Best BCAA for Ketogenic Diet
The keto diet has become increasingly popular within the last three decades or so, and since then the industry has done its best to find ways to help those in need get into ketosis as quickly as possible.
This is what has led to the creation of ketogenic supplements. When used alongside a keto diet, ketogenic supplements can help you induce ketosis faster and skip a lot of the unpleasant effects that typically occur during the first few weeks of starting a ketogenic diet.
Today, we'll be going over some of the best ketogenic supplements available (with an emphasis on ones containing BCAAs), as well as everything you know to get into ketosis and stay there.
Before we properly get started on our product reviews for today, we'd like to provide you with some general information about the topic at hand. We'll be going over the basics of what ketosis is and how to induce it yourself, and we'll also discuss why ketogenic supplements make all the difference.
Ketosis Explained: What Is It, and Why Is It Good for You?
So, what exactly is ketosis? In short, ketosis is a metabolic state that your body naturally enters in certain circumstances. However, you can also follow a keto diet if your goal is to induce ketosis yourself.
Ketosis occurs when your body does not have enough stored glucose (blood sugar) to fuel its various functions. When this happens, your liver starts converting your stores of fat into ketones, molecules that your body uses as energy in place of glucose.
Typically, if you want to induce ketosis, you need to follow a diet that is very low in carbs and very high in fat. You can also put your body into a state of ketosis if you fast for long enough, however the fasting method is less healthy and we personally would not recommend it.
Most people who follow a keto diet do so because it helps reduce your body's overall levels of fat, glucose, and water, which helps you lose weight. However, much evidence shows that a keto diet is particularly beneficial for people, particularly children, who suffer from epilepsy.
The use of the keto diet as a treatment for epilepsy dates back to the 1920s. At the time, the use of this diet to treat epilepsy was quite popular. However, the keto diet fell out of favor among epileptics due to the development of new anticonvulsant drugs.
However, in the mid-90s, the diet gained newfound popularity when it was featured on NBC's Dateline TV show. This particular episode featured a Hollywood producer whose two-year-old son suffered from epilepsy.
After reading about keto diets in an epilepsy guidebook, the producer took his findings to a prominent neurologist, who used the diet to treat the producer's son. These events prompted a great deal of new scientific curiosity about the potential benefits of keto diets, and more organizations began devoting time to researching ketosis and keto diets.
About half of all patients with epilepsy who try out the keto diet find that the frequency of their seizures drops by 50% within just a few weeks. And for a third of all epilepsy patients who start using the keto diet, the frequency of their epileptic symptoms decreases by 90%.
So not only can a keto diet help you lose weight, but keto diets have additional benefits to your cerebral health besides.
How to Induce Ketosis Yourself?
We've touched a little bit already on how to induce ketosis, but let's go into further detail on how you can alter your diet and your lifestyle to enter a ketogenic state as quickly as possible. Inducing ketosis is relatively simple, but it can be challenging if you don't quite know what you're doing.
Watch Your Carbs
We've already mentioned this, but the most important thing you can do if you want to induce ketosis is to cut way back on the number of daily carbs you consume. Carbs are broken down into glucose within your body, which your body then uses to produce energy. Your body can store some glucose, but it tends to burn through it fairly quickly; that's why your body tends to crave carbs if that's where it's getting most of its energy from.
If you cut out most carbs from your daily diet, then your body is forced to use its supply of fat as an energy source. Your liver converts fat into ketones, which enter your bloodstream and are distributed wherever they are needed.
In general, your daily carb intake should be limited to no more than 20-50 grams of carbs a day, but this number varies depending on the individual.
Try Brief Periods of Fasting
Fasting is another way that you can help your body enter ketosis quickly, although since fasting a lot essentially puts your metabolism into starvation mode, this probably isn't the best method to use.
But if you want to try fasting anyway, there are a couple of ways you can do this. The first is to simply space your meals out as far apart as possible, increasing the length of time in between your meals. The second method is called “fat fasting” and it involves altering your diet so that about 90% of your caloric intake comes from fats. It also involves limiting your daily caloric intake to about 1000 calories.
The downside with any kind of fasting is that you feel hungry most of the time and fasting for long periods can cause you to lose muscle mass in addition to fat.
Eat More Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is a great food for ketogenic diets because it contains a type of fat called medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs have an advantage over other types of fat because they are absorbed by your body more quickly, meaning more of it can be converted into ketones.
However, overconsumption of coconut oil can lead to digestive issues, so be careful of how much coconut oil you include in your diet.
Be More Physically Active
Exercising regularly will help you reach ketosis more quickly but exercising while in ketosis can also increase your physical endurance.
When you exercise, your body burns more glucose, and when your glucose levels get low enough, your body begins burning ketones instead. Your body contains much more stored fat than glucose, so using your body's stores of fat as an energy source will enable you to exercise for longer.
Increase Your Consumption of Healthy Fats
By now you know that the keto diet involves eating increased amounts of fats, but the type of fat you're eating matters too. Some types of fat are inherently more healthy than others.
Examples of healthy fats include things like:
- Oil (coconut, olive, avocado, etc.)
And there are plenty of foods that contain “healthy” fats, including:
- Fatty fish
- Dark chocolate
Knowing what fats are better for you will make it easier for you to achieve the results you want from a keto diet.
Control Your Protein Consumption
When you first start a keto diet, the amount of protein you consume matters a lot. Your body uses protein as an energy source, so you need to restrict your protein intake if you want to induce ketosis. However, if you don't get enough protein, you run into other problems.
While your muscles only need ketones in order to function, other parts of your body like your red blood cells and certain areas of your brain need protein and glucose. That's why you should never completely cut out protein and carbs from your diet even if you're trying to induce ketosis.
Including the right amount of protein in your diet will also help you retain your lean muscle mass even if you're cutting way back on your calories.
Ketogenic Supplements Overview
Your body can either produce ketones naturally through a combination of diet and exercise, or you can take keto supplements like the ones we'll be discussing in this article. Let's go over the basics of ketogenic supplements and how they can help you maintain ketosis.
Most of these supplements contain beta-hydroxybutyrate as their active ketone. Beta-hydroxybutyrate is the most stable ketone on a chemical level, and ketone supplements usually contain beta-hydroxybutyrate bonded to a type of salt.
Many of these supplements also contain some form of MCTs in their formula, which as we've already mentioned is one of the best kinds of fats to eat if you want to induce ketosis.
Some keto supplements contain branch-chain amino acids (BCAAs). BCAAs aren't necessary to achieve ketosis, but they are used by your muscles to repair damage and build more muscle tissue. This makes BCAAs handy to have during and after periods of exercise, but the inclusion of BCAAs in your supplement probably won't help you achieve ketosis any faster.
How to Use Ketogenic Supplements
In theory, you could reach ketosis without following a keto diet simply by taking any of these supplements. However, most people tend to take ketogenic supplements in conjunction with following a keto diet.
The advantage of taking keto supplements alongside a keto diet is that it can decrease the time you need to achieve ketosis. This can also help lessen the unwanted side-effects that often happen when starting a keto diet for the first time.
Ketosis Tips & Precautions
In general, inducing ketosis is good for you, since it can help you lose weight and improve your health in some areas. However, there are some things you should be aware of before trying out a keto diet for yourself.
Within the first few weeks of starting a keto diet, you may find that you don't actually feel all that well. You may experience headaches, fatigue, constipation, and nausea; these symptoms are collectively known as “keto flu” and they're caused by your body adjusting to the new low-carb diet.
Some people who adhere to a keto diet for a while may also develop kidney stones. This is more likely to happen if you're eating a lot of animal protein on your keto diet; this makes your urine more acidic and increases the levels of calcium in your body, which increases the chance of developing kidney stones.
If you're already taking medication to lower your blood sugar levels, then you should consult with your doctor before starting a keto diet. Since keto diets already lower your blood sugar levels, you may not need to take medication for high blood sugar if you're on a keto diet.
On top of this, ketosis can give you bad breath and leave you with a funny taste in your mouth. This happens because when your body burns ketones, one of the byproducts of this process is the production of acetone, the same stuff in nail polish remover. It's this excess acetone that makes your breath smell bad.
If you want to stay healthy while on a keto diet, here are some things you can do:
- Include plenty of low-carb, high-fiber fruits and veggies in your diet, like cauliflower, broccoli, avocado, raspberries, and blackberries
- Drink plenty of water and make sure you remain hydrated throughout the day
- Monitor the health of your kidneys
- Talk to your doctor before starting a keto diet for the first time
BCAA Supplements for Ketogenic Diets
Now that you're thoroughly acquainted with the basics of ketosis and ketogenic supplements, let's get into our product reviews. We'll be looking at six different supplements today and giving you the pros and cons of each individual supplement.
NOW KETO MCT Oil Powder
As the name of this supplement implies, this supplement only includes MCT powder as its active ketogenic ingredient. This is in contrast to some other ketogenic supplements which may contain preservatives, dyes, artificial sweeteners, and other such things that you might want to avoid having in your regular diet.
There are actually four different kinds of MCTs: caproic acid (C6), caprylic acid (C8), capric acid (C10), and lauric acid (C12). While all of these MCTs are similar overall, they're all processed by your body slightly differently. This supplement contains C8, C10, and C12 MCTs.
You can mix this supplement with pretty much any kind of drink you want, including coffee, tea, coconut milk, shakes, and even just water if you prefer. This supplement is free from GMOs, and it's also vegan and gluten-free, which makes it suitable to use even for people who have various dietary restrictions.
- This supplement is a good source of MCTs
- This supplement contains no filler ingredients
- Customers claim that this supplement is effective at keeping them in ketosis
- Some customers reported suffering from gastrointestinal issues after taking this supplement
- Some customers describe the flavour of this supplement as “a little too sweet”
- This supplement doesn't always mix very well
If you're looking for a keto supplement that can also double as a pre-workout supplement, then Optimum Nutrition's Amino Energy may be worth taking a look at.
In comparison to the MCT oil powder from NOW KETO that we just looked at, this supplement contains far more ingredients. It contains a blend of 15 different amino acids, these help your muscles to recover after a strenuous workout.
One serving of Amino Energy also contains 100 mg of caffeine, as well as 50 mg of green tea leaf extract and 10 mg of green coffee bean extract. The green tea and green coffee beans also contain some caffeine in addition to what is already present in the supplement, giving you a fairly potent energy boost with each serving.
While this supplement isn't really ketogenic, you may find it useful to take during a keto diet, if you plan on exercising regularly.
- Gives you a helpful energy boost without making you crash afterwards
- Amino Energy is available in a wide variety of different flavors
- Ideal when used as a pre-workout supplement
- Some customers who ordered Amino Energy from certain online retailers’ report being sent counterfeit products
- May not be suitable for you if you have a sensitivity to caffeine
- Not actually a ketogenic supplement
If you want your keto supplement and your morning coffee already mixed, you could probably do worse than Instant Keto Coffee Mix from Rapid Fire.
This supplement is an instant coffee powder that is blended with ketogenic ingredients, which include coconut oil, butter, and MCT oil.
Because it contains caffeine and ketogenic ingredients, it will help keep you filled up and keep you feeling energized at the same time.
This supplement is available in three flavors: original, hazelnut, and caramel macchiato.
- Very low number of carbs per serving
- This supplement is filling and gives you a boost of energy
- Some customers report that this supplement doesn't mix well
- You may or may not enjoy the taste
If what you're looking for is pure and simple ketone salts, then consider this supplement from Nutricost.
This supplement is made from pure beta-hydroxybutyrate, which is bonded to calcium, sodium, and potassium. If you've already started a keto diet, then taking a keto supplement like Nutricost can help kick the process of inducing ketosis into high gear.
You can get this supplement with lemon-lime flavoring, or unflavored. Unless you're really not a fan of the lemon-lime flavor, we would advise that you steer clear from the unflavored kind; customers have described it variously as tasting like “solvents”, “tequila”, “a gym sock”, and “your worst nightmare”.
- This product is made with pure keto salts
- An excellent supplement for inducing ketosis more quickly
- Helps relieve the initial fatigue you get from a low-carb diet
- The packages are sometimes susceptible to moisture contamination, leaving the product clumpy and unusable
- Pure keto salts don't taste that great on their own
Another supplement made with exogenous ketones, this keto powder from Kiss My Keto may be for you if you want an exogenous ketone supplement that actually tastes halfway decent compared to some other exogenous ketone supplement.
This ketone supplement is available in mixed berry flavor, and it's entirely sugar-free. Stevia is used as the sweetener in this supplement.
The beta-hydroxybutyrate used in this supplement is bonded with calcium, magnesium and sodium. Aside from this and a few other flavorings (citric acid, malic acid, natural flavors), this supplement contains nothing else; no carbs, preservatives, or other artificial ingredients.
- Effective at helping you get into ketosis
- Helps prevent hunger pangs and fatigue
- The enjoyability of the taste seems very subjective
If you're looking for an all-around supplement that can function as both a ketogenic supplement and a pre-workout supplement, then you may be interested in this product from BPI Sports.
This supplement contains both MCTs and exogenous ketones; two things that are excellent to have if you want to get into ketosis faster. It also contains a bunch of caffeine to give you the boost of energy you want right before a workout.
This supplement is available in four flavors: Apple Pear, Blue Lemon Ice, Watermelon Ice, and Tropical Freeze.
- Gives you a ton of energy without any jitters on skin-crawling feelings
- The taste is overall pretty good
- Contains zero carbs
- A few customers stated that this supplement kicked them out of ketosis
- This supplement contains very high levels of potassium; be careful of how much you take at once
As long as you know what you're doing in terms of properly adhering to a keto diet in a safe and healthy way, then you can absolutely expect to see positive results from trying out a keto diet. Following a keto diet can be challenging, but if you have the perseverance to stick to it, then it can be very rewarding.
Plus, with all of the various ketogenic supplements currently available, it's easier than ever to get into ketosis quickly.
If we had to pick one of these supplements to declare the “best”, we'd have to go with BPI Sports' ketogenic supplement. It combines exogenous ketones with a decent amount of caffeine, helping you get into ketosis and also providing the energy you need to work out. Plus, it tastes pretty good too.
All of these ketogenic supplements are solid choices, however, so it's always worth it to shop around before deciding which one you want to try. And as is the case with any supplement, consult with your doctor first before trying any of these supplements out to find out if they're suitable for you.