4 Best Keto Supplements – and the Ones You Can Skip
By: Spencer Brooks
- The keto diet is a powerful tool for weight loss, hormone balance, brain function, and more. When you’re on a ketogenic diet, your body runs a little differently, and you have a few specific needs.
- Electrolytes, ketone supplements, specific vitamins, and mitochondrial enhancers can all help you feel even better when you’re in ketosis.
- There are also keto supplements that don’t really work, like exogenous ketones (ketone salts) and emulsified MCT oil. Read on to learn why you’re better off skipping these supplements, and what to use instead.
The ketogenic diet is a powerful tool for upgrading your body and brain. Eating keto has all kinds of benefits, including:
- More fat burning and weight loss
- Better brain function
- Balanced hormones
- Stronger mitochondria for more energy
- Decreased cravings
You get all these benefits because your body runs differently on a ketogenic diet. With that in mind, there are a few supplements that are especially helpful if you’re in ketosis — and a few supplements that you probably don’t need.
Here, four of the best keto supplements to take when you’re on a ketogenic diet, plus two common supplements you can skip.
The best keto supplements
MCT oil for keto
Coconut-derived MCT oil is one of the best ways to get even deeper into ketosis. It can give you extra mental focus when you sit down to start your day, and it’s also great for a physical boost before an intense workout.
Not all MCT oils deliver the same results. Look for an MCT oil that is pure caprylic acid (C8), like Brain Octane, which your body can convert into ketones (bundles of fuel) almost instantly. The result is energy and mental clarity you feel within minutes.
Other, standard medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oils contain weaker ingredients like capric acid and lauric acid, which provide only a fraction of the ketones that C8 MCTs do. You can read more about the different types of MCT oil here. The graph below shows how much more Brain Octane Oil increases ketone levels, compared to generic MCT oil and coconut oil:
Learn all about MCT oil and keto here, including how it spurs weight loss.
Electrolytes: sodium, magnesium, and potassium
When you’re on a high-carb diet, your body stores sugar in the form of glycogen. Your glycogen stores are energy reserves; when you do something particularly taxing or go a few hours without eating, you’ll start to burn your glycogen stores for fuel.
Things are different when you’re on a keto diet. You aren’t eating carbs or sugar, which means your glycogen stores stay pretty empty. Instead, you burn through body fat when you need extra energy.
Your body needs a lot of water to store glycogen, which is why you lose several pounds of water weight in your first few days on keto — you’re emptying your glycogen stores and getting rid of the water that goes with them. As you lose water, your kidneys excrete electrolytes — sodium, magnesium, and potassium — to keep your system in balance. Once you’re in ketosis, you continue to excrete electrolytes, which can lead to deficiencies down the line, as well as muscle cramps and headaches.
To prevent these keto side effects, make sure you get plenty of electrolytes when you’re in ketosis.
Magnesium: 400 mg/day, taken in the morning or before bed
Best form: magnesium citrate or magnesium glycinate
Potassium: 4000 mg/day, dissolved in water and taken throughout the day. Don’t drink it all at once; it’ll cause digestive distress
Best form: potassium chloride powder
Sodium: 2000-4000 mg/day, dissolved in water or on food
Best form: Sea salt or pink Himalayan salt
Folate for keto
Folate is an essential building block for your brain and for DNA synthesis. Low folate levels correlate with cognitive dysfunction and fatigue, as well as higher risk of dementia, stroke, and heart disease.
Vegetables and complex starches are the best sources of folate, and on a keto diet it can be tough to eat enough of them to get plentiful folate.
Vitamin B6 works alongside folate as a cofactor. The two deplete each other, so you want to make sure you have plenty of both. Fortunately, pork, beef, and eggs are all high in vitamin B6, so as long as you’re eating meat on keto, you probably have enough B6.
When you’re looking for a folate supplement, always choose methyl folate and not folic acid; if you have an MTHFR gene mutation (many people do), you won’t use folic acid properly and it can build up in your system and cause problems.
Folate: 800 mcg/day
Best form: Methyl folate
KetoPrime contains oxaloacetate, a compound that mimics calorie restriction to help power up your mitochondria (the power plants of your cells). Stronger mitochondria means you make more energy and feel better throughout the day.
KetoPrime is great on a keto diet, especially if you do intermittent fasting. That’s because the oxaloacetate in KetoPrime helps you refill the small amount of glycogen stores you have on keto, which keeps you from crashing at the gym or during a fast.
Keto supplements you can skip
There are also a few keto supplements that aren’t particularly useful, or that have slick marketing without the science to back them up. You’re better off passing on these two keto supplements:
Ketone salts (exogenous ketones)
Ketone salts like sodium beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) seem impressive on the surface, especially if you measure your blood ketone levels. Ketone salts boost your blood ketones very high in a short amount of time, which makes it look like they put you in deep ketosis.
However, just because you have ketones in your blood doesn’t mean you’re actually using them. The issue with ketone salts is that they’re a racemic mixture — they’re a 50-50 mix of molecules (called the D form and the L form) that are mirror images of each other. Humans only absorb the D form of ketone salts; the L form shows up in the blood as a ketone, but you don’t actually use it.
Dr. Richard Veech, one of the leading ketosis biochemists in the world, explains the issue with ketone salts in his episode on Bulletproof Radio.
“The only ketone that’s effective is the D-form,” Veech says. “The L-form is completely different. It’s metabolized in beta-oxidation, which actually makes it harmful. It’s dumb, convenience manufacturing. It’s cheaper to use the racemic salt, but the effects are not only inaccurate, but could be harmful.”
You’re best off avoiding ketone salts. Take Brain Octane Oil instead — your body breaks it down into ketones that you can actually use.
Related: Keto FAQ: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Keto Diet
Emulsified MCT oil
Emulsified MCT oil is a good example of clever marketing without any substance behind it. As the graph above showed, most MCT oils probably won’t increase your ketones by a meaningful amount, especially if the MCT oil contains lauric acid.
Emulsified MCT oil is even weaker than normal MCT oil. It contains some kind of emulsifier that allows it to mix easily into liquids. While that’s convenient, it means you’re getting about 50 percent of the MCTs that you’d get with a normal MCT oil. You end up paying more for a product that’s half as effective. Pass on emulsified MCT oil and get Brain Octane Oil instead. It’s several times more powerful — you’ll feel the difference.
Keto is a great way to enhance your performance, and these keto supplements can help you feel your absolute best. If you’re new to keto, check out this complete beginner’s guide to the ketogenic diet for everything you want to know about ketosis.
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