I’ve previously written about my amazing experience using ketone esters to improve cognitive performance, and this time around I set up an experiment to see if I could obtain acute “performance enhancement” benefits with strength training.
Structuring a Ketone / Strength Experiment
For this experiment, I wanted to see if there was any noticeable increase in the number of barbell bench press reps I could achieve by adding in a small amount of ketone esters prior to lifting versus my “no ketone” baseline.
For lifting weight, I went with 65% of my calculated 1RM (1 rep max):
One-repetition maximum in weight training is the maximum amount of weight that a person can possibly lift for one repetition. It may also be considered as the maximum amount of force that can be generated in one maximal contraction.Wikipedia
This was enough weight to allow to a moderate amount of reps and a good balance of both strength and endurance (in addition to being a safe weight to lift). I would first do two baseline attempts, spaced four days apart (to give my body time to fully recover), then do my “with ketones” attempt four days after that. Each baseline attempt consisted of two sets (with a 2-minute break between them).
My friends over at KetoneAid hooked me up with a bottle of their new ketone ester sports drink product KE4. They’ve been working on improving the flavor, as pure ketone esters are often said to taste like “rocket fuel.” I was instructed to consume 15ml (7.5g of esters, since the drink is 50% water) 20 minutes prior to the attempt and do 10 minutes of light cardio to get the ketones to circulate in my system prior to my attempt.
My Ketones/Strength Experiment Results – a 12% Gain
The chart above shows my results for each of the two baseline attempts versus my final attempt with ketones. I added two reps over my ~65% 1RM baseline (going from 17 reps to 19 reps), which may not sound like much but that represents a 12% increase!
Ketones as a Performance Enhancer
Exogenous ketones (especially esters) are being used by everyone from Navy SEALs to Tour de France cyclists for the huge physical and mental performance gains they (legally) provide. While still rather expensive and not something most people will use every day, they can be a great tool for moments when you need a quick performance “boost.” I highly recommend them!
More info / Resources
KetoneAid KE4 (product page)
Ketones for Optimal Cognitive Performance and Deep Ketosis (personal experiment)