An alternative to the ketogenic diet is consumption of drinks containing exogenous dietary ketones, such as ketone esters (KE) and ketone salts (KS). The metabolic effects of KS ingestion have been reported in rats (Ari et al., 2016; Kesl et al., 2016; Caminhotto et al., 2017), in three extremely ill pediatric patients (Plecko et al., 2002; Van Hove et al., 2003; Valayannopoulos et al., 2011) and in cyclists (O'Malley et al., 2017; Rodger et al., 2017). However, the concentrations of blood βHB reached were low (<1 mM) and a high amount of salt, consumed as sodium, potassium and/or calcium βHB, was required to achieve ketosis. Furthermore, dietary KS are often racemic mixtures of the two optical isoforms of βHB, d-βHB, and l-βHB, despite the metabolism of l-βHB being poorly understood (Webber and Edmond, 1977; Scofield et al., 1982; Lincoln et al., 1987; Desrochers et al., 1992). The pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of KS ingestion in healthy humans at rest have not been reported.
In a subset of participants (n = 7) the effect of 3.2 mmol.kg−1 of βHB as KE and KS on blood pH and electrolytes after ketone drinks was investigated. Blood d-βHB kinetics were similar to those in the initial experiment (Figure (Figure3A).3A). After 60 min, blood pH declined from 7.41 to 7.31 following a KE drink (p < 0.001, Figure Figure3B).3B). Bicarbonate fell significantly from 23.6 ± 0.7 to 17.0 ± 0.8 mM following KE drinks (p < 0.001), but remained within the normal range (Figure 3C). Both ketone drinks significantly decreased blood potassium concentrations by 0.7 mM (both drinks p < 0.05, Figure 3D) and increased sodium and chloride concentrations (Sodium: both drinks p < 0.05, Chloride: KE = p < 0.05, KS = p < 0.005, Figures 3E,F).
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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).
BHB easily crosses the blood-brain barrier resulting in easily accessible energy to the brain and muscle tissues, becoming a source of energy after entering the mitochondria, being converted to Acetyl-CoA, and then ATP through the Krebs cycle (the same process that glucose goes through to become ATP). This ultimately results in many direct benefits, including:
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