Are Keto Pills Safe?
Are keto pills safe? Well first of all, what are keto pills? For the uninformed, keto pills are pills that people take that supposedly ‘mimic’ what naturally happens to your body when you enter ketosis. Although they are designed to mimic ketosis and have your body produce more ketones, the question still remains: Are keto pills safe? This might be a pretty long post because I have tried to resist writing about keto pills because personally, I don’t endorse them. But I have been bombarded with this question from the beginning so let’s get into it…
Are Keto Pills Safe?
First of all, like I mentioned in the paragraph above, keto pills are pills that are designed to miic the body’s natural production of ketones. What are ketones? Ketones are acids produced by your body that break down the fats that your body has switched to during ketosis. During ketosis your body switches from glucose(sugar) as a fuel source to fat. This in turn helps you to lose the weight. The possible problem with keto pills in my opinion is that although they mimic the production of ketones in the body, according to some of the instructions on the packages of these ketone pills you have to take some of these pills as much as 3 times a day to maintain the “artificial” ketosis!
Let’s do the math here: it takes the average person between 2 – 7 days to enter ketosis. I, myself enter ketosis in approximately 3 days. Now, if it takes the average person to enter ketosis naturally about 3 days, I can see why a person would want to take keto pills to achieve ketosis sooner! But the problem is that these pills are basically designed to help you enter ketosis and maintain it “artificially.” And I don’t know about you, but when was the last time that something artificial worked as expected? In my opinion these pills are for people that want the benefits of the keto diet, but still want to eat what they want to eat without adhering to the dietary requirements of the keto diet! Sounds like they’re cheating to me! What about you?
Are Keto Diet Pills Safe?
There are all kinds of problems that you can run into if you take keto diet pills.
- They can produce ketones levels that are to high. When your ketones are too high in your blood, you have a condition that is known as ketoacidosis. This is a dangerous condition that Type 1 diabetes patients have to worry about. It’s when your blood has become too acidic and it can kill you! I’m not saying that taking these keto pills can kill you…but there’s a possibility! There’s a thin line between natural ketosis and ketoacidosis.
- The keto pills affect lasts only a few hours and you have to keep taking the pills to maintain ketosis. This in itself is a problem because natural ketosis lasts until you knock yourself out of it by surpassing your carb count for the day. This “artificial” ketosis only lasts a few hours. So you have to keep taking the pills to maintain the “artificial” ketosis.
- What else is included in these pills? According to Healthline.com, there are 2 types of keto supplements: ketone salts and ketone esters. Ketone salts are “…bound to a salt, typically sodium, potassium, calcium or magnesium. They’re most often found in powder form and mixed with liquid. Ketone esters are “…linked to another compound called an ester and packaged in liquid form. Ketone esters are used primarily in research and aren’t as readily available for purchase as ketone salts. These keto pills contain high amounts of sodium, magnesium and calcium.
Are Keto Diet Pills Safe To Take?
Although there is some research that suggests that keto pills do inhibit hunger, that seems to be the only benefit to them. I understand that we have certain segment of the population that always want to take ” the easy way” to get into ketosis. But in my opinion, keto pills are not the way. You are putting your body at risk taking these pills. Why not go into ketosis naturally? That way you won’t have to worry about continuing to pop pills to stay in ketosis. You will stay in ketosis naturally!
Are keto pills safe to take? I don’t know. I know that there are always people out there trying to make a buck. In my opinion that’s exactly what this is: corporations trying to capitalize off the popularity of the keto diet. But at what expense? At your expense! These pills are taken by people that want the benefits of the keto diet without having to follow the keto diet! They think that they can just eat what they want and still lose weight…the keto way! I hate cheaters!
Do they work? I don’t know. They might work. But I personally prefer to enter ketosis naturally. In my opinion, this is the “easy way out!” This is the whole “take a pill and solve all of your problems” generation that we are stuck in these days. Do I recommend taking keto pills? No. I don’t recommend them. The best way to enter ketosis is naturally. The best way to follow the keto diet is naturally. I can’t in good conscience recommend something that could potentially harm you. I won’t recommend something like these keto pills to anyone I know. But ultimately, the decision is yours: Do you want to enter ketosis naturally or take a pill to “mimic” it?
What to know about exogenous ketones
The ketogenic diet, which most people call the keto diet, is a diet that is high in fat and very low in carbohydrates.
This type of diet encourages a metabolic state called ketosis, in which the body burns fat instead of carbohydrate as its primary source of energy.
The process of burning fat results in the production of fatty acid byproducts called ketones. These are the substances that the body uses for energy when carbohydrates are in short supply.
The keto diet is highly restrictive. Many people have difficulty sticking to the diet and, therefore, fail to achieve ketosis. Exogenous ketones are supplements that could help a person achieve ketosis while being slightly less strict regarding what they eat.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not regulate the exogenous ketone supplement market. Therefore, neither they nor other regulatory agencies test or evaluate ketone supplements for safety, purity, or effectiveness.
Also, researchers are unsure whether exogenous ketones have the same effect as ketones that the body produces naturally.
In this article, we outline the effectiveness and safety of exogenous ketones.
Many health food stores sell exogenous ketones (EKs) over the counter. Several different EK types exist. These include:
Ketone esters are the most potent type of EK. As a result, they may cause longer ketosis periods than other EK supplements.
However, ketone esters can be very expensive to buy, and they usually have a strong, unpleasant taste.
Supplement manufacturers make ketone salts by adding artificial ketones to electrolytes, such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium.
Ketone salts are available in a variety of forms, including drinks, pills, and powders.
These particular EKs can increase electrolyte levels. Higher levels can be harmful if a person has a medical condition, such as kidney disease, that affects their ability to regulate electrolytes.
While ketone salts rapidly induce ketosis, this metabolic state does not usually last as long as it does with ketone esters.
Other similar supplements
Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) are not technically a type of EK, but they do have similar effects.
The body rapidly absorbs MCTs. Following this absorption, the liver converts the MCTs into ketones.
However, a person will not get into ketosis by taking MCTs alone. They will need to follow a ketogenic diet or take other EK supplements to induce ketosis fully.
Researchers have carried out several studies on the potential benefits of taking EKs.
EKs for ketosis
A 2017 study investigated the effects of EKs on human metabolism. Researchers asked 15 healthy participants to consume drinks that contained either ketone esters or ketone salts. Both types of EK induced a state of ketosis in the participants.
However, this study involved only a small number of people. Further research is necessary to establish the accuracy of the findings.
EKs for enhanced athletic performance
Another potential use for exogenous ketones is in athletic performance. Prolonged physical activity can result in a lack of oxygen supply to the muscles, which leads to an increase in the production of lactic acid. Excess lactic acid can make muscles feel sore and weak.
As the authors of a 2016 study note, exogenous ketones act as an alternative energy source for the body during intensive exercise. As such, they help reduce lactic acid production.
The study results suggested that exogenous ketones could improve a person’s athletic performance by about 2%. The people most likely to benefit from this increase are elite and endurance athletes.
EKs for psychiatric disorders and epilepsy
Some people follow a keto diet for reasons other than weight loss. For example, people with epilepsy have used the ketogenic diet for many years to help reduce the number and severity of seizures.
Doctors also have tested whether the diet could help minimize the symptoms of psychiatric disorders, such as:
- bipolar disorder
Experts believe that these disorders may be partly due to changes in metabolism that affect the brain. Examples include:
- changes in the release of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters
- increased inflammation
- abnormal glucose metabolism in the brain
Some experts theorize that the metabolism-altering effects of EKs may help treat these disorders. However, few studies have investigated this idea.
A 2019 review of the available research suggests that EKs affect levels of certain neurotransmitters within the brain, thus reducing some of the signs of psychiatric disease.
The review authors conclude that using EK supplements to help the body enter ketosis may be an effective treatment for psychiatric diseases.
Taking ketone supplements can cause extreme stomach upset in some people. This side effect can limit the number of supplements that a person can take.
Taking ketone salts also increases the risk of electrolyte imbalances. Electrolytes are vital for the conduction of electrical signals in the muscles and neurons. For example, electrolytes help the heart maintain a regular rhythm.
Some doctors are concerned that the ketogenic diet decreases blood sugar levels, potentially leading to hypoglycemia, which can make a person feel weak and lethargic. Moreover, ketone salts that contain sodium could be dangerous for people with high blood pressure. The ketogenic diet can also cause dehydration.
Keto Diet Pills and Supplements May Hurt Your Health and Waste Your Money
If you’re doing the Keto 30 Challenge, you’re basically paying $150 for salt.
January resolutions are in full swing, so you’ve probably heard of the ketogenic diet, the trendy eating plan that calls for getting more than 70% of your total calories from fat, about 20% from protein, and 10% or less from carbs. The whole idea is to enter a metabolic state known as ketosis, when your body burns fat for fuel.
You may have also heard about a Keto 30 Challenge, a month-long diet program marketed by KetoLogic that involves a whole slew of special supplements. Honest Keto Diet, a company recently featured on Shark Tank, sells similar weight-loss pills. Pricey keto supplements include ingredients like ketones designed to suppress appetite, electrolytes for the dehydrating effects of the diet, certain vitamins and minerals, and even caffeine.
The packaging claims are abundant too: They allege they’ll help you achieve ketosis within “three days,” “fuel performance,” and “clear brain fog,” among other benefits. The problem is that these powders and pills come at a hefty financial cost, and could have some unintended, undesirable consequences for your health.
While the keto diet gives me pause for a number of reasons (and you can read all about them here), these keto supplements worry me even more. Here’s what you need to know before you spend $150 on a 30-day “challenge.”
Keto supplements may mess with your metabolism.
When you’re in a starvation state, your body uses ketones for energy in a similar way to how they’re used on a ketogenic diet — for fuel — and converts them into glucose. In this state, all those ketones also stimulate an increase in leptin (the hormone that makes you feel full) and a decrease in ghrelin (the hormone that stimulates your appetite). The higher your blood concentration of ketones, the less hungry you feel. Why? Because in the history of human evolution, periods of famine forced our bodies to adjust so that you would be less likely to eat something poisonous if there was no food available to you. Here in the 21st century: Taking supplemental ketones to help enhance this biological process will likely decrease appetite by raising blood levels of ketone bodies.
What’s the catch? The ketogenic state has been linked to increasing satiety hormones and decreasing hunger hormones — well-researched during the initial phase. But once you’re off the keto diet after 30 days, the appetite-suppressing hormones will increase significantly from your baseline. Meaning that you’re likely to feel physically hungrier than you did before you started all of this dieting nonsense.
They’re expensive (and you probably already have them in your pantry).
Electrolyte supplements provide sodium — sometimes up to 40% of your recommended daily intake for the day. They’re typically used by athletes for endurance training, but the keto-friendly ones claim to energize you and offset the physical side effects of the keto flu.
The keto flu is host of flu-like symptoms such as aches, cramping, exhaustion, diarrhea, constipation, and general weakness experienced during the first four days the keto diet.
It’s not an actual virus but the result of dehydration that occurs when switching from glucose to fat for energy. Low-carb diets generally have a diuretic effect within the first few days, meaning you lose more water and electrolytes (like potassium and sodium) in urine than normal. It happens because you’re body is losing water as it turns to muscle glycogen for energy and your body’s insulin levels decrease.
Anyone who is planning on doing keto will need to drink additional fluids with electrolytes — especially in the first four days of starting — to help mitigate the increased heart rate associated with dehydration.
Ketoburn and KetoLogic do provide electrolytes in supplement form, but my gripe (beyond messing with your body’s biochemistry to the point of increasing your heart rate for no reason): Ketologic is $100 per container, Ketoburn is $40 per container, and the predominant electrolyte you’re getting in each is sodium. That means you’re literally spending up to 100 times more money than you would if you went to the supermarket and picked up a container of sodium chloride, a.k.a. table salt. It’s about $1, max.
Beating brain fog is more easily achieved with a Starbucks run.
KetoLogic also claims to beat the brain fog many people experience when they start out on keto. That makes sense since the caffeine in it is, of course, energizing! (By the way that lethargy you feel is a result of your brain not receiving enough glucose.)
While research supports the idea that consuming moderate amounts of caffeine is a good thing, the science suggests that the benefits are seen primarily in coffee and tea, two plant-based beverages with antioxidants. So while some of these supplements attempt to do the same (Ketoburn provides beta carotene), consuming supplemental forms of antioxidants simply does not have the same biochemical effect as drinking them in their most natural form. Plus, there’s no guarantee that antioxidants are really in there as the FDA doesn’t regulate supplements.
And again on the $$ front: Keto supplements with antioxidants and caffeine cost you up to 100 times more than a regular cup of coffee to get an unsubstantiated benefit, when you could just brew a pot of coffee at home.
The MCT oil in some mixes can mess with digestion.
Supplements like KetoLogic’s KetoMeal and keto-friendly bulletproof coffee recipes also contain MCT oil. The acronym stands for medium-chain triglycerides, which are fat sources that take less time to digest than the long-chain triglycerides usually found in fatty foods.
MCTs are considered more “efficient” because instead of getting distributed among other organs that use these fat molecules, they go straight to your liver. This process requires more energy, which is why the oil is termed “fat-burning.”
So, what are the downsides? Well, many will experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation as a result. Plus, unless they’re prescribed to you by a physician, dietary supplements come with their own safety gamble.
You’re better off getting vitamins and minerals in real food.
Keto supplements also include important nutrients like potassium, magnesium, and calcium — but they’re in much smaller amounts than you’d get in actual produce. And since the keto diet limits fruits and vegetables, you will undoubtedly need to take a multivitamin to get enough minerals, calcium, and vitamin D.
That’s the biggest concern I have about recommending keto in general. Dietary supplements aren’t overseen by the FDA, meaning that they’re not evaluated for safety and efficacy in the same way that food and medications are and you may not be getting exactly what you pay for. And if you are? Consuming certain nutrients in supplement versus food form can induce oxidative stress rather than treat it, causing more harm than good to organ tissues. The end result: increased risk of chronic disease, including heart disease and some cancers.
Since there’s limited data on long-term supplement dependence and ketogenic diets, it’s impossible to know now what effects this may have on health and weight overall. A keto-specific example: Selenium, an immune-boosting antioxidant found in plant foods, is insufficient on keto, and when left unmitigated, this can cause cardiomyopathy, a hardening of the heart muscle, leading to heart failure.
In other words, it’s not just the ketogenic diet itself that has risks; it’s the risks associated with the lack of vitamins and minerals through food sources that give health professionals pause in terms of recommending this plan.