Supplements and Ketogenic Diets – Facts and Myths

Suggested supplements that work well with all ketogenic diets (SKD, TKD, CKD)

 

Although SUPPLEMENTS ARE REALLY NOT NECESSARY, most of them do not impair ketosis and in fact, work very well together.

The only thing you have to be mindful of is the actual carbohydrate content of  your supplements. Prefer those that contain very little or no carbs at all – just because a supplement has dextrose, maltodextrin or sugar, does not mean its “bad” – in fact, it could be put to use as part of the TKD protocol. The “poison” is in the dose.

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Protein Powders

Although not really needed if you are meeting your suggested protein intake with whole foods, Protein Powders (whey, beef, casein) are a quick and convenient way to increase protein intake. Aim for whey shakes that have less than 5g carbs per serving. Darthluiggi (Luis Villasenor) suggest between 25 to 30g Protein before your strength training sessions for optimal results.

Whey Based:

Beef Based:

Egg Based:

Notes on quality of proteins and brands

Before you buy any brand of protein (or any other supplement), check for the reputation or effectiveness of the brand. There have been various cases in which the product does not deliver as marketed. We don’t really suggest using collagen / plant based proteins as they are “incomplete” in their Amino Acid Profile, or have a low bioavailability.

For notable cases, read up these posts:

 

Pre-workout Supplements

The best and “must have” supplement for serious muscle building is Creatine Monohydrate. Along with it, any supplement that contains Caffeine may help you focus and train more intensively.

 

  • Creatine. If there is one supplement you should be taking, is Creatine. Yes, it works perfectly well with keto. No, it does not require carbs to function properly, nor you have to “load” it for it to work. Note that some people may be non-responders. It can cause water retention on some people, but really is not consequential for keto as you are probably losing water. Remember, you are aiming for fat loss, not total weight loss. You only need 3g (women) or 5g (male) every day, at any time of the day.

You can check our complete guide to Creatine HERE.

According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, creatine (monohydrate) is the most effective ergogenic (performance-enhancing) nutritional supplement currently available to athletes for increasing high-intensity exercise capacity and lean body mass during training. Source:Examine.com

 

“What does creatine do? In a very simplistic manner, creatine becomes a stored form of energy that can be accessed quickly by your body (faster than say, glucose). People who lift weights take creatine as it lets them eke out an extra rep or two when lifting. Yet creatine is far more useful than that. Creatine itself aids in cellular function. While research is still ongoing, it has been implicated in helping with depression, helping against neurological diseases, exerting membrane protective effects, anti-diabetic, and cognitive benefits.” – Sol Orwell, co-founder of Examine.com

More info: Creatine supplementation with specific view to exercise/sports performance: an update

  1. Dymatize Creatine
  2. Primaforce Creatine
  3. Bucked Up Six Point Creatine
  4. If you live in Mexico: EVOLUTION Monohidrato de Creatina

 

  • Caffeine. Be it your regular black cup of coffee or caffeine pills. Most pre-workouts have caffeine included as an ingredient. Caffeine is a compound that is seen as ‘anti-sleep’, by mimicking and blocking a molecule that induces sleepiness known as adenosine. Over a short (2 week) period of usage, it is a potent stimulant and fat burner; these effects, alongside some others, fade with time. Source: Examine.com
  1. Primaforce Caffeine

 

  • MCT (Medium Chain Triglyceride) Oil / Powder. Quick energy for a workout. When MCT oil is metabolized in the body, it behaves more like a carbohydrate than a fat. Unlike other fats, MCT oil does not go through the lymphatic system. Instead, it is transported directly to the liver where it is metabolized so it releases energy like a carbohydrate and creates lots of ketones (which can be used for fuel) in the process. Due to the reduced chain length, MCTs are absorbed and then metabolized very rapidly. They are very efficiently converted into fuel for immediate use, instead of being stored as fat. They are used as energy much faster than glucose and have over twice the calories per gram, making them an excellent energy source during intense exercise.

Note: A lot of people tolerate better the “powdered” version of MCTs, so if you are new to using this product, it’s best to choose a powdered version of the product and use half the recommended dosage.

Medium-chain triglycerides are generally considered a good biologically inert source of energy that the human body finds reasonably easy to metabolize. They have potentially beneficial attributes in protein metabolism but may be contraindicated in some situations due to their tendency to induce ketogenesis. Due to their ability to be absorbed rapidly by the body, medium-chain triglycerides have found use in the treatment of a variety of malabsorption ailments.

Sources: Wikipedia ; Nutrition Review

  1. KetoSports MCT Powder
  2. KetoSports Keto8 Oil
  3. Perfect Keto MCT Powder – Various flavors: Natural, Salted Caramel, Chocolate, Vainilla, Matcha.
  4. Quest MCT Oil Powder

  • Ketone Salts – Beta Hydroxy Butyrate. Ketone bodies (ketones) are energy sources that are produced and burned under special metabolic conditions such as starvation and high fat (ketogenic diets). Ketones are a super fuel that can be efficiently used by the muscles and the brain, where they generate more energy (ATP) per unit of oxygen consumed than do carbohydrates, protein, or fat. Contrary to popular belief, BHB does NOT burn fat nor increase fat burning, but it may be of use on some types of sports as some athletes have reported an increase in performance. They may have also nootropic properties, as well as be useful for people who have neurodegenerative disorders and need to have a much deeper level of ketosis.
  1. Ketosports KetoCaNa – Exogenous ketone body beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) in powdered sodium and calcium salt form.
  2. Perfect Keto Ketone Base– Exogenous ketone body beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) in sodium and potassium salt form

 

RECOMMENDED PRE-WORKOUT MIX (with Luis Villasenor (aka Darthluiggi) and Shawn Well’s suggestions)

INGREDIENT AND EXPLANATION (In order of importance) EFFECTIVE DOSAGE (in grams) SUGGESTED BRAND
Caffeine Anhydrous 0.2 to 0.6 PRIMAFORCE
Theacrine 0.125 when paired with 0.2 caffeine PRIMA FORCE
Creatine Monohydrate 3 to 5 (3 for women, 5 for men) PRIMAFORCE
Beta Alanine (carnoSyn) 3.2 PRIMAFORCE
Citrulline Malate 8 PRIMAFORCE
L-Carnitine Tartrate 2 to 4 PRIMAFORCE
L-Taurine 0.5 to 2 PRIMAFORCE
L-Tyrosine 3 NOW FOODS
Betaine-Anhydrous (also known as Trimethylglycine) 2.5 NOW FOODS
Glycerol MonoStearate 1 to 3 CONTROLLED LABS
Agmatine Sulfate 1 PRIMAFORCE
Beta-Hydroxybutyrate (BHB) Salts 6 to 12 KETOSPORTS

 

 

 

Suggested Brands for Pre-workout Supplements (hand picked by @darthluiggi) – with ingredients that work (most of them from the list above)

 

  1. OWN PWR Elite Series – great mix of caffeine, citrulline, beta-alanine, creatine and more at the right dosages.
  2. Bucked Up WOKE! – proven ingredients at the right dosage.
  3. Granite Supplements Arc Reactor Pre-Workout – This pre-workout has almost everything!

 

THE “KETOGAINS COFFEE” PRE-WORKOUT MIX (KGCTM):

 

  • 200mg Caffeine (or strong, black coffee)
  • 5 to 15g MCT Powder (or Coconut Oil)
  • 1 to 2g of sodium
Optional add-ins for Ketogains Coffee:

 

Take very hot, 20 minutes pre-workout; note that you need to blend the protein separately or it may clump when mixed with hot beverages.

 

Alternatively, you could use Fit 365 Whey Protein Powder, as a serving has 22g Protein; 6g Fat from MCT’s  and 8g High Glycemic Carbs – which makes it perfect for TKD (Targeted Ketogenic Diet)!

Other Supplements Worth Checking

 

  • Multivitamins  The essential vitamins and minerals are a group of 24 vitamins (organic compounds containing carbon molecules) or minerals (elements on the periodic table). They are all vital to life, and all can be consumed via food. Found in multivitamins, it is wise to supplement those you underconsume. – @darthluiggi’s pick is Controlled Labs Orange Triad.

 

  • Omega 3 Fish Oil – Fish oil provides a variety of benefits when supplemented, particularly when the ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the body is almost equal (1:1). The average diet (red meat, eggs, and so forth) are high in omega-6 fatty acids, which is why fish oil is recommended (to balance the ratio). @darthluiggi likes Intelligent Labs Ultra Pure Omega3.

 

  • Vitamin D – Supplemental vitamin D is associated with a wide range of benefits, including increased Cognition, immune health, bone health and well-being. Supplementation can also reduce the risks of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and multiple sclerosis. People deficient in vitamin D may also experience increased Testosterone levels after supplementation. @darthluiggi uses NOW FOODS Vitamin D-3.

 

  • Choline – Choline is a molecule mostly used for either its cognitive boosting properties (turning into acetylcholine, the learning neurotransmitter) or as a liver health agent, able to reduce fatty liver buildup. Found in high amounts in eggs, the yolks in particular. –  @darthluiggi suggests PRIMAFORCE Choline.

 

  • Zinc – Zinc is an essential mineral involved in regulating many enzymes. It is an antioxidant and immune-boosting supplement. Zinc is most commonly supplemented to reduce the frequency of illness and to support optimal levels of testosterone. –  @darthluiggi uses NOW Zinc or also suggests Optimum Nutrition ZMA (Zinc, Magnesium and Vitamin B blend).

 

  • Magnesium  – Magnesium is a dietary mineral. Magnesium deficiencies are the second most common deficiency in developed countries, the first being Vitamin D. A lack of magnesium will raise blood pressure and reduce insulin sensitivity. @darthluiggi suggests NOW FOODS Magnesium Citrate.

 

  • Potassium – a mineral found in varying amounts in almost all foods. Vegetables, especially green leafy varieties, are generally our richest sources of potassium. Along with sodium, chloride, calcium, and magnesium, potassium is an electrolyte, meaning that it helps to conduct electrical charges in the body. Like all the other electrolytes, our bodies have evolved elaborate systems to control blood levels in a narrow range. This is good news since normal levels of potassium are absolutely critical to life — if potassium levels get too high or too low, the heart and nervous system completely shut down. Luckily, most of us are able to obtain enough potassium from foods to meet our most basic needs. But since just meeting a minimal intake need is not a recipe for health, many people often fail to obtain optimal amounts of this nutrient, and pay a health cost for it. – if you are not eating enough green veggies / avocado, a good way to add Potassium to your diet is with Morton’s “LITE” Salt

 

  • Sodium – In humans, sodium is an essential nutrient that regulates blood volume, blood pressure, osmotic equilibrium and pH; the minimum physiological requirement for sodium is 500 milligrams per day. A known effect of ketogenic diets is a decrease in blood pressure, most likely due to sodium excretion and water loss. In individuals with high blood pressure (hypertension), this may be beneficial. Individuals with normal blood pressure may suffer from ‘orthostatic hypotension’ which is lightheadedness which occurs when moving from a sitting to standing posture. The inclusion of sufficient electrolytes appears to be able to prevent symptoms of fatigue, nausea and hypotension. An easy way to add sodium to your diet is with Broth / Bouillon or with Colored Salt, such as Himalayan.

 

  • L-Carnitine – L-Carnitine is involved in energy metabolism and mitochondrial protection. It is made in the body, but can also be consumed through food. Supplementation of L-carnitine does not burn fat unless the individual is deficient in L-Carnitine. There are two variations of L-Carnitine: Tartrate (usually referred just as L-Carnitine) and Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALCAR). L-Carnitine Tartrate helps the body convert fat into energy, so it’s typically used by people who are exercising and/or trying to lose weight. The Acetyl L-Carnitine is essentially a processed form of L-Carnitine that can pass the blood-brain barrier to help energize the brain.  For energy and strength training, @darthluiggi recommends PRIMAFORCE L-Carnitine Tartrate.

 

  • Green Tea Extract Pills – Green Tea has been implicated in benefiting almost every organ system in the body. It is cardioprotective, neuroprotective, anti-obesity, anti-carcinogenic, anti-diabetic, anti-artherogenic, liver protective and beneficial for blood vessel health. These beneficial effects are seen in doses present both in green tea itself (as a drink) as well as from a supplemental form.they – @darthluiggi uses NOW FOODS Green Tea Extract.

 

  • Cocoa Extract – Cocoa extract is a bitter mixture with a chocolate taste, made up of xanthine molecules (theobromine and Caffeine) and procyanidins. Supplementing cocoa extract may provide cardiovascular and cognitive benefits through improved blood flow and antioxidant effects. – darthluiggi recommends Healthworks Raw Certified Organic Cacao Powder.

 

  • BCAA’s (Branched Chain Amino Acids) – Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are three amino acids with similar structures that beneficially influence the muscles. They can be found in any food containing protein, such as eggs or meat. Supplementation is NOT necessary, unless one is really deficient on actual protein intake. We suggest you focus and spend your money on whole protein sources instead, or at least, use a whey / casein shake. 

 

Sources: Examine.com

Fat-Burners

Most fat-burners labelled as thermogenics are a waste of your hard earned money – they are just “glorified” and expensive caffeine pills. The “jolt” you feel by taking them is due to caffeine, which the main ingredient present in most of them.

  • Read up about the efficiency of some brands in this post here.
  • Read up Examine.com take on Fat-Burners here.

About Author

darthluiggi
Amateur natty bodybuilder/powerlifter, marketeer, entrepeneur and all around great guy... Lifting since 1996, ketogenic since 2001.