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- According to new research published in the Journal of Physiology, ketone ester supplements could help improve bike performance and recovery.
- Study participants who drank a ketone ester supplement after training and before going to bed had their stamina increase by 15% compared to participants who did not drink the supplement.
- However, their effectiveness seems to depend on your workload.
As athletes, we constantly put the work and effort necessary to improve our performance. It means obvious: compose our nutrition and devote ourselves to a training plan, to start.
Athletes have always been interested in how supplements complement these basics. Caffeine, for example, is almost a pillar and has been proven to improve performance. But what about lesser known supplements?
Take ketone ester supplements, an oral ketone mix, and an alcoholic compound. You have probably heard about ketones in conjunction with the low carb diet. Ketones are molecules that your body produces when you start breaking down fats into fuel when you're not eating enough carbohydrates. But ketone esters are exogenous, which means that they are manufactured outside of your body. They increase your ketone levels as the keto diet does, without you having to limit your carbs.
So, can ketones really help your performance? According to a new study published in the Journal of Physiologythere is a possibility that they can.
The researchers had 18 subjects – all previously active men – who participated in a three-week intensive cycling program (twice a day, six days a week), designed to train until the end of the day. that they reach a state of excessive non-operation. or when you can not perform as well because you are training too much. Basically, they dragged them to the point of overtraining.
The training program included the following elements:
- Endurance sessions where participants cycled continuously for 60 to 150 minutes.
- HIIT sessions where participants sprinted for 30 seconds at a speed of 100 rpm (with a 4h30 recovery period between sprints). The number of sprints per session started at four in week 1, then at five in week 2, and at six in week 3.
- Intermittent endurance training where participants cycled for five to six minutes at a time, at a power of 100 to 110% of their average power, and then at an active recovery of eight minutes at a force of 55 to 85% of their average power output.
A 500 ml drink containing protein and carbohydrate was administered each 30 minutes after each exercise session, but some people also received 25 grams of a ketone ester drink immediately after the session. workout and 30 minutes before going to bed.
Those who had not received a ketone ester supplement received a control drink containing 16.4 grams of medium chain triglycerides. The researchers used this control because it provided the same number of calories as ketones and, like ketones, it is a source of lipid energy. In addition, the texture, taste and appearance of the two drinks were similar.
The results? The group that drank the ketone ester supplements was able to outperform the control group by 15% during the third week of training, particularly with regard to prolonged endurance.
In addition, the group that drank the ketone ester supplements noticed a lack of physiological symptoms that would otherwise indicate overtraining – for example, they had a steady resting heart rate and a decrease in the levels of the stress hormone GDF15.
Here's why: According to study co-author Peter Hespel, Ph.D., professor of exercise physiology and sports nutrition at KU Leuven in Belgium, ketone ester consumption affects the autonomic nervous system, which controls the heart rate and the stress reactions. In simple terms, ketones have helped to mitigate the physical effects of overtraining (which can impair performance) more l & # 39; improvement your performance.
So, Hespel warns that only those who train at very large volumes could see a benefit in drinking ketone ester supplements.
"I do not think we should still promote the use of (ketone esters) to stimulate recovery in recreational cyclists," he said. Bicycling. "An important argument for this position is that the frequency and training load (recreational cyclists) are much lower than those used in our study. In addition, our study included a three-week overload period, but we have no idea what the effects would be during chronic supplementation. "
According to Hespel, recreational cyclists exercise less stress on their bodies than those who train at high volumes. In addition, they usually have enough time to recover alone and therefore do not need the help of a supplement. . (As opposed to, for example, an elite athlete with a very busy workout program.)
Again, the advantage of ketones in the study is that they protect against the physiological effects of overtraining, which can adversely affect performance. Ketones themselves do not make you more efficient. As a result, recreational athletes will not really notice any difference as they are not really super-coaches to start with.
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As for if you are Overtraining? It can be difficult to determine because recreational cyclists do not have to test Levels of SFM15 available to them as a more objective measure. But there are ways to know if you are pushing at this level.
"If a steady decline in heart rate at the effort accompanies a higher rate of perceived stress for the same type of workout and, at a later stage, an altered perception of recovery with prolonged fatigue, decreased quality of sleep, loss of motivation or enthusiasm of the drive, then it is time to urgently consider a period of rest, "explained Hespel." If all the symptoms mentioned above also accompany a decrease in performance during practice and competition, then you are definitely above the crossing point. "
If you think that using a ketone ester supplement may be helpful, talk to your trainer or dietitian. This is because it is important to pay attention to the type of ketone supplement you use, according to Hespel, because most "ketone supplements" on the market do not contain any ketone ester at all. Or if they do, it is not enough to have any benefit for the recovery.
Additional report by Scott Douglas.