This was a big surprise. We were at the very least expecting that drinking a ketone supplement would cause blood ketones to rise, but an average increase of 0.33 mmol/L is very small. The supplement associated with the highest average increase in blood ketones was Prüvit’s Keto-OS Max, but it was only an increase of 0.6 mmol/L. Brianna Stubbs, the ketone researcher I consulted with, agrees that an increase of below 2.0-3.0 mmol/L is unlikely to be of much use.
Human's ability to produce and oxidize ketone bodies arguably evolved to enhance survival during starvation by providing an energy source for the brain and slowing the breakdown of carbohydrate and protein stores (Owen et al., 1967; Sato et al., 1995; Marshall, 2010). The brain is normally reliant on carbohydrate as a substrate, being less able to metabolize lipids, despite adipose tissue representing a far larger energy store than muscle and liver glycogen. Therefore, during starvation, lipids are used for hepatic ketogenesis and, via ketone bodies, lipids sustain the brain. Endogenous production of the ketone bodies, d-β-hydroxybutyrate (βHB) and acetoacetate (AcAc), increases slowly, driven by interactions between macronutrient availability (i.e., low glucose and high free fatty acids) and hormonal signaling (i.e., low insulin, high glucagon and cortisol). Produced continuously under physiological conditions, blood ketone concentrations increase during starvation (Cahill, 1970), when consuming a “ketogenic” (low carbohydrate, high-fat) diet (Gilbert et al., 2000) or following prolonged exercise (Koeslag et al., 1980).
Other ingredients: Many of the supplements contain large amounts of caffeine – the supplement we tested from Prüvit contains the same amount as a 16 oz cup of coffee! Some supplements also contain malic acid, which is “known for its ability to increase energy and tolerance to exercise”. This leaves the nagging doubt: if the experiment shows an increase in energy and physical performance, for example, how do we know it is the (expensive) BHB causing the effect and not the (inexpensive) other ingredients?
I am confused on the diet part. I’ve tried ketogenic diets and have experienced great health benefits (I’m diatabetic), but it also helped with sleeping through the night, increased energy, appetite suppression, and balancing of hormones. However forcing myself to eat fat and eliminate God foods like fruit, and trying to keep ratios of fat to protein to carbs was really hard for me. Can supplementing with the exogenic Ketones while having a diet of Proteins, veggies, fruits, healthy fats (avacado, cocnut oil, etc) and some grains (brown rice), produce ketosis?
Medium-chain-triglycerides are fats that are easily absorbed by the body and provide a number of really powerful health benefits. Fast energy, appetite control for better weight loss, increased ketone levels—you name it. They are also one of the most convenient and flexible, too. Add it to a shake, make a smoothie, or take a spoonful of it straight with some water for a quick, healthy keto boost that lasts all day. If you’re the kind of person that struggles to stick to a diet or eat a lot throughout the day, MCT oils are the perfect keto supplement.
Hi! I have what might be a silly question about using these supplements. What happens if you are taking them and your diet goes off the rails, like you take the Keto//OS and then eat a bunch of pizza or chocolate. Does your body just immediately revert back to using the carbs for energy instead of the ketones? Or, if it doesn’t, would that mean your body would just store those carbs as fat? I realize that ideally you wouldn’t eat the pizza, but sometimes I do and I worry about what exactly I’m doing to my body if I’ve also taken ketones.

I have, though, recently been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. After reading through your blog, I noticed there was a little about Ketogenetic diet and cancer. I purchased the MCT oil powder in hopes that will help me get into ketosis for the purpose of “starving” the cancer cells. Other then focus, I didn’t see any particular format for something like this. Here are my questions: How much of the powder should I take? And do you think the diet plus the MCT oil is a good idea for 1) aiding chemotherapy and 2) helping shrink the number of cancer cells?

Intermittent fasting is using the same reasoning – instead of using the fats we are eating to gain energy, we are using our stored fat. That being said, you might think it’s great – you can just fast and lose more weight. You have to take into account that later on, you will need to eat extra fat in order to hit your daily macros (the most important thing). If you’re overeating on fats here, you will store the excess.

When your body is done using up a certain substrate to create energy (acetyl-CoA) after eating carbohydrates, it will start to find creative ways to get the job done. This is something that you want to happen. This is the switch to ketosis. If you didn’t do this, you’d be dead after fasting for a very short period of time. Under normal circumstances, the liver will start making beta-hydroxybutyrate from long chain and medium chain fatty acids that are liberated from your fat tissue. You are turning fat into fuel. Good work. This is why people can fast for months at a time and still function like normal humans.


These studies were approved by external Research Ethics Committees (London Queen's Square: 14/LO/0288 and South West Frenchay: 15/SW/0244) and were conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki (2008). Studies took place at the University of Oxford between September 2014 and September 2016. Participants were healthy, aged 21–57, non-smokers and had no history of major illness. Female participants were using oral contraception to minimize the effects of menstrual phase on results. Participants provided written informed consent prior to inclusion, and completed a confidential medical screening questionnaire to determine eligibility. Anthropometric characteristics are shown in Table ​Table1.1. Sample sizes were chosen following an estimated power calculation based on the effect size in previous work using KE drinks (Clarke et al., 2012b; Shivva et al., 2016).

As for MCT oil (and oil powders), powder formulations tend to cause less digestive distress (e.g. probiotics), but some folks object to the additional ingredients like sunflower lecithin or soluble corn fiber). Even if you’d like to eventually settle on an oil, I’d recommend starting with a powder to see how you respond and to give your body the chance to adapt over time.
If you stop eating carbs, your body first uses up glucose reserves stored in the liver and muscles. After it burns all that's left of glucose, it has no other options but to start burning fat. It can burn either your body's fat stores or the fat you eat. However, not all cells in your body can use fat to make energy and this is where ketones come into play.
I simply use this to attempt to reduce the symptoms of the "keto-flu" when I'm entering ketosis after blowing my carbs out. The holidays are particularly bad for falling off the keto band-wagon. I've used this three times now to transition back into ketosis and I can report that it does seem to reduce the effects of the keto flu (headache, weakness) that I'd normally experience transitioning back into a low-carbohydrate diet. I typically take it for 3 days and then stop because by that time I'm in ketosis again, but I'd imagine you could take it longer.
Caveat emptor: the following post doesn’t come close to answering most of these questions. I only document my experience with BHB salts (and a non-commercial version at that), but say little to nothing about my experience with BHB esters or AcAc esters. But it will provide you will some context and understanding about what exogenous ketones are, and what they might do for athletic performance. We’ll likely podcast about the questions and topics above and cover other aspects of exogenous ketones in more detail.

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