Effects of 7-Day Ketone Ingestion and a Physiological Workload on Postural Stability, Cognitive, and Muscular Exertion Measures in Professional Firefighters
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Background: Postural stability and cognitive performance are challenged in firefighters. The purpose of this investigation was to examine the impact of 7-day ketone supplementation on postural stability, cognitive performance, and muscular activation before and after a physiological workload. Methods: Nine professional firefighters completed two experimental sessions (pre- and post-workload) in a counterbalanced, double-blind design. Participants ingested either a ketone salt (KS) or placebo (PLA) daily for seven days, and had an eighth ingestion 30 min prior to testing. Each experimental testing consisted of maximal voluntary contractions (MVIC) for four muscles (knee flexors—BF, extensor—VM, ankle dorsiflexors—TA, and plantar flexors—MG) using electromyography and postural stability testing (eyes open (EO), eyes closed (EC), and eyes open-dual-task using a FitLight™ system (EOT)), before (pre-workload) and after (post-workload) a simulated physiological workload. The workload consisted of 35 min steady state exercise at 60% of peak oxygen consumption wearing firefighter personal protective equipment (PPE). Results: Significant differences were limited to time effects (pre-workload vs. post-workload), with no differences between groups (KS vs. PLA). Significantly lower muscle activity in VM, TA, and MG during MVIC, greater postural sway and muscle activity in BF during EC and EOT, and slower response time during EOT were evident post-workload. Conclusions: A 7-day ketone supplementation does not impact postural stability, muscle activity, and cognitive tasks, but a fatiguing workload causes significant performance reduction.