A few years ago, a movie came out called Limitless. This was a movie about a super pill that supercharged Bradley Cooper’s brain and made him superhuman. I remember watching that movie thinking, how far are we away from this movie being a reality? After my recent experience, I would say we’re almost there.
Those of you who have followed my journey would know for the last 9 months I have been following a ketogenic diet, to see what effects being in a state of ketosis would have on my disease, COPD. Scientists have for some years been experimenting with producing supplements that will put you in a state of ketosis regardless of what your diet is.
There is now a range of ketone supplements that can put you in a moderate range of ketosis. But what are the benefits of taking these supplements?
Ketones are anti-inflammatory so the theory is being in ketosis lowers inflammation and can help treat many chronic diseases. It is also claimed being in ketosis improves cognitive function. So where is the science you ask?
Scientists studying 23 elderly people with mild cognitive impairment showed a ketogenic diet improved verbal memory performance after 6 weeks compared to a standard high carbohydrate diet. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 152 patients with mild- to moderate Alzheimer’s disease were given either a ketogenic agent or a placebo, while maintaining a normal diet. 90 days later, those receiving the ketogenic agent showed marked cognitive improvement compared to placebo, which was correlated with the level of ketones in the blood.
The current range of ketone supplements I have tried put me in a moderate range of ketosis, between .5 – 1.5 millimolar (mM) depending on the dose. I do notice reduced symptoms for my disease when my blood ketones are over 1 mM. However, I do not notice any difference in cognitive function at these levels.
The anti-inflammatory properties of ketones also suppress the NLRP3 inflammasome. This particular inflammasome is a major driver of COPD and many other diseases. I know through my ketogenic diet experience, raising blood ketone levels have significantly improved my quality of life, but what would be the outcome if I could take a potent ketone ester?
The particular ketone ester I’ll talk about here was developed by TΔS® and named – ΔG® it is a potent ketone supplement. Professor Kieran Clarke, from Oxford university has develop this particular ketone ester which can put you into a high level of ketosis within 30 minutes. Designed originally for physical performance enhancement, I had contacted Professor Clarke to discuss whether this supplement would be beneficial to respiratory patients.
I was in United Kingdom in April to run the London marathon, the first COPD patient to run a marathon in ketosis. After the marathon, I decided to have a brief break from the diet, mainly as I was travelling it was hard to find the right foods to stay in ketosis. Professor Clarke had agreed to meet with me at Oxford university to chat more about my experience and to discuss her thoughts on ketosis for COPD.
Our meeting was 4 days after the London marathon. By this stage I had been out of ketosis for a number of days and had become quite symptomatic, with an increase in breathlessness. Professor Clarke and I had a productive meeting and she had noticed how breathless I was. Towards the end of our chat Professor Clarke asked if I would like to try the ketone ester.
I was quite enthusiastic but a little apprehensive mainly due to an article Dr Peter Attia had written about his experience with ketone esters. Dr Attia had described the taste of the ester as what he imagined rocket fuel would taste like and how he was gagging in the kitchen for 10 minutes after taking it.
The desire to experience this ester far outweighed any hesitation from what it would taste like. I decided to consume the ester like you would a shot, straight to the back of the throat. Unfortunately, some did hit my tongue on the way. Yes, it is like rocket fuel! However, the taste didn’t linger too long.
I left Oxford and made my way back to London with my wife and step son by car. They had walked around Oxford while I was meeting with Professor Clarke. They also witnessed what happen to me in the 2 hours driving back to London.
The first obvious effect from the ketone ester was a feeling of euphoria and clarity of mind. Was this the cognitive reaction I had heard about? 60 minutes after taking the ester I noticed that my breathlessness was decreasing. By the time we arrived back in London around 2 hours after taking the ester, my breathing had returned to what is was like pre-marathon.
When I arrived back in London I measured my blood ketones – 4.2mM and blood glucose level – 3.4mM. Since being in ketosis I had never recorded such high ketone levels. My lungs and my brain felt like they were on vacation from their normal life. By 10pm my blood ketones had fallen to .3mM a level regarded to be out of ketosis. I would say I felt the effects of the ketone ester for between 5-6 hours, which I was quite surprised with as I thought it would pass through my system much quicker.
Waking up the following morning the first thing I noticed was my increased breathlessness had return.
So, what can we take away from this experience? Nothing scientific, that’s for sure. But anecdotally I can say that taking the ΔG® ketone ester definitely reduced my breathlessness. Maybe in the future we may well see a ketone ester used therapeutically to improve the symptoms of respiratory patients.
A palatable version of the ΔG® ketone ester is due to go on sale in the United States later this year. Unfortunately, the cost is likely to be prohibitive and will be targeted to elite level athletes. However, if demand becomes high then the cost will perhaps come down. It would be interesting to see what benefits could be derived by using it as a 3-4 dose a day supplement for respiratory patients.
As for the healthy population, the ΔG® ketone ester offers some physical performance benefits which has been proven by Professor Clarke’s lab. Having been exposed to the world of potent ketone ester I can say the future of this new supplement may well be LIMITLESS!