Taking exogenous ketones not only eliminates the need to follow a strict ketogenic diet to achieve ketosis (so you can have your high carb cake and eat it too), it can also help users get there faster. “They can expedite the process of getting into ketosis and becoming fat adapted,” Davis explains. “They can also help people push past the keto flu and potentially experience more mental energy and clarity than from diet alone.”
Exogenous ketones are ketones that come in the form of a powder that you mix with water to drink them. Exogenous ketones are controversial in the keto world. The problem is the marketing of them have made some people believe that all they have to do is use this product to get into ketosis. If your blood glucose is too high your body will not use the ketones and they will go to waste.
Currently, we lack enough evidence to change the recommendations for calcium intake. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for adults 19-50 years old is 2500 mg. This is well over the RDA of 1000 mg for the same age group. Calcium supplements commonly contain 600-1200 mg. When assessing your own calcium intake, keep in mind that calcium from food sources and calcium from supplements may have different outcomes.
If you read about ketosis in magazine or heard about it in a podcast and wanted to jump on the bandwagon, then I think you should avoid it. Remember, it is a strict diet, and the potential health downsides may not be worth the upsides, unless you are working with a medical professional and or you are tracking your labs to see what’s going on with your health (thyroid).
One monk, for example, set out to do a 40 day fast with medical supervision while maintaining his daily activities in the monastery. After 36 days, the medical professionals had to step in due to “profound weakness” and low blood pressure when standing. Although the monk fasted for 15 days longer than Ghandi, the medical professionals were able to stop the fast in time so that he could recover.
But there have also been studies done showing that the Inuit Eskimo’s do not actually reach a state of ketosis. This is due to numerous factors. One being that the diet the eskimo’s eat ‘would not be expected to cause ketosis, because the calculated anti-ketogenic effect of the large protein ingestion was somewhat more than enough to offset the ketogenic effect of fat plus protein.”
Think about it like building muscle, good supplements can enhance your results, but if you don't eat right and exercise, supplements are just useless. You can't just sit on the couch to watch TV, eat potato chips all day and drink some supplements and expect to gain muscle. A supplement is not a miracle. It's just an addition and before you add it to your diet, you need to get the basics right first, which is dieting and exercise in the case of building muscles. The supplements are not going to lift the heavy weights for you. You do!
Effects of beta-hydroxybutyrate on cognition in memory-impaired adults. – Glucose is the brain’s principal energy substrate. In Alzheimer’s disease (AD), there appears to be a pathological decrease in the brain’s ability to use glucose. Neurobiological evidence suggests that ketone bodies are an effective alternative energy substrate for the brain. Elevation of plasma ketone body levels through an oral dose of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) may improve cognitive functioning in older adults with memory disorders. On separate days, 20 subjects with AD or mild cognitive impairment consumed a drink containing emulsified MCTs or placebo. Significant increases in levels of the ketone body beta-hydroxybutyrate (beta-OHB) were observed 90 min after treatment (P=0.007) when cognitive tests were administered. beta-OHB elevations were moderated by apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype (P=0.036). For 4+ subjects, beta-OHB levels continued to rise between the 90 and 120 min blood draws in the treatment condition, while the beta-OHB levels of 4- subjects held constant (P<0.009). On cognitive testing, MCT treatment facilitated performance on the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive Subscale (ADAS-cog) for 4- subjects, but not for 4+ subjects (P=0.04). Higher ketone values were associated with greater improvement in paragraph recall with MCT treatment relative to placebo across all subjects (P=0.02). Additional research is warranted to determine the therapeutic benefits of MCTs for patients with AD and how APOE-4 status may mediate beta-OHB efficacy. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15123336)
As KE drinks achieved a significantly higher d-βHB concentrations than KS, we investigated factors that may be important in the use of ketone drinks to achieve nutritional ketosis. Initially we determined the repeatability of blood ketosis following KE drinks and found little variation in kinetic parameters between individuals. Variability between participants was less than within the population, and accurate individual prediction of the d-βHB Cmax following a body-weight adjusted KE drink was achieved. Variability within individuals was likely due to normal daily changes in GI function, including gastric emptying, portal blood flow or intestinal transit time, which may alter KE hydrolysis and absorption.
Anti-cancer potential: Recent research suggests that ketogenic diets can blunt malignant tumor growth. This is due to the fact cancer cells can’t metabolize ketones effectively to nourish their growth and replication. Astonishingly, one study found that supplementing with BHB salts increases odds of survival in mice with systemic cancer by up to 70% in comparison to mice who didn’t receive exogenous ketones.
Blood, breath, and urine ketone kinetics following mole-matched ketone ester (KE) and ketone salt (KS) drinks, at two amounts, in 15 subjects at rest. Values are means ± SEM. (A) Blood d-βHB. (B) Tmax of blood d-βHB. (C) AUC of blood d-βHB. (D) Isotopic abundance (%) of d- and l-chiral centers in pure liquid KE and KS. (E) Blood d-βHB and l-βHB concentrations in subjects (n = 5) consuming 3.2 mmol.kg−1 of βHB in KS drinks. (F) d-βHB and l-βHB concentrations in urine samples from subjects (n = 10) consuming 3.2 mmol.kg−1 of βHB in KS drinks. (G) Blood d- and l-βHB after 4, 8, and 24 h in subjects (n = 5) consuming 3.2 mmol.kg−1 of βHB in KS drinks. (H) Breath acetone over 24 h in subjects (n = 5) consuming 3.2 mmol.kg−1 of βHB in KE and KS drinks (ppm = parts per million). (I) Urine d-βHB excreted over 4 h after KE and KS drinks (n = 15). (J) Urine pH 4 h after drink, dotted line indicates baseline. †p < 0.05 KE vs. equivalent amount of KS, *p < 0.05 difference between 1.6 vs. 3.2 mmol.kg−1 of βHB, §p < 0.05 difference between amounts of d- and l-βHB, p < 0.05 difference between baseline and post-drink level.
So if you really want to jump start ketosis, do what the prehistoric humans did; don’t eat for 3 to 5 days. Keep the water bottle and multivitamins close and go on a strict fast. It might seem extreme and to a degree it is, but starving yourself will put you into ketosis. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. And it will cause you to lapse into a ketogenic state faster than if you tried to do so by manipulating the foods you eat (replacing carbs with fats). Once starvation has caused your body to transition to a ketogenic state, you can begin to introduce your low carb, high fat keto-friendly foods.
Although decreases in FFA, TG and glucose occurred, there were no significant differences between the KE and KS drinks or with intake amount. Ingestion of ketone drinks significantly decreased overall mean plasma FFA from 0.7 to 0.4 mM, TG from 1.1 to 0.9 mM and glucose from 5.7 to 4.8 mM after 1 h (all p < 0.05). Concentrations were the same as at baseline by 4 h, with FFA at 0.6 mM, TG at 0.9 mM and glucose 5.1 mM (Figures 2A–C). There was a rise in insulin concentrations 30 min following all drinks, probably due to the small amount of carbohydrate in the sweetener (Figure (Figure2D2D).
Ketogenesis is the metabolism of fatty acids by β-oxidation. 4 This process gives acetyl CoA which then leads to β-hydroxy-β-methyglutaryl-CoA (HMG-CoA) as seen below5. HMG-CoA converts into Acetoacetone which can switch back and forth to BHB. Acetoacetone to Acetone conversion is irreversible (on the left below). Acetoacetate and BHB (via acetoacetate) are used to produce energy when converted back into acetyl-CoA within a cell’s mitochondria whilst Acetone is excreted in the breath and urine.4
Price: The supplements are expensive – very expensive. At the top end, if you follow Prüvit’s guidelines on “getting in the n8tive zone” (which is such a gimmicky marketing slogan it almost makes me cringe), you will require 2 servings of their Keto-OS product per day. This means around 60 servings per month, which will set you back a whopping $390 per month if you buy direct from their website! In the case of Prüvit, this is in part due to the multi-level marketing structure they operate under.
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 .
Ketones are naturally slightly acidic, so the combination of BHB with sodium acts as a bit of a buffer to this acidity. Ketones will also naturally act as a diuretic, so you lose salt, potassium calcium and magnesium, and it is generally encouraged to increase sodium intake with ketones. The addition of sodium to the product will replenish this salt loss.
Testing BHB levels in the blood is simple but can get pricey if you are doing it many times a day. The Precision Xtra blood glucose and ketone meter is a good buy at $28-$30. The expensive part is the ketone test strips here which can cost $4 each. If you are looking at testing yourself every day it is going to cost you $120 a month and the $30 meter. Here is a starter kit you can get on Amazon.
If you have already mastered the Very Low Carbohydrate (VLC) or ketogenic way of eating, and/or are eating at a caloric deficit, exercising or fasting you are naturally creating the optimal conditions for your body to produce ketones and put your body into nutritional ketosis. By strict adherence to a well-formulated ketogenic diet (complete with higher levels of mineral salts) you should be able to produce all the ketones you need naturally (endogenously). If you are new or inexperienced in ketogenic eating however; or if you or a family member struggles to adhere to a ketogenic diet, then supplementation with exogenous ketones may be very beneficial. Not only will ketone supplements help to mitigate hunger and carb cravings, but they will also help you stave off carb flu symptoms (see below), giving you the best possible chance of long-term success.
You may wonder why we are emphasizing on using these specific oils. Well, this is because the extra virgin oil is an unprocessed form, and contains lauric acid that is antimicrobial in nature and is good for brain health. (This is the same lauric acid that is naturally found in breast milk as well.) Its antibacterial property also indirectly supports the growth of Candida that keep your gut healthy.
Ketone Bodies are then used by tissues as a source of energy3 through a pathway that leads to formation from β-hydroxybutyrate of two molecules of acetyl CoA, which are used finally in the Krebs cycle. It is interesting to note that the KBs are able to produce more energy compared with glucose because of the metabolic effects of ketosis—the high chemical potential of 3-β-hydroxybutyrate leads to an increase in the ΔG0 of ATP hydrolysis.3
Some people follow more of an Ultra Low Carb diet approach. This is generally around 50g or less of carbs per day. A ULC is more supportive of reaching a ketogenic state, but again total carbs are not the only variable when it comes to reaching ketosis (other factors such as types of carbs, protein consumption, portion size, ingredients, supplements used etc. all play a role and will be covered in more detail below).
MCT oil is extracted primarily from coconut oil, and derives unique benefits from its shorter fatty acid chain length. Most dietary fat contains 12 carbons in the fatty acid chain, while MCTs are only 6 - 12 carbon chains in length. Shorter chain length allows for easier absorption and rapid conversion to energy in the liver, specifically caprylic (C8) and capric (C10).
One other thing I must point out is also that we are talking about being in ketosis and not being fully keto adapted. You enter ketosis when your body starts producing ketones above a specified level, being fully keto adapted means that your body is full adapted to use fat as your primary energy source and that the production of certain enzymes in your body is fully adapted. This doesn’t happen in one day and it takes about 1 month on average to be fully keto adapted. But we are not looking for this as we just want to end the most unpleasant period and to start losing weight.
The culprit is often restaurant meals or other meals where the nutrition facts are not available with the food itself. Such “ignorance is bliss” situations allow us to avoid dealing with daunting numbers. Many people don’t hesitate to stop and enjoy a meal at a restaurant, but they freak out when they actually see the numbers on a label. By now, we all know that opting for fatty meat with a side of veggies cooked in butter isn’t that bad after all. It turns out that what you thought to be the safe, “healthy,” doctor-approved choice might not always be what you think it is.
Several studies have investigated the safety and efficacy of ketone supplements for disease states such as AD and Parkinson’s disease, and well as for parenteral nutrition [40, 48–50, 100–103]. Our research demonstrates that several forms of dietary ketone supplementation can effectively elevate blood ketone levels and achieve deleted: therapeutic nutritional ketosis without the need for dietary carbohydrate restriction. We also demonstrated that ketosis achieved with exogenous ketone supplementation can reduce blood glucose, and this is inversely associated with the blood ketone levels. Although preliminary results are encouraging, further studies are needed to determine if oral ketone supplementation can produce the same therapeutic benefits as the classic KD in the broad-spectrum of KD-responsive disease states . Additionally, further experiments need to be conducted to see if the exogenous ketone supplementation affects the same physiological features as the KD (i.e. ROS, inflammation, ATP production). Ketone supplementation could be used as an alternative method for inducing ketosis in patients uninterested in attempting the KD or those who have previously had difficulty implementing the KD because of palatability issues, gall bladder removal, liver abnormalities, or intolerance to fat. Additional experiments should be conducted to see if ketone supplementation could be used in conjunction with the KD to assist and ease the transition to nutrition ketosis and enhance the speed of keto-adaptation. In this study we have demonstrated the ability of several ketone supplements to elevate blood ketone levels, providing multiple options to induce therapeutic ketosis based on patient need. Though additional studies are needed to determine the therapeutic potential of ketone supplementation, many patients that previously were unable to benefit from the KD may now have an alternate method of achieving therapeutic ketosis. Ketone supplementation may also represent a means to further augment ketonemia in those responsive to therapeutic ketosis, especially in those individuals where maintaining low glucose is important.
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.
When you restrict carbs, the kidneys excrete a lot of sodium. Not replacing this sodium can leave you feeling light headed. I recommend having a big glass of spring water with ½ teaspoon of Celtic sea salt twice a day (first thing in the morning and midafternoon are two times that work well). A long with this, make sure you use a lot of salt on your meals.
There is one viable explanation for consuming ketones. If you're in a calorie or carb-restricted state, then maybe during a workout it would make sense. But even then, that really only applies to endurance activities, since it has more to do with enhancing aerobic performance (where oxygen is required), than it does with enhancing high-intensity efforts (where it's not).
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
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.
In a nutshell… WOW! The chart above shows each of the games/categories I played, showing my prior 5-day averages compared to the day I took the ketone esters. Compared to my baselines, my scores increased across the board, with the biggest improvements in spatial orientation (+32.2%), working memory (+23.7%), quantitative reasoning (21.5%), task switching (+14.9%), and information processing (+14.9%). Below are more detailed comparisons:
The liver is always producing ketones to some small degree and they are always present in the bloodstream. Under normal dietary conditions, ketone concentrations are simply too low to be of any significant benefit. A ketogenic diet and exogenous ketone supplements will increase the amount of ketone in your body. The idea that ketones are “toxic” is ridiculous. Ketones are a normal physiological substance that play many important roles in the human body.
Although most of the research has been done utilizing ketone esters, ketone salt supplementation has the potential to provide additional benefits through the extra electrolytes/nutrients that are required to make the ketones. While ketone esters are expensive due to the manufacturing process involved in making them, ketone salts might be a more convenient option for both inducing a state of ketosis and elevating blood ketone levels for various reasons we will discuss in another article.
There is a great deal of positive speculation that exogenous ketones can be beneficial for inflammation, cognitive enhancement, and even protection against certain types of cancer. There is mounting evidence that the ketogenic way of eating can help many people, and when used appropriately with realistic expectations, exogenous ketone supplementation can enhance these positive effects (25).
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).
Hi! My question is, how low must my current daily carb count be in order to benefit from taking your exogenous ketones? I am a 33 year old female, keeping total carbs at 100-125 grams per day. My priority is fat loss, and I do HIIT training 4-5 days a week. I’ll soon be adding in heavier strength training. I don’t function well eating less than 100 total carbs a day. Could this even benefit me? And if it will benefit me, would the befits outweigh the sodium content? I keep my sodium at 2,000 mg a day, as I’m trying to avoid water weight.
Ketosis supplements made in poor quality, have proven to lead to side-effects such as constipation and increased levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in men, and women may also experience amenorrhea or other disruptions to the menstrual cycle. This is why it is really important to know what combination of compounds you are consuming, particularly while you are on this very strict diet because the wrong balance can really mess with you in the long term and won't give you the high performance that you are looking for.
Blood glucose concentrations are decreased during both exogenous and endogenous ketosis, although by different mechanisms. During endogenous ketosis, dietary carbohydrate deficit is the underlying cause of low blood glucose, along with reduced hepatic gluconeogenesis and increased ketone production (Cahill et al., 1966). With exogenous ketosis, carbohydrate stores are plentiful, yet ketones appear to lower blood glucose through limiting hepatic gluconeogenesis and increasing peripheral glucose uptake (Mikkelsen et al., 2015). One clinical use of the ketogenic diet is to improve blood glucose control, yet the elevated blood FFA may increase the risk of heart failure (Holloway et al., 2009). Thus, the ability of exogenous ketones to lower blood glucose without elevating blood FFA concentrations could deliver the desired effect of the diet, whilst also decreasing a potential risk.
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.
And now, you can take ketone supplements (salts and esters), known as exogenous ketones, without actually restricting anything. According to those promoting this nasty-tasting supplement, that means you can have a brain and body fuelled by ketones, along with all of the supposed health benefits that come with running on fat. Well, don't fall for it.
Since beta hydroxybutyrate is transported throughout the body via the blood, the best way to check your true BHB levels is through a blood test. The good news is that you can just use a simple finger prick and an at home method that is very similar to how diabetics check their glucose. The bad news is that it can be pretty expensive. Each strip and time you test can be around $4-6.
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.
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