Exogenous ketones have become a popular nutritional supplement since their introduction in 2014. Unfortunately there is a lot of inaccurate information and marketing you have to read through to find the truth about them. This article does the hard work for you. It gets right to the true benefits and drawbacks of exogenous ketones supported by research studies.
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.
It was like getting the benefits of a five-day fast in just 15 minutes! As my body and brain began sucking up the ketones, I felt a rush of energy and my mind became very sharp and focused in ways beyond what I attain doing an extended fast. But in this case it was the 40g of ketones I had just consumed. Even at the two-hour mark, when I took my last reading, I was still in deep ketosis.
Selective attention involves focusing only on relevant information while suppressing the impulse to pay attention to irrelevant distractions. A v-shaped flock of birds are displayed. The center (target) bird points in one direction and is surrounded by birds that either match the target’s direction or do not. The task is to rapidly identify which direction the target bird is pointing.
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Plenty of supplements make you a fractionally better sportsman and these are no different. The synthetic exogenous ketones helped Olympic-caliber cyclists cover an average of 411 additional meters during a 30-minute time-trial, which resulted in a two percent increase in overall speed, found a paper in Cell Metabolism. That can be the difference between feeling the glorious tug of the winner’s ribbon across your chest or rolling in with the stragglers.
Even though endurance athletes can train in a carb depleted state, they will generally consume carbohydrates in the lead up to a race (the athlete is seeking to increase the ability to run off fats by training in a carb depleted state, then benefiting from both fats AND carbs come race day). Likewise, with the brain, even though the brain can function off ketones, does it mean it’s the best state for brain function?
Importantly, at Diet Doctor we do not think you need to spend any extra money at all in order to revolutionize your health. You can achieve radiant health just by enjoying authentic food that is naturally low in carbohydrates, getting plenty of sleep and some exercise (going for a walk is free) and reducing stress. A lot of you who answered the survey made exactly these points in your explanations of reasons for not taking the supplements. I whole-heartedly agree.
If given all as a single salt, 50 grams per day of BOHB would mandate daily intakes of 5.8 g Mg++, 9.6 g Ca++, 11.0 g Na+, or 18.8 g K+. Even if divided up carefully as a mixture of these various salts, it would be problematic getting past 30 grams per day of BOHB intake. And again, most of the currently marketed ketone salt formulations are made with a mix of the D- and L-isomers of BOHB, so the actual delivered dose of the more desirable D-isomer is considerably less. The other concern with the salt formulations is that, as the salts of weak acids, they have an alkalinizing metabolic effect that might have a modest but cumulative effect on blood pH and renal function.
If you noticed that you're not getting into ketosis quick enough, chances are you're not eating enough fat. Eating plenty of healthy fat is essential in inducing ketosis. One reason why this is so is that your body makes ketones from fat. The other reason being that fat is highly satiating, so your body won't slow down or start breaking down muscle for fuel.
Administration of ketone supplementation significantly reduced blood glucose over the course of the study (Fig. 3a, b). MCT (5 g/kg) decreased blood glucose compared to control within 30 min which was sustained for 8 h at baseline and at week 1. MCT (10 g/kg) likewise decreased blood glucose within 30 min and lasted through the 12 h time point during weeks 2, 3, and 4. BMS + MCT (5 g/kg) lowered blood glucose compared to control from hours 1–8 only at week 1. BMS + MCT (10 g/kg) lowered blood glucose compared to control within 30 min and remained low through the 12 h time point at weeks 2, 3, and 4. Rats supplemented with BMS had lower blood glucose compared to control at 12 h in week 4 (10) (Fig. 3a). Administration of BD did not significantly change blood glucose levels at any time point during the 4-week study. KE (5 g/kg) significantly lowered blood glucose levels at 30 min for week 1, 2, 3, and 4 and was sustained through 1 h at weeks 2–4 and sustained to 4 h at week 3. (Fig. 3b).
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
While exogenous ketones (EK) are a newer supplement, having entered the market for consumers in just the past few years, scientists have been synthesizing ketone bodies in a lab since the 1960’s. They were useful for scientists studying their use for specific disease conditions, most notably childhood seizure disorders, though they were prohibitively expensive for consumers (1, 2).
I eat one meal a day during a one-hour window and fast 23 or more hours every day. I want to use your ketones to get back into ketosis faster after that meal. Will that work? I am confused, because say at the end of my hour eating window I drink your ketones, sure there are lots of ketones suddenly in my body but I also have a big meal in my stomach. My body has to digest and use that food energy, so how do exogenous ketones help me in that case?
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.
Other studies have found that fasting was as effective as chemotherapeutic agents in delaying progression of different tumors and increased the effectiveness of chemotherapeutic drugs against melanoma, glioma, and breast cancer cells. Although this research may not apply to your life, it does suggest that intermittent fasting can help support your body in times of toxic stress.
Exogenous ketones are powerful. They will get you into ketosis whether keto-adapted or not. The benefits of this range from weight loss to sustained mental and physical energy. The benefits are the same as those from nutritional ketosis, however, they’re not a substitute for nutritional ketosis. More on that below before we get into the top 5 exogenous ketones for 2018.
I had the chance to interview Dr. Ryan Lowery, Ph.D. about this in person. He performs some (not peer-reviewed) research on different brands of ketone salts and is listed as one of the “specialists” on Prüvit’s website. He suggested that we had perhaps ran the tests too long after the supplements were taken, stating that blood ketones tend to peak at 30 minutes. This is, however, not what Prüvit themselves state in their article on the 59-minute test, or the promise to reach ketosis in 60 minutes on the Kegenix Prime packaging. Plus, do you really want to spend up to $390/month on a product that gives you the benefits of ketosis for half an hour?
It’s not clear that the Weir coefficients used to estimate EE are relevant for someone in ketosis, let alone someone ingesting exogenous BHB. (The Weir formula states that EE is approximated by 3.94 * VO2 + 1.11 * VCO2, where VO2 and VCO2 are measured in L/min; 3.94 and 1.11 are the Weir coefficients, and they are derived by tabulating the stoichiometry of lipid synthesis and oxidation of fat and glucose and calculating the amount of oxygen consumed and carbon dioxide generated.) While this doesn’t impact the main observation—less oxygen was consumed with higher ketones—it does impact the estimation of EE and substrate use.
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