Ketone Bodies: Exercise and endurance performance.

Recreational and elite athletes all require evidence based approaches to nutrition and fueling strategies with a view to support training and recovery. This strategy is to ultimately maximize the athletes’ health, achieve goals and increase performance using a practical and applicable method. New and exciting areas in dietary manipulation using individualized / periodised approaches to fueling are now emerging in sport and health science.

Key aspects in metabolic optimization and utilization of metabolites such as ketone bodies namely  β-hydroxybutyrate (βHB) are now to the fore. As an alternative fuel to Glycogen ketone bodies (βHB) has particular relevance within endurance sports such as running, cycling swimming and triathlons. The media hype surrounding exogenous ketone body (from outside) supplements being routinely used in sports especially endurance based has now begun to grow. Many professional athletes and especially triathletes, cyclists have experienced the many positive effects.  

A Ketone body (βHB) can provide an important energy substrate under varying conditions such as fasting, reduced carbohydrate intake, LCHF dietary regimes, and various training sessions and competitions. Many dietary strategies to increase endogenous (from within) ketone body availability (i.e., LCHF, ketogenic diet, total fat adaptation) require a diet high in lipids and low in carbohydrates for numerous days-weeks to induce nutritional ketosis. Recently, ketone body supplements (βHB) have emerged and may be used to rapidly increase ketone body production and availability, without the full LCHF -adaptation rigors. 

Ketone bodies may help regulate key skeletal muscle bio-energetics and substrate metabolism-use during exercise of varying types, intensity and duration. Therefore, they may have a really practical application in exercise and energy availability and use.  Emerging studies now show that ketone bodies may even preserve muscle glycogen stores for later use, provide a far cleaner burning metabolite in which less oxidation and stress occurs post exercise. This may have major implications for athletes’ performance and recovery especially considering the amount of time spend training rather than in specific competition where generally various different nutritional strategies are applied appropriately.

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