Sometimes waiting for your body to make the switch from carbohydrate metabolism to beta hydroxybutyrate metabolism (aka ketosis) can be an uncomfortable and lengthy process. Another way to get beta hydroxybutyrate into your system so your body is using “clean” energy is by taking it supplementally or through nutrition. A betahydroxybutyrate supplement is what can be used in this scenario. This is an exogenous ketone. Exogenous means you get it from outside of your body. Think EX = exit = outside.
I (Kim) researched the topic and planned and ran the experiment under the guidance and supervision of Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt, who touched base with me every step of the way to check the experiment design and execution for scientific rigor (to the greatest degree possible) and who has edited this writeup for quality and trustworthiness reasons. I also consulted with other keto experts and researchers to gather feedback both on the experiment design and the results data. They are referenced in the text when this was the case.
I feel like I should also mention that the GI discomfort is real, people. I would recommend starting this product on a weekend or a day where you’re able to just take it easy. After my first dose, which was only 1/2 scoop, I literally just felt like lying in bed all day due to feelings of nauseousness; however, by the next day I was fine and even bumped my dose to a full scoop.
MCT oil has recently been used to induce nutritional ketosis although it produces dose-dependent gastrointestinal (GI) side effects in humans that limit the potential for its use to significantly elevate ketones (>0.5 mM). Despite these limitations, Azzam and colleagues published a case report in which a 43-year-old-man had a significant decrease in seizure frequency after supplementing his diet with 4 tablespoons of MCT oil twice daily [96]. An attempt to increase his dosage to 5 tablespoons twice daily was halted by severe GI intolerance. Henderson et al. observed that 20 % of patients reported GI side effects with a 20 g dose of ketogenic agent AC-1202 in a double blind trial in mild to moderate Alzheimer’s patients [24]. We visually observed similar gastrointestinal side effects (loose stools) in the rats treated with MCT oil in our study. Rats were closely monitored to avoid dehydration, and gastric motility returned to normal between 12–24 h. Interestingly, the BMS + MCT supplement elevated βHB similarly to MCT oil alone, without causing the adverse gastrointestinal effects seen in MCT-supplemented rats. However, this could be due to the fact in a 10 g/kg dose of BMS + MCT, only 5 g/kg is MCT alone, which is less than the 10 g/kg dose that elicits the GI side effects. This suggests that this novel combination may provide a more useful therapeutic option than MCT oil alone, which is limited in its ability to elevate ketones in humans.
A meal high in carbohydrate and calories significantly decreased peak d-βHB by ~ 1 mM (Figure ​(Figure4A)4A) and reduced the d-βHB AUC by 27% (p < 0.001, Figure ​Figure4B).4B). There were no significant changes in d-βHB Tmax (fed = 73 ± 6 min vs. fasted 66 ± 4 min). Despite the differences in d-βHB kinetics after the meal, there were no effects of food on urinary ketone excretion (Figure ​(Figure4C),4C), plasma AcAc (Figure ​(Figure4D)4D) or breath acetone (Figure ​(Figure4E)4E) following KE ingestion. Plasma AcAc kinetics followed a similar time course to d-βHB, with the ratio of blood d-βHB: AcAc being 6:1 when KE drinks were consumed whilst fasted, and 4:1 following the meal. As observed in Study 1, breath acetone concentrations rose more slowly than blood ketone concentrations, reaching a plateau at 150 min and remaining elevated for at least 4 h (Figure ​(Figure4E4E).
If you’re somebody who isn’t already a keto-goer, then you might be wondering why? Why do I need to limit my carbohydrate intake to get my body into a state of ketosis? Simply put, and without getting to technical; you want your body to be in a constant state where fat is the is the primary source of fuel for the body rather than glucose. You see, once you eat carbs, the body will break this down into glucose which it will then use for fuel before tapping into your fat reserves for energy. If you limit the amount of glucose that is in your system by restricting your carbohydrate intake, the body has no choice but to tap into your fat stores for energy. Fats are metabolised in the liver where ketones are then produced for your physical and cognitive needs.
For anyone who wants to get a bit more technical, research by Stubbs and colleagues shows that BHB shuts off lipolysis (fat breakdown). With endogenous ketosis there are many other factors that stimulate lipolysis meaning that a kind of balance is reached and lipolysis stays constant. But with exogenous ketosis those factors stimulating ketosis are not present, so the overall effect of the ingested BHB is to decrease lipolysis.
The concentrations of blood d-βHB after KE drinks were highly repeatable whether consumed whilst fasted or fed (Figures 4F,G). The d-βHB Cmax values ranged from 1.3 to 3.5 mM when fed and 2.3 to 4.7 mM when fasted. There was no significant effect of visit order on d-βHB kinetics, with the maximal difference in d-βHB Cmax reached by one individual being 1.2 mM when fed and 1.9 mM when fasted. Approximately 61% of the variation in the data was attributable to feeding (fed vs. fasted), <1% to visit order, 16% to inter-participant variability, and the residual 24% variability due to non-specific random effects.
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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