SnakeWater is the latest sports performance drink from KetoneAid, the maker of KE1 and KE4 Ketone Esters. In this post, Frank Llosa, the founder and CEO of KetoneAid, and pharmacist formulator, James Hughes, who was also a half and full (with the help of KetoneAid) Ironman competitor, are going to cover each of the ingredients.
The initial idea was KE4 and then KE1, which are a more watered-down version with some salt in it and much better tasting. But I've always wanted to make a drink that just added all of these adjuncts.
Some people don't take the time or don't know the different things that you can add to a sports drink whether it's ketone related or not. So we are putting all of these things into one unbelievable product and calling it a SnakeWater.
In formulating SnakeWater, cost was not part of the equation. It was just about the absolute best things we can put in there and figuring out what ratios worked best.
So let's go down the ingredients list.
The main ingredient is BioBHB - it’s a blend of ketone ester and ketone salts.
What we did there was we kicked it up a little bit from the KE1 increasing the ketone ester portion by 20%. But on a per serving basis, this is still very similar to one bottle of KE1. We also did kick up the ketone by 20%.
SnakeWater consists of 3 grams of ketone ester and 2.5 grams of ketone salt.
The salt breakdown is:
We could have easily gone higher or lower, but we think that some people, especially if they are sweating a lot, may want to add a whole bunch of their own electrolytes. If we dumped a lot of electrolytes in SnakeWater, it would preclude a lot of people from being able to use a lot of it. So we kept these ingredients low to allow people to à la carte that later.
In terms of sodium-potassium-magnesium-calcium combo, we’ve achieved a really nice balance. It is not going to be your sole source of electrolytes. Especially on a hot day, people are going to have to supplement. But most people are familiar with the fact that if the temperature goes up or the intensity goes up, supplementing electrolytes is a necessity.
With SnakeWater, what we have is a really nice balance which is going to maintain you for quite a while, especially when the weather is nice.
Read more: What are exogenous ketones?
BCAAs are Brain Chain Amino Acids,and we have a two to one to one ratio of L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine and L-Valine at 750 milligrams.
So let’s talk about what are BCAAs, why some people are not aware of it, what does it do and why that ratio and that amount.
There are some physiological breakpoints that happen during exercise and they come at various times. Somewhere between 45 minutes to an hour the first one comes. What happens is the term called gluconeogenesis, which can be a good thing or it can be a bad thing. What’s happening is you are progressing from burning small amounts of protein/amino acids where you start of around 3% - 4% of your caloric intake and as you cross these physiological brace points you progress up to 15%. If you don't supply the body with those amino acids then the body will start to cannibalize your own muscle tissue to get the amino acids out.
The branched chain amino acids are the three that're really important in preventing this cannibalization of muscle. It only takes a small amount to keep the body in a state where it can utilize these three main amino acids, so it doesn’t go after the muscle tissue. With your other fuel sources you can pretty much match as you cross each one of these physiological break points.
Is SnakeWater going to provide you the entire amount when you're going to be doing a multi-hour event whether it be running, cycling, whatever? No, but most of the athletes have learned either from their coach or through trial and error that you are going to have to supplement.
Branch chain amino acids are the biggest bang for the buck as opposed to covering all the essential amino acids. If your body has those three, it can manufacture all the rest that it needs so that's why we picked that.
That ratio is also pretty important, especially for the longer you go into exercise. I think we've got the right amount of the right amino acids to keep from having this gluconeogenesis to keep it a good thing not a thing where it's cannibalizing muscle tissue.
Do keto people need the BCAAs a little bit more than the essential amino acids in general?
No, it doesn’t matter, because this is a physiological process that occurs in a human being. Keto people just have a different fuel source: their primary fuel sources are fats and ketones where the sugar burner’s primary fuel source is glycogen. But as you cross these physiological break points and as the need for amino acids increases from 3%, 5% all the way up to 15%, they have to come from somewhere.
Read more: Carbohydrates vs Ketones
Beta Alanine is the number one voted supplement that people wanted to add to the drink.
I wanted people to use and feel the ketones, but sometimes certain ingredients give you this pump that make you think that it’s the ketones, but that’s not really what the ketones do. However, Beta Alanine has other benefits.
Beta Alanine is the best source of Alanine. Our body can use Alanine in two different ways:
- For the endurance athlete, Beta Alanine breaks down to the building blocks of Carnosine. L-Carnosine is important because it is probably one of the best neutralizers of lactic acid. While lactic acid doesn't occur quite as much in the keto athlete, it does still occur some. Beta Alanine allows to very quickly make Carnosine and keep the acid-base balance of the body in check.
- The other thing with Alanine is there is also a pathway where you can create some glucose. If the body needs buffering of acid, more goes into making carnosine. If you are at a point where you are not making huge amounts, the body will dump it into the krebs cycle to produce energy. So Beta Alanine accomplishes all this a whole lot easier and faster.
We used to have L-Taurine in the KE4. But we did ultimately take it out because it was causing some confusion. Even though it was one-tenth the amount of Red Bull, people saw Taurine and they thought that it was an energy drink like Red Bull. Plus for some countries, it caused importation problems.
But here, in SnakeWater, it is supposed to help keep the electrolytes locked in. Drinking ketones can be a little bit of a diuretic where you can lose water and electrolytes with that. So the idea for Taurine was to keep the electrolytes. But it does other things as well.
There was a time where I was like the people afraid of Taurine because of the Red Bull thing. But there has been a lot of research into it lately.
- Cardiac muscle uses huge amounts of Taurine, that's part of the natural process of the heart beating.
- Taurine has a stimulatory effect on the cortex of the brain where the heavy thinking comes in (that’s the reason why it is in Red Bull). So Taurine keeps your head in the game.
- There's also a lot of muscle tissues that require adequate amounts of Taurine.
So I went from being scared of Taurine to being a huge proponent of it, especially with the recent studies where you can see that it really makes a difference.
Being a pharmacist and looking at medical data, they are using Taurine a lot for people that have had any type of cardiac issue. In case of a heart attack, Taurine can protect some of the cardiac tissue. So it's gone from a compound that really wasn't so well thought of to one that is really coming into favor and I think it's a great addition to SnakeWater.
Added by OptimOZ Team:
Cordyceps is the composite of a genus of fungus that grows on the larva of insects. While it was long used in traditional Chinese medicine, Cordyceps has gained wide attention is 1993, when the world record-breaking performances of Chinese female athletes were attributed to a vigorous training and nutrition regimen that involved Cordyceps supplementation. [Source]
Cordyceps is thought to boost the body’s production of the molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which plays an essential role in delivering energy to the muscles. [Source]
Some scientific research suggests that the components of Cordyceps have free radical properties and may support a healthy immune system and normal vascular function. [Source]
Coq10 is not very soluble, hence the drink will leave a bit of an orange ring at the top. But let’s explain what is Coq10 and how the added 20 mg help the body.
Coq10 is another one of these multi-use or multi-function compounds. Every cell in your body uses Coq10 for energy transport. However, as we age the ability to absorb Coq10 reduces, as well as the amount that you actually can produce.
Coq10 is a great antioxidant, it's definitely needed for energy transport. It works right inside the mitochondria which is the battery of the cell. The older you are the more important that you have adequate levels of Coq10 and it's not one that you find readily in a diet. During exercise where you have a tremendous amount of oxidation, Coq10 really helps to buffer that.
The next ingredient is B12, the higher quality version at 25 mcg. There is always a question about how much of it can really be absorbed, so let's talk about that.
The problem with B12 is that stomach acid destroys half of whatever you take. However, oxygen transport requires B12. Think about the Iron Man race, when you are burning up every thing that you have in your system so you have to keep adequate B12 to move oxygen to the cells.
It only takes a little bit to maintain the levels so even though stomach acid will destroy some of it, some is still getting into the system and helps with the oxygen transport.
Theacrine is similar to caffeine.
I'm not a proponent of caffeine for the most part but I figured we've already got these two drinks that don't have caffeine KE1 and KE4. And if I was to use a little bit of a stimulant, I didn't want to use something like caffeine that has a tolerance effect. Theacrine doesn't have that tolerance effect.
We also have to keep in mind that some people might tale the entire bottle (two servings) and ketones are known to increase the absorption of caffeine. So using Theacrine, allows us avoid that caffeine multiplication effect and jitters.
Theacrine is a xanthine very similar to caffeine. If you look at the chemical structure they are very similar but Theacrine does not have the rapid heartbeat, some of the jitters, some of these side effects that you normally see with caffeine.
Both, caffeine and Theacrine, get into the cortex and definitely improve cognitive function. The reason I really like ketones is because of the improved focus and concentration. Because if I can keep my head in the game, I can make my body do what is required. We're going to get into another synergistic compound that was added, the L-Theanine, they work together to really promote cognitive function without the jitters.
Theacrine is definitely a better choice than just adding a token amount of caffeine not knowing how it's going to affect the person. Some people are going to get tremendous absorption of it with the ketone esters, some not so much. I have the genes that I can tolerate a lot of caffeine but you know tolerance does develop. Theacrine is going to be constant, it's going to do the same thing today as it does three months from.
I was actually hesitant to use Theacrine. If I made another SnakeWater with one ingredient being different it would be removing Theacrine.
I’ve been making fun of the ketone salts for a while, they're non-racemic so you might notice some benefit. But then when I talk to people, 90% of them say that they’re taking the caffeinated version. And I tell them that they are not really experiencing the ketones, because caffeine is getting multiplied by the ketone ester. This is like having two or three cups of coffee instead of one. So all this energy comes from caffeine not ketones.
However, elite athletes were asking for something that they didn't have to be adding the caffeine to, they wanted an all-in-one drink, so that is why I did put in a little bit of Theacrine in SnakeWater.
Resveratrol has been described as mimicking caloric restriction, leading to improved exercise performance and insulin sensitivity (increasing energy expenditure), as well as having a body fat-lowering effect by inhibiting adipogenesis, and increasing lipid mobilization in adipose tissue. (Source)
L-Theanine is kind of related to Theacrine. L-Theanine is supposed to counteract and add to the anti-anxiety properties. While Theacrine is supposed to be better than caffeine, it is still a little bit of a stimulant and similar to caffeine, so L-Theanine is here to help take off the edges.
L-Theanine and L-Theacrine work sygergeticaly together. Keep in mind that a stimulant stimulates things. Sometimes it stimulates active processes, sometimes it can stimulate a shutdown process so you need a balance to keep the right switches turned on.
Instead of a big rush like you would get just slugging down a Red Bull or caffeine, the right balance of L-Theanine and L-Theacrine keeps a nice smooth absorption and smother feeling of alertness.
We also didn't mention that the Theacrine has a very slow release, so it's supposed to be for mental cognition over a longer period of time as opposed to just the initial quick spike.
The next ingredient was a bit controversial on our Facebook group. We had people vote for a lot of these ingredients and a lot of people didn’t want this ingredient. However, if you don’t want this ingredient, you just really can go get the KE1 and add things around that.
This ingredient is a carb and in today's world, a carb can be considered the devil. But, this is a very special carb called isomaltulose. We’ve put 5.5 grams, so it’s almost one to one ratio with the ester.
That's one that we did some experimentation with. The goal here was to keep the ketones from dropping your blood sugar too much to where it would affect your performance. What can happen when you get too much ester is the blood sugar drops fast if you don't get enough carbs in there. So we were trying to find a nice steady ratio.
Is this going to be your sole source of carbs when you're going on a four-hour bike ride? Heck no, you are going to definitely have to supplement more, but that's something that the individual athlete tweaks himself or herself.
But this ingredient is going to give you a nice balance. So right out of the gate you are not going to have to worry about being sluggish or the blood sugar dropping. Basically from the get-go you're going to have a nice ketone level and a stable blood sugar. Because this is a slow burning carb or a slow releasing carb into the system, it kind of trickles into the bloodstream and doesn't affect the insulin. Part of the reason we chose this is because the company has some pretty good data to verify that it does come in slow and it does not affect your insulin level.
We're also hoping that ketogenic athlete is still going to be able to stay within ketosis and not be kicked out of ketosis. So SnakeWater can be used for both the keto and the non-keto athlete.
In some of the prototypes I found that if I didn't get enough of the ketones then I ended up getting the blood sugar drop. So through multiple testing, I think, we've come up with the perfect ratio of carbs to ketones.
We are thinking that this drink is going to be more pre-workout and during workout and not so much for recovery because of some ingredients, which we’ll get to shortly, that are not ideal for recovery.
It might also work for someone who is studying eight hours for exams if they are not keto. But if they are keto and that slow card doesn’t get burned up enough (unless the brain is able to burn in), it might kick them out of ketosis. Therefore for keto people, SnakeWater may not be ideal outside of a sports setting.
Overall, SnakeWater was designed for athletes, so we are expecting some sort of activity. While it doesn’t have to be high intensity, it doesn't have to be real long but you do need some sort of activity to fully benefit from the ingredients that we’ve chosen.
The next one is L-Carnosine at 15 mg. And by the way we are disclosing all of these ingredients “how much”. We don’t do this proprietary blend, because I think a real athlete needs to know exactly what he is consuming, so he does not make an assumption that he’s not going to ever use anything else.
With Beta Alanine, you could theoretically make all the Carnosine needed. But if you get the Beta Alanine levels up to high, you can get these tingling sensations in your fingers and feet. So we were able to keep the Beta Alanine at a very reasonable level, but we're making up the difference by adding some regular Carnosine into the mix.
In my understanding, if you put too much Niacin, it is going to give you a flush face. There is a non-flush version, but it’s just not as nearly effective.
But if you just have a small amount, so people will feel a little bit of that liveliness burn, but Niacin is also supposed to be a transporter to help deliver the ketones.
Niacin is a transporter but the main thing is that it also opens up capillaries. When we want to get the substrates into the muscle cell, they go to veins, smaller veins and then eventually they get into the capillaries. So if we can open the capillaries up, we are able to push the full amount through them and the substrates are going to get to the cells quicker.
It's actually helping the ketones be absorbed into the bloodstream quicker and it's also helping it get to the source of where you needed them to be quicker.
Part of the Niacin flush is the opening up of capillaries.The 5 milligrams that we have in SnakeWater is an adequate dose but not a dose that would be really considered therapeutic. The chances of getting the flush with that amount is going to be extremely rare.
But some people might take two servings and they might be on a bike for four hours so they might get five times that.
Yes, but even when Niacin (nicotinic acid) is used medically most doctors will say that despise the flush being uncomfortable, it is still a good thing, because it’s opening up the capillaries to either deliver food to the cell or take waste products away.
The downside about Niacin is that it might (it hasn’t been proven yet) lower your blood ketone numbers, because it’s taking the ketones out of the blood. People often focus on ketone numbers in the blood, but in fact they work when they leave your blood. So if you increase the transporter that gets them out of your blood and takes them to the cells you might experience slightly lower blood ketone numbers.
That is why none of the other ketone companies use Niacin, because they are all about the numbers. And we wanted to make a drink that is not about the numbers but about the effectiveness.
One of the smartest doctors I know who also is an incredible athlete, he says: “it's not what's in your blood or what's in your urine., it's what's in the cell”. And niacin is going to take it to the cell quicker.
Acetyl L-Carnitine is an amino acid derived from lysine and it's one of those things that we lose ability to make enough as we age. Especially if you are an athlete, it’s hard to keep up the demand.
This is a powerful antioxidant and the main reason why we’ve put it in the SnakeWater is because it’s one of the primary ingredients of shuttling fat to the actual mitochondria. Think of it as there’s a train carrying these substrates, so Acetyl L-Carnitine is the engine that's pulling all this other stuff into the cell. It really helps deliver the fat, the ketone, the free fatty acids into the mitochondria of the muscle cell, where we want it to do its thing.
That would be more for the keto athletes who are going to be using fat, as well as the ketones that they drank, they are going to be using their own fat reserves.
But what about non-keto people? Unless these are Tour De France athletes, who are non-keto but still fat burners, would Acetyl L-Carnitine help shuttle the fat and the ketones for the regular non-keto people?
When exercise goes over an hour everybody is shuttling fatty acids. It's just whether it's your predominant fuel or not.
I like to use butter burners and sugar burners:
- A sugar burner: his primary fuel source is the sugar, the glycogen but he’s also burning some free fatty acids.
- A keto athlete or the fat adapted: his primary source is free fatty acids and ketones but he is also burning some glycogen glucose that's coming in there.
Therefore everybody needs to get those free fatty acids to the point where it's going to work into the mitochondria of the muscle cells. Acetyl L-Carnitine is going to be the main shuttling of these fatty acids.
And the nive thing is once Acetyl L-Carnitine does its thing, the acetyl group of that molecule breaks off and then goes back into the krebs cycle again for free energy.
The next ingredient we have is Potassium Aspartate.
I like ingredients that have multiple uses and have multi-physiological effects. When we were talking about the branch chain amino acids, one of the side effects of cannibalizing your muscle tissue is you create huge amounts of ammonia. And the primary cause of premature fatigue is not lactic acid buildup and it's not glycogen depletion, like most people think. it's the accumulation of ammonia getting into the muscle cells.
Aspartate is a huge neutralizer of ammonia. When there's not much ammonia being produced and it doesn't have to go that route, then the aspartate becomes aspartic acid that dumps right into the krebs cycle and it's like free energy.
I don't think many people know about this stuff. I’ve talked to a lot of professional athletes and I don’t hear them talking about some of the nuanced ingredients.
Yes, everybody knows you need electrolytes, that that's common knowledge. But you have to hook electrolytes as a metal to something to get through the stomach wall. You can either hook it to something that will get it through the stomach wall and that’s all it does. Or, you can hook it to aspartate that carries it through the stomach wall just as easy as a chloride or an oxide does, but once it's in the bloodstream, aspartate can either neutralize ammonia or dump into the krebs cycle.
Any time you can give the body free energy where it doesn't have to work for it that's always a plus. And since we need electrolytes anyway, that’s why we picked aspartate over just adding more chloride or you potassium chloride.
Another ingredient is Potassium Sorbate, which is a common food preservative and just added to SnakeWater for freshness.
Natural Chlorophyll is used to give the SnakeWater its green colour. While we could have made this drink a nive Mountain Dew neon green, we’ve decided to just go with the chlorophyll all-natural green. It’s really hard to find greens that pop that are also natural.
And finally we have are Monk Fruit and Stevia, which are just natural sweeteners. It shouldn't really be an energy source, Monk Fruit is just more for flavor on the front end and Stevia flavor on the back end.
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