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*:
Most people confuse thirst for hunger, and it's crucial to not make that mistake when you're dieting. Try to drink water first before heading to the fridge to get some snacks--you might realize that you're not really hungry at all and you are, in fact, only thirsty. Training yourself to spot the difference between hunger and thirst will help you induce ketosis faster.
Full disclosure: after carrying out the background research, I was already, as you might imagine, feeling a little less neutral about these products. You may have noticed a hint of that in part 1 of the 2-part video series we made about the project (watch part 2 at the top of this page!). However, and although this was by no means a controlled scientific study under laboratory conditions, we designed the experiment in a very objective way. The aim was to give the supplements the best possible chance of showing the benefits they are claimed to have.
The ‘carb-sparing’ effect from BHB suppresses the break down of muscle glycogen. This leads to lower lactate levels. When increasing exercise intensity, fat oxidation (burning) reaches a limit. At that point the muscle burns carbohydrates as fuel. But when consuming Ketone esters, the body does not make this switch. This suggests Ketones are being used instead. 11
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).
Personally, I think it is wise to include a regular carb meal in your diet if you are going to follow a ketogenic diet. Long term ketogenic diets do seem to downregulate your thyroid and metabolism, and a weekly carb meal (or carb day) can help avoid this. The Carb Nite diet by J. Kiefer is a good example of this. And BJJCaveman posted his labs showing how a weekly carb meal helped his thyroid HERE.
As I mentioned before, this was by no means a scientific experiment carried out under lab conditions, and this means we can only draw tentative conclusions from any of the data. Nonetheless, carrying out the testing in the way described above should give most people a good idea of how well the ketone supplements show the noticeable benefits they are marketed to have and provide a clear enough basis for a decision on whether or not to buy them.
Hi, I still a little confused about when or how to take this. I am trying to get adapted and minimize the flu. Is it most beneficial before eating, after eating, with food or in place of food? I have been keto in the past but this time I am not switching over to fat burning mode even though my macros are good. ( I am thinking it is just too many calories and carbs at this point but I get hungry!) Help please.
Hi Rob thanks so much, many people experience inconclusive results from the pee strips, as the ketone concentration in our pee is a measure of ketones not being used by the body. Basically the overflow or unused ketones. As our body becomes more adapted to using ketones, there will be less in our urine. It’s tough to keep the variable constant of how hydrated you are across many pee tests. Don’t be discouraged by pee test results. We have had many times where our blood tests show 1-3mmol/dl BHB but our pee test showed no results. Definitely keep testing (consider using a precision Xtra) and changing the dose to suit your needs. Hope this is helpful!
For all studies, the area under the curve (AUC) of blood [βHB] was calculated using the trapezium rule. In Study 3, for each of the three drinks, the initial rate of d-βHB appearance was estimated using d-βHB concentrations at baseline and 30 min post-drink, and d-βHB elimination was estimated using the AUC between the post-drink peak (60 min) and trough (180 min) d-βHB concentrations, with a baseline correction to the value at 180 min.
This molecule is quite essential if you are using your own fat for fuel, or taking BHB as an exogenous ketone supplement to increase energy production — essentially to be in nutritional ketosis. If you’re not certain about what ketones are or what nutritional ketosis is, you should back up a little bit and read more about that on my company site, Perfect Keto.
I’m fasting (5 days fast, 2 days food) in an effort to aggressively lose weight. For the most part, I’m not doing the water & salt-only kind of fast… as I will also drink coffee & bone broth… as well as take Perfect Keto Base. Would it be “gilding the lily” to also add MCT powder to my coffee? I’m in nutritional ketosis… ranging from 0.8 to 2.0 or thereabouts.
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.
For example, the popular Raspberry Ketones supplement is far different than what we have been discussing in this article. Raspberry ketones are unrelated to the ketones that are produced in the body and are not the same as the ketone salts that have been covered above. There are some limited studies that indicate raspberry ketones may be helpful for weight loss, but they are inconsistent. Raspberry ketones are the molecules that give raspberries their scent and flavor, and in some cases, aren’t even derived from raspberries at all.
The Zenwise Keto Life BHB Salt uses a custom calcium, magnesium and sodium ketone complex to help access ketones for fuel without the low carb diet or fasting. This product is another all-natural option that goes as far as using turmeric for its added coloring. It is a proven product with hundreds of happy customers. They seem to have a strong grasp on the lemonade side of the exogenous market with their Raspberry Lemonade and Wild Limeade flavor choices.
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 followed 30g carbs as my limit each day, moderate protein, increased fat intake (avocado at each main meal plus carefully chosen oils, eggs and nuts) and have upped green veg to the bucket load and incorporated a juiced lemon in water to my morning, as well as my usual water consumption. I also did intermittent fasting Mon to Thur, 18 hours fasting each day.
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.
These studies were approved by external Research Ethics Committees (London Queen's Square: 14/LO/0288 and South West Frenchay: 15/SW/0244) and were conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki (2008). Studies took place at the University of Oxford between September 2014 and September 2016. Participants were healthy, aged 21–57, non-smokers and had no history of major illness. Female participants were using oral contraception to minimize the effects of menstrual phase on results. Participants provided written informed consent prior to inclusion, and completed a confidential medical screening questionnaire to determine eligibility. Anthropometric characteristics are shown in Table Table1.1. Sample sizes were chosen following an estimated power calculation based on the effect size in previous work using KE drinks (Clarke et al., 2012b; Shivva et al., 2016).
Improved cognition: Elevated plasma ketone concentrations divert the brain to utilize ketone bodies for synthesis of phospholipids, which drives growth and myelination. Normally, glucose would be the preferred substrate, which is much less efficient.14 BHB seems to act as a signal for neuronal pathways. These enhance synaptic plasticity, cognition and neuronal stress resistance. 15 In rat studies, ingestion of a ketone ester for 5 days improved their spatial learning and memory. 16.
If you have already mastered the Very Low Carbohydrate (VLC) or ketogenic way of eating, and/or are eating at a caloric deficit, exercising or fasting you are naturally creating the optimal conditions for your body to produce ketones and put your body into nutritional ketosis. By strict adherence to a well-formulated ketogenic diet (complete with higher levels of mineral salts) you should be able to produce all the ketones you need naturally (endogenously). If you are new or inexperienced in ketogenic eating however; or if you or a family member struggles to adhere to a ketogenic diet, then supplementation with exogenous ketones may be very beneficial. Not only will ketone supplements help to mitigate hunger and carb cravings, but they will also help you stave off carb flu symptoms (see below), giving you the best possible chance of long-term success.
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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