodyweight can hoof you out of ketosis because too much of it can be converted into glucose, blunting the benefits of the ketones. On the plus side, you will have a high fat intake, making your energy levels more balanced so you can train at higher intensities.
While the KetoneAid folks have been seeing tremendous success working with elite athletes to improve athletic performance, I thought it would be interesting to quantify the effects of ketone esters on cognitive performance. For the week prior to taking the ketones, I re-established baseline scores in a number of cognitive testing areas using Lumosity*:
Core BHB™ provides pure goBHB™ in an all-natural formula with no artificial sweeteners, making ideal for those on the keto diet, athletes, and people who are health-conscious. Even if you’re on a high-carb diet, Core BHB™ will rapidly elevate blood ketone levels and help your body enter a state of ketosis (often with 30 minutes of consumption). In turn, you will experience increases in energy, fat loss, endurance, and mental acuity. With regular use of Core BHB™, you can also speed up the transition from a higher-carb diet to the ketogenic diet and reduce symptoms of the “keto flu”.
Fasting blood samples were collected prior to all interventions. Following consumption of study drinks (details below), blood, expired gas and urine samples were collected at regular intervals for 4 h. Water was freely permitted and participants remained sedentary at the test facility throughout the visit. A subset of participants returned for samples 8 and 24 h after the ketone drinks (Study 1).
Slowly ramp up your ketone intake. Be patient! 🙂 For many of us, our bodies aren’t used to running on ketones, so you can expect an adjustment period. Try ¼ scoop first. Transitioning to ketosis removes water from our bodies, so getting lots of water will help with any dehydration and stomach issues. Ramp up from there, trying ½ scoop the second week or when you feel it’s appropriate, and then try a whole scoop 1-2 weeks in. You can use it for extra energy or to help get into ketosis if you aren’t there already. Most people use it 0-3 times per day.
I began by simply playing all of the games over and over again (each game many dozens of times over the period of a week) to remove any “learning effect.” I then selected two games from each category (for a total of 10 games) and for a period of five days prior to “ketone-day” played each game five times each day. My “before ketones” baseline scores put me in the top 4% of all Lumosity users, so I was already in a good place. But could I improve even more, just one hour after consuming the ketones?
Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) is a ketone body produced in the liver naturally under conditions when glucose isn’t very available. Other types of ketones produced via the restriction of dietary carbohydrates are acetoacetate and acetone. A VLCHF or ketogenic diet provides the optimal conditions for this process. Fasting, exercise and/or basic caloric restriction are all also methods for promoting ketogenesis (literally, the making of ketones).
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.
If you ever wondered how to get into ketosis, know that getting into ketosis is easy and completely natural for your body. All you need to do is follow the ketogenic diet which involves cutting down on carbs and eating lots of fat. You can also get into ketosis through fasting. But if your goal is weight-loss and reaping all the benefits of ketosis, the ketogenic diet is a must.
Firstly, in a randomized four-arm cross-over study, blood βHB concentrations were compared following ingestion of equal amounts of βHB as a KE or a KS at two doses by healthy volunteers at rest (Study 1; n = 15). Secondly, in a randomized five-arm cross-over study, inter- and intra-participant repeatability of ketosis was examined following ingestion of identical KE drinks, twice whilst fed and twice whilst fasted. As a control, participants also consumed one isocaloric (1.9 kCal.kg−1) dextrose drink (Study 2; n = 16). Finally, blood d-βHB was measured after equal amounts of KE were given as three drinks (n = 12) or a constant nasogastric (NG) infusion (n = 4) (Study 3; total n = 14) over 9 h.
Think about it like building muscle, good supplements can enhance your results, but if you don't eat right and exercise, supplements are just useless. You can't just sit on the couch to watch TV, eat potato chips all day and drink some supplements and expect to gain muscle. A supplement is not a miracle. It's just an addition and before you add it to your diet, you need to get the basics right first, which is dieting and exercise in the case of building muscles. The supplements are not going to lift the heavy weights for you. You do!
If you do the same calculations as I did above for estimating fat oxidation, you’ll see that EE in this case was approximately 13.92 kcal/min, while fat oxidation was only 67% of this, or 9.28 kcal/min, or 1.03 g/min. So, for this second effort (the test set) my body did about 5% less mechanical work, while oxidizing about 25% less of my own fat. The majority of this difference, I assume, is from the utilization of the exogenous BHB, and not glucose (again, I will address below what I think is happening with glucose levels).
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