Following a ketogenic lifestyle is a major commitment. The guidelines severely restrict a food group most of us have eaten (often in excess) for decades, which can make findings recipes and meal ideas a challenge.
It can also prove challenging due to potential side effects such as brain fog, a dip in cognitive function and ‘keto flu’, at least initially. And, the diet doesn’t always work for everyone.
Thankfully, specially formulated ‘keto’ supplements can support your new lifestyle and make the transition easier.
These products can also support your efforts to achieve and maintain ketosis – the state where your body switches over from its reliance on carb-derived glucose to ketone bodies from fat.
The conventional keto supplement stack includes:
- Ketone salts or esters
- MCT oil
- Keto meal replacement shakes
- Keto bars
- Keto sticks
You can support the process and potentially accelerate your journey to ketosis with supplemental exogenous (outside of the body) ketones. These substances are synthetically-made compounds used to raise ketone levels in the body.
These products are generally available as salts and esters. Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) is the most stable and abundant ketone in the body and is, therefore, the most efficient ketogenic fuel source.
Ketone salts are naturally-derived compounds that combine sodium and/or potassium or calcium with BHB. These supplements are generally available in powder form which you need to mix with liquid.
Ketone esters differ from ketone salts as they are formed by binding an alcohol (ester) molecule to a ketone body, typically BHB. Ketone esters are generally produced in liquid form. However, ketone BHB salts are the most common exogenous ketone supplement sold commercially.
These supplements function like ketones in the human body, which are converted into useable energy. You can drink or eat these supplements to boost ketone bodies, with or without a ketogenic diet.
Research has identified various uses for exogenous ketones, including:
- Weight loss and fat loss
- Improved health
- Enhanced athletic and cognitive performance
When to use them: You can use supplemental ketone salts throughout the day based on your specific requirements. For example, they are ideal for use before and during exercise for energy. The same applies for keto diets who simply need a boost during their day. And they can also help to alleviate keto flu symptoms for those trying to achieve ketosis. However, always stick to label recommendations on doses and their ideal application within a keto diet or lifestyle.
Fuel your metabolism
Many ketogenic dieters also like to include MCT oil in their diets and supplement plans to fuel ketosis.
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) provide a fat source that the body can more efficiently metabolise for energy compared to other long-chain triglycerides such as mono- and polyunsaturated fats and certain saturated fats.
And MCT oil supplements provide a concentrated dose of these easily metabolised fats, which can boost natural ketone production in the body and maintain your state of ketosis.
When to use them: MCT oil is a convenient product to boost the fat content of shakes, smoothies or other meals. You can also simple eat a spoonful to boost circulating ketones when you need an energy boost.
Additional products that add convenience to the keto lifestyle include keto meal replacement shakes and bars.
Ketogenic meal shakes and bars are a convenient means to support your ketogenic diet. The exact macronutrient content in these precisely formulated products ensures that you get the right ratio to maintain ketosis and stay within your daily carb limits.
When to use them: This feature makes these products a quick and convenient option to replace a meal during the day as part of a calorie-controlled weight-loss diet, or to use as a keto diet-approved snack.
Keto sticks or strips
Use keto sticks or strips to determine when you reach a state of ketosis and maintain this state as required. Ketone testing strips or sticks help to take the guesswork out of the ketosis equation.
These products provide an easy and convenient means to measure ketone levels in your body by testing urine levels in the comfort of your home, with results generally available in a few seconds.
When to use them: It is best to test your urine for ketones at a set time each day or week, like in the morning or several hours after your last meal of the day. Conducting at the test at the same time allows for the best comparison.
Author: Pedro van Gaalen
When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.