This is the hands-on version of our big-ass keto supplements guide.
If you’re looking for the best keto supplements without diving into too much theory, this guide is for you.
How to use it: All supplements fall into three categories: essential, situational, and controversial ones. Essential supplements are what you can buy without much thinking. Nearly everyone on keto needs them. Situational supplements are… situational. Sometimes you need them, sometimes you don’t. Controversial supplements are more about placebo than about bioavailability. They have quite a narrow practical application yet very effective marketing campaigns.
Table of Contents
Essential: 1) Absolutely necessary; extremely important. 2) Required for normal growth but not synthesized in the body and therefore necessary in the diet.Google dictionary
Omega-3 fatty acids are building blocks for cell membranes. If their intake is sufficient, your cells work better. If not, they struggle to do what they are meant to do.
This might result in a variety of health problems, from impaired skin texture to higher risk of heart disease to lower cognitive function, not to mention increased inflammation.
Omega-3 is extremely important on keto. A typical keto diet is rich in omega-6, and studies suggest that the high omega-6 to omega-3 ratio might increase inflammation and the probability of a number of diseases.
Your body can’t synthesize omega-3, the only option is to get it from food. Mainly from fish. Precisely, from about 7 oz of fatty fish a day.
If you don’t consume this much salmon, herring, or mackerel, you definitely should supplement omega-3s.
The best bang for your buck is Viva Naturals Triple Strength Omega-3 Fish Oil.
Vitamin D is the foundation of being healthy.
Not only is it directly responsible for bone health via regulating calcium and phosphorus metabolism, but it also affects your mood, immunity, and muscle strength. Vitamin D is literally what puts a smile on your face—it’s part of blood work for treating clinical depression.
Our skin can synthesize vitamin D through sunlight exposure, but unless you live in L.A. or Florida and spend at least 30 minutes a day naked in the sun, you’re most likely deficient in vitamin D.
Because of the eliminative nature of keto, monitoring your vitamin and nutrient intake is especially important.
The best bang for your buck without compromising on quality is Carlson Vitamin D3.
Once there lived a large and old star. It was so old that its carbon atoms eventually turned into magnesium atoms, which doesn’t happen in young and little stars.
And then it exploded.
Magnesium atoms were spread all over the universe and then recycled into new stars and planets, such as Earth (where magnesium makes up 13% of its mass). And then that evolutionary process happened, where living beings competed for limited resources, including magnesium.
Long story short, now every single cell in your body needs magnesium. It’s crucial for energy production, for blood pressure regulation, for nerve and muscle function, and even for DNA synthesis.
Basically, for everything.
It’s especially important on keto because keto restricts many magnesium-rich foods and depletes your magnesium reserves during the transition phase.
Seriously, just get magnesium supplements already. The best bang for your buck is Life Extension Magnesium 500mg.
Every situation can be substantially improved; even the sky is not the limit.Eliyahu Goldratt
Since entering the Space Age, the sky is indeed no longer the limit, but let’s be just a little bit more down-to-earth.
What if your current limit is the area within a 10-meter radius around your commode. Can this situation be substantially improved? And how about some other keto-related situations?
Yes, with these situational supplements:
Digestive enzymes help, lo and behold, digest food.
Normally, you can cope with this task by yourself. As you consume more or less the same foods, your body adapts to producing the particular set of enzymes needed to digest them.
This set is unique for every person and consists of different enzymes that target different nutrients: lipases break down fats, proteases break down proteins, and amylases break down carbs.
Transitioning to keto is quite a situation—you increase fat consumption and your body has to proportionally increase lipase production. Sometimes this situation makes you revolve your daily activities around places with instant restroom access.
Quite inconvenient, isn’t it?
To avoid this, as well as other gut-related situations, keep digestive enzymes handy.
One of the best options is Zenwise Health Digestive Enzymes.
Casually speaking, carnitine helps burn fat.
Scientifically speaking, carnitine helps transport long-chain fatty acids (LCFA) into mitochondria. In the absence of carnitine, you wouldn’t be able to burn LCFA for energy, in addition, carnitine deficiency impairs your fat-burning rate.
Humans get carnitine from protein. They can obtain it from foods such as dairy and red meat or synthesize it from amino acids.
Supplementing carnitine might directly help you burn fat if you are deficient in carnitine. It might also help you indirectly by providing more energy and encouraging you to spend more calories.
In both cases supplementing carnitine helps, even though sometimes it might be closely associated with a placebo effect.
But who cares, since it works and costs peanuts.
To get the best bang for your buck, opt for NaturaLife Labs Acetyl L-Carnitine.
Creatine is a straightforwardly simple topic.
If you don’t know what it does, you don’t need it. If you are at the point when you need it, you already know what creatine does.
But what is creatine?
Chemically, creatine is a compound that facilitates ATP recycling. It’s stored in muscles in the form of phosphocreatine and basically does the same thing as glycogen but much faster.
Because you don’t store much glycogen on keto, creatine becomes especially important when you’re an athlete. Unfortunately, your body stores even less creatine than glycogen, but taking a supplement can sometimes double or triple the amount stored.
If you want to build more muscle or/and improve strength on keto, you absolutely have to get a good creatine supplement.
Undoubtedly, the best bang for your buck is Creatine Monohydrate Powder Micronized by BulkSupplements.
If you’ve got a big mouth and you’re controversial, you’re going to get attention.Simon Cowell
If only Simon was running a supplement company on the keto market, he could’ve used this quote as his marketing plan.
He would only need to replace “mouth” with “money.” Because a huge marketing budget can help you put just the right amount of bullshit into customer’s heads to skyrocket your sales.
That doesn’t necessarily mean these supplements are bad. But sometimes they just don’t deliver what has been promised.
Given their price, this is… unfair.
In this section, we step away from our previous review pattern.
We’re going to do two things:
- Clarify what exogenous ketones are
- Compare two supplements from two different brands
And show you some fun math.
What are exogenous ketones?
After eating, your body breaks food down into its building blocks: amino acids, fatty acids, glucose, vitamins, and minerals. Then, under certain conditions, your body starts breaking fatty acids down into ketones, which is crucial to feed your brain when glucose is insufficient.
Ketones produced within your body are called endogenous as opposed to exogenous ketones, which you get from the outside. In terms of their molecular structure, they are similar.
(Three types of ketones are made endogenously: AcAc, BHB, and acetone. BHBs are the predominant ketone in the human body and in supplements.)
Then, your body transfers ketones to your heart, brain, and muscle, where they are transformed into ATP (which is the human body’s favorite energy currency).
Obviously, ketones→ATP is faster than food→fatty acids→ketones→ATP.
In a nutshell, exogenous ketones are just a fast source of energy.
Is that bad?
Of course not. Everybody needs energy, and getting it fast might be beneficial.
But the question is, how much energy will you get for your buck?
Let’s find out by examining two different exogenous ketone supplements.
Let’s start with the former.
The weight of the current scientific evidence can only approve of one thing—taking exogenous ketones leads to a temporary increase in blood ketone levels.
As for the rest of the claims… help is a very convenient word. Buying two lottery tickets instead of one helps increase your chances of winning, and an apple a day helps keep the doctor away.
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” was tested and proven wrong in 2015.
The study is called “Association between apple consumption and physician visits” and it concluded that someone who consumes one apple a day has the same number of physician visits as someone who doesn’t.
But it has also concluded that a small percentage of US adults who eat one apple a day seem to use fewer prescription medications.
This makes it legit to say that an apple a day helps keep the doctor away.
Remember that help, might, and other similar words are the businessmen’s best friends.
Yet the results are unpredictable.
The main question is what you get for your buck. Buying a second lottery ticket doubles your chances, and buying a hundred tickets increases them by two orders of magnitude. The odds of winning Powerball with 100 tickets are roughly 1.75 million to one.
Are 100 lottery tickets worth spending money on?
Now, exogenous ketones. What do you get for your money?
Here’s what their label claims:
For nearly fifty bucks you get 16 scoops of powder, each providing 27 calories.
In nutrition, a calorie is a unit of energy. Ketones are nothing more than a source of energy. Basically, you pay almost fifty bucks for 432 calories and a few minerals.
Precisely, you pay $0.11 for a single calorie. One calorie from the wild Canadian smoked sockeye salmon would cost you $0.05.
For some people, it might still be worth buying exogenous ketones. The price is not always the deciding factor, and citrus splash flavor is citrus splash flavor.
One thing is clear—they most likely won’t harm and might even help you.
If you’re curious about giving them a try, click right here.
Now, on to the second contestant:
The good news is that the taste of this thing reminds one of chocolate milk. The question is, how much for
carb-free Nesquik a calorie?
Let’s look at the label:
Almost sixty bucks for 15 scoops, 20 calories each. You don’t need to be a professor to figure out it would cost you $0.19 per calorie.
FYI, Nesquik chocolate milk would cost you $0.01 per calorie. However, the bunny is not keto-friendly, I know. But I just want to remind you that delicious premium salmon costs $0.05 per calorie.
Is it worth buying?
I don’t know. It’s not harmful, it tastes good, it gives you a little bit of fast energy. But given the price, it’s actually more about following a particular lifestyle than about getting the best bang for your buck.
You might give it a try.
Now, since this was a competition, there must be a winner. And there is one: wild Canadian smoked sockeye salmon.
If you find this controversial, we might discuss it in the comments.
MCT oil is actually a great thing.
Due to its chemical structure, it’s easily digestible. Much easier than, say, coconut oil, not to mention other ones.
Hence, two benefits:
- You get energy faster
- Your bowels feel better
If you tend to have loose stools, try replacing your regular oil with MCT oil. It might help.
If you don’t have gut issues on keto, MCT oil has only one benefit for you—it provides energy really fast. Basically, faster than anything else, except for exogenous ketones.
But the difference in speed pales beside the difference in price.
You can see the numbers for yourself. This 32-oz pack of MCT oil contains 64 servings, 130 calories each. Shazam, 1 calorie costs you $0.004 (2.5 calories for a cent).
Then why are MCT oils controversial?
This is only because of over-inflated promises. MCTs are more easily digested, that’s their only fundamental benefit; the rest stem from it. And whereas gut health and easier ketone production are pretty evident, things like “weight management and immune system support” are controversial.
They require the words might, help, or can before them.
Nevertheless, MCTs are great. If you need a source of instant energy, get them without a doubt. You can add them to salads or to your bulletproof coffee. Or to whatever recipe you like.
But make sure to get 100% C8 MCT oil.
The Bottom Line
The line between a supplement being effective and being just a pee-coloring pigment is oftentimes hard to notice.
(However, a bit easier for men.)
Basically, everything can be useful, and everything can be useless—it really depends on what you need right now.
However, what you need right now can be to some extent predictable. A typical American keto lifestyle promotes certain common deficiencies, hence three essential supplements.
Less usual situations can benefit from situational supplements. But in nearly no situation would you benefit much from supplementing, say, exogenous ketones – their efficient practical application is too limited.
Unless you’re a millionaire, of course. If it doesn’t hurt your budget, you can get as many exogenous ketones as you wish.
For the rest of us, I rest my case.
P.S. If you want to dive a little deeper into how these supplements work (right to the cellular level), check out the original version of this guide.