August 8, 2016 Issue
Ketogenic Oil Product proving to be excellent Energy Source for the Brain, Muscles and other Organs throughout the Body
CEOCFO Interview with: Anna Berger MBA, & Dr. Alvin Berger, MS, Ph. D Co-Founders
Interview conducted by:
Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – August 8, 2016
CEOCFO: Dr. Berger, what is the idea behind KetoMCT™?
Dr. Berger: MCTs are potent types of fatty acids that are ketogenic. That means, instead of typical long-chain fatty acids which get incorporated into your adipose tissues or your fat pads and can accumulate to induce weight gain, these special ketogenic fats, rather are either burned for energy or they are converted to ketone bodies. The ketone bodies are compounds that provide an alternative source of energy for tissues such as the brain, the muscles and other organs throughout the body.
CEOCFO: What have you done with that knowledge?
Dr. Berger: What we have done with that knowledge is to develop our own product, which is the KetoMCT™ oil. Within the types of medium chain triglycerides there are different forms. The one that we chose to commercialize is one that is particularly rich in a fatty acid called C8 or octanoic acid. That is because it is the most ketogenic of the commercially-available medium chain triglycerides. One of the main drivers for starting this business was that there are many, many lay people that are well intended that are trying to market and sell medium chain triglycerides on the internet and through the Amazon channel, but they just do not have the technical breadth of knowledge to convey the information properly to their audience. They say things that are factually wrong. We were challenged to purchase medium chain triglycerides ourselves and with thirty years of industrial and academic knowledge we had the right tools to start our own business.
CEOCFO: What is the science behind what you developed?
Dr. Berger: The science started in the 1960s where the medium chain triglycerides where used to treat clinical conditions of the gut. Then in the 1970s and into the 1980s they were mainly used by sport enthusiasts, predominantly for endurance sports. Then the ketogenic fats were, again, popularized mainly for weight loss with the Atkins diet and variations of the Atkins diets in the period of 2000 into 2010. In terms of the actual science, on weight management there are two large meta-analysis which are articles where they compile all of the other clinical data. In both those meta-analyses (one from 2015 and the other some years before), they concluded that medium chain triglycerides do in fact contribute to weight management, to maintaining lean body mass and to burning off fat.
CEOCFO: What is the medical community’s opinion? Is it well accepted that MCTs work in some manner? Is it still in a gray area? What is the current environment?
Dr. Berger: I would say there is a subset of the medical community that embraces ketogenic fats. This really started in the 1960s using medium chain triglycerides to treat digestive disorders, because the fats are metabolized differently. Then in the 1980s they were mainly used for sport fitness. Beginning roughly in the 2000s we had the Atkins type diets, which are based on ketogenic fats. Very recently the big focus has been on ketogenic fats for cognitive benefits; for example, Alzheimer’s disease. In terms of the medical community, as you say, they are always a little bit behind. Therefore, there are subsets of physicians that really understand ketogenic fats and are using it in their practices, particularly the naturopathic doctors. I would say that with the medical doctors it is going to take some time before they are able to fully embrace them.
CEOCFO: How does C8 work? When would you take it? What is happening in the body?
Dr. Berger: Conventional fats get absorbed through the lymphatic system, enter the circulation and are stored in the adipose tissue. In contrast, true medium chain triglycerides are absorbed through a route called the hepatic portal system, where they enter the liver. Then at the liver they are oxidized for energy, or converted to these molecules called ketone bodies. The ketone bodies are then taken up by other organs outside the liver, such as the brain, the heart, the kidneys and other tissues. Then once they are taken up by those tissues they are converted back to energy. You can think of it as something like a carbohydrate, but with twice the caloric density, no reliance on insulin for uptake, and the formation of ketone bodies which have unique properties.
CEOCFO: What organs use ketones?
CEOCFO: Dr. Berger, you have a strong focus on weight loss, but is it safe to use for people may not necessarily want to lose weight, such as athletes or people on gluten free diets as a way to boost their energy levels?
Dr. Berger: Except for elite athletes, most athletes would be happy to have a means to lose fat, and still maintain the same or improved athletic performance, as was shown for female gymnasts on a ketogenic diet. In the case of an athlete or person with a clinic condition where losing weight is contraindicated, one could consume ketogenic fats and supplement it with calorically-dense bars, gels and liquids. In fact, this is the means in which elite cyclists consume ketogenic fats and avoid weight/fat loss.
CEOCFO: Would your product be helpful in other medical areas, such as in cancer and neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s Disease?
Dr. Berger: Yes, our fats would be helpful for cancer to starve the cancer cells of the carbohydrate they need for cell division and growth, but providing the host with an adequate energy store. Formal clinical trials for cancer are lacking in humans (with animal data in hand currently), but with proper adaptation to our products to avoid malabsorption, no side effects are anticipated. For Alzheimer’s, the results to date have been positive and promising for medium chain triglycerides, with indications that different subsets of Alzheimer’s patients may respond differently. Mild cognitive impairment is also being evaluated as another relevant clinical population. With healthy aging and in Alzheimer’s, there is less glucose uptake (so called “Type 3 diabetes”). Medium chain triglycerides, after conversion to ketone bodies, cross the blood brain barrier, provide energy to the neurons, and improve cognitive functioning. In Parkinson’s disease, benefits of a ketogenic diet were seen in a feasibility clinical study (VanItallie et al. 2005), and results in animal models have been positive. Other neurological areas being developed for medium chain triglycerides include epilepsy (a long history of use for ketogenic diets) and brain injury.
CEOCFO: What did you learn in what you studied or what did you review, look at or put together to come up with your initial product?
Dr. Berger: I am a professor of nutrition and a specialist in fat metabolism, so I had an academic knowledge of medium chain triglycerides and ketogenic fats. Then we have a son with Type I diabetes and we started putting our son on a more ketogenic diet as a means to provide energy to the cells with less carbohydrates and that was very successful. Therefore, we had this personal interest in ketogenic fats. In terms of the science itself; just reviewing all of the academic papers and all the review articles, we felt very solid in the science behind medium chain triglycerides basis to publish literature.
CEOCFO: What might you eliminate from your diet? What do you need to be on the lookout for, should you start to take KetoMCT?
Dr. Berger: If you are on a diet that involves KetoMCT it does not make sense to be on a high carbohydrate diet at the same time that you are taking KetoMCT. That is because the principal of KetoMCT is that it be part of a more ketogenic lifestyle. This means a diet that is lower in carbohydrates and higher in protein and higher in, what I call, healthy fats, which are the medium chain triglycerides, fish oil and olive oils.
CEOCFO: What has been the reaction? How have you introduced the product to the marketplace?
Ms. Berger: We first launched it on Amazon, because Amazon already has a client base. We got really positive reactions. What made us different is that we provide very high quality customer service. We engaged our consumers and we answered any type of science based questions they have or if they have feedback we are really happy to hear from our customers. Therefore, we became very accessible to our customers. Now we are going to be launching products on our website. Amazon customers usually go on our website before purchasing our products. we have put a lot of information about our products on the website and they are very impressed. We put together frequently asked questions section. We provide a lot of links to the latest science research. That is basically how we are expanding our customer base. We are getting inquiries now, internationally.
CEOCFO: There are so many products that claim to do so much. Even if you have the science and the research and the knowledge, how do you get people to understand the difference?
Dr. Berger: There is a whole movement right now about truth in nutritional claims and truth in advertising. I just came back from a meeting called the Nutrition Business Journal meeting, NBJ, which is a collection of typically C level executives in the nutrition space. It is the credibility that is affecting the nutrition industry and the supplement industry in particular in a negative way. There is this entire movement right now to have truth in advertising, truth in claims and the understanding to say the right things. The Amazon channel in particular is just inundated by novices selling products. Therefore, we have done remarkably well on a short time, just because our clientele start to realize that we do not say anything that is not supported by clinical and published literature and we actually know what we are talking about. That is huge! You can grow this business very rapidly just by providing, not only high quality domestic products, but just by actually knowing something.
CEOCFO: Would you tell us how this helps with cognitive ability?
Dr. Berger: Have you heard of something called Type III diabetes? It is a name that has been given to the fact that as we age we have more difficulty to take up glucose to the brain. Glucose is the number one energy source for the brain to keep the neurons firing happily. As we age there is this problem to take up enough glucose for the cognitive functions of the brain. With Alzheimer’s it is even more pronounced. There is really a difficulty getting enough glucose taken up. Therefore, when you take a medium chain triglyceride and it gets converted to the ketone bodies, the ketone bodies provide an alternative energy source for the brain. They cross something called the blood brain barrier. The ketone bodies get taken up and they provide these cognitive benefits. What is striking is that when they have taken patients with Alzheimer’s and gives them MCTs and they have tested them with something called a paragraph recall test, the availability to recall what they just read, within a short time after taking the medium chain triglycerides, they see improvements in this paragraph recall test.
CEOCFO: How does one take this? It is oil? Is it drops? Are there tablets?
Dr. Berger: Yes, it is oil and most of our customers take it by the tablespoon; real simple.
CEOCFO: How does anyone decide how much to take, when to take it and how are you able to help people with the decision?
Dr. Berger: They typical dosage recommendation is anywhere from roughly fifteen to about thirty two grams per day. That translates to one to two tablespoons. It can be taken on an empty stomach, but we typically recommend that people take it with food, because it is just easier to digest that way. There is an adaptation period when you are first taking a medium chain triglyceride. To avoid any kind of mal absorption or flatulence, we typically recommend people to start with one teaspoon the first day, then two teaspoons, then three teaspoons and so on, to gradually adjust to it. If you follow those basic guidelines there is not problem.
CEOCFO: Where do you manufacture?
Dr. Berger: The products are made in the US.
CEOCFO: Are you able to ramp up quickly depending on the demand?
Dr. Berger: We are planning to ramp quickly. In fact, the challenge has just been keeping the inventory in stock. Therefore, we have to keep ramping and quickly. As Anna mentioned, Amazon is just one channel. We are already being contacted to move international distribution and to move outside the Amazon channel to perhaps even have the products appearing in retail.
CEOCFO: Are you surprised at how quickly your product has taken off?
Dr. Berger: Yes! We are happily surprised!
CEOCFO: What is the shelf life?
Dr. Berger: The shelf life of these products is three years. That is a real positive for a business like this, because many of the oils, such as fish oils, which have much shorter shelf lives, may start oxidizing and so on. However, these products, with a three year shelf life, are really nice.
Ms. Berger: I just want to add that they do not need to be refrigerated. Therefore, many of our customers, when they travel, take it on the plane with them in a travel size.
CEOCFO: How does it taste?
Dr. Berger: For me, I have discovered it has sort of a neutral taste.
Ms. Berger: It has a neutral taste.
CEOCFO: Are you funded for the expansion? Are you seeking partnerships or investment?
Ms. Berger: We are planning to look at other investors for our business in the future as we expand. We definitely will be seeking partners and investors.
CEOCFO: How are you using technology to help, either in production or inventory or getting the information out? Have you looked at distribution systems or fulfillment houses or just keeping track?
Ms. Berger: We are putting systems in place to monitor our inventory turnover. In terms of storing our product, we are in talks with a couple of warehouses to facilitate drop shipping.
CEOCFO: Why is KetoMCT important?
Dr. Berger: We are in the midst of an obesity epidemic, an inflammation epidemic and it is not getting any better despite the people being on drugs and trying to have better fitness and to follow the nutritional trends they get from medical doctors and on the internet. We are still seeing an upsurge in obesity and diabetes. The intersection of obesity and diabetes is so called metabolic syndrome. Therefore, I think there is still much room for improvement here. When I got my PhD in nutrition I always thought that people were going to learn about nutrition from people that were formally trained in nutrition. I never imagined the world we live in right now, which is that people with no backgrounds are becoming the gospels for nutrition knowledge and peddling products on the internet. That was part of my own motivation for starting this business; to actually put my own academic training to use. KetoMCT is the first product. It is a ketogenic type of fat. We will be releasing and selling in the future other types of ketogenic fats and compounds. The other thing is in terms of the business and new products; I have unique knowledge into products that are not being sold by anyone else in the Amazon environment throughout the world; just through a network of thousands of other researchers and companies that are developing products. Therefore, I am in constant contact with other researchers and small companies and we hope to bring other very exciting and selective products to the marketplace in the future.
“Have you heard of something called Type III diabetes? It is a name that has been given to the fact that as we age we have more difficulty to take up glucose to the brain. Glucose is the number one energy source for the brain to keep the neurons firing happily. As we age there is this problem to take up enough glucose for the cognitive functions of the brain.”- Dr. Alvin Berger, MS, Ph. D
Anna Berger, MBA
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