A ketogenic diet (KD) is a type of dietary therapy that involves consuming significant amounts of fat, moderate amounts of protein, and very little carbohydrate. A KD’s typically approved carbohydrate intake is 5% of total caloric intake. To put this into perspective, only 100 of the daily 2000 kcals—or 25g of carbohydrates—would be derived from sources of carbohydrates.
The keto diet
The extremely rigorous dietary guidelines described above would need to be adhered to for at least 4 days if someone wanted to reach nutritional ketosis. Which is the intended result of the ketogenic diet. A body reaches ketosis when blood ketone levels rise to 3 mmol per liter or more. The diet must be properly adhered to to guarantee that the person stays in a state of ketosis. This diet requires a lot of discipline, time, and planning to attain a goal that isn’t always entirely understood. We concluded that there were no real performance or health benefits to adhering to such a rigorous diet from the studies we looked at for our “Going Keto” piece. Performance-wise, any advantages greatly overshadow the disadvantages. The main one is the loss of “metabolic flexibility”—the capacity to use carbohydrates as fuel and the high-octane advantages.
A ketone ester is a very concentrated drink with a lot of beta-hydroxybutyrate, the most common ketone body. It’s normally called a beta keto ester.
Esters are chemical compounds that are usually acids but are better known as alcohols.
When ketone bodies are bound to an alcohol instead of a salt (Ketone salts), they can hold more of them than when they are bound to a salt. This makes the supplement’s level of ketones much higher.
Because the amount of alcohol in these drinks is so small and acts as a molecular “glue,” you don’t have to worry about your ability to hold a straight line getting worse as you train more.
An additional study into conventional ketogenic diets was conducted. It quickly became apparent that there could be many unfavorable side effects, including “metabolic in-flexibility.” This happens if carbohydrate intake is severely restricted to almost zero for extended periods.
You can’t expect your body to accept and use carbohydrates when you reintroduce them if you don’t consume them regularly.
Rapidly injecting ketone bodies from a supplement may be a way to get around the drawbacks of a long-term low-carb diet. Using this technique, an athlete might artificially induce ketosis and benefit from improved fat metabolism without adhering to a very stringent and restrictive diet. An athlete might still use feeding and recovery items as usual while taking ketone ester supplements and eating carbs in general as part of their diet. Additionally, as opposed to the conventional 4-day diet regimen, the athlete could enter a state of ketosis in as little as one to two hours. They wouldn’t have to subject themselves to harsh dietary adjustments because they would be able to burn both ketones and carbohydrates in 2 hours.
Theoretically, by conserving glycogen (stored muscle carbohydrate), an athlete could lengthen the time until fatigue because the ketones will act as an additional energy source. Athletes can shift pace and sprint (maintaining the ability to transition to high-intensity output fast) because the metabolic pathways for carbohydrate metabolism are still open. That is to say because carbohydrates haven’t been excluded from the diet either.
Ketone supplements may offer more “available” fuel for low- to moderate-intensity activities, where fat is also the main energy source. But this huge amount of fuel type getting into the bloodstream may also cause problems.
There is evidence that high-intensity exercise may slow down how the body uses carbohydrates (ability to utilize carbohydrates).
Research shows that taking a supplement with a high concentration of ketone ester may reduce the number of carbohydrates broken down when you work out hard.
So, even though it might be possible to use carbs, the systems that would be needed would not work either.
Science doesn’t fully understand why this is the case, but it could be because the pathways that burn fat get a lot of fuel and energy (Fats and ketones take the same journey). The huge amounts of fuel sent through these channels may accidentally “turn off” carbohydrate-metabolizing enzymes. As a result, reducing the athletes’ “top-end power” and anaerobic pathways.
In conclusion, there is a severe lack of high-quality, definitive studies on the effects of ketogenic diets and ketone esters on athletic performance. When compared to carbohydrate intake before, during, and after exercise, neither reports positive nor negative outcomes. That is to say, examining the use of ketone ester supplementation has not demonstrated any statistically significant findings.
You should still take ketone esters into consideration despite this. Some low-intensity, ultra-endurance, self-supported races may benefit from their use, decreasing the need to carry significant amounts of sustenance in the form of carbohydrate bars, beverages, and gels.