The use of exogenous ketones is controversial. Some experts believe they help the body enter ketosis faster and alleviate keto flu symptoms. However, others claim they’re useless and that the only important ketones are the ones produced by the body. We explore this topic to showcase the usefulness of exogenous ketones and whether they’re worth the cost of being a keto diet supplement.
What are Exogenous Ketones?
Ketones are small molecules that are used as fuel when blood sugar is running low. Most of the time, they’re produced naturally in the liver. However, scientists have discovered a way to administer ketones to help reach and maintain ketosis.
Ketone supplements contain only the beta-hydroxybutyrate ketone, as the other primary ketone body, acetoacetate, isn’t chemically stable enough to be used as a supplement. Raspberry ketones, which are derived from a chemical in red raspberries, are less popular due to their questionable efficacy.
Exogenous ketone supplements cause blood ketone levels to increase slightly, even if a person’s body isn’t in nutritional ketosis. This increase can provide some of the benefits of ketosis such as improved concentration and energy levels.
The Different Types of Exogenous Ketones
Exogenous ketones are available in two common forms: salts and esters.
Ketone salts are made by binding ketone bodies to mineral salts, such as sodium, potassium, or calcium. These salts are usually sold in powder form and are mixed with a liquid before they are taken.
Ketone esters, on the other hand, contain ketone bodies bound to alcohol molecules. Individuals can consume a greater amount of esters than salts, making them more effective for increasing ketone levels. They’re mainly available in liquid form and available for purchase at HVMN.com.
Most manufacturers of exogenous ketone supplements recommend taking a dose every two to three hours, and they can be taken with or without food. Ketone esters are known to taste terrible, although many companies have created flavored products to make consumption more tolerable.
Risks of Taking Exogenous Ketones
There are no reports of death linked to the consumption of exogenous ketones. The side effects are mild and include nausea, diarrhea, and stomach discomfort. Some consumers report higher levels of gut distress from ketone esters.
It’s safe to perform normal activities, including exercise, while taking exogenous ketones. However, individuals should still be wary of their requirements for traditional fuel sources, i.e., carbohydrates, fat, and protein.
What Do Experts Have to Say?
Some researchers suggest that using exogenous ketones can be beneficial. A 2017 study concludes that “exogenous ketone drinks are a practical, efficacious way to achieve ketosis.” It observes that ketone esters raise ketone levels in the blood more than ketone salts; more ketone salt consumption was necessary to achieve ketosis. This study also notes how recovery times improve with the ingestion of ketone esters. Researchers simulating the conditions of the Tour find that athletes using exogenous ketones experience a 15% improvement in recovery and produce more power at a higher sustainable pace (Gear Patrol).
However, other scientists are less enthusiastic about the effects of exogenous ketones. While it’s widely agreed that exogenous ketones effectively suppress hunger, the fat-burning effects are debatable. Data published in recent years suggests that despite the body breaking down fat to create ketones, it still needs to prevent ketoacidosis, a state of dangerously high ketone levels. To do this, the body limits the breakdown of fat, in turn limiting the production of ketones.
Additionally, exogenous ketone supplements are expensive compared to supplements such as caffeine and creatine, which have been scientifically proven to provide individuals with better short- and long-term performance and body composition benefits.
Are Exogenous Ketones Worth It?
While how much of a benefit exogenous ketones provide is up for debate, many people report using them successfully. Those having trouble getting into or remaining in ketosis on diet alone may find them beneficial. More goal-oriented individuals, such as athletes, might benefit more from other supplements if they’re seeking performance, but might benefit by more rapid recovery. Keto dieters should assess whether adding these supplements fits with their financial, fitness, and overall health needs because they’re not a necessity for achieving success with the keto diet.
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