The Latest Research On Ketones & Ketosis For Performance & Recovery, Do Ketones Break A Fast, Using Ketones For 45 Days Of Crossfit Murph, Ketone Esters vs. Ketone Salts & More With Geoffrey Woo of H.V.M.N.

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It's time for a serious geek out on all things ketones, ketosis, ketone esters, and more!

My guest on today's show, Geoffrey Woo, is co-founder and CEO of H.V.M.N. – Health Via Modern Nutrition. He is also the host of the Health Via Modern Nutrition Podcast, a health & performance podcast that recently broke 4 million downloads. H.V.M.N. helped popularize ketones as a food group beyond fats, proteins, and carbohydrates and makes foods & supplements for metabolic performance and health—fueling some of the world's top performers, athletes, and military service members.

Geoff is an avid self-experimenter who like to do 7-day water fasts, has inspired thousands under the COVID-19 lockdown to push themselves with positive challenges by completing the Crossfit Murph workout for 45 days in a row, and studies the optimization of human performance—at the individual scale, the team scale, the organization scale, and at the civilizational scale. He holds a BS with honors and distinction in computer science from Stanford University.

During this discussion, you'll discover:

-How Geoffrey used ketone esters while doing a Crossfit “Murph” for 45 consecutive days…5:45

  • Named after Michael Murphy, a Navy SEAL killed in Afghanistan
  • Consists of a 1-mile run, 100 pullups, 200 pushups, 300 squats, then another mile run
  • Staying with a routine when COVID-19 became a serious issue
  • Low carb diet overall
  • Need for muscle and liver glycogen repletion
  • Added carbs to the diet, as well as ketone esters and exogenous ketones
  • Used ketones more for recovery than for performance

-Why ketogenesis is not a physiologically typical state…13:00

-The role ketones play when it comes to recovery…16:15

  • Research thus far has been focused on acute performance benefits
  • Trials performed on runners and cyclists; much easier to quantify than other sports
  • Tour de France cyclists reported exogenous ketones were better for recovery than for pre-race fuel
  • 2019 study on mimicking Tour de France training regimen with ketone esters
  • Ketones plus carbs and protein upregulates mTORC1
  • Anti-catabolic effects are consistent from an evolutionary perspective
  • Ketogenic diet inhibits mTOR
  • If you want to use a ketogenic state for recovery:
    • Have adequate nutrient availability, caloric intake, and carbs (allows liver and muscle glycogen levels to be full)
    • Include ketone esters with regular meals (induces anabolic pathway not present without ketone esters)
  • To trigger autophagy, decrease mTOR, and enhance fasting:
    • Use nutritional ketosis and/or ketone esters
    • Lower amount of carb intake and calorie availability
  • Open question of inquiry: Is β-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) itself the signaling molecule that triggers HDAC inhibition, FOXO3, other longevity pathways, or is it the caloric restriction itself?

-Pros and cons of endogenous and exogenous ketosis…24:18

  • What's happening physiologically:
    • Endogenous includes carb restriction by default (not necessarily calorie restriction)
    • The brain senses lower AMPK due to a lack of glucose
    • Increases lipolysis and fat mobilization
    • Blood-brain barrier prevents fat from entering to provide substrate for neurons
    • Increase in free fatty acids
    • Fat burning lipolysis
  • Exogenous ketosis: eating calories in the form of ketones
  • Exogenous ketones will elevate BHB aggressively
  • Inhibit lipolysis (fat burning) and free fatty acids go down
  • Ketones can be used a metabolic fuel as well as a signaling metabolite
  • Ketones mediate ghrelin (the appetite hormone) which signals satiety

-The difference between ketone esters and salts…35:15

  • Ketone salt: BHB bound to a mineral (a salt)
  • Pros and cons of salts:
    • Cheap and available
    • Often too much mineral in a ketone salt product
  • Ketone esters: Organic molecule that has an oxygen double bond between different components (monoesters and diesters)
  • Future research will reveal a “family” of esters, similar to carbohydrates, fats, etc.
  • H.V.M.N. focuses on a monoester: BHB esterified with R1,3-butanediol
  • This ketone ester delivers 100% of BHB vs. ~50% with ketone salts
  • Another ketone ester is acetoacetate diester, that Dom D'Agostino has worked on.

-The ketone esters developed by the DARPA program…38:45

  • Beginning in the 1960s, various studies conducted to determine the efficacy of ketones
    • Fasting study at Harvard by George Cahill – studies on starvation
    • Dr. Richard Veech, one of the earliest researchers of ketones and understanding the metabolic implications of ketones
    • At the start, a lot of people thought of ketones as metabolic waste products for type 1 diabetics, did not realize the broader implications as a fuel substrate as well as a signaling metabolite
  • Early 2000s, DARPA program headed by Dr. Joseph Bielitzki initiates project to determine the human factor in fighting wars
  • Quercetin, cooling glove out of Stanford and ketone esters were part of the program
  • DeltaG is the code name for a ketone monoester developed in the program
  • Last 4-5 years, performance-enhancing aspects of ketones have been studied as part of the program
  • Geoffrey's podcast with Dr. Joseph Bielitzki of the DARPA program

-Gold standard usage for dosage and frequency of ketone esters…44:45

  • Dosage is based on body weight
  • High amounts needed for pre-exercise (for Tour de France cyclists)
  • Aim for a threshold of BHB in the blood
  • Body becomes more efficient when more adapted to ketones
  • Blood BHB is the most important variable—dependent on body weight, metabolism, and keto adaptability
  • Ketones uses:
    • Cognitive use (military and sports decision making)
    • Used prior to and after fasting
    • Transition to ketogenic diet minus the “keto flu”
  • Blood is the best way to measure ketone levels
  • You don't excrete as many ketones when you become keto-adapted

-Whether or not ketones break a fast…53:35

  • What is the purpose of the fast
  • Which metabolic pathways do we care about
  • Ketones are mildly insulinogenic at best
  • They do not upregulate the mTOR pathway (only happens when stacked with carbs and protein)
  • Ketosis shifts NAD+ and NADH ratio to enhance sirtuin activation

-How a process called lactylation enhances the expression of longevity genes…57:11

  • BHB binds histones through process called β-hydroxybutyrylation
  • Same thing happens with lactate
  • “Biology is a study of snapshots”
  • Lactic acid builds up during exercise
  • Lactate crosses the blood-brain barrier
  • Possible use in treating TBI, concussions, etc.

-Parallels between lactate and ketones…1:02:15

  • Not insulin-mediated; substrates for metabolic health
  • Cognitive and TBI repair
    • No glucose can be utilized by the brain after a concussion or TBI
  • Potential for use treating Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, etc.
  • HBOT chamber (use code BEN to save $500)
  • Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is the best way to buffer lactate

-Stacking sodium bicarbonate with ketone esters pre-workout…1:07:15

  • Water, tip of teaspoon (microdosing) leading to the workout helps with potential diarrhea
  • Lactigo transdermal carnosine applications (use code BEN to save 20%)

-Ketones used in place of alcohol in cocktails…1:10:15

  • 1,3-butanediol can give the buzz minus the toxicity of alcohol
  • Anti-anxiety effect demonstrated in animal models
  • Butanediols combined with alcohol is highly discouraged
  • Minimal sleep disruptions with use of ketones rather than alcohol
  • CBD and ketone combinations

-And much more…

Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

Resources from this episode:

– Geoffrey Woo:

– BGF podcasts and articles on ketones and ketosis:

– Gear and supplements:

– Other resources:

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Do you have questions, thoughts, or feedback for Geoffrey or me? Leave your comments below, and one of us will reply!

Ask Ben a Podcast Question

22 thoughts on “The Latest Research On Ketones & Ketosis For Performance & Recovery, Do Ketones Break A Fast, Using Ketones For 45 Days Of Crossfit Murph, Ketone Esters vs. Ketone Salts & More With Geoffrey Woo of H.V.M.N.

  1. Jason Benade says:

    I don’t see Delta-G as an ingredient on the bottle anymore. Anyone have any info on this?? Just ordered after listening. Only see R-1,3-Butanediol.

  2. Tom says:

    I have narcolepsy and am prescribed GHB to induce deep sleep. Life changing stuff! But definitely not something to mix alcohol with. Not sure if 1,3 butanidiol is as strong but I’ve been knocked on my ass when having alcohol anywhere close to taking my nightly ghb.

  3. Ben says:

    Would have liked to have heard more about the GHB angle. It’s bad publicity makes it almost impossible to talk about, yet researchers, like Dan Pardi, suggest it may have some very positive brain effects!

    In theory, just for informational purposes, how would you convert a ketone ester into something that resembles GHB?


  4. Norman Palmer III says:

    Can I just go to… and get the 1,3-butanediol ? Is it the same stuff ?

    1. Your Face says:

      I’m pretty confident yes. I’ve ordered other things from then before, was satisfied.

      1. Mitch says:

        What’s a serving size for this stuff?

  5. Dennis says:

    What is the best time of day to take berberine?

    1. Your Face says:

      According to his other recent podcast between 5-7 AM because of circadian biology reasons

  6. david says:

    fitness is kiong

  7. Geoffrey Woo says:

    There’s no food grade source of 1,3 butanediol currently but one may be able to find it from general chemical suppliers. Note: 1,3 is very different from 1,4 which is a precursor to GHB.

    1. Your Face says:

      So you’re saying that 1,3 BDO can also be used as an alcohol substitute?

      1. Your Face says:

        I just listened to the podcast and it answered my questions and concerns, I apologise!

        To anyone else wondering it is definitely 1,3 BDO that was being discussed and the dangers of 1,4 BDO were also covered.


      2. Yes, it gives similar "feel-good effects" with none of the toxicity.

        1. Eric says:


          For an alcohol substitute you recommend the straight or do you recommend the Ketone Ester from another post of yours?

    2. Norman Palmer III says:

      Thanks for the info

  8. Trevor says:

    Hi Ben, would there be a reason to choose MCT Oil over Ketones and vice versa? Don’t they both achieve the same end result of elevated ketones, I would assume Ketones simply achieve this end result faster and more effectively?

  9. Trevor says:

    Hi Ben, are you worried about, and do you still plan on, including ketones in your morning smoothie? I say this given the fact that ketones combine with carbs and protein upregulate mTOR.

  10. Gary Rossen says:

    Holy cow the Esthers are so expensive! Is there a cheaper way to just test out?

  11. Mitch says:

    Ben, where do you buy 1-3 Butanediol?

    1. Your Face says:

      I don’t think it’s 1,3 but 1,4…,4-Butanediol


      1. Your Face says:

        This shit can actually be deadly. Kind of surprising that it’s being mentioned in a mainstream podcast. I haven’t been able to listen to the podcast yet but I hope they highlighted the dangers?

        I mean I don’t think they even got the name right.. pretty concerning and possibly wreckless.

        This is some erowid/Reddit drug forum type chemical, not a live long and healthy one. The problem is the quantities and the fact that somebody who drinks this and then goes to a party will likely drink more alcohol on top of it.

        1. Your Face says:

          From Reddit –

          Fun fact: 1,4 Butanediol is converted in to GHB and has a high recreational drug use.

          1,3 is different it has no recreational use and increases BHOB ketones in the blood.

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