While the KetoneAid folks have been seeing tremendous success working with elite athletes to improve athletic performance, I thought it would be interesting to quantify the effects of ketone esters on cognitive performance. For the week prior to taking the ketones, I re-established baseline scores in a number of cognitive testing areas using Lumosity*:
It's a common misconception among those who are trying to lose weight that fat is dangerous, but this is not the case at all. You will need to rely on healthy sources of fat to reach ketosis, and this can be achieved by choosing the right type of food. Go with those that contain butter, olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil, among others. Opt for oils that are not heavily processed so you can get the most benefits out of them.
These studies were approved by external Research Ethics Committees (London Queen's Square: 14/LO/0288 and South West Frenchay: 15/SW/0244) and were conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki (2008). Studies took place at the University of Oxford between September 2014 and September 2016. Participants were healthy, aged 21–57, non-smokers and had no history of major illness. Female participants were using oral contraception to minimize the effects of menstrual phase on results. Participants provided written informed consent prior to inclusion, and completed a confidential medical screening questionnaire to determine eligibility. Anthropometric characteristics are shown in Table Table1.1. Sample sizes were chosen following an estimated power calculation based on the effect size in previous work using KE drinks (Clarke et al., 2012b; Shivva et al., 2016).
I interviewed Dr. Brianna Stubbs, a ketone researcher with a Ph.D. in Metabolic Physiology from the University of Oxford who is now Research Lead at HVMN, specializing in developing ketone esters. She told me that in terms of science on the ketone salts and their effect on physical performance, one of the most-cited benefits of ketone salts, the scientific studies that have been done show at best no effect on physical performance and that, currently, there is no peer-reviewed scientific research on the ketone salt products on the market.
Effects of ketone supplementation on body weight: Rats administered ketone supplements gained less weight over the 4-week period; however, did not lose weight and maintained healthy range for age. KE supplemented rats gained significantly less weight during the entire 4-week study compared to controls. BMS + MCT, BMS, and BD supplemented rats gained significantly less weight than controls over weeks 2–4.MCT supplemented rats gained significantly less weight than controls over weeks 3–4, Two-Way ANOVA with Tukey’s post hoc test, results considered significant if p < 0.05. Error bars represent mean (SD)
Until there is more definitive information on the necessary blood levels and the differing proportions of BOHB an AcAc to optimize cellular and organ functions, it will be difficult to specify the dosing and duration of supplemental ketones. However for fuel use, and very likely for exercise performance as well, sustained blood levels of BOHB in the range of 0.5 mM to 1.0 mM are likely to be required. This is achieved physiologically by an estimated ketone production of 50-100 grams per day in a keto-adapted human.
If you do the same calculations as I did above for estimating fat oxidation, you’ll see that EE in this case was approximately 13.92 kcal/min, while fat oxidation was only 67% of this, or 9.28 kcal/min, or 1.03 g/min. So, for this second effort (the test set) my body did about 5% less mechanical work, while oxidizing about 25% less of my own fat. The majority of this difference, I assume, is from the utilization of the exogenous BHB, and not glucose (again, I will address below what I think is happening with glucose levels).
Athletic performance benefits: The use of exogenous ketone supplements for bettering physical/athletic performance is promising for several reasons. Firstly, taking exogenous ketones (particularly BHB salts) induces acute nutritional ketosis for upwards of eight hours, mimicking fasting physiology (e.g. increases fat burning, insulin sensitivity, etc.).
The human studies aren’t quite there yet, but it seems likely that they’d help. A recent human case study found that ketone esters added to the regular diet improved Alzheimer’s symptoms. Animal studies indicate that adding exogenous ketones to a regular lab (read: not ketogenic) diet can reduce seizure activity and improve overall symptoms in epilepsy animal models, reverse early neuronal hyperactivity in Alzheimer’s animal models, and reduce anxiety in rats.
In general, too much caffeine on a regular basis can prevent you from going into ketosis. But since we are trying to get into ketosis in 24 hours I believe it will help you for one day by curbing your hunger and getting through the fast easier. In case, you do not like coffee, you can opt for caffeine drinks or you can opt for other beverages which consist of caffeine in smaller quantities.
A lot of people who use ketogenic diets will include a regular (i.e. weekly) carb refeed meal. There are various reasons behind doing this. If you are doing a lot of glycolic based training, then the carb refeed can help bump up muscle glycogen levels and in turn boost performance. Others use these refeeds as a way to keep their thyroid health in check, and finally some people use these refeeds as a ‘cheat day’ – so that they can still enjoy the pleasures from carbohydrates!
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 shed weight in their sleep. Seriously... how is that even scientifically possible. So if you are thinking about trying out a particular keto supplement, I would suggest two things:
After a minimal amount of internet "research," I decided to try my first exogenous ketones. I have used the ketogenic diet off and on for at 15 years and my body is pretty efficient at fat adapting. (Usually by the end of 2 strict days, I am in ketosis, but not without symptoms and intense cravings.) I can consistently fast from carbs for 20 - 24 hours and do this consistently. However, around hour 20, my mind begins to negotiate that intermittent fasting is advantageous too and that I can afford to have some carbs once a day. Hence the yo-yo effect.
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)
I have, though, recently been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. After reading through your blog, I noticed there was a little about Ketogenetic diet and cancer. I purchased the MCT oil powder in hopes that will help me get into ketosis for the purpose of “starving” the cancer cells. Other then focus, I didn’t see any particular format for something like this. Here are my questions: How much of the powder should I take? And do you think the diet plus the MCT oil is a good idea for 1) aiding chemotherapy and 2) helping shrink the number of cancer cells?
Onnit is an incredible company that’s making a massive impacts in the lives of athletes in nearly every sport. From Olympic Gold Medalists, to NFL middle linebackers, Onnit has taken athletic performance to a new level. Providing supplements, food, and training equipment, Onnit was an early adopter of the elite performance booster that is exogenous ketones!
Electrolyte Imbalance – The physiological reasoning behind electrolytes becoming depleted during a state of ketosis is due to lack of water retention and frequent urination. When supplementing with exogenous ketones, the acute state of ketosis will likely increase the frequency of urination, but it won’t deplete glycogen stores. Therefore, it may be useful to drink an electrolyte solution if you are urinating a lot after taking exogenous ketones, but it’s dependent upon how you feel.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The content of this website is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment or medical advice. Use of recommendations is at the choice and risk of the reader. If you are under medical supervision or taking prescription medications, please consult with your family doctor or medical provider before starting any new eating plan. Ketologie products are not intended to treat, cure or prevent any disease. Pregnant or breast feeding women should consult their health care professional before consuming.
As for MCT oil (and oil powders), powder formulations tend to cause less digestive distress (e.g. probiotics), but some folks object to the additional ingredients like sunflower lecithin or soluble corn fiber). Even if you’d like to eventually settle on an oil, I’d recommend starting with a powder to see how you respond and to give your body the chance to adapt over time.
Full disclosure: after carrying out the background research, I was already, as you might imagine, feeling a little less neutral about these products. You may have noticed a hint of that in part 1 of the 2-part video series we made about the project (watch part 2 at the top of this page!). However, and although this was by no means a controlled scientific study under laboratory conditions, we designed the experiment in a very objective way. The aim was to give the supplements the best possible chance of showing the benefits they are claimed to have.
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
The way you make an exogenous BHB is by attaching it to some type of other compound (sodium, potassium, calcium, or magnesium) so that your body can process the molecule by cleaving the bond between the salt and the beta hydroxybutyrate. BHB + bound to a salt = BHB salts, which is what most people in the ketosis community call exogenous ketones. There are also things called esters, which are basically unbound BHB molecules. These are really disgusting and cause massive digestive issues, so I like to ignore them until we can produce them in a more appealing way.
Working memory involves temporarily storing and manipulating information. The game involves seeing three cards – a top card with a symbol that then moves along a track and is flipped over, exposing a new card above. The goal is to remember the symbol of the cards two cards back and indicate whether it matches the visible card or not. If you have ever played dual n-back games, this is very similar.
First, there’s something unnatural about having elevated levels of ketones and glucose together. It’s really hard to make that happen using traditional whole foods. The closest natural approximation you could get to it would be the traditional coconut-rich diets of the Kitava people in the South Pacific, where the medium chain triglycerides (MCT) in the coconut fat increased ketone production alongside the carbs in the fruit and tubers they ate. They had excellent metabolic health, but they weren’t anywhere close to a ketogenic diet. Coconut fat isn’t as ketogenic as purified MCT oil, let alone exogenous ketones.
Exogenous ketones (also known as ketone supplements) and well-formulated ketogenic diets share at least one thing in common. They both result in increased circulating concentrations of beta-hydroxybutyrate (BOHB), but ultimately are associated with very different patterns of ketosis, as well as differing metabolic and physiologic outcomes. In short, they should not be assumed to have equivalent effects simply because they achieve similar BOHB blood levels. Having said that, there are many reasons we should continue to study the various forms and potential applications of ketone supplements.
North Americans typically live pro-inflammatory, pro-disease lives (think about your everyday: likely sitting in a flexed position for hours on end, not enough natural sunlight, not enough movement, artificial food stuffs, artificial colouring, going to bed late, blue light exposure, less in-person contact with our loved ones, late night snacks, the list goes on and on).
Over five visits, participants (n = 16) consumed either 4.4 mmol.kg−1 of βHB (2.2 mmol.kg−1 or 395 mg/kg of KE; 1 mole of KE delivered 2 moles of d-βHB equivalents): twice whilst fasted, and twice following a standardized meal, or an isocaloric dextrose drink without a meal. To improve palatability, drinks were diluted to 500 ml with a commercially available, citrus flavored drink containing 65 kCal (5 g of carbohydrate) (Glaceau, UK). The dextrose drink was taste-matched using a bitterness additive (Symrise, Holzminden, Germany). The standard meal consisted of porridge oats (54 g), semi-skimmed milk (360 ml) and banana (120 g), giving 600 kCal per person, with a macronutrient ratio of Carbohydrate: Protein: Fat of 2:1:1.
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).
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!
This is another point that Brianna Stubbs put me onto: often, ketone-salt companies use terms such as “technology developed by Dominic D’Agostino” as a tool to market their products. Dom D’Agostino holds the patent for the technology being used but is not associated with the products and does not necessarily promote them. In many cases, this feels like a marketing strategy that name-drops a famous keto expert in order to make a product sound more legitimate. There is an example of this on Real Ketones’ website.
Let’s take a look at some of the facts and misconceptions about three of the minerals used to make ketone mineral salts: sodium, calcium, and magnesium. Potassium is very hygroscopic, meaning that it absorbs water very easily. Therefore, it is only feasible that it can be utilized in liquid formulations. Thus, one should be cautious if companies say they have potassium BHB salt powder in their product. I’d be very surprised if that’s actually the case.
All of the data I’ll present below were from an experiment I did with the help of Dominic D’Agostino and Pat Jak (who did the indirect calorimetry) in the summer of 2013. (I wrote this up immediately, but I’ve only got around to blogging about it now.) Dom is, far and away, the most knowledgeable person on the topic of exogenous ketones. Others have been at it longer, but none have the vast experiences with all possible modalities (i.e., esters versus salts, BHB versus AcAc) and the concurrent understanding of how nutritional ketosis works. If people call me keto-man (some do, as silly as it sounds), they should call Dom keto-king.
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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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