The ketogenic diet is currently one of the most popular diets in the fitness industry. Its simplicity and effectiveness have earned the diet a massive following, and it’s proven to be one of the few diet trends that can actually work to help you cut body fat and lose weight if you follow the plan as intended.
While supplements aren’t necessary to follow the ketogenic diet, they can do a great deal to assist and enhance it. They not only help by keeping your nutrient intake aligned with the diet’s plan, but they can help you maintain better energy levels and better health overall. Cutting carbs to an extreme minimum alters several of your body’s natural processes, so taking certain supplements helps to “keep the peace” so-to-speak.
When supplementing the ketogenic diet, your options are narrowed down quite a bit due to the requirements of the diet. In this article, we’ll discuss which supplements are most helpful as well as what purpose they serve within your diet plan.
About the Ketogenic Diet
If you’re looking into keto supplements, you probably already know how the ketogenic diet works, but we’re going to briefly go over the process again so that we can refer back to it later in the article.
This concept of the keto diet is to cut your carbs down to an extreme minimum and increase your protein and fat intake. This nutrient shift causes your body to turn to burning fats as an energy source instead of carbohydrates – a process called ketosis. When your body starts burning fats for energy, it creates an environment that is very conducive to weight loss, especially when coupled with exercise.
Why Use Supplements on a Ketogenic Diet?
The main operating principles of the ketogenic diet are low carbohydrates, high protein and fat. Although you can achieve these principles entirely by regular food intake, you may find yourself falling short of certain nutrient requirements from time-to-time. This is the entire reason supplements were created – so that people following any sort of diet plan would have an easy way to supplement their traditional meals to hit certain intake requirements.
This is even more important when it comes to the ketogenic diet because the transition into and out of ketosis comes with a set of side effects, and these issues are what cause most people to give up on the diet. As long as you’re maintaining your diet requirements, you’ll likely only experience these side effects for about a week (called the induction period) and then they’ll go away. However, if you allow your nutrient intake to vary daily, your body will constantly be fluctuating in and out of ketosis, thus continuing to experience the side effects. Taking supplements will ensure your body maintains ketosis, keeping efficiency at a maximum and side effects at a minimum.
It’s also important to note that you should be regularly checking your ketone levels to ensure you stay within the range of ketosis. Even if you have your nutrient intake dialed in perfectly with the help of supplements, our bodies are complex machines and adapt to new processes quickly, so using some sort of ketone meter will keep your diet’s efficiency in check.
Which Supplements to Use
Now that you understand the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ behind using supplements on the ketogenic diet, we can talk about which supplements are most efficient. Some are regular supplements that will simply help you hit the keto diet’s nutrient requirements, but others are keto supplements designed specifically for balancing certain areas and effects of the diet.
Whey protein is hands-down the most popular supplement on the market. From those looking to lose weight to those competing in bodybuilding, whey is an essential supplement for muscle growth.
“Why do I need this for the ketogenic diet?” you may be wondering. Since the ketogenic diet relies on the maintenance of high levels of protein in the body, you may not always be able to hit that macronutrient requirement if you have a busy day or a reduced appetite. Whey is generally around 20g-30g of protein per serving, which can give you the boost you need to maintain your macros and curb your cravings.
Simply picking the first protein you see isn’t going to cut it for the keto diet, though. There are many whey protein powders out there that have high carbohydrate numbers, artificial sugars, and other unfavorable ingredients that can drop you out of ketosis quicker than you can say “ketones”. Look for high quality, low-carb, isolated proteins for best results.
Creatine is naturally produced by the body and plays a big role in providing energy for muscular contractions. During a ketogenic diet, your muscle glycogen (stored carbohydrate-energy in muscles) levels are low, due to cutting your carbs. This drop-in glycogen can make your workouts suffer. If you plan to be hitting the gym while on the ketogenic diet (which you should, as this will double your diet’s effectiveness!), supplementing your diet with creatine can help give your workouts a boost to make up for the decreased glycogen levels.
As with protein, there are several creatine powders and creatine blends on the market that are high in sugars and carbs. Although these taste great, they’ll boot you from ketosis and have you back to square one. Creatine monohydrate with no filler tends to be the ideal form.
Keto Friendly Pre-Workout
As we’ve touched on above, when you enter ketosis, your glycogen stores drop. This means your muscles burn out quicker in the gym. If you’re strictly doing cardio, you may not need to worry about this too much; however, if you’re doing any sort of weightlifting as well, you’ll probably notice a difference in the loads you’re able to handle and how much faster your muscles fatigue. Pre-workout supplements can help combat this fatigue and give you the energy and mental focus you need (along with a small, controlled dose of carbs) to show your workout who’s boss.
Pre-workouts are one of the most diverse supplement categories out there, which is why finding a keto-friendly version isn’t all that difficult. As long as you pay attention to the sugar content, you can pretty much mix and match whatever else you’re looking for in a pre-workout. Pre-workouts are often blended with creatine or fat burners to make them a better value and give you a better boost towards your goals, so keep those on your radar as well.
Believe it or not, fat supplements are actually a thing. They’re typically not called “fat supplements” by name, but they are made with the purpose of increasing your daily fat intake. These supplements have only recently started coming to light specifically because of diets like keto, and while there aren’t many to choose from, there are a few good ones out there.
BPI’s Keto Bomb is an example of one of the good ones. This is a powder creamer designed for coffee and tea, formulated using a blend of quality essential fats, electrolytes, and MCTs from sources like avocado and sunflower. It doesn’t have a super-high fat count (as it shouldn’t), but it’s still a nice little boost for those who often find themselves short on their daily fat intake or those who have trouble getting good fats from the right sources.
Our final category is ketone supplements. “Finally!” you may be thinking. Ketone supplements are arguably the most talked about product for those on the ketogenic diet, and it’s understandable why. The purpose of this diet is to influence your body to use ketones for energy instead of glucose, and ketone supplements promise to increase your ketone intake. But do they actually work?
First things first, the ketones provided by these supplements are not the same as the ones we produce in our body while in a state of ketosis. Instead, they are extracted from outside sources (either from foods or created artificially) and put into supplements so that we can ingest them. For this reason, they are called exogenous ketones (basically a fancy name for ‘created externally’).
Because they are created externally and not naturally within the body, some people deny their ability to affect ketosis, but actual tests have proven otherwise. One group of scientists studied exogenous ketone supplementation in rats and the results found a sustained elevation of beta-hydroxybutyrate (the most active type of ketone) as well as reduced glucose levels. Another test by Dr. Peter Attia, MD, who used himself as a subject within the test, found that his stamina was increased while keto-adapted (despite using himself as the subject, the test was incredibly well-performed).
These are just two examples, but there are numerous other studies which support similar findings, as well as countless customer reviews posted on keto products who explain the benefits they experienced after taking the product.
So, to answer the original question: yes, ketone supplements have been found to positively influence the body to enter a state of ketosis. They not only help you enter it faster than regular food intake, but they can help you sustain it for longer periods of time, too.
With that said, as usual when shopping for supplements, know that some are better than others. Perfect Keto is a brand that seems to have developed a pretty strong reputation and following.
The Bottom Line On Keto Supplements
While the ketogenic diet has a die-hard following due to its simplicity and effectiveness, that doesn’t mean a helping hand from supplements won’t be of benefit.
You have several options in terms of supplements, from regular products like protein powder and creatine to more keto-specific products like fat and ketone boosters.
If you find yourself unable to maintain ketosis with regular food intake, testing out a few of these supplements could be exactly what you need to be successful with the ketogenic diet.