We all want to be our best selves. We want to be productive at work, present for family and friends and have energy for all those activities that make life worth living. We also all know how much more easily said than done that is.
Even when doing your best to optimize performance — by eating healthy, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, drinking plenty of water and controlling stress — it can be nearly impossible to escape those times when you just have too much on your plate and you run out of gas.
It happens to the best of us. You’ve got overlapping deadlines, a big exam, an important meeting, a higher than normal customer load or after-school activities that require you to be in three different places at once. Sometimes you need an extra boost to get you through. Enter caffeine and sugar. Whether an espresso, a candy bar or an energy drink, you can get a quick boost with a minimum amount of effort.
Are We Trapped by Sugar and Caffeine?
Are they heroes or villains? You feel more alert and focused with caffeine, but it can cause jitteriness, or interfere with your sleep, causing you to be less rested the next day. This can make you need even more caffeine to keep going. Sugar helps you to feel energized for a little while, but then the crash hits and you need more sugar. Both solutions can set up a vicious cycle. What if there was another way?
Biohackers, elite athletes and others who are focused on maximizing their physical, mental and emotional performance through strategies at the cutting edge of health and nutrition science have been looking to ketones for an answer to this problem. Ketones (also called ketone bodies). Are a naturally occurring alternative fuel. Endogenous ketones are made within our bodies, and exogenous ketones are made outside our bodies.
Ketones Are Nature’s Ultimate Fuel
Endogenous ketones (acetoacetate (AcAc), beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) and acetone) are produced by your liver when your body is short on sugar (blood glucose). This occurs naturally during starvation, prolonged fasting or extreme exertion. It can also happen in response to a ketogenic diet. (“Ketogenic” means to make new ketones.)
If a person chooses to avoid nearly all carbohydrates in their diet (usually less than 30 grams net carbs per day; about two slices of bread, an apple, or a banana), generally in combination with high (healthy) fat and moderate protein, they can deplete their body’s sugar stores (glycogen) and force their body to produce ketones. (Learn more about ketogenic diets from Mayo Clinic.)
As glycogen is depleted, blood ketone levels rise. At around 0.2-0.5 mM blood ketone concentration and up to approximately 5.0 mM, the body is said to be in “ketosis”. It requires extreme discipline to achieve this through diet.
Optimize your Physical and Mental Potential with Ketone Hydration
Pros & Cons of a Ketogenic Diet
There are also some scientists and doctors who feel that the very unbalanced nature of a ketogenic diet, in particular the high fat intake, is unhealthy and can potentially have undesirable side effects. Yet, people who follow a ketogenic diet often rave about how they feel in ketosis with increased energy, lower appetite and lifted “brain fog”.
Ok. Ketones sound interesting. But caffeine and sugar are quick and easy solutions, even if they’re not perfect. Is there a way to benefit from ketones without having to commit to a drastic diet? Yes!
Exogenous ketones are available in various forms. High-quality exogenous ketones can raise your blood ketone levels into the same range as diet-driven ketosis. In this quantity, they serve as a secondary fuel for your cells, including brain cells, even when glucose isn’t depleted.
Most of the ketones on the market are in salt form — typically BHB bound to sodium, potassium, magnesium, or calcium. These products are abundant, relatively inexpensive, and acceptably palatable. But, not all ketone products raise blood ketone levels sufficiently to achieve any physiological benefit.
Also, because of the salt content, the quantity that can be ingested must be limited, and care must be taken to avoid side effects from the salts. A very small number of products are available as ketone esters —
BHB bound to an ester molecule. (An ester is a modified carboxylic acid.) Ketone esters, to date, are rare on the market, very expensive and generally unpalatable, making them a viable option for only the most determined user.