Ketone Supplements – Do They WORK?
With the rise of the ketogenic diet in today’s
health and fitness climate, it’s no surprise
that a means to further monetize the trend
has quickly sprouted.
And in this world of fitness, not many other
popular monetization exists outside of supplements.
In just the past few years, we have seen a
substantial marketing surge of exogenous ketone
But the big question is, are they actually
useful and do they live up to their claims?
The main claim of course, is that exogenous
ketones will help you achieve ketosis.
Unequivocally, that is true, since both ketone
salts and esters have shown to dramatically
increase blood ketone levels.
That’s great for those that want to transition
into ketosis without necessarily eating a
But there are also other claims made by keto
companies, like improving fat and weight loss,
enhancing exercise performance, lowering fatigue,
and improving recovery.
So, let’s take a quick look at the current
research to see how it stacks up.
First, fat loss.
From our current understanding, it might actually
be counterintuitive for fat loss to supplement
The accelerated fat mobilization observed
with the ketogenic diet relies on our body
to convert our own stored fat into ketones.
If you’re just going to provide the body
with ketones through supplements, then the
body will avoid making more of its own ketones,
thus inhibit that same conversion process
to avoid the dangerous state of ketoacidosis.
As it stands now, there are no human trials
in existence evaluating the effects of exogenous
ketones on fat or weight loss.
We can only go by our understanding of its
mechanisms, which we’ve seen might actually
Moving on to performance, current studies
have really only looked into cycling ergometer
In said cycling trials, we have multiple studies
using 11 to 12-minute time trial tests.
In 2016, one of these tests noted a 2% performance
improvement with ketone ester plus carb supplementation.
In a 2017 study, time trial performance and
mean power output decreased by 2 and 3.7 percent
A third time-trial study found that ketone
salts resulted in a 6.5% performance reduction
along with a 7% drop in average power output.
So, it seems that ketone supplements result
in little to no performance improvement, with
more data showing a slight decrease.
Much of the same sentiment carried over in
other performance studies.
In 2016, with 4-minute cycling sprints, no
differences in mean power were observed with
ketone salts 90 minutes prior to exercise.
Again in 2018, in a 15-second interval protocol,
no difference in mean and peak output was
Additionally, the ketone group actually reported
that they felt more fatigued.
The one spot that might be improved with ketone
supplementation is that of recovery.
In events like long distance cycling or running,
it’s common to deplete our glycogen, or
our body’s stored form of the carbohydrate
glucose, due to the activities’ heavy energy
Potentially improving recovery can come from
an accelerated glycogen re-synthesis.
In some studies, exogenous ketone plus carbohydrate
ingestion did lead to increased post-exercise
But we’re not entirely sure if this is due
to an accelerated glycogen recovery or impaired
On top of that, there have also been studies
finding no increase in glycogen levels with
Needless to say, more studies will be needed
for a clearer picture.
With all this information we know so far,
another question is, are exogenous ketones
worth your money?
For now, the research hasn’t been in favor
of exogenous ketones.
Much the marketing claims from keto supplement
companies fall short of any substantial evidence.
But if you do have some spare change to spend
and you participate in endurance-type activities,
then giving it a shot might not hurt.
Bare in mind, it ain’t exactly cheap and
multitudes more expensive than other proven
supplements like caffeine, creatine, and beta-alanine.
With that being said, for the majority of
people that don’t have a lot of money to
spend and don’t participate in lots of endurance
exercises, you’re better off spending your
I want to thank sci-fit.net for providing
much of the information in this video via
their article on the same topic.
Come check sci-fit.net’s article in the
description if you want a more in-depth look
at exogenous ketones.
Share your thoughts on ketone supplements
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