This is probably one of the most understood notions of a true ketogenic diet (and the difference between a keto diet and a low carb diet). An optimal ketogenic diet will be low in carbohydrates AND protein. Many people who have experimented with low carb dieting simple reduce carbs and increase protein. A big reason behind this is due to the misconception that ‘’excess fat is bad – which is untrue, more on this HERE). However, excess protein can be converted to glucose (blood sugar) through a process called gluconeogenesis.
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.
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.
Miriam, Thank you for the questions. I am going to do my best here to provide you with answers: Q: The manufacture of BHB salts involves ionic bonding of an anion (beta-hydroxybutyrate) with a cation (Na+, K+, Ca+, Mg+). At least one of the exogenous ketone products you listed does in fact contain potassium ions. People taking potassium-sparing drugs need to know this and that raises concerns about leaving it off your chart. A: The table lists the BHB and the mineral content from the BHB salts (no added minerals). Therefore, since potassium BHB is not in any of the… Read more »
Exogenous ketones can lower appetite during a fast. After an overnight fast, normal weight human subjects either drank a ketone ester supplement or a calorie-matched glucose drink. Compared to the glucose drinkers, the ketone drinkers had lower insulin, lower ghrelin, greater satiety, and less hunger. This can be useful for people trying to extend their fast who don’t want to or can’t yet deal with the hunger. You’re still taking in energy, but the metabolic profile remains similar to that of a fasted person.
We designed a test for each of the chosen benefit claims and enlisted the help of four of our Diet Doctor teammates to try out the supplements and go through the testing. They were Jonatan and Giorgos from the video team, Emőke from the recipe team and Erik from the IT team. We had a mix of people who were naturally in endogenous ketosis during testing, and people who were not.
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.
MCT Oil is a keto supplement that helps your body make ketones. The oil contains pure medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are types of fatty acids that your body prefers using for immediate energy. Unlike long-chain fatty acids, MCTs don't require enzymes and bile for digestion and they go straight to the liver where they are used for making free fatty acids or ketones. Studies on MCTs show that they promote weight loss [5].
Now that you have fasted for quite a long time, you can break your fast at around 4 to 5 pm. Try having some good fat for this purpose, such as coconut oil or MCT oil, butter, or any other healthy fat. MCT oil might come in as a better option in this case since it gets quickly absorbed by the body. It swiftly bypasses the gallbladder and reaches the liver where it is transformed to ketones rapidly.
Skipping breakfast on a keto diet is a popular way to boost ketone levels. Despite the age-old myth that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, research shows that breakfast skipping is not only safe but beneficial. Skipping breakfast causes intermittent ketosis and also suppresses appetite [6]. Make sure your next meal of the day isn't too late in the evening as studies show that eating meals late at night causes weight gain and impairs fat metabolism [7].
Skipping breakfast on a keto diet is a popular way to boost ketone levels. Despite the age-old myth that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, research shows that breakfast skipping is not only safe but beneficial. Skipping breakfast causes intermittent ketosis and also suppresses appetite [6]. Make sure your next meal of the day isn't too late in the evening as studies show that eating meals late at night causes weight gain and impairs fat metabolism [7].
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).
Exogenous ketones don’t seem to improve high-intensity, glucose-intensive exercise, increasing fat burning during steady state exercise but dropping top-end high-intensity performance. Another study found that ketone dieters reduced 50-minute time trial performance in cyclists, though another group of researchers have criticized the methods. Even when a ketone ester didn’t improve performance in the shuttle run to exhaustion and 15 meter sprint repeats, it did reduce the drop in brain function following the exercise.
They’ve got enough science behind them to suggest they do work very well indeed, but watch out for the online ads featuring the raspberry ketone fat burners. Their name is little more than a parlour trick because this is not related in any way to ketones, a ketogenic diet or nutritional ketosis. They are merely the natural substance that gives raspberries their sweet aroma and flavour. Just because they’re marketed at the must-have fat burner, doesn’t mean they work and are one of the most widely spread Internet scams. There aren’t any human studies to back up raspberries claims so exercise a handful of caution when choosing your ketone supplier. Make sure they’re reputable, can be held accountable and are Australian made to set yourself up to become leaner while increasing your stamina.
Most of the information regarding the effects of ketosis come from studies on the ketogenic diet, wherein ketones are made by the liver and become a major fuel source for the body. The ketogenic diet is currently under investigation for its potential therapeutic effects in a number of healthy and disease states. More recently, studies are beginning to reveal that many of the effects observed with the ketogenic diet are mechanistically attributable to ketones, which is a primary reason that exogenous ketones are being developed and studied. However, because they are such a new technology, there’s not a lot of data on exogenous ketones themselves. In a few pre-clinical studies, exogenous ketones have mimicked the therapeutic effects of the ketogenic diet”
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.
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.
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”.
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:

Considering both the broad therapeutic potential and limitations of the KD, an oral exogenous ketone supplement capable of inducing sustained therapeutic ketosis without the need for dietary restriction would serve as a practical alternative. Several natural and synthetic ketone supplements capable of inducing nutritional ketosis have been identified. Desrochers et al. elevated ketone bodies in the blood of pigs (>0.5 mM) using exogenous ketone supplements: (R, S)-1,3 butanediol and (R, S)-1,3 butanediol-acetoacetate monoesters and diester [48]. In 2012, Clarke et al. demonstrated the safety and efficacy of chronic oral administration of a ketone monoester of R-βHB in rats and humans [49, 50]. Subjects maintained elevated blood ketones without dietary restriction and experienced little to no adverse side effects, demonstrating the potential to circumvent the restrictive diet typically needed to achieve therapeutic ketosis. We hypothesized that exogenous ketone supplements could produce sustained hyperketonemia (>0.5 mM) without dietary restriction and without negatively influencing metabolic biomarkers, such as blood glucose, total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and triglycerides. Thus, we measured these biomarkers during a 28-day administration of the following ketone supplements in rats: naturally-derived ketogenic supplements included medium chain triglyceride oil (MCT), sodium/potassium -βHB mineral salt (BMS), and sodium/potassium -βHB mineral salt + medium chain triglyceride oil 1:1 mixture (BMS + MCT) and synthetically produced ketogenic supplements included 1, 3-butanediol (BD), 1, 3-butanediol acetoacetate diester/ ketone ester (KE).


BHB easily crosses the blood-brain barrier resulting in easily accessible energy to the brain and muscle tissues, becoming a source of energy after entering the mitochondria, being converted to Acetyl-CoA, and then ATP through the Krebs cycle (the same process that glucose goes through to become ATP). This ultimately results in many direct benefits, including:

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