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.

Effects of beta-hydroxybutyrate on cognition in memory-impaired adults. – Glucose is the brain’s principal energy substrate. In Alzheimer’s disease (AD), there appears to be a pathological decrease in the brain’s ability to use glucose. Neurobiological evidence suggests that ketone bodies are an effective alternative energy substrate for the brain. Elevation of plasma ketone body levels through an oral dose of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) may improve cognitive functioning in older adults with memory disorders. On separate days, 20 subjects with AD or mild cognitive impairment consumed a drink containing emulsified MCTs or placebo. Significant increases in levels of the ketone body beta-hydroxybutyrate (beta-OHB) were observed 90 min after treatment (P=0.007) when cognitive tests were administered. beta-OHB elevations were moderated by apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype (P=0.036). For 4+ subjects, beta-OHB levels continued to rise between the 90 and 120 min blood draws in the treatment condition, while the beta-OHB levels of 4- subjects held constant (P<0.009). On cognitive testing, MCT treatment facilitated performance on the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive Subscale (ADAS-cog) for 4- subjects, but not for 4+ subjects (P=0.04). Higher ketone values were associated with greater improvement in paragraph recall with MCT treatment relative to placebo across all subjects (P=0.02). Additional research is warranted to determine the therapeutic benefits of MCTs for patients with AD and how APOE-4 status may mediate beta-OHB efficacy. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15123336)
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.
In terms of epigenetic signaling, initial studies of the effects of BOHB on class-1 histone deacetylase activity against oxidative stress (Schimazu 2013), NLRP3 inflammasome suppression (Youm 2015), mouse longevity (Roberts 2017), and other epigenetic regulatory effects suggest that levels as low as 1 mM have potent effects. Furthermore, the association between very mild ketonemia and reduced coronary mortality with SGLT2 inhibitor use in patients with type 2 diabetes (Ferranini 2016) suggests that there might be clinical benefits with chronic BOHB levels as low as 0.3 mM (Gormsen 2017. Vetter 2017).
Ketoacidosis is driven by a lack of insulin in the body.  Without insulin, blood sugar rises to high levels and stored fat streams from fat cells.  This excess amount of fat metabolism results in the production of abnormal quantities of ketones. The combination of high blood sugar and high ketone levels can upset the normal acid/base balance in the blood and become dangerous.  In order to reach a state of ketoacidosis, insulin levels must be so low that the regulation of blood sugar and fatty acid flow is impaired.
Response inhibition is the ability to suppress inappropriate responses that interfere with goal-directed actions. Two cards are shown, one above the other, each containing the name of a color in a certain color. The goal is to rapidly indicate if the meaning of the color on top (i.e. “yellow”) matches the color of the color on the bottom (i.e., card says “red” but is colored yellow).
Over four visits, participants (n = 15) consumed 1.6 and 3.2 mmol.kg−1 of βHB as KE (141 mg/kg and 282 mg/kg of R-3-hydroxybutyl-R-1,3-hydroxybutyrate) or as KS (KetoForce, KetoSports, USA) sodium and potassium βHB, containing 1.6–3.2 g of each cation), plus 6 g of sweetener containing 19 kCal (4 g of carbohydrate) (Symrise, Holzminden, Germany), diluted to 300 ml using water. Drink blinding was not possible due to unmaskable differences in taste (bitter vs. salty).
So I’ve been primarily on a Keto diet for almost 6 months. During this time, I have fine tuned a lot to get my ketone levels up (Eating more fat and less protein). Most recently, I have used blood measurements for my ketone levels and I fluctuate between .6 and 2.6. The higher readings I get on the days I workout in the morning (about 5 hours before I draw blood and take a reading). I don’t have any problems sticking to the diet. It only seems to get easier. I’ve also incorporated 16 hour fasts which also are becoming easier over time. My priority and motivation for doing a keto diet is first and foremost weight loss. So far I have lost 40 pounds and I need to lose about 20 more. I do however want to improve my performance (running) and strength (I am doing the Stronglifts 5×5 program now).
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.
It comes in a small bottle that usually contains 50-100 strips depending on the type you choose. It’s very thin, and on one end there’s a small square of paper (this is the end you dip in the urine). If there are ketones in your urine, the little paper will change color. The darker it is (light pink up to a purple color) the more it is in your urine. On the bottle, there’s a picture you compare the color of the paper with that can be a very good indication of your current ketone state. 
So if your high-fat diet includes a high amount of roasted seeds or roasted nuts, nut butters, heated oils such as heated coconut oil or heated extra virgin olive oil, barbecued meats or meats cooked at very high temperatures, then your triglyceride count is going to go up. You should have triglycerides that are less than 150mg/dL, and a triglyceride to HDL ratio that is no more than 4:1, and in most of the healthiest people I’ve worked with, triglycerides are under 100 and the triglyceride to HDL ratio is less than 2:1. If your ratio is whacked, your ketogenic diet isn’t doing you any favors.’

I carried out a survey among Diet Doctor users as background research to the experiment (a big thank you to the 638 people who responded!). In the survey, 28% of the respondents reported that they do take ketone supplements. The top four benefits that these respondents reported experiencing were increased energy, improved focus/cognition, reduced hunger and weight loss.
Ketone Salts: While the body uses and makes BHB ketones salts naturally, in supplement form ketone salts are synthetically (lab) made compounds that combine sodium (and/or potassium, calcium, or magnesium) with BHB. The salt is used to raise the pH and make things less acidic. Currently, all ketone supplements on the market are made from ketone salts. While they raise ketone levels, most people will only experience mild nutritional ketosis (~0.6-1.0 mmol/L).
When you are in a state of ketosis, the body turns fatty acids into ketones - these appear as beta-hydroxybutyrate in the blood. Measuring blood ketones is regarded as the gold standard and most accurate way to track ketone levels. Testing this way can be expensive, its can cost up to $3 a strip, so if you're testing multiple times a day it can get pricey.
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.

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