In terms of epigenetic signaling, initial studies of the effects of BOHB on class-1 histone deacetylase activity against oxidative stress (Schimazu 2013), NLRP3 inflammasome suppression (Youm 2015), mouse longevity (Roberts 2017), and other epigenetic regulatory effects suggest that levels as low as 1 mM have potent effects. Furthermore, the association between very mild ketonemia and reduced coronary mortality with SGLT2 inhibitor use in patients with type 2 diabetes (Ferranini 2016) suggests that there might be clinical benefits with chronic BOHB levels as low as 0.3 mM (Gormsen 2017. Vetter 2017).
Ketones are an alternate energy or fuel source for brain and body that our bodies have naturally produced and used for millennia. Ketones have recently leapt to the forefront of health and wellness conversations worldwide as the scientific body of research that seeks to understand their numerous unique properties and profound systemic effects has begun to grow (see below).
To answer that question, we're going to break down the methods that can get you the results you want in the least possible time. We're going to let you in on a couple of tips and tricks that you will need to know before trying out the diet yourself. We guarantee you that these tips will help you achieve success in your chosen diet quickly and easily.
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.
For the past few million years, the only way for humans to make use of ketones for fuel was to restrict carbohydrates low enough and long enough to induce the liver to make them. This is admittedly hard for many people to do in a world that still believes that dietary carbs are good and fats are bad. An emerging alternative is to consume ketones as a dietary supplement. The research into how these function in the body and what benefits they can confer remains early stage, but there are already a number of such products available for sale. In this section, we will discuss how exogenous ketones affect blood ketone levels, and how they may influence health and disease compared to ketones produced within the body.
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?
It is a good idea to weigh the pros and cons before deciding to add a calcium supplement to your diet. This includes exogenous ketone supplements. If you have any risk factors for osteoporosis, have low bone density, or have issues that prevent you from consuming a nutrient-rich diet, then the benefits of calcium supplements will likely outweigh the risks. But don’t forget that there are other avenues to improving your bone density, like strength training, and, more importantly, a well-balanced diet.
With oral ketone supplementation, we observed a significant elevation in blood βHB without dietary restriction and with little change in lipid biomarkers (Fig. 1). Over the 4 week study, MCT-supplemented rats demonstrated decreased HDL compared to controls. No significant changes were observed in any of the triglycerides or lipoproteins (HDL, LDL) with any of the remaining exogenously applied ketone supplements. It should be noted that the rats used for this study had not yet reached full adult body size . Their normal growth rate and maturation was likely responsible for the changes in triglyceride and lipoprotein levels observed in the control animals over the 4 week study (baseline data not shown, no significant differences) [80, 81]. Future studies are needed to investigate the effect of ketone supplementation on fully mature and aged animals. Overall, our study suggests that oral ketone supplementation has little effect on the triglyceride or lipoprotein profile after 4 weeks. However, it is currently unknown if ketone supplementation would affect lipid biomarkers after a longer duration of consumption. Further studies are needed to determine the effects of ketone supplements on blood triglyceride and lipoproteins after chronic administration and as a means to further enhance the hyperketonemia and improve the lipid profile of the clinically implemented (4:1) KD.
There’s some support that exogenous ketones can be helpful for people already dutifully following the keto diet — but research has been limited. One thing we know for sure: These aren’t a get-thin-quick solution. “I think people are drawn to a quick, easy fix, kind of a magic bullet supplement, and it’s not that this won’t contribute to weight loss, but it’s not that magic bullet,” Griffin says.
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.
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’m already following a ketogenic diet and have been fat adapted for about 3 months. Since I’m already in ketosis would this product help me or hinder my fat loss? My thought is that if I’m already in a fat burning state and then I take exogenous ketones does my body stop burning my fat to burn the ingested ketones like taking a break or does the product enhance the fat burning that is already taking place?
Recent studies suggest that many of the benefits of the KD are due to the effects of ketone body metabolism. Interestingly, in studies on T2D patients, improved glycemic control, improved lipid markers, and retraction of insulin and other medications occurred before weight loss became significant. Both βHB and AcAc have been shown to decrease mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) production [36–39]. Veech et al. have summarized the potential therapeutic uses for ketone bodies [28, 40]. They have demonstrated that exogenous ketones favorably alter mitochondrial bioenergetics to reduce the mitochondrial NAD couple, oxidize the co-enzyme Q, and increase the ΔG’ (free enthalpy) of ATP hydrolysis . Ketone bodies have been shown to increase the hydraulic efficiency of the heart by 28 %, simultaneously decreasing oxygen consumption while increasing ATP production . Thus, elevated ketone bodies increase metabolic efficiency and as a consequence, reduce superoxide production and increase reduced glutathione . Sullivan et al. demonstrated that mice fed a KD for 10–12 days showed increased hippocampal uncoupling proteins, indicative of decreased mitochondrial-produced ROS . Bough et al. showed an increase of mitochondrial biogenesis in rats maintained on a KD for 4–6 weeks [44, 45]. Recently, Shimazu et al. reported that βHB is an exogenous and specific inhibitor of class I histone deacetylases (HDACs), which confers protection against oxidative stress . Ketone bodies have also been shown to suppress inflammation by decreasing the inflammatory markers TNF-a, IL-6, IL-8, MCP-1, E-selectin, I-CAM, and PAI-1 [8, 46, 47]. Therefore, it is thought that ketone bodies themselves confer many of the benefits associated with the KD.
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.”
Of course, there may be some people who choose to take these supplements because they genuinely do feel they benefit from them. This is of course your choice and this article in no way aims to shame or criticize anybody. However, I do think that, for most people, eating a low-carb diet based on real foods is a lot more likely to be associated with the benefits that the supplements claim to provide than the supplements themselves.
Exogenous ketones drinks are growing in popularity as a method to elevate blood ketone concentrations and mimic a ketogenic diet without the need for dietary changes (Ari et al., 2016; Cox et al., 2016; Kesl et al., 2016; Caminhotto et al., 2017; Evans et al., 2017). The present study describes the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamics properties of ketone ester and salt drinks in humans at rest, and characterizes the effects of a prior meal, which is pertinent to use as a dietary supplement. The main findings were that KE drinks elevated blood d-βHB > 50% higher than KS drinks, the latter significantly increasing blood l-βHB, which was metabolized more slowly by the body. Both drinks had similar effects on FFA, TG, glucose and electrolyte concentrations, although with disparate effects on pH. A prior meal decreased total blood d-βHB appearance after a KE drink. Finally, either three KE drinks or nasogastric feeding effectively maintained nutritional ketosis over 1 mM for 9 h.
Most supplements rely on BHB as the source of their exogenous ketone bodies. BHB is converted to acetoacetic acid with a small quantity converted to acetone through a acetoacetate decarboxylase waste pathway. Some of the acetoacetic acid will enter the energy pathway using beta-ketothialase, which converts acetoacetic acid to two Acetyl-CoA molecules (see diagram below2).
To determine the reason for the differences in blood d-βHB concentration, the KE and KS drinks were analyzed for enantiomeric purity. The KE contained >99% of the d-isoform, whereas ~50% of the KS βHB was the l-isoform (Figure (Figure1D).1D). Plasma samples from participants who consumed the high dose KS drink (n = 5) were analyzed to reveal higher l-βHB than d-βHB, the total βHB Cmax being 3.4 ± 0.2 mM (Figure (Figure1E),1E), with a total βHB AUC of 549 ± 19 mmol.min. After 4 h, plasma l-βHB remained elevated at 1.9 ± 0.2 mM; differences in urinary excretion of the two isoforms could not explain this observation as both d- and l-βHB were excreted in proportion to their blood AUCs (Figure (Figure1F).1F). Therefore, in order to determine the time required for l-βHB elimination, a follow-up experiment was undertaken in which subjects (n = 5) consumed 3.2 mmol.kg−1 of βHB as KE and KS with hourly blood and breath sample collection up to 4 h, plus additional samples at 8 h and 24 h post-drink. l-βHB was found to be 1.1 ± 0.1 mM at 4 h, and 0.7 ± 0.2 mM after 8 h, but undetectable after 24 h (Figure 1G). Low amounts of d-βHB (0.3 ± 0.1 mM) were present at 24 h, presumably due to endogenous production. Both ketone drinks significantly increased breath acetone concentration, but at a slower rate than blood d-βHB, reaching a peak after 3 h that was twice as high following the KE (87 ± 9 ppm) than the KS (44 ± 10 ppm), suggesting that d-βHB was readily converted to acetone, but l-βHB was not (p < 0.005, Figure Figure1H1H).
Do I still follow a ketogenic diet? Not anymore. I was strict keto for 12 weeks – enough time to experiment and learn about it. I did enjoy parts (lots of fat!) but I don’t see it as a sustainable way of eating, nor did I benefit from it health or sports performance wise (more on this in an upcoming article). But, I was following a strict keto diet – sans carbs. I think if I were to follow a ketogenic diet AND incorporate a regular carb refeed then the results may be different.
2. Shimazu, T., Hirschey, M.D., Newman, J., He, W., Shirakawa, K., Le Moan, N., Grueter, C.A., Lim, H., Saunders, L.R., Stevens, R.D., Newgard, C.B., Farese Jr, R.V., De Cabo, R., Ulrich, S., Akassoglou, K., and Verdin, E. (2013). Suppression of oxidative stress by β-hydroxybutyrate, an endogenous histone deacetylase inhibitor. Science 339, 211-214.
Animal procedures were performed in accordance with the University of South Florida Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) guidelines (Protocol #0006R). Juvenile male Sprague–Dawley rats (275–325 g, Harlan Laboratories) were randomly assigned to one of six study groups: control (water, n = 11), BD (n = 11), KE (n = 11), MCT (n = 10), BMS (n = 11), or BMS + MCT (n = 12). Caloric density of standard rodent chow and dose of ketone supplements are listed in Table 1. On days 1–14, rats received a 5 g/kg body weight dose of their respective treatments via intragastric gavage. Dosage was increased to 10 g/kg body weight for the second half of the study (days 15–28) for all groups except BD and KE to prevent excessive hyperketonemia (ketoacidosis). Each daily dose of BMS would equal ~1000–1500 mg of βHB, depending on the weight of the animal. Intragastric gavage was performed at the same time daily, and animals had ad libitum access to standard rodent chow 2018 (Harlan Teklad) for the duration of the study. The macronutrient ratio the standard rodent chow was 62.2, 23.8 and 14 % of carbohydrates, protein and fat respectively.
So I’ve been primarily on a Keto diet for almost 6 months. During this time, I have fine tuned a lot to get my ketone levels up (Eating more fat and less protein). Most recently, I have used blood measurements for my ketone levels and I fluctuate between .6 and 2.6. The higher readings I get on the days I workout in the morning (about 5 hours before I draw blood and take a reading). I don’t have any problems sticking to the diet. It only seems to get easier. I’ve also incorporated 16 hour fasts which also are becoming easier over time. My priority and motivation for doing a keto diet is first and foremost weight loss. So far I have lost 40 pounds and I need to lose about 20 more. I do however want to improve my performance (running) and strength (I am doing the Stronglifts 5×5 program now).
Baseline measurements showed no significant changes in triglycerides or the lipoproteins (data not shown). Data represent triglyceride and lipoprotein concentrations measured after 4 weeks of daily exogenous ketone supplementation. No significant change in total cholesterol was observed at 4 weeks for any of the ketone treatment groups compared to control. (Fig. 1a). No significant difference was detected in triglycerides for any ketone supplement compared to control (Fig. 1b). MCT supplemented animals had a significant reduction in HDL blood levels compared to control (p < 0.001) (Fig. 1c). LDL levels in ketone-supplemented animals did not significantly differ from controls (Fig. 1d).
Keep these studies in mind as your body tries to play tricks on you during your first day of fasting. Even after three days of fasting, health complications are highly unlikely. However, it is important to know about the possible issues that can be caused by fasting. If you choose to incorporate fasting into your daily diet, you typically want to eat every day as well. Occasionally going on a longer period of fasting.
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.
Another factor to consider is that in nutritional ketosis the liver makes a steady supply of ketones and continuously releases them into the circulation. In contrast, most ketone supplement protocols involve bolus intakes that don’t mimic the endogenous release pattern. The extent to which this impacts metabolic and signaling responses across different tissues remains unclear.
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.
BHB isn’t just an energy source for the brain–it has other effects which promote brain health. BHB can trigger the release of chemicals called neurotrophins, which support neuron function and synapse formation. One of these neurotrophins is called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), which is a protein in the brain associated with cognitive enhancement, alleviation of depression and reduction of anxiety.10
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