All of the data I’ll present below were from an experiment I did with the help of Dominic D’Agostino and Pat Jak (who did the indirect calorimetry) in the summer of 2013. (I wrote this up immediately, but I’ve only got around to blogging about it now.) Dom is, far and away, the most knowledgeable person on the topic of exogenous ketones. Others have been at it longer, but none have the vast experiences with all possible modalities (i.e., esters versus salts, BHB versus AcAc) and the concurrent understanding of how nutritional ketosis works. If people call me keto-man (some do, as silly as it sounds), they should call Dom keto-king.
Ketogenic Diets and Physical Performance – Impaired physical performance is a common but not obligate result of a low carbohydrate diet. Lessons from traditional Inuit culture indicate that time for adaptation, optimized sodium and potassium nutriture, and constraint of protein to 15–25 % of daily energy expenditure allow unimpaired endurance performance despite nutritional ketosis. (http://nutritionandmetabolism.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1743-7075-1-2)
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.
You are probably wondering how there could possibly be a benefit to eating less frequently that goes beyond what you are already getting with a ketogenic diet. Restricting carbs and eating enough fat and protein does come with a plethora of health benefits, but when you add intermittent fasting to your lifestyle you can increase energy and reverse aging by harnessing the power of a nobel prize winning process.
Before that though, I do want to touch on MCT oil and it’s impact on ketone levels. MCT – or Medium Chain Triglyceride – are fatty acids that bypass the liver – and become quick energy for the brain and muscles. As they are a fat based energy source (and not a carbohydrate) they are quickly converted into ketones. This means MCT oil is a great way to boost ketone levels in the body.
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.
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!).
Medium-chain-triglycerides are fats that are easily absorbed by the body and provide a number of really powerful health benefits. Fast energy, appetite control for better weight loss, increased ketone levels—you name it. They are also one of the most convenient and flexible, too. Add it to a shake, make a smoothie, or take a spoonful of it straight with some water for a quick, healthy keto boost that lasts all day. If you’re the kind of person that struggles to stick to a diet or eat a lot throughout the day, MCT oils are the perfect keto supplement.
Are you ready for a very basic metabolism overview? Most modern humans break down carbohydrates into glucose and this then breaks down further and enters mitochondria to produce ATP, which is the energy system of your cells. In other words, you use carbs for energy. When you are on a ketogenic diet, you are breaking down fats into things called ketone bodies, and this is how you provide your body with energy, instead of via carbohydrates. So, you’re either using carbohydrates for fuel or fat for fuel.
Exogenous Ketones have been shown in performance studies of both humans and animals to improve metabolic efficiency, which in essence means that your body is using better fuel that burns more efficiently over longer periods of time, and decreases the amount of fuel you need while performing. Where glucose fails (glycogen depletion), ketones pick up the slack!
Ketone supplements contain exogenous ketones—synthetic ketones made in a lab. Most use a type of ketone called beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), which is the same as the ketones the body produces naturally. “We’re literally biohacking," says Amie Heverly, who began taking a ketone supplement called Prüvit last year and now works as a promoter selling Prüvit products. "You’re not adding a foreign substance to your body, because BHB is identical to what your body would naturally produce,” she explains.
That’s not all. Though Prüvit in particular has a legion of fans (the brand has nearly 35,000 Instagram followers and some 256,000 likes on Facebook) and a small team of affiliated medical experts, there’s no hard science on Prüvit or similar products. (Prevention reached out to several Prüvit experts and employees for interviews but did not receive a response.) The research page on the brand’s website does include links to legit scientific studies. But the studies are on the keto diet—not on Prüvit’s products. When it comes to research on the actual supplements, the brand’s website simply says “Human studies on finished products (underway) at various universities and research facilities.” In other words, there’s no scientific evidence available yet to show that they actually work.
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.
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 benefits of intermittent fasting translate to untrained overweight and obese individuals as well. One study published in Obesity Reviews found that eating fewer calories is effective for fat loss, but it does come with some muscle loss. However, if the subjects fasted for 24 hours and ate as much as they wanted on the next day for a period of 12 weeks, they lost significantly less muscle mass.
Working memory involves temporarily storing and manipulating information. The game involves seeing three cards – a top card with a symbol that then moves along a track and is flipped over, exposing a new card above. The goal is to remember the symbol of the cards two cards back and indicate whether it matches the visible card or not. If you have ever played dual n-back games, this is very similar.
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).
Exogenous ketones don’t seem to improve high-intensity, glucose-intensive exercise, increasing fat burning during steady state exercise but dropping top-end high-intensity performance. Another study found that ketone dieters reduced 50-minute time trial performance in cyclists, though another group of researchers have criticized the methods. Even when a ketone ester didn’t improve performance in the shuttle run to exhaustion and 15 meter sprint repeats, it did reduce the drop in brain function following the exercise.
Animal procedures were performed in accordance with the University of South Florida Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) guidelines (Protocol #0006R). Juvenile male Sprague–Dawley rats (275–325 g, Harlan Laboratories) were randomly assigned to one of six study groups: control (water, n = 11), BD (n = 11), KE (n = 11), MCT (n = 10), BMS (n = 11), or BMS + MCT (n = 12). Caloric density of standard rodent chow and dose of ketone supplements are listed in Table 1. On days 1–14, rats received a 5 g/kg body weight dose of their respective treatments via intragastric gavage. Dosage was increased to 10 g/kg body weight for the second half of the study (days 15–28) for all groups except BD and KE to prevent excessive hyperketonemia (ketoacidosis). Each daily dose of BMS would equal ~1000–1500 mg of βHB, depending on the weight of the animal. Intragastric gavage was performed at the same time daily, and animals had ad libitum access to standard rodent chow 2018 (Harlan Teklad) for the duration of the study. The macronutrient ratio the standard rodent chow was 62.2, 23.8 and 14 % of carbohydrates, protein and fat respectively.
Here we investigated the effects of KE and KS consumption on blood βHB and metabolite concentrations. As we found that KE ingestion delivered a >50% higher plasma concentrations of d-βHB alone, we subsequently determined the reliability and repeatability of ketosis following KE consumption and the effects of concomitant meal ingestion on blood ketone and substrate kinetics. Finally, we determined whether nasogastric infusion could be used for KE administration, given that some patients require feeding in this manner.
I’m already following a ketogenic diet and have been fat adapted for about 3 months. Since I’m already in ketosis would this product help me or hinder my fat loss? My thought is that if I’m already in a fat burning state and then I take exogenous ketones does my body stop burning my fat to burn the ingested ketones like taking a break or does the product enhance the fat burning that is already taking place?
BHB Salts and exogenous ketone supplements are literally changing the supplement industry. These products are pretty new and a little more expensive than other supplements. But I’d rather pay for something that works then spend tons of money chasing products that claim to work. One of the most popular ketone supplements is Ketōnd. You can check out our review here.
The current USDA recommendations reflect “unachievable goals” that do not match what research suggests our normal physiological ranges might be. There is not enough evidence to show that sodium restriction is associated with less mortality or cardiovascular morbidity in healthy individuals or individuals with high blood pressure, and there is evidence that sodium restriction might actually be harmful to individuals with heart failure. For serious athletes, and individuals who are active daily, the current recommendations might not only be unwise but unsafe. If you are eating a carbohydrate-restricted diet, this applies to you even more. Don’t stress about the high amounts of sodium in a lot of these ketone supplements, being that they allow for a fast delivery of ketones to the body, which has unique benefits that will be discussed in a separate article. Instead, change out the frozen dinner and experiment with an effective dose of exogenous ketones.
I have tried the following preparations of exogenous ketones: BHB monoester, AcAc di-ester, BHB mineral salt (BHB combined with Na+, K+, and Ca2+). I have consumed these at different concentrations and in combination with different mixing agents, including MCT oil, pure caprylic acid (C8), branch-chained amino acids, and lemon juice (to lower the pH). I won’t go into the details of each, though, for the sake of time.
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