Want to increase your athletic performance by consuming additional nutritional salts? Think again, as researchers say ketone salts may inhibit, rather than improve, athletic performance during high-intensity exercises like running 10 km or cycling up a hill.
Ketone salts are supplements that consists of beta hydroxybutyrate (BHB) combined with mineral salts such as sodium, calcium, magnesium, or potassium, to improve absorption rate of the body.
“It turns out that ketone salt supplements actually impair high-intensity exercise performance,” said Jonathan Little, Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
The study, published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism showed that the ketone salts work by artificially elevating blood ketone levels and forces the body to rely on burning fat as a fuel.
Burning fat is a more effective long-term fuel but is more complex to process and isn’t as readily accessible for quick bursts of muscle activity as is a fuel like glucose, the researchers explained.
“Elevated blood ketones seem to inhibit the body’s use of glycogen, the stored form of glucose, and favours burning fat instead,” Little noted.
“That means that the body’s quick-burning fuel cannot be accessed during high-intensity bursts of activity and athletic performance is dropping off as a result,” the researcher mentioned.
The researchers studied over two groups of male athletes with similar body mass indices. The first group consumed ketone salts while the second group consumed a tablet of similar flavour and then engaged in a cycling time trial.
Previous studies have shown that ketone supplements improve long-duration endurance performance.
However, the results of the group which consumed ketone salts was seven per cent lower in comparison to the second group which consumed the flavoured tablet.