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.
Increased levels of BHB in the body were found to be associated with greater cognitive performance through better performance in memory recall tests12 on a study of 20 subjects with Alzheimer’s disease or demonstration of a mild cognitive deficit. Similarly, BHB ketone esters helped to reverse symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease in one clinical case study.13 More research in humans is needed, but the various hypotheses are backed up by strong animal data.
Blood d-βHB, pH, bicarbonate (HCO3-) and electrolytes measured in arterialized blood samples from resting subjects (n = 7) following a ketone ester or salt drink containing 3.2 mmol.kg−1 of βHB. Shaded areas represent the normal range. Values are means ± SEM. (A) Venous blood d-βHB. (B) Arterialized blood pH. (C) Blood bicarbonate. (D) Blood potassium. (E) Blood sodium. (F) Blood chloride. †p < 0.05 difference between KE and KS, *p < 0.05 difference from baseline value.
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.
For the ketone esters, on the other hand, repeated doses of 20-30 grams in any one day may be possible. Thus these products may be able to maintain a modest level of ketonemia without dietary carbohydrate restriction. Thus some of the cardiac and brain fueling benefits may follow, not to mention the epigenetic effects limiting oxidative stress and inflammation. But given the recent observation that administered ketone esters markedly reduce circulating free fatty acids (Myette-Cote 2018) — possibly due to an insulin-tropic effect or direct suppression of lipolysis (Taggart 2005) — their sustained use in people with underlying insulin resistance may compromise their long-term benefits by promoting weight gain unless combined with carbohydrate restriction.
The CNS cannot use fat as an energy source; hence, it normally utilizes glucose. After 3–4 days without carbohydrate consumption the CNS is ‘forced' to find alternative energy sources, and as demonstrated by the classic experiments of Cahill and colleagues4 this alternative energy source is derived from the overproduction of acetyl coenzyme A (CoA). This condition seen in prolonged fasting, type 1 diabetes and high-fat/low-carbohydrate diets leads to the production of higher-than-normal levels of so-called ketone bodies (KBs), that is, acetoacetate, β-hydroxybutyric acid and acetone—a process called ketogenesis and which occurs principally in the mitochondrial matrix in the liver.6
As stated above, there appears to be a difference between supplemental and dietary calcium intake, which can be important to keep in mind. One study found aggregate calcium intakes above 1400 mg per day (from dietary and supplemental intake combined) to be associated with higher death rates, cardiovascular disease, and ischemic heart disease in women. A 2014 meta-analysis found an association between dietary calcium intake and cardiovascular mortality. The meta-analysis actually found a u-shaped relationship, where dietary calcium intakes that were both lower and greater than 800 mg/day were gradually associated with increased risk of cardiovascular mortality.
Interestingly, the effects of exogenous ketones on blood substrate concentrations were preserved with the metabolic stimulus of a mixed meal. Following KE drinks, FFA and glucose fell and remained low in both fed and fasted subjects, despite higher insulin throughout the fed arm, suggesting that there was no synergistic effect of insulin and βHB to further lower blood glucose or FFA. In agreement with previous work, the threshold for the effects of βHB on glucose and lipids appears to be low (<1 mM), as there was no significant dose-response relationship between increasing blood βHB and the small changes in plasma FFA, TG or glucose across all of the study drinks (Mikkelsen et al., 2015).
Hi. Thanks for the informative article! I have fallen down the exogenous ketone rabbit hole for the last 2 days trying to figure everything out. I am currently on a nutritional ketonic diet but after 8 months, I am finding it difficult to stay on it 100%. I would like to remain on a low-carb diet, but also have a little more flexibility in my food choices. If you take the expense out of the equation, which product would you recommend for someone who wants to use ketosis as a method of weight loss? Thank you so much.
While we know that both MCT Oil Powders and BHB salts are proven supplements to increases ketosis, the winner of a top 5 exogenous ketones list I think should be a true direct form of exogenous ketones – one of the BHB salts. Perfect Keto’s BASE takes the win here. The edge ranking factor is its flavor. With stevia-based flavors such as chocolate sea salt, and the fact that it uses zero additives and actually tastes good, this BHB salt is going to have to take the W. They’re the only 100% coconut MCTs that don’t utilize the goMCT™ form.. this is neither a pro or con. And while it doesn’t have the best bang for your buck compared to the other BHB salts on this list, it’s the most proven as far as happy customer track record and consistent high-quality keto supplements.
I stumbled onto this trend before it even blew up, I have read just about every peer-review journal of the topic, I have trialed as well as tested different methods and keto products (exogenous ketones, MCT oils, pills, etc), and lastly, I have reported and analyzed my performance to share with you all. It hasn't been an easy task, but I have also seen the fruits of the labor, and the fruit is sweet.
This process can be used as a way to get you into ketosis more quickly, so you can transition gracefully into a ketogenic lifestyle or as a way to stimulate autophagy and fat loss. If you can’t go without fat for the full 3 day fast — it’s okay — you will still illicit many of the benefits of fasting by limiting your protein and carbohydrate intake.
All data are presented as the mean ± standard deviation (SD). Data analysis was performed using GraphPad PRISM™ version 6.0a and IBM SPSS Statistics 22.0. Results were considered significant when p < 0.05. Triglyceride and lipoprotein profile data were analyzed using One-Way ANOVA. Blood ketone and blood glucose were compared to control at the applicable time points using a Two-Way ANOVA. Correlation between blood βHB and glucose levels in ketone supplemented rats was compared to controls using ANCOVA analysis. Organ and body weights were analyzed using One-Way ANOVA. Basal blood ketone and blood glucose levels were analyzed using Two-Way ANOVA. All mean comparisons were carried out using Tukey’s multiple comparisons post-hoc test.
We’ve all been taught that high sodium intake is bad for us, similar to how we’ve been told for decades that fat is the driver of coronary heart disease, and consuming large amounts will kill us. Sodium has been thought to increase blood pressure, and therefore increase the risk of heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, osteoporosis, and stomach cancer. Thus, many of us tend to avoid consuming foods or supplements with labels that have high amounts of sodium.
Effects of ketone supplementation on blood βHB. a, b Blood βHB levels at times 0, 0.5, 1, 4, 8, and 12 h post intragastric gavage for ketone supplements tested. a BMS + MCT and MCT supplementation rapidly elevated and sustained significant βHB elevation compared to controls for the duration of the 4-week dose escalation study. BMS did not significantly elevate βHB at any time point tested compared to controls. b BD and KE supplements, maintained at 5 g/kg, significantly elevated βHB levels for the duration of the 4-week study. Two-Way ANOVA with Tukey’s post hoc test, results considered significant if p < 0.05. Error bars represent mean (SD)
The problem? Exogenous ketone supplements work by flooding your bloodstream with ketones. But unless you’re also eating a ketogenic diet (and producing a steady stream of ketones naturally), those supplemental ketones won’t stick around forever. “The benefit of exogenous ketones is limited due to their excretion through the urine,” explains Madge Barnes, MD, family medicine specialist with Texas Health Family Care. In other words? They’ll only work for a few hours until you pee them out. As a result, you need to keep on supplementing—which can get expensive. Twenty single-serving packets of Prüvit’s Keto//OS MAX Pure Therapeutic Ketones, for example, cost $130. (The company doesn’t specify how often you should take them.)
Even Ben Greenfield Has Thyroid Problems While In Ketosis - “Ben describes one of the main side effects that he encountered being severe hypothyroidism… manifesting as severe sensitivity to cold, poor libido, and poor overall energy. The way they treated this was to eat a lot of liver, desiccated thyroid, and sweetbreads which seemed to fix things for him.”
In a subset of participants (n = 7) the effect of 3.2 mmol.kg−1 of βHB as KE and KS on blood pH and electrolytes after ketone drinks was investigated. Blood d-βHB kinetics were similar to those in the initial experiment (Figure (Figure3A).3A). After 60 min, blood pH declined from 7.41 to 7.31 following a KE drink (p < 0.001, Figure Figure3B).3B). Bicarbonate fell significantly from 23.6 ± 0.7 to 17.0 ± 0.8 mM following KE drinks (p < 0.001), but remained within the normal range (Figure 3C). Both ketone drinks significantly decreased blood potassium concentrations by 0.7 mM (both drinks p < 0.05, Figure 3D) and increased sodium and chloride concentrations (Sodium: both drinks p < 0.05, Chloride: KE = p < 0.05, KS = p < 0.005, Figures 3E,F).
Patrick Arnold is an organic chemist who is notorious for being the creator of several performance-enhancing steroids. He is arguably one of the strongest influencers on the advancement of sports supplementation. Currently he is focused on developing products under the KetoSports brand, which includes two exogenous ketone products – KetoForce and KetoCaNa.
I just started down the Keto path with the help (hopefully) of Ketond. My problem with all the websites and info I’ve seen is that no-one says how often you should take the EK. The packages say the serving size is one scoop…. but how many servings per day? It (Ketond) also says one serving will put you in Ketosis for 3-5 hours – so, does that mean you should take another serving after the 3-5 hours to stay in Ketosis?
BS, KC, and PC designed the research studies. BS, PC, RE, SM, and PS carried out the studies. SH provided the gas analyser used in the study on behalf of NTT DOCOMO Inc. BS, MS, and SM analyzed the data and performed statistical analysis in collaboration with JM. BS wrote the paper with help from KC, PC, and OF. KC had primary responsibility for final content. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
I'm using this in conjunction with a low carb diet (40g net daily) and Adipex. Perfect Keto actually helped alleviate a lot of the keto/low carb flu symptoms I typically experience when starting a low carb diet. I can't give a full review on how this works with weight loss, because I'm just using it as a supplement (1 scoop) to help keep me in solid ketosis and have only been doing so for the past two weeks and using the low carb diet and Adipex in addition to this supplement doesn't give me a pure experience with this product. But I'm down 10 pounds in the two weeks, so I'm sure it's playing a part!
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
I also chatted to some Prüvit reps, who told me that it might be necessary to keep taking the supplements for a couple of months to start to see more elevated ketones. Well, the proof is in the pudding (or in this case, in the fluorescent-coloured, artificial-tasting pink drink). But I would hesitate before spending money on a two-month supply just to find out if that’s true. Real Ketones’ Kegenix Prime was associated with a decrease blood ketones. Not a good start, and we’ll get back to this point later.
While ketone salts are widely available, unfortunately in the near-term ketone esters are in short supply and the only people who will be able to afford taking them several times per day will be elite athletes, the military, corporate CEO-types, and professional poker players. Even with economies of scale and ramping up production, the cost of raw materials to produce pure ketone esters will keep their price tag prohibitively high for most people, but could realistically get down to a few dollars per gram.
The same question posed in a different way can be, what’s better, getting protein from powder or from a grass-fed steak or wild salmon? Omega-3 from supplements or from a variety of healthy wild fish? Just like with health supplements where you consume an isolated nutrient instead of the whole food where it comes from, if it’s possible to get what you need from whole food or nutrition, then that’s probably the best choice.
Over the 28-day experiment, ketone supplements administered daily significantly elevated blood ketone levels without dietary restriction (Fig. 2a, b). Naturally derived ketogenic supplements including MCT (5 g/kg) elicited a significant rapid elevation in blood βHB within 30–60 min that was sustained for 8 h. BMS + MCT (5 g/kg) elicited a significant elevation in blood βHB at 4 h, which was no longer significant at 8 h. BMS (5 g/kg) did not elicit a significant elevation in blood βHB at any time point. For days 14–28, BMS + MCT (10 g/kg) and MCT (10 g/kg) elevated blood βHB levels within 30 min and remained significantly elevated for up to 12 h. We observed a delay in the peak elevation of blood βHB: BMS + MCT peaked at 8 h instead of at 4 h and MCT at 4 h instead of at 1 h. Blood βHB levels in the BMS group did not show significant elevation at any time point, even after dose escalation (Fig. 2a). Synthetically derived ketogenic supplements including KE and BD supplementation rapidly elevated blood βHB within 30 min and was sustained for 8 h. For the rats receiving ketone supplementation in the form of BD or the KE, dosage was kept at 5 g/kg to prevent adverse effects associated with hyperketonemia. The Precision Xtra™ ketone monitoring system measures βHB only; therefore, total blood ketone levels (βHB + AcAc) would be higher than measured. For each of these groups, the blood βHB profile remained consistent following daily ketone supplementation administration over the 4-week duration. (Fig. 2b).
To determine the reason for the differences in blood d-βHB concentration, the KE and KS drinks were analyzed for enantiomeric purity. The KE contained >99% of the d-isoform, whereas ~50% of the KS βHB was the l-isoform (Figure (Figure1D).1D). Plasma samples from participants who consumed the high dose KS drink (n = 5) were analyzed to reveal higher l-βHB than d-βHB, the total βHB Cmax being 3.4 ± 0.2 mM (Figure (Figure1E),1E), with a total βHB AUC of 549 ± 19 mmol.min. After 4 h, plasma l-βHB remained elevated at 1.9 ± 0.2 mM; differences in urinary excretion of the two isoforms could not explain this observation as both d- and l-βHB were excreted in proportion to their blood AUCs (Figure (Figure1F).1F). Therefore, in order to determine the time required for l-βHB elimination, a follow-up experiment was undertaken in which subjects (n = 5) consumed 3.2 mmol.kg−1 of βHB as KE and KS with hourly blood and breath sample collection up to 4 h, plus additional samples at 8 h and 24 h post-drink. l-βHB was found to be 1.1 ± 0.1 mM at 4 h, and 0.7 ± 0.2 mM after 8 h, but undetectable after 24 h (Figure 1G). Low amounts of d-βHB (0.3 ± 0.1 mM) were present at 24 h, presumably due to endogenous production. Both ketone drinks significantly increased breath acetone concentration, but at a slower rate than blood d-βHB, reaching a peak after 3 h that was twice as high following the KE (87 ± 9 ppm) than the KS (44 ± 10 ppm), suggesting that d-βHB was readily converted to acetone, but l-βHB was not (p < 0.005, Figure Figure1H1H).
Keto-adaption is a complex set of metabolic processes in which the body shifts from using primarily glucose for energy to using largely ketones and fat for energy. Achieving ketosis doesn’t mean the body is maximizing the use of these ketones; it takes longer than a few days for the body to get used to burning fat and ketones as its predominant fuels.
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.
Exogenously delivered ketone supplements significantly altered rat weight gain for the duration of the study (Fig. 6). However, rats did not lose weight and maintained a healthy range for their age. Rats have been shown to effectively balance their caloric intake to prevent weight loss/gain [97–99]. Due to the caloric density of the exogenous ketone supplements (Table 1) it is possible for the rats to eat less of the standard rodent chow and therefore less carbohydrates while maintaining their caloric intake. Food intake was not measured for this study. However, if there was a significant carbohydrate restriction there would be a signifcant change in basal blood ketone and blood glucose levels. As the hallmark to the KD, carbohydrate restriction increases blood ketone levels and reduces blood glucose levels. Neither an increase in basal blood ketone levels nor a decrease in basal blood glucose levels was observed in this study (Fig. 7). Additionally, if there were an overall blood glucose decrease due to a change in food intake, this would not explain the rapid reduction (within 30 min) in blood glucose correlated with an elevation of blood ketone levels after an intragastric bolus of ketone supplement (Figs. 2, ,33 and and44).
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.
I bought this because I didn't want to be sucked into an autoshipment for a ketone supplement like KetoOS, which is HOT right now. I did the comparison on the ingredient list between this product and KetoOS and they are quite similar. I think one of the big differences is that KetoOS has the option of caffeinated or non-caffeinated powders. For the cost and the free shipping (I'm a Prime member), it's something I could easily fit into my budget, rather than the $114 canister you'd get with KetoOS.
Measurements taken included whole blood glucose and BHB (every 5 minutes); VO2 and VCO2 (every 15 seconds); HR (continuous); RQ is calculated as the ratio of VO2 and VCO2. In the video of this post I explain what VO2, VCO2, and RQ tell us about energy expenditure and substrate use—very quickly, RQ typically varies between about 0.7 and 1.0—the closer RQ is to 0.7, the more fat is being oxidized; the reverse is true as RQ approaches 1.0
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