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Caveat emptor: the following post doesn’t come close to answering most of these questions. I only document my experience with BHB salts (and a non-commercial version at that), but say little to nothing about my experience with BHB esters or AcAc esters. But it will provide you will some context and understanding about what exogenous ketones are, and what they might do for athletic performance. We’ll likely podcast about the questions and topics above and cover other aspects of exogenous ketones in more detail.
Proper sleep is important for hormone function and repair of the body. Not getting enough sleep is tough on the adrenals and blood sugar regulation. Try to get at least seven hours of sleep per night. If you struggle with quality sleep, create an environment that is conducive for rest. This could be keeping your room cooler, turning off all electronic devices one to two hours before bedtime or using a sleep mask.
There’s debate raging about which dietary tactic is the god particle for making you leaner, faster and healthier. How the ketogenic diet option squares off against the low carb route is vital for understanding the ways in which exogenous ketone supplements work. To get into ketosis the natural way, you need to keep your carb intake low enough for long enough for your body to begin using use fat as fuel. Your liver then converts a portion of that fat into energy molecules called ketones. These work together with glucose as a fuel source, but can actually kick in faster, allowing your body to operate more economically during lengthy, high-energy exercise efforts.
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 Pruvit’s Keto OS. You can check out our review here.
Slowly ramp up your ketone intake. Be patient! 🙂 For many of us, our bodies aren’t used to running on ketones, so you can expect an adjustment period. Try ¼ scoop first. Transitioning to ketosis removes water from our bodies, so getting lots of water will help with any dehydration and stomach issues. Ramp up from there, trying ½ scoop the second week or when you feel it’s appropriate, and then try a whole scoop 1-2 weeks in. You can use it for extra energy or to help get into ketosis if you aren’t there already. Most people use it 0-3 times per day.
Lastly, EK products in general are usually in the form of salts, which is why they are referred to as BHB Salts. The BHB ketones are bound to common salts such as sodium, calcium, magnesium and potassium to improve absorption rate. These salts are also the core electrolytes your body needs to help you avoid feeling mentally drained and physically lousy during the keto-flu transition period.
Even though there is mixed evidence regarding the association between calcium supplementation and cardiovascular events, there may be other reasons to avoid high calcium supplementation. In one of his studies, Dr. Bolland claimed that calcium supplements do not prevent hip fractures. Rather, they may lead to kidney stones, acute gastrointestinal events, and increased risk of myocardial infarction and stroke. Thus, the risks involved with high-calcium supplementation potentially outweigh the benefits.
Exogenous ketones drinks are growing in popularity as a method to elevate blood ketone concentrations and mimic a ketogenic diet without the need for dietary changes (Ari et al., 2016; Cox et al., 2016; Kesl et al., 2016; Caminhotto et al., 2017; Evans et al., 2017). The present study describes the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamics properties of ketone ester and salt drinks in humans at rest, and characterizes the effects of a prior meal, which is pertinent to use as a dietary supplement. The main findings were that KE drinks elevated blood d-βHB > 50% higher than KS drinks, the latter significantly increasing blood l-βHB, which was metabolized more slowly by the body. Both drinks had similar effects on FFA, TG, glucose and electrolyte concentrations, although with disparate effects on pH. A prior meal decreased total blood d-βHB appearance after a KE drink. Finally, either three KE drinks or nasogastric feeding effectively maintained nutritional ketosis over 1 mM for 9 h.
Anti-carcinogenic properties: Data seems to suggest that exogenous ketones are an effective anti-carcinogen. The reason behind this is that cancer cells are unable to use ketone bodies effectively, unlike most healthy tissues in the body. In fact, dietary ketone supplementation has been shown to increase survival rates of mice with systematic cancer by as much as 70%.17
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.
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.
There are several ways to approach the “intermittent” part of food restriction. One of the most common is limiting the window in which food is consumed to about eight hours a day. Another is fasting for a full 24 hours once a week, or once a month. Fasting beyond three days can be stressful on the body and should be done with medical advice and supervision.
However, it's important to NEVER overlook the power of exercise and of course sticking to a proper routine to get the most optimized results. The most common mistake people make is by treating any keto supplement like a "wonder drug" that will help them shred weight in their sleep. Seriously... how is that even scientifically possible. So if you are thinking about trying out a particular supplement, I would suggest two things:
Ketostix are very unreliable. There are many factors which can alter results such as hydration level, if you’ve worked out recently and the amount of unused ketones in your body to name just a few. Never rely of Ketostix to determine whether you are in ketosis or not. The Precision Xtra blood ketone monitor is the gold standard for testing for ketones in your body. After following a ketogenic diet for a while, you should be able to tell if you are in ketosis or not by the way you feel.
I’m getting an increasing number of questions about exogenous ketones. Are they good? Do they work for performance? Is there a dose-response curve? If I’m fasting, can I consume them without “breaking” the fast? Am I in ketosis if my liver isn’t producing ketones, but my BOHB is 1.5 mmol/L after ingesting ketones? Can they “ramp-up” ketogenesis? Are they a “smart drug?” What happens if someone has high levels of both glucose and ketones? Are some products better than others? Salts vs esters? BHB vs AcAc? Can taking exogenous ketones reduce endogenous production on a ketogenic diet? What’s the difference between racemic mixtures, D-form, and L-form? What’s your experience with MCTs and C8?
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Medical Disclaimer: The material on this site is provided for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Always consult your physician before beginning any diet or exercise program.
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