Elliot received his BS in Biochemistry from the University of Minnesota and has been a freelance writer specializing in nutritional and health sciences for the past 5 years. He is thoroughly passionate about exercise, nutrition, and dietary supplementation, especially how they play a role in human health, longevity, and performance. In his free time you can most likely find him lifting weights at the gym or out hiking through the mountains of Colorado. He will also host the upcoming BioKeto podcast. You can connect with him on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/elliot.reimers) and Instagram (@eazy_ell)
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.
Exogenous ketones are not a shortcut to nutritional ketosis, but they do give your body a break from full-time carb usage. They are a tool you can use to get into ketosis if your lifestyle makes it too difficult to do so without them. And they’re also a good way to get an increased edge for those who are very on top of their nutrition and performance.
I had the chance to interview Dr. Ryan Lowery, Ph.D. about this in person. He performs some (not peer-reviewed) research on different brands of ketone salts and is listed as one of the “specialists” on Prüvit’s website. He suggested that we had perhaps ran the tests too long after the supplements were taken, stating that blood ketones tend to peak at 30 minutes. This is, however, not what Prüvit themselves state in their article on the 59-minute test, or the promise to reach ketosis in 60 minutes on the Kegenix Prime packaging. Plus, do you really want to spend up to $390/month on a product that gives you the benefits of ketosis for half an hour?
There’s some support that exogenous ketones can be helpful for people already dutifully following the keto diet — but research has been limited. One thing we know for sure: These aren’t a get-thin-quick solution. “I think people are drawn to a quick, easy fix, kind of a magic bullet supplement, and it’s not that this won’t contribute to weight loss, but it’s not that magic bullet,” Griffin says.
Uncontrolled diabetics may face some risks in using exogenous ketones. This is because when the body is unable to produce insulin (type I diabetics and extreme type II diabetics), it is unable to get sugar or glucose into the cells. Therefore, the body will start producing ketones. If these individuals do not use an insulin injection, they can overtime build up unsafe levels of ketones (6).
Personally, I do this on Friday night to Saturday night, so if something happens and my hunger hasn’t crashed by Sunday morning, I have another day that I can go zero carb to keep the momentum going. While the body will trigger ketosis as soon as you run out of glycogen, hunger is attached to your triglyceride and insulin levels, which might take an extra day to normalize.
When choosing an exogenous ketone supplement, make sure to read the ingredients carefully. Brands that have a “proprietary blend” don’t allow you to see the quantities of each ingredient in their mix. You should know every detail about the supplements you choose, so you know exactly what is affecting your body, and you have control over the variables of your intake.
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.
As seen in this exercise, glucose tends to fall quite precipitously following exogenous ketone ingestions. Without exception, every time I ingested these compounds (which I’ve probably done a total of 25 to 30 times), my glucose would fall, sometimes as low as 3 mM (just below 60 mg/dL). Despite this, I never felt symptomatic from hypoglycemia. Richard Veech (NIH) one of the pioneers of exogenous ketones, has suggested this phenomenon is the result of the ketones activating pyruvate dehydogenase (PDH), which enhances insulin-mediated glucose uptake. (At some point I will also write a post on Alzheimer’s disease, which almost always involves sluggish PDH activity —in animal models acute bolus of insulin transiently improves symptoms and administration of exogenous ketones does the same, even without glucose.)
Ketosis is a unique metabolic state where your body burns fat instead of glucose for fuel. Glucose is a simple sugar molecule derived from carbohydrates. Your body prefers using glucose to using fat and protein to make energy. This is because glucose it is easy to burn as it doesn't require much energy. On the other hand, your body uses fat and protein to build and repair tissue and make hormones.
If you are not on a vigorous exercise plan, I wouldn't go more than about a scoop a day (if you are a 30min/day, low carb person like me) because some of the research available says that if you get into ketosis using diet only and supplement with extra ketones, you may experience a slower rate of weight loss since you are getting your ketones from a supplement rather than the body transforming fat to ketones. As I progress, I will probably move up to 2 scoops per day.
Safety Warning — KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDERN. This product is only intended to be consumed by healthy adults 18 years of age or older. Do not use if you are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, breast feeding, have known medical conditions (including but not limited to diabetes, kidney, heart, or liver disease) or are taking prescription or OTC medication(s). Consult with your health care practitioner before using this product These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. —
Each serving of Core BHB™ contains a clinically effective dose (12 grams) of pure goBHB™ exogenous ketones. This ensures you’re getting the purest and most efficacious BHB salts available. Research and scientific findings continue to demonstrate the promising benefits of exogenous ketones, especially when used with a calorie-controlled diet and healthy exercise regimen.
My two cents: I wouldn’t take ketone supps if not on some sort of low(ish) carb diet because the idea of high levels of BOTH fuels (ie, ketones AND glucose) doesn’t seem physiologically appropriate… more like a recipe for disaster, and by “disaster,” I mean “out-of-control production of Reactive Oxygen Species” — this might not matter if you’re an athlete looking for a quick performance boost, because the fuels are going to be cleared rather quickly… not so much if you’re a desk jockey.
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.
So long long does it take to get into ketosis? This transition could take anywhere from 48 hours to one week. The length in time will vary depending upon your activity level, lifestyle, body type and carbohydrate intake. There are several ways you can speed up this process, like intermittent fasting, drastically decreasing your carb intake and supplementation.
I noticed for myself that it helps if I add some highly nutritional foods to my diet before I go into ketogenic diet. Adding minerals and vitamins will aid your body in this difficult process and on top of that if you have a deficiency of some sort you will be even more hungry and it will make your transition more difficult, so why make it harder on your self if you can just add some leafy greens to your diet.
Hybrid strategy: A hybrid strategy is to follow a low-carb/high-fat ketogenic diet to induce nutritional ketosis and use ketone supplements strategically. Supplements like Ketone salts or MCT oil can help ease the transition into ketosis, they can be an effective tool when we are knocked out of nutritional ketosis and they can help push ketone levels higher in the body for added benefit.
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.
Sure Leslie, the goal is to induce the burning of stored fat in your body. This process usually take a few days of strictly limiting carbohydrate intake. Supplementing with exogenous ketones is a way to shortcut the wait time, essentially “tricking” your body into ketosis. I imagine supplementing with too many could have negative effects on fat loss, but the research is not out supporting that claim yet.
The major determinant of whether the liver will produce ketone bodies is the amount of liver glycogen present (8). The primary role of liver glycogen is to maintain normal blood glucose levels. When dietary carbohydrates are removed from the diet and blood glucose falls, glucagon signals the liver to break down its glycogen stores to glucose which is released into the bloodstream. After approximately 12-16 hours, depending on activity, liver glycogen is almost completely depleted. At this time, ketogenesis increases rapidly. In fact, after liver glycogen is depleted, the availability of FFA will determine the rate of ketone production. (12)
Once you hit the bed, the adrenal glands will be off and the body will enter the anabolic stage. This will allow your body to repair itself. If you stay up late for long periods of time your body will enter the hypercatabolic state. In this state, the levels of cortisol in your body increase significantly. This also increases the insulin resistance of the body which would again increase the blood sugar levels.
Meanwhile Brinkworth, et al., in their 2009 paper "Long-term Effects of a Very Low-Carbohydrate Diet and a Low-Fat Diet on Mood and Cognitive Function" looked at the effects on ketogenic diet on cognitive function and mood. The study participants ate a ketogenic diet for a year and the researchers found that mood levels decreased when compared to a group eating a high carb/low fat diet. They go on to remark “there was no evidence that the dietary macronutrient composition of LC and LF diets affected cognitive functioning over the long term, as changes in cognitive function were similar for both diets”.
Do you need carbs to train? No. Again this is an anecdote only, but I have done numerous training sessions in a carb deprived state. Heck some of my best training sessions where done in a fasted, carb deprived state. And there are a lot of endurance athletes who are using a ultra-low carb/ketogenic diet and putting up some great times (more on this below).
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
Humans in the hunter-gatherer era survived thanks to metabolic flexibility — the body’s ability to use different fuels for energy depending on the nutrients available. This adaptation was vital during a time when the source, quantity, and frequency of food was uncertain[*]. Most of the time, people were fasting, so their bodies ran on ketones, not glucose.
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