Over the past couple years, I’ve tried a number of ketone supplements, generally to enhance a longer fast or to offer an edge before one of my Ultimate Frisbee evenings. This Kegenix variety is one I’d recommend. I’ve also used Quest Nutrition MCT oil powder with good results as well, but there are plenty of other solid formulations to choose from.
An alternative to the ketogenic diet is consumption of drinks containing exogenous dietary ketones, such as ketone esters (KE) and ketone salts (KS). The metabolic effects of KS ingestion have been reported in rats (Ari et al., 2016; Kesl et al., 2016; Caminhotto et al., 2017), in three extremely ill pediatric patients (Plecko et al., 2002; Van Hove et al., 2003; Valayannopoulos et al., 2011) and in cyclists (O'Malley et al., 2017; Rodger et al., 2017). However, the concentrations of blood βHB reached were low (<1 mM) and a high amount of salt, consumed as sodium, potassium and/or calcium βHB, was required to achieve ketosis. Furthermore, dietary KS are often racemic mixtures of the two optical isoforms of βHB, d-βHB, and l-βHB, despite the metabolism of l-βHB being poorly understood (Webber and Edmond, 1977; Scofield et al., 1982; Lincoln et al., 1987; Desrochers et al., 1992). The pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of KS ingestion in healthy humans at rest have not been reported.
Ketogenic Diets and Physical Performance – Impaired physical performance is a common but not obligate result of a low carbohydrate diet. Lessons from traditional Inuit culture indicate that time for adaptation, optimized sodium and potassium nutriture, and constraint of protein to 15–25 % of daily energy expenditure allow unimpaired endurance performance despite nutritional ketosis.
Over the 28-day experiment, ketone supplements administered daily significantly elevated blood ketone levels without dietary restriction (Fig. 2a, b). Naturally derived ketogenic supplements including MCT (5 g/kg) elicited a significant rapid elevation in blood βHB within 30–60 min that was sustained for 8 h. BMS + MCT (5 g/kg) elicited a significant elevation in blood βHB at 4 h, which was no longer significant at 8 h. BMS (5 g/kg) did not elicit a significant elevation in blood βHB at any time point. For days 14–28, BMS + MCT (10 g/kg) and MCT (10 g/kg) elevated blood βHB levels within 30 min and remained significantly elevated for up to 12 h. We observed a delay in the peak elevation of blood βHB: BMS + MCT peaked at 8 h instead of at 4 h and MCT at 4 h instead of at 1 h. Blood βHB levels in the BMS group did not show significant elevation at any time point, even after dose escalation (Fig. 2a). Synthetically derived ketogenic supplements including KE and BD supplementation rapidly elevated blood βHB within 30 min and was sustained for 8 h. For the rats receiving ketone supplementation in the form of BD or the KE, dosage was kept at 5 g/kg to prevent adverse effects associated with hyperketonemia. The Precision Xtra™ ketone monitoring system measures βHB only; therefore, total blood ketone levels (βHB + AcAc) would be higher than measured. For each of these groups, the blood βHB profile remained consistent following daily ketone supplementation administration over the 4-week duration. (Fig. 2b).
I (Kim) researched the topic and planned and ran the experiment under the guidance and supervision of Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt, who touched base with me every step of the way to check the experiment design and execution for scientific rigor (to the greatest degree possible) and who has edited this writeup for quality and trustworthiness reasons. I also consulted with other keto experts and researchers to gather feedback both on the experiment design and the results data. They are referenced in the text when this was the case.
No this is wrong. Your body will use your own fat and any fat you eat as fuel. This counts as exogenous ketones. It won’t stop burning your fat. The same logic would say that if eating any fat your fat loss would stall and that is not true. It can help get you back into ketosis because you have certain monocarboxylic acid transporters that are upregulated when ketones are present. The evidence is physiology.
Our bodies are produce three types of ketone bodies for fuel: beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), acetoacetate (AcAc), and acetone. Each is used by the body differently. Acetone is the least abundant, produced in much smaller amounts, and is usually exhaled through the lungs rather than being used as fuel.3 Acetoacetate is part of the metabolic pathway whereby humans make and use ketones, but it tends to be found in the blood at lower levels than BHB.
That’s exactly what ketones do: inhibit lipolysis, the breakdown of body fat into triglycerides and free fatty acids for burning. In normal conditions where ketones are produced endogenously, this is expected and beneficial. If homemade ketones increased lipolysis, you’d end up with ketoacidosis. You’d make ketones which released more body fat which got turned into more ketones which released more body fat which became more ketones. And on and on. It simply wouldn’t stop.
My two cents: I wouldn’t take ketone supps if not on some sort of low(ish) carb diet because the idea of high levels of BOTH fuels (ie, ketones AND glucose) doesn’t seem physiologically appropriate… more like a recipe for disaster, and by “disaster,” I mean “out-of-control production of Reactive Oxygen Species” — this might not matter if you’re an athlete looking for a quick performance boost, because the fuels are going to be cleared rather quickly… not so much if you’re a desk jockey.
Many of us have heard the saying, “Don’t blame the butter for what the bread did.” Similarly, don’t blame the sodium for what the fries did. Sodium has been shown to help maintain fluid balance, normal muscle and nerve function, and blood pressure and volume. The movement of sodium ions and other electrolytes across cell membranes helps to facilitate muscle contraction and nerve impulses. Electrolytes also help to maintain fluid balance across intracellular and extracellular spaces and blood volume.
In addition to the Weir coefficients being potentially off (which impacts EE), the RQ interpretation may be incorrect in the presence of endogenous or exogenous ketones. As a result, the estimation of fat and glucose oxidation may be off (though it’s directionally correct). That said, the current interpretation seems quite plausible—greater fat oxidation when I had to make my ketones; less when I got my ketones for “free.”
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”.
The challenge for me is what 80% fat looks like. If I eat 1500 calories a day – mostly veggies and protein – how do I best get the fat? I can eat an avocado with my meals, olive oil on my salads, cook my eggs in coconut oil, but I am not clear on how to eat so much fat the healthy way while keeping calories at a lower amount. I eat once – twice a day. I am not a fan of eating tons of saturated fat – bacon on everything is bad advice I have seen pushed out on other pages. Eating Keto does not mean eating high fat meats for your fat. Healthy is the focus. How to eat a heavy veggie, low protein, high fat diet the most healthy way? The calculations are challenging on a tight schedule for one trying to get started :)I would love some solid advice.
Weight loss benefits ushered the keto diet into the spotlight. That’s how most people have likely heard about ketones, a fuel source created naturally by the body when burning fat. But more and more research points to diverse applications of ketones in the blood outside of just fat loss, from improved endurance performance to the treatment of medical conditions like epilepsy.
The two compounds commonly referred to as ‘ketone bodies’ (BOHB and AcAc) are produced and used for multiple purposes across nature from algae to mammals, but seldom in concentrations useful for extraction as human food. For this reason, the source of most exogenous ketones is chemical synthesis. Furthermore, most current research and use of ketone supplements focuses on BOHB. That is because AcAc is chemically unstable – it slowly breaks down to form acetone by releasing of one molecule of CO2.
Why is this desirable? Think about energy production in your body much like macro energy consumption on a planetary level. Coal is gross and dirty and messes tons of different things up. You need to continue to burn it to get energy. Solar power is free, clean and pretty much limitless. This is pretty much the same story when you are burning carbs (coal) versus fats (solar) for energy.
Ketone monoester and diester compounds may circumvent the problems associated with inorganic ion consumption in KS drinks. KE ingestion rapidly increased blood ketone concentrations to >5 mM in animals (Desrochers et al., 1995a,b; Clarke et al., 2012a) and the first oral, non-racemic KE for human consumption, (R)-3-hydroxybutyl (R)-3-hydroxybutyrate, raised blood βHB concentrations to 3–5 mM in healthy adults (Clarke et al., 2012b; Shivva et al., 2016) and athletes (Cox et al., 2016; Holdsworth et al., 2017; Vandoorne et al., 2017). However, the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of this KE with confounding factors, such as prandial state or multiple KE drinks, have not been characterized.
The second ketone ester compound was developed at the University of South Florida. This is a diester of AcAc and BDO. In rodents, this ketone ester raises blood D-BHB to 1-4 mM and blood AcAc to up to 5 mM.19 There is one published study of this ketone ester in humans; results showed a 2% decrease in 31 km cycling time trial performance.16 This may be due to the high rate of side effects of this ester studied. Other factors may have been low levels of BHB (<2 mM), the short, high-intensity time trial used, or the use of AcAc vs. BHB.
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)
The many roles of magnesium include helping us maintain normal nerve and muscle function, as well as heart rate, supporting a healthy immune system, regulating blood glucose levels, and making energy production and protein synthesis possible. Magnesium is also involved in both aerobic and anaerobic energy production. ATP synthesis (the body’s energy source) depends on enzymes that are activated by magnesium.
On day 29, rats were sacrificed via deep isoflurane anesthesia, exsanguination by cardiac puncture, and decapitation 4–8 h after intragastric gavage, which correlated to the time range where the most significantly elevated blood βHB levels were observed. Brain, lungs, liver, kidneys, spleen and heart were harvested, weighed (AWS-1000 1 kg portable digital scale (AWS, Charleston, SC)), and flash-frozen in liquid nitrogen or preserved in 4 % paraformaldehyde for future analysis.
Neuroprotection: As humans age, the brain becomes more susceptible to neurodegeneration and subsequent conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Exogenous ketone supplementation appears to ameliorate the typical decline in cognitive function that comes with aging. The likely mechanism for this neuroprotective property is that ketone bodies reduce the inflammation and hyperexcitability that is normally exhibited as glucose metabolism declines in the brain.18, 19
However, we will not be commenting on ketone esters since there are big differences between them and ketone salts, and the ketone salts are the ones that have been heavily commercialized and marketed to the public over recent years. Ketone esters may be more difficult to market due to their having an unpleasant taste. We may look more deeply into the esters in the future.
Those of you who have tried this form of weight loss before are probably more than aware of how hard it can be to first get your body to adapt to such a dramatic change in your daily intake of food, let alone without the help of a single exogenous ketone supplement. And the situation isn’t made any easier if you use a poor quality ketosis supplement because the wrong ketone product may actually do you more harm than good.
Proper sleep is important for hormone function and repair of the body. Not getting enough sleep is tough on the adrenals and blood sugar regulation. Try to get at least seven hours of sleep per night. If you struggle with quality sleep, create an environment that is conducive for rest. This could be keeping your room cooler, turning off all electronic devices one to two hours before bedtime or using a sleep mask.
Whereas ketone esters are 100% D- form, most ketone salts are a 50/50 mix of left and right-handed beta hydroxybutyrate, which is known as a racemic mixture. These beta hydroxybutyrate molecules are linked to a mineral, such sodium (Na), calcium (Ca), potassium (K), or magnesium (Mg). This kind of ketone supplement gets broken down to left and right-handed version of beta hydroxybutyrate along with the mineral.
Hi! I have what might be a silly question about using these supplements. What happens if you are taking them and your diet goes off the rails, like you take the Keto//OS and then eat a bunch of pizza or chocolate. Does your body just immediately revert back to using the carbs for energy instead of the ketones? Or, if it doesn’t, would that mean your body would just store those carbs as fat? I realize that ideally you wouldn’t eat the pizza, but sometimes I do and I worry about what exactly I’m doing to my body if I’ve also taken ketones.
Effects of ketone supplementation on basal blood ketone and basal blood glucose levels: Rats administered ketone supplements did not have a significant change in basal blood ketone levels (a) or basal blood glucose levels (b) for the four week study. Two-Way ANOVA with Tukey’s post-hoc test, results considered significant if p < 0.05. Error bars represent mean (SD)
d-βHB was measured immediately on whole blood using a handheld monitor and enzyme-based reagent strips (Precision Xtra, Abbott Diabetes Care, UK). Samples were stored on ice, centrifuged and duplicate plasma aliquots stored at −80°C. All urine passed during the visit was collected, the total volume recorded, and 1 ml aliquots taken, frozen and retained for analysis.
The Zenwise Keto Life BHB Salt uses a custom calcium, magnesium and sodium ketone complex to help access ketones for fuel without the low carb diet or fasting. This product is another all-natural option that goes as far as using turmeric for its added coloring. It is a proven product with hundreds of happy customers. They seem to have a strong grasp on the lemonade side of the exogenous market with their Raspberry Lemonade and Wild Limeade flavor choices.
I wrote this post at about the same time Germany won the World Cup in Rio de Janeiro in 2014. There’s been a lot of moving and shaking in the world of exogenous ketones since then, not to mention soccer. Looking back on my post, I still consider it relevant in terms of what exogenous ketones possibly can (and cannot) do for performance. In this case, to see if exogenous ketone esters provide me a “boost” by allowing me to do the same amount of work while expending less energy (and work at a relatively lower VO2) compared to no supplementation.
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