I wrote this post at about the same time Germany won the World Cup in Rio de Janeiro in 2014. There’s been a lot of moving and shaking in the world of exogenous ketones since then, not to mention soccer. Looking back on my post, I still consider it relevant in terms of what exogenous ketones possibly can (and cannot) do for performance. In this case, to see if exogenous ketone esters provide me a “boost” by allowing me to do the same amount of work while expending less energy (and work at a relatively lower VO2) compared to no supplementation.
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).
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).
Despite the recent growth of the ketone salt market, there is very little published work analyzing the effects of these products on any biomarkers or performance measurements in humans. Several studies have been carried out in rats,6,7 with blood BHB levels being relatively low (<0.5 mM) post-consumption of salt drinks. In humans, ketone salts provided peak D-BHB levels of 1 mM, whereas the same amount of BHB in a ketone ester (BD-BHB) raised blood BHB to 2.8 mM.5
Studies show that exercising depletes both liver and muscle glycogen faster than fasting [4]. For example, swimming for an hour and a half depletes the same amount of glycogen as a 24-hour fast. However, it's a good idea to eat a tiny amount of carbs and protein before and after a workout to prevent muscle damage. Your body can break down proteins in your muscles if glycogen stores get depleted during workouts.
If you’re wondering how to get into ketosis in 24 hours, and whether it’s even possible with such a short turnaround time, then combining a keto diet with intermittent fasting is a must. I am a massive advocate of not only the ketogenic diet but also the practice of daily fasting – I swear by it! It’s not for everyone as it does require a lot of discipline to pull off. But if you can commit to it, the benefits in my opinion are well worth it. So you may be wondering what intermittent fasting is? Well, it’s the practice of performing a daily fast from food and (caloric) drinks for at least 16 hours of the day.
However, with the ketone esters, the effects are nearly immediate, and my entire body was humming throughout the entire day, but not in a jittery way. I was full of mental and physical energy that lasted without any sort of crash (it was a gradual taper). During my cognitive tests, things felt almost effortless as I played the various games. After my experiment was complete I continued writing code for several hours, then went to the gym to work out. I did forget to each lunch though, so there must be some suppressive effect on appetite.
Although most of the research has been done utilizing ketone esters, ketone salt supplementation has the potential to provide additional benefits through the extra electrolytes/nutrients that are required to make the ketones. While ketone esters are expensive due to the manufacturing process involved in making them, ketone salts might be a more convenient option for both inducing a state of ketosis and elevating blood ketone levels for various reasons we will discuss in another article.

Exogenous ketones are powerful. They will get you into ketosis whether keto-adapted or not. The benefits of this range from weight loss to sustained mental and physical energy. The benefits are the same as those from nutritional ketosis, however, they’re not a substitute for nutritional ketosis. More on that below before we get into the top 5 exogenous ketones for 2018.

Long-Term Effects of a Ketogenic Diet in Obese Patients – The present study shows the beneficial effects of a long-term ketogenic diet. It significantly reduced the body weight and body mass index of the patients. Furthermore, it decreased the level of triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and blood glucose, and increased the level of HDL cholesterol. Administering a ketogenic diet for a relatively longer period of time did not produce any significant side effects in the patients. Therefore, the present study confirms that it is safe to use a ketogenic diet for a longer period of time than previously demonstrated.(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2716748/)
I am confused on the diet part. I’ve tried ketogenic diets and have experienced great health benefits (I’m diatabetic), but it also helped with sleeping through the night, increased energy, appetite suppression, and balancing of hormones. However forcing myself to eat fat and eliminate God foods like fruit, and trying to keep ratios of fat to protein to carbs was really hard for me. Can supplementing with the exogenic Ketones while having a diet of Proteins, veggies, fruits, healthy fats (avacado, cocnut oil, etc) and some grains (brown rice), produce ketosis?

Exogenous ketones (also known as ketone supplements) and well-formulated ketogenic diets share at least one thing in common. They both result in increased circulating concentrations of beta-hydroxybutyrate (BOHB), but ultimately are associated with very different patterns of ketosis, as well as differing metabolic and physiologic outcomes. In short, they should not be assumed to have equivalent effects simply because they achieve similar BOHB blood levels. Having said that, there are many reasons we should continue to study the various forms and potential applications of ketone supplements.
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.

Most of the information regarding the effects of ketosis come from studies on the ketogenic diet, wherein ketones are made by the liver and become a major fuel source for the body. The ketogenic diet is currently under investigation for its potential therapeutic effects in a number of healthy and disease states. More recently, studies are beginning to reveal that many of the effects observed with the ketogenic diet are mechanistically attributable to ketones, which is a primary reason that exogenous ketones are being developed and studied. However, because they are such a new technology, there’s not a lot of data on exogenous ketones themselves. In a few pre-clinical studies, exogenous ketones have mimicked the therapeutic effects of the ketogenic diet”
More tolerable than MCT oil: MCT oil has been known to cause gastrointestinal distress in users, especially when taken in higher amounts. Exogenous ketones in the form of ketone salts, in comparison, are well-tolerated. Thus they enable one to avoid adverse GI events while providing the body with similar types of benefits. Figure 2 shows Ketone esters can be effective at reducing appetite. A combination of MCT oil and exogenous ketones may aid weight loss and allow a lower loading of ketone supplements, without the GI distress seen with MCT oil.

Our bodies are produce three types of ketone bodies for fuel: beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), acetoacetate (AcAc), and acetone. Each is used by the body differently. Acetone is the least abundant, produced in much smaller amounts, and is usually exhaled through the lungs rather than being used as fuel.3 Acetoacetate is part of the metabolic pathway whereby humans make and use ketones, but it tends to be found in the blood at lower levels than BHB.

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Keep these studies in mind as your body tries to play tricks on you during your first day of fasting.  Even after three days of fasting, health complications are highly unlikely. However, it is important to know about the possible issues that can be caused by fasting. If you choose to incorporate fasting into your daily diet, you typically want to eat every day as well. Occasionally going on a longer period of fasting.
Hi- Thank you for this super helpful post. I’m new to Keto and supplementing Keytones. I just got the Julian Bakery Keytones and am curious about how to take them as there are no instructions on the packaging. Indeed the website has a diet plan to follow with the keytones but I am very suspicious of it because it is 0 fat which I believe is not healthy for brain or body and given that I have soft tissue and joint issues, I try to eat enough fat daily. I want to lose weight and I crossfit 5 days per week. So how do I best start with using the keytone supplements? I took a scoop full yesterday when they arrived (in the early afternoon) but hadn’t yet eaten and I think that was a mistake because I had immediate diarrhea which lasted a few hours, even after eating.
Ketone supplementation did not affect the size of the brain, lungs, kidneys or heart of rats. As previously mentioned, the rats were still growing during the experimental time frame; therefore, organ weights were normalized to body weight to determine if organ weight changed independently to growth. There could be several reasons why ketones influenced liver and spleen weight. The ratio of liver to body weight was significantly higher in the MCT supplemented animals (Fig. 5). MCTs are readily absorbed in the intestinal lumen and transported directly to the liver via hepatic portal circulation. When given a large bolus, such as in this study, the amount of MCTs in the liver will likely exceed the β-oxidation rate, causing the MCTs to be deposited in the liver as fat droplets [94]. The accumulated MCT droplets in the liver could explain the higher liver weight to body weight percentage observed with MCT supplemented rats. Future toxicology and histological studies will be needed to determine the cause of the observed hepatomegaly. It should be emphasized that the dose in this study is not optimized in humans. We speculate that an optimized human dose would be lower and may not cause hepatomegaly or potential fat accumulation. Nutritional ketosis achieved with the KD has been shown to decrease inflammatory markers such as TNF-α, IL-6, IL-8, MCP-1, E-selectin, I-CAM, and PAI-1 [8, 46], which may account for the observed decrease in spleen weight. As previously mentioned, Veech and colleagues demonstrated that exogenous supplementation of 5 mM βHB resulted in a 28 % increase in hydraulic work in the working perfused rat heart and a significant decrease in oxygen consumption [28, 41, 42]. Ketone bodies have been shown to increase cerebral blood flow and perfusion [95]. Also, ketone bodies have been shown to increase ATP synthesis and enhance the efficiency of ATP production [14, 28, 40]. It is possible that sustained ketosis results in enhanced cardiac efficiency and O2 consumption. Even though the size of the heart did not change for any of the ketone supplements, further analysis of tissues harvested from the ketone-supplemented rats will be needed to determine any morphological changes and to understand changes in organ size. It should be noted that the Harlan standard rodent chow 2018 is nutritionally complete and formulated with high-quality ingredients to optimize gestation, lactation, growth, and overall health of the animals. The same cannot be said for the standard American diet (SAD). Therefore, we plan to investigate the effects of ketone supplements administered with the SAD to determine if similar effects will be seen when the micronutrient deficiencies and macronutrient profile mimics what most Americans consume.
First, there’s something unnatural about having elevated levels of ketones and glucose together. It’s really hard to make that happen using traditional whole foods. The closest natural approximation you could get to it would be the traditional coconut-rich diets of the Kitava people in the South Pacific, where the medium chain triglycerides (MCT) in the coconut fat increased ketone production alongside the carbs in the fruit and tubers they ate. They had excellent metabolic health, but they weren’t anywhere close to a ketogenic diet. Coconut fat isn’t as ketogenic as purified MCT oil, let alone exogenous ketones.

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.

Plus, take a look at this promotional video from Prüvit. It claims that “ketones make the fat melt off your body”, which is simply not true (I’ll get back to this later). It also claims that if you wanted to reach ketosis naturally, you would either need to work out 10x harder and longer or be like one of the “extreme people” who “biohack their bodies” to get into ketosis, which “can take weeks or months”. For me, this is irresponsible. A keto diet can be simple and enjoyable, but this video makes switching to a healthy, real food, keto diet sound extreme and difficult while promoting an easy way out in the form of a drink. And that’s just bad advice.
The second ketone ester compound was developed at the University of South Florida. This is a diester of AcAc and BDO. In rodents, this ketone ester raises blood D-BHB to 1-4 mM and blood AcAc to up to 5 mM.19 There is one published study of this ketone ester in humans; results showed a 2% decrease in 31 km cycling time trial performance.16 This may be due to the high rate of side effects of this ester studied. Other factors may have been low levels of BHB (<2 mM), the short, high-intensity time trial used, or the use of AcAc vs. BHB.
A growing number of people are giving it a try, thanks to exogenous ketone supplements that claim to launch your body into a state of ketosis within two and a half days—even if you’ve been living on pasta and cookies instead of following a low-carb diet. How can that be, though? And can that kind of rapid transformation actually be safe? Here’s what you should know.

There are things you can do to get into ketosis faster. We explain how to get into ketosis and ways to make transitioning into ketosis easier. But first, we go over some facts about ketosis you need to understand before you start your keto journey. We will also explain the science behind ketosis, including how long it realistically takes for your body to make the switch.
It was explained to me that exogenous ketones inhibit lipolysis (breaking down of fat cells), therefore triglycerides should be expected to go down. They theorize that ketones may promote transfer of triglycerides from blood into cells, which primes the pump for fat burning, but to verify would require conducting biopsies to measure blood versus tissue.

2. Shimazu, T., Hirschey, M.D., Newman, J., He, W., Shirakawa, K., Le Moan, N., Grueter, C.A., Lim, H., Saunders, L.R., Stevens, R.D., Newgard, C.B., Farese Jr, R.V., De Cabo, R., Ulrich, S., Akassoglou, K., and Verdin, E. (2013). Suppression of oxidative stress by β-hydroxybutyrate, an endogenous histone deacetylase inhibitor. Science 339, 211-214.
BHB isn’t just an energy source for the brain–it has other effects which promote brain health. BHB can trigger the release of chemicals called neurotrophins, which support neuron function and synapse formation. One of these neurotrophins is called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), which is a protein in the brain associated with cognitive enhancement, alleviation of depression and reduction of anxiety.10

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