This molecule is quite essential if you are using your own fat for fuel, or taking BHB as an exogenous ketone supplement to increase energy production — essentially to be in nutritional ketosis. If you’re not certain about what ketones are or what nutritional ketosis is, you should back up a little bit and read more about that on my company site, Perfect Keto.
Exogenous ketones cause the body to rely less on fat as fuel (see Fig 3). Fat takes longer to metabolise for energy than muscle glycogen. This is why fatty acids are not the preferred fuel under heavy exercise. This could be useful for keto-adapted athletes performing high-intensity cardiovascular or strength training.12 This is particularly useful for the Keto-adapted athlete who wants to undergo high-intensity cardiovascular or strength training.
Too much cortisol tells the liver that you are in physical danger and need a lot of energy fast. The brain doesn't understand the difference between physical danger and emotional stress. When emotionally stressed, the brain thinks you're in a life-and-death situation, so the liver comes to your rescue and gives you the glucose you need to fight off your attacker.
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).
If the goal is to deplete glucose levels so that we can start producing ketone bodies, then forcibly exerting physical energy through exercise is a great way to go about it. Keeping it relatively low intensity to begin with and working out in the morning is recommended as this helps to keep down your cortisol (stress hormone) levels. This only applies at the beginning of your keto adaptation process, as intense workouts such as HIIT once already keto-adapted will be completely fine.
The other potentially important distinction between nutritional ketosis and chemically-induced ketosis is the potential metabolic role played by liver AcAc production and redox status. Although the ratio of BOHB to AcAc in venous blood is typically 80% to 20%, classic studies by Cahill (1975) have observed important hepatic vein and peripheral arterio-venous gradients for this ratio in keto-adapted patients. What these observations imply is that the liver produces a higher proportion of AcAc than is found in the peripheral blood, and that this is due to uptake of AcAc in peripheral cells (principally muscle) with re-release as BOHB. In the process, the reduction of AcAc to BOHB produces NAD+, which is beneficial to mitochondrial redox state and mitochondrial function (Verdin 2015, Newman 2017).
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.
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Exogenous ketones provide the body with another fuel to employ. Think about it like an electric car that runs on both gas and electricity: by consuming ketones along with carbohydrates, the body will preferentially burn the ketones first, saving the carbohydrates for later. Exogenous ketones allow us to enter a metabolic state that wouldn't occur naturally: the state of having full carbohydrate stores, as well as elevated ketones in the blood. This could be advantageous to athletes looking to boost their physical performance.
Besides cutting carbs, it's important to increase your fat intake, and be moderate with protein. The fat you eat will keep you feeling energized and support ketone production. Protein is also important but if you go overboard with it, your body could enter into a process called gluconeogenesis. In gluconeogenesis, your body makes glucose from protein, and you want to avoid that.
It’s hard to say. Achieving a natural state of ketosis (as in, by eating a ketogenic diet) is thought to be beneficial in the short-term. But experts don’t know the long-term effects, Palumbo says. And some suspect that it could lead to problems like kidney damage or an increased risk for heart disease (and day-to-day keto diet side effects are, at this point, well-documented). Assuming that ketone supplements do work identically to natural ketones, taking them long-term could have similar health effects.
I also concluded that post by discussing the possibility of testing this (theoretical) idea in a real person, with the help of exogenous (i.e., synthetic) ketones. I have seen this effect in (unpublished) data in world class athletes not on a ketogenic diet who have supplemented with exogenous ketones (more on that, below). Case after case showed a small, but significant increase in sub-threshold performance (as an example, efforts longer than about 4 minutes all-out).
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