Also, it’s important to remember that just because something may be SAFE (and to reiterate, I’m not saying a long term ketogenic diet is safe), it doesn’t mean it’s good for you or beneficial. Running Marathons could be considered safe (especially if it’s on a closed race circuit), but does this mean it’s good for you? Or should you be out running marathons every day?
Over the past couple years, I’ve tried a number of ketone supplements, generally to enhance a longer fast or to offer an edge before one of my Ultimate Frisbee evenings. This Kegenix variety is one I’d recommend. I’ve also used Quest Nutrition MCT oil powder with good results as well, but there are plenty of other solid formulations to choose from.
Let’s briefly discuss some organic chemistry. Two molecules that are “the same” but mirror images of each other (like your hands) are known as enantiomers, a type of spatial isomer. Beta hydroxybutyrate comes in two forms, D-β-hydroxybutyrate (“right-handed”) and L-β-hydroxybutyrate (“left-handed”). D-β-hydroxybutyrate is the form that is naturally produced in the body and is most bioavailable when taken exogenously.
Possible GI distress (flatulence) at exceptionally high doses –  In the studies referenced in this article, exogenous ketones taken in large doses occasionally resulted in GI distress, especially flatulence. However, the cause of this is hypothesized to be due to the fact that ketones were mixed in a milky fluid that wasn’t very palatable. If you’re taking a nominal dose of exogenous ketones the likelihood of GI distress is rather low. Moreover, if some GI distress is prevalent, it should improve as you become accustomed to taking ketones.
The effects of ketone drinks on endogenous insulin secretion are unclear. Whilst the small increase in plasma insulin after KE and KS drinks may have been due to the small quantity of dextrose in the diluent, it has been proposed that ketones could potentiate or even stimulate insulin secretion. Isolated pancreatic islets secreted insulin when stimulated by ketones at glucose concentrations of >5 mM (Biden and Taylor, 1983), and small amounts of insulin are secreted in vivo following exposure to exogenous ketones in animals (Madison et al., 1964; Miles et al., 1981). In response to an intra-venous 10 mM glucose clamp, ketone ester drinks increased glucose uptake and plasma insulin (Holdsworth et al., 2017). The increases in insulin with ketone drinks taken whilst fasted were small compared to the increases seen when the ketone ester drink was consumed with a meal and with consumption of a dextrose drink. Furthermore, the lack of difference in peak plasma insulin between the two latter conditions indicates that nutritional ketosis did not inhibit or increase normal carbohydrate induced insulin production.
I eat one meal a day during a one-hour window and fast 23 or more hours every day. I want to use your ketones to get back into ketosis faster after that meal. Will that work? I am confused, because say at the end of my hour eating window I drink your ketones, sure there are lots of ketones suddenly in my body but I also have a big meal in my stomach. My body has to digest and use that food energy, so how do exogenous ketones help me in that case?
Let’s briefly discuss some organic chemistry. Two molecules that are “the same” but mirror images of each other (like your hands) are known as enantiomers, a type of spatial isomer. Beta hydroxybutyrate comes in two forms, D-β-hydroxybutyrate (“right-handed”) and L-β-hydroxybutyrate (“left-handed”). D-β-hydroxybutyrate is the form that is naturally produced in the body and is most bioavailable when taken exogenously.
Ketogenesis is the metabolism of fatty acids by β-oxidation. 4 This process gives acetyl CoA which then leads to β-hydroxy-β-methyglutaryl-CoA (HMG-CoA) as seen below5. HMG-CoA converts into Acetoacetone which can switch back and forth to BHB. Acetoacetone to Acetone conversion is irreversible (on the left below). Acetoacetate and BHB (via acetoacetate) are used to produce energy when converted back into acetyl-CoA within a cell’s mitochondria whilst Acetone is excreted in the breath and urine.4

Athletic performance benefits: The use of exogenous ketone supplements for bettering physical/athletic performance is promising for several reasons. Firstly, taking exogenous ketones (particularly BHB salts) induces acute nutritional ketosis for upwards of eight hours, mimicking fasting physiology (e.g. increases fat burning, insulin sensitivity, etc.).[3]


As ketone drinks can deliver nutritional ketosis without fasting, we investigated the effect of food on KE uptake and metabolism. It is well documented that food in the gut can slow, or prevent, the uptake of small hydrophilic hydrocarbons, such as βHB (Melander, 1978; Toothaker and Welling, 1980; Horowitz et al., 1989; Fraser et al., 1995), so decreased gut βHB uptake is probably the cause of lower blood βHB following the meal. Despite higher blood βHB concentrations in the fasted state, the meal did not alter plasma AcAc. This suggests that the rate of conversion of βHB to AcAc may not match the rate of appearance of βHB following KE consumption. Alternatively, meal-induced changes in the hepatic ratio of NAD+:NADH may have altered the conversion of βHB to AcAc (Himwich et al., 1937; Desrochers et al., 1992).
Elliot received his BS in Biochemistry from the University of Minnesota and has been a freelance writer specializing in nutritional and health sciences for the past 5 years. He is thoroughly passionate about exercise, nutrition, and dietary supplementation, especially how they play a role in human health, longevity, and performance. In his free time you can most likely find him lifting weights at the gym or out hiking through the mountains of Colorado. He will also host the upcoming BioKeto podcast. You can connect with him on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/elliot.reimers) and Instagram (@eazy_ell)

Several studies have investigated the safety and efficacy of ketone supplements for disease states such as AD and Parkinson’s disease, and well as for parenteral nutrition [40, 48–50, 100–103]. Our research demonstrates that several forms of dietary ketone supplementation can effectively elevate blood ketone levels and achieve deleted: therapeutic nutritional ketosis without the need for dietary carbohydrate restriction. We also demonstrated that ketosis achieved with exogenous ketone supplementation can reduce blood glucose, and this is inversely associated with the blood ketone levels. Although preliminary results are encouraging, further studies are needed to determine if oral ketone supplementation can produce the same therapeutic benefits as the classic KD in the broad-spectrum of KD-responsive disease states . Additionally, further experiments need to be conducted to see if the exogenous ketone supplementation affects the same physiological features as the KD (i.e. ROS, inflammation, ATP production). Ketone supplementation could be used as an alternative method for inducing ketosis in patients uninterested in attempting the KD or those who have previously had difficulty implementing the KD because of palatability issues, gall bladder removal, liver abnormalities, or intolerance to fat. Additional experiments should be conducted to see if ketone supplementation could be used in conjunction with the KD to assist and ease the transition to nutrition ketosis and enhance the speed of keto-adaptation. In this study we have demonstrated the ability of several ketone supplements to elevate blood ketone levels, providing multiple options to induce therapeutic ketosis based on patient need. Though additional studies are needed to determine the therapeutic potential of ketone supplementation, many patients that previously were unable to benefit from the KD may now have an alternate method of achieving therapeutic ketosis. Ketone supplementation may also represent a means to further augment ketonemia in those responsive to therapeutic ketosis, especially in those individuals where maintaining low glucose is important.


Participants refrained from alcohol and caffeine for 24 h prior to each visit AND were asked to consume a similar meal the night before each visit. All studies were carried out at the University of Oxford Human Physiology Laboratories and started at 0800 h following an overnight (>8 h) fast, with a minimum of 72 h between visits. Visit order was randomized prior to commencement by an administrative investigator using a pseudo-random number generator to produce a list of combinations of visit order, which were then allocated based on order of enrolment by a different investigator.
Some people follow more of an Ultra Low Carb diet approach. This is generally around 50g or less of carbs per day. A ULC is more supportive of reaching a ketogenic state, but again total carbs are not the only variable when it comes to reaching ketosis (other factors such as types of carbs, protein consumption, portion size, ingredients, supplements used etc. all play a role and will be covered in more detail below). 

Dusty you assume only everyone wants fat burning. I think this is silly. The brain and heart will prefer ketones over carbohydrates when both are present in the blood stream. Look at the research and mechanism. I don’t want fat loss, I want better brain function. I also regularly eat carbs myself. This is one of the reasons I myself use exogenous ketones. No this isn’t a magic fat loss powder, but don’t sit here and quote T-nation trying to rebuttal this article acting like that is a credible source.


KE was synthesized as previously described [29]. BMS is a novel agent (sodium/potassium- βHB mineral salt) supplied as a 50 % solution containing approximately 375 mg/g of pure βHB and 125 mg/g of sodium/potassium. Both KE and BMS were developed and synthesized in collaboration with Savind Inc. Pharmaceutical grade MCT oil (~65 % caprylic triglyceride; 45 % capric triglyceride) was purchased from Now Foods (Bloomingdale, IL). BMS was formulated in a 1:1 ratio with MCT at the University of South Florida (USF), yielding a final mixture of 25 % water, 25 % pure βHB mineral salt and 50 % MCT. BD was purchased from Sigma-Aldrich (Prod # B84785, Milwaukee, WI).
Hi- Thank you for this super helpful post. I’m new to Keto and supplementing Keytones. I just got the Julian Bakery Keytones and am curious about how to take them as there are no instructions on the packaging. Indeed the website has a diet plan to follow with the keytones but I am very suspicious of it because it is 0 fat which I believe is not healthy for brain or body and given that I have soft tissue and joint issues, I try to eat enough fat daily. I want to lose weight and I crossfit 5 days per week. So how do I best start with using the keytone supplements? I took a scoop full yesterday when they arrived (in the early afternoon) but hadn’t yet eaten and I think that was a mistake because I had immediate diarrhea which lasted a few hours, even after eating.
The other option – which is the superior option – is the breakdown of fat into a fuel that can be used by the brain. This is a beautiful solution, because even the leanest individual will have weeks and weeks’ worth of energy stored as body fat. The body breaks down this fat in the liver and converts it into ketone bodies. The brain can then utilise these ketones as a fuel source – forgoing the need for stored glucose or constant consumption of carbohydrates. These ketones can also be used to make ATP.
Although several studies have linked calcium supplementation with an increased risk of heart attack and heart disease[18], other studies have not found the same association. For example, a study on calcium supplementation (1000 mg/day) in postmenopausal women indicated a reduced risk of hip fracture, but no increase in cardiovascular disease or mortality in the supplement group, compared to the placebo group[19]. Another study found no effect from calcium supplementation (600 or 1200 mg/day) on abdominal aortic calcification[20].
A recent study, Ketone Bodies Mimic the Life Span Extending Properties of Caloric Restriction, showed the effects of exogenous ketones on longevity (ketone esters, specifically) and concluded that ketones should be labeled as an “anti-aging” compound (suggesting that the real reason caloric restriction has been shown to extend life span is actually due to resulting ketosis).

The two compounds commonly referred to as ‘ketone bodies’ (BOHB and AcAc) are produced and used for multiple purposes across nature from algae to mammals, but seldom in concentrations useful for extraction as human food. For this reason, the source of most exogenous ketones is chemical synthesis. Furthermore, most current research and use of ketone supplements focuses on BOHB. That is because AcAc is chemically unstable – it slowly breaks down to form acetone by releasing of one molecule of CO2.
I’m often asked if it’s necessary to buy and use keto products like urine sticks. They’re small test strips that you dip in urine to see if your body is producing ketones (and therefore indicate if you’ve entered ketosis.) There's very little information on how to know that you are in ketosis other than using these ketones supplements because they are as accurate as can be in determining your current state. Outside of that, you can only guess if you are in it or not by your body's performance.
For example, the popular Raspberry Ketones supplement is far different than what we have been discussing in this article. Raspberry ketones are unrelated to the ketones that are produced in the body and are not the same as the ketone salts that have been covered above. There are some limited studies that indicate raspberry ketones may be helpful for weight loss, but they are inconsistent. Raspberry ketones are the molecules that give raspberries their scent and flavor, and in some cases, aren’t even derived from raspberries at all.
Most people know that you can lose weight by consuming fewer carbs and a lot more protein. However, it's very important that you watch your protein intake carefully if you want to achieve ketosis quickly. There needs to be a balance in the amount of protein you are consuming, since too much of it is not going to be beneficial for you. What you need to remember is that this process is all about getting the right balance of fats, proteins, magnesium, salts, etc., to get your body into ketosis faster.
Ketone Salts: While the body uses and makes BHB ketones salts naturally, in supplement form ketone salts are synthetically (lab) made compounds that combine sodium (and/or potassium, calcium, or magnesium) with BHB. The salt is used to raise the pH and make things less acidic. Currently, all ketone supplements on the market are made from ketone salts. While they raise ketone levels, most people will only experience mild nutritional ketosis (~0.6-1.0 mmol/L).
Most supplements rely on BHB as the source of their exogenous ketone bodies. BHB is converted to acetoacetic acid with a small quantity converted to acetone through a acetoacetate decarboxylase waste pathway. Some of the acetoacetic acid will enter the energy pathway using beta-ketothialase, which converts acetoacetic acid to two Acetyl-CoA molecules (see diagram below2).

Intellectual property covering uses of dietary ketone and ketone ester supplementation is owned by BTG Ltd., the University of Oxford, the National Institute of Health and TΔS Ltd. Should royalties ever accrue from these patents, KC and PC, as inventors, will receive a share of the royalties under the terms prescribed by the University of Oxford. KC is a director of TΔS Ltd., a company spun out of the University of Oxford to develop and commercialize products based on the science of ketone bodies in human nutrition. At the time of data collection and manuscript preparation, BS was an employee of TΔS Ltd., funded by the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851. SH is an employee of NTT DOCOMO, Inc. (Japan). The other authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.


Ketosis supplements made in poor quality, have proven to lead to side-effects such as constipation and increased levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in men, and women may also experience amenorrhea or other disruptions to the menstrual cycle. This is why it is really important to know what combination of compounds you are consuming, particularly while you are on this very strict diet because the wrong balance can really mess with you in the long term and won't give you the high performance that you are looking for. 
That’s not to say that the supplements don’t work. They very well might. But they could also be useless—or even dangerous, says Christine Palumbo, RDN, Nominating Committee member for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. As of right now, there’s no way to know. “Currently, there’s just not enough evidence from research studies to answer those questions,” Barnes adds.
Compared to our other cellular gasoline (carbs), we can store an unlimited supply of energy from ketones in our body within our fat. When you’re reliant on carbohydrates, you’re forced to keep your tank partly full as we can only store just over 2,000 calories of glycogen from carbs. An empty carb tank results in carb-withdrawal symptoms from not being able to switch into a ketone or fat burning metabolism.
Participants consumed 13.2 mmol.kg−1 of βHB (6.6 mmol.kg−1 or 1,161 mg/kg of KE) over 9 h, either as 3 drinks of 4.4 mmol.kg−1 of βHB at 3 h intervals (n = 12), or as an initial bolus of 4.4 mmol.kg−1 of βHB given through a nasogastric tube, followed by an infusion of 1.1 mmol.kg.h−1, beginning 60 min after the initial bolus, for 8 h (n = 4). Two participants completed both conditions (total n = 14). In both conditions, the KE was diluted to 1.5 L using the same citrus water as used in Study 2.

Blood, urine, plasma, and breath ketone concentrations following mole-matched ketone ester or isocaloric dextrose drinks in fed and fasted subjects (n = 16) at rest. Data from both of the two study visits in each condition (fed and fasted) completed by an individual are included in the analysis. Values are means ± SEM. (A) Blood d-βHB. (B) AUC of blood d-βHB. (C) Urine d-βHB excretion. (D) Plasma acetoacetate (AcAc). (E) Measured breath acetone (ppm = parts per million). (F,G) Mean d-βHB Cmax and difference between βHB Cmax over two visits when subjects separately consumed two ketone ester drinks in both the fed (F) and fasted (G) state. X axis = mean d-βHB Cmax of the 2 visits (mM), Y axis = difference between d-βHB Cmax in each visit. 95% confidence limits are shown as dotted lines. Significance denoted by: *p < 0.05 fed vs. fasted.
Think about it like building muscle, good supplements can enhance your results, but if you don't eat right and exercise, supplements are just useless. You can't just sit on the couch to watch TV, eat potato chips all day and drink some supplements and expect to gain muscle. A supplement is not a miracle. It's just an addition and before you add it to your diet, you need to get the basics right first, which is dieting and exercise in the case of building muscles. The supplements are not going to lift the heavy weights for you. You do!

Geek note: Technically speaking, beta hydroxybutyrate is NOT a legitimate ketone body. Ketone bodies, or ketones are technically molecules with carbonyl carbons which are bonded to two additional carbon atoms. One carbon has four available bonds. When that carbon is double bonded to oxygen and also has two single bonds to carbon, we have a ketone body. If you have a carbon atom that is double bonded to an oxygen (carbonyl group), which is also bound to an -OH group instead of two different carbon atoms, that would be a carboxylic acid, but that really doesn’t matter in this case. For all intents and purposes of the ketogenic diet, betahydroxybutyrate should be considered one of the three ketone bodies and a “ketone” nonetheless. Your body uses BHB pimarily for energy in the state of ketosis, so it’s a ketone, okay?
Hi Mark, sorry this is off topic but not sure where to send a question for a future Ask Mark. I’m about to go into my yearly physical and I am wondering if there is any specific bloodwork that you like to do for your annual check up. I’m 47 year’s old and the than the basic blood work like lipid panel, etc..I’m going to ask my doctor to test my testosterone, HbA1C, fasting insulin, and Vitamin D levels. I’m also going to ask my doctor to do a stool test to check for parasites or other infections I may have picked up from open water swimming for triathlons. Can you recommend any other blood work that might be useful? Thanks!

It's a common misconception among those who are trying to lose weight that fat is dangerous, but this is not the case at all. You will need to rely on healthy sources of fat to reach ketosis, and this can be achieved by choosing the right type of food. Go with those that contain butter, olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil, among others. Opt for oils that are not heavily processed so you can get the most benefits out of them.
The same question posed in a different way can be, what’s better, getting protein from powder or from a grass-fed steak or wild salmon? Omega-3 from supplements or from a variety of healthy wild fish? Just like with health supplements where you consume an isolated nutrient instead of the whole food where it comes from, if it’s possible to get what you need from whole food or nutrition, then that’s probably the best choice.
Proper sleep is important for hormone function and repair of the body. Not getting enough sleep is tough on the adrenals and blood sugar regulation. Try to get at least seven hours of sleep per night. If you struggle with quality sleep, create an environment that is conducive for rest. This could be keeping your room cooler, turning off all electronic devices one to two hours before bedtime or using a sleep mask.
All of the data I’ll present below were from an experiment I did with the help of Dominic D’Agostino and Pat Jak (who did the indirect calorimetry) in the summer of 2013. (I wrote this up immediately, but I’ve only got around to blogging about it now.) Dom is, far and away, the most knowledgeable person on the topic of exogenous ketones. Others have been at it longer, but none have the vast experiences with all possible modalities (i.e., esters versus salts, BHB versus AcAc) and the concurrent understanding of how nutritional ketosis works. If people call me keto-man (some do, as silly as it sounds), they should call Dom keto-king.

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