Are you familiar with the Keto Diet? The meal plan essentially teaches your body to generate energy from ketones (organic compounds, which are naturally the most energy-efficient source of fuel) by ditching pretty much all carbs and replacing them with fat. In short, your body begins to rely on fat for its main source of ketogenic energy. Want to know more? Read: The Truth Behind the Keto Diet, the World’s Most Cutting-Edge, Fat-Burning Performance Meal Plan and The ‘Eat This Not That’ Guide to the Keto Diet.
The diet can get you in the best shape of your life, help fight cancer, and eradicate diabetes; but dammit if it isn't difficult. Luckily, new research from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology says simply supplementing with ketones can do a number on your exercise performance and cognitive function.
The new research was done in order to see if ketones would be beneficial for the body's muscles and brain in times of stress (like endurance exercise). Researchers raised circulating ketone levels in rats by feeding them a ketone diet: kibble supplemented with compounds called (R)-3-hydroxybutyl (R)-3-hydroxybutyrate, which accounted for a third of their daily calories. Control rats ate a moderate-carb, moderate-fat diet of the same amount of calories (a third of which was) supplemented with corn starch or palm oil. They were fed the specific diets for five days, then tested: The rats ran on a treadmill and completed a maze.
Compared to control rats, ketone-fed rats ran 32 percent further on a treadmill, completed an 8-arm radial (shape of a wheel) maze test 38 percent faster, and had more energy available during increased workload (based on heart rate). Their exercise endurance, cognitive function and ability to make more correct decisions before making a mistake, and energy production in the heart were all boosted.
Why This Matters and How It Can Benefit You
Researchers explain in a press release that ketones are typically only produced in your body during periods of food scarcity and aren't naturally present in typical modern diets.
"The dramatic improvements in exercise performance and cognitive function will no doubt interest athletes and professional sports teams worldwide," leady study author Andrew J. Murray, Ph.D. said in a press release. "Further research into the potential benefits of ketone ester for human health is vital, and only just beginning."
Interested in trying a keto supp? Here are two Keto supps that use hydroxybutyrate as a main ingredient. Note these have not been tested by Men's Fitness Editors.
Editor's note: Consult your health care provider before consuming any dietary supplement.
For endurance athletes who need energy and extra stamina for long bouts of training, this serves as an energy source and helps your body spare muscle glycogen by reducing your body’s oxygen demands. And if you're not an endurance athlete, but a gym-goer who's struggling with the energy-zapping effects of transitioning from carb fuel to fat fuel on the keto diet, KetoCaNa can help.
Mix the powder (it's got 11.7g of hydroxybutyrate) into water and drink before you train.
10.75 oz canister, $68; prototypenutriton.com
Hydroxybutyrate is the main ingredient in this supp, but it also contains mineral salts and medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs)—the kind of fat found in coconut oil—that quickly convert into energy. It can help with mild to severe lethargy associated with the early stages of the keto diet.
15 servings, $85; pruvitnow.com