Instead of being bound to a mineral (like ketone salts), the ketone molecule (BHB or AcAc) is bound to a ketone precursor (e.g. butanediol or glycerol) via an ester bond. While there aren't as many esters on the market as salts, there is still some variance–especially when looking at the ketone molecule in these products. Before selecting the best one for you, it's important to gather all the necessary information to make your decision.
BHB Salts and exogenous ketone supplements are literally changing the supplement industry. These products are pretty new and a little more expensive than other supplements. But I’d rather pay for something that works then spend tons of money chasing products that claim to work. One of the most popular ketone supplements is Ketōnd. You can check out our review here.
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).

North Americans typically live pro-inflammatory, pro-disease lives (think about your everyday: likely sitting in a flexed position for hours on end, not enough natural sunlight, not enough movement, artificial food stuffs, artificial colouring, going to bed late, blue light exposure, less in-person contact with our loved ones, late night snacks, the list goes on and on).
It is important to define what it means to be “in ketosis”. If being “in ketosis” means having ketones in your blood, then of course ketone supplements get you into ketosis. But that is different from being in an endogenous ketogenic, fat-burning state as a result of following a ketogenic diet. Getting this distinction right will go a long way towards stopping ketone salts companies from using misleading marketing about the issue. We need to reach a consensus about what being “in ketosis” means and then force companies to use that definition.
Relationship between blood ketone and glucose levels: a BMS + MCT (5 g/kg) supplemented rats demonstrated a significant inverse relationship between elevated blood ketone levels and decreased blood ketone levels (r2 = 0.4314, p = 0.0203). b At week 4, BMS + MCT (10 g/kg) and MCT (10 g/kg) showed a significant correlation between blood ketone levels and blood glucose levels (r2 = 0.8619, p < 0.0001; r2 = 0.6365, p = 0.0057). Linear regression analysis, results considered significant if p < 0.05
Exogenous ketones can lower appetite during a fast. After an overnight fast, normal weight human subjects either drank a ketone ester supplement or a calorie-matched glucose drink. Compared to the glucose drinkers, the ketone drinkers had lower insulin, lower ghrelin, greater satiety, and less hunger. This can be useful for people trying to extend their fast who don’t want to or can’t yet deal with the hunger. You’re still taking in energy, but the metabolic profile remains similar to that of a fasted person.

It's also a smart idea to start slowly with this supplement. We can thank Dave Asprey for the term “disaster pants” which has been used by those who try MCT oil at too high a dose when they first start using it. There is a chance that you can experience the same unpleasant gastrointestinal effect with exogenous ketones if you start with too high a dose, or if you maintain a higher carbohydrate diet while using this supplement. Used in appropriate doses, it gets absorbed through your stomach into your liver, then sent out to the rest of your body.


The way you make an exogenous BHB is by attaching it to some type of other compound (sodium, potassium, calcium, or magnesium) so that your body can process the molecule by cleaving the bond between the salt and the beta hydroxybutyrate. BHB + bound to a salt = BHB salts, which is what most people in the ketosis community call exogenous ketones. There are also things called esters, which are basically unbound BHB molecules. These are really disgusting and cause massive digestive issues, so I like to ignore them until we can produce them in a more appealing way.
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.
Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...
It might sound absolutely crazy to go that long without food. Especially when you consider traditional diets that recommend eating 3-5 small meals each day, starting with breakfast – the “most important” meal of the day. But if you think back to hunter gatherer times, human beings didn’t always have food accessible to us. Farming and agriculture hadn’t existed so our first meal each day would vary quite vastly. If you think about the word itself, ‘breakfast’ means to break-fast. We didn’t have a set time where we would consume our first meal – it was dependent on accessibility. So if you’re wondering how you’re going to survive without going for food for 16 hours, the answer is straight forward – you can! Let’s simplify this and break down what this may potentially look like.
We carried out the testing across five different days, leaving at least two days between the different testing days so that my teammates had time to recover from the physical performance test each time. The reason we needed five days was that we included a placebo (an artificially flavored drink with no caffeine content) alongside the four brands we tested. Our teammates didn’t know that one of the supplements was a placebo. We also gave everyone a different supplement each time, to rule out any improvement in the tests being a result of people simply getting better at those tests over time.
Exogenous Ketones have been shown in performance studies of both humans and animals to improve metabolic efficiency, which in essence means that your body is using better fuel that burns more efficiently over longer periods of time, and decreases the amount of fuel you need while performing. Where glucose fails (glycogen depletion), ketones pick up the slack!
If you’re wondering how to get into ketosis in 24 hours, and whether it’s even possible with such a short turnaround time, then combining a keto diet with intermittent fasting is a must. I am a massive advocate of not only the ketogenic diet but also the practice of daily fasting – I swear by it! It’s not for everyone as it does require a lot of discipline to pull off. But if you can commit to it, the benefits in my opinion are well worth it. So you may be wondering what intermittent fasting is? Well, it’s the practice of performing a daily fast from food and (caloric) drinks for at least 16 hours of the day.
Some think so because higher ketone levels imply increased fuel for the brain and heart (that prefer ketones), and increased protection against inflammation and oxidation. But are the health benefits coming from the ketones themselves, or are they coming from the state you have to put your body in to actually produce them? And if you're kicking yourself out of ketosis by ingesting ketones would you still get the same benefits?
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.
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. 

I came across a new company called KetoneAid that has begun producing small batches of ketone monoesters (KMEs). The main molecule in their product (D-β-hydroxybutyrate / D 1,3-butanediol) is based on a five-year, $10M study commissioned by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), looking to create the most powerful source of energy for special operations soldiers such as Navy SEALs, when undertaking very physically and cognitively challenging missions. In fact, the main researcher of the DARPA study is Dr. Richard Veech, the same person that authored the longevity study I just mentioned. Very cool.


Usually, you’ll find exogenous ketones in the form of powdered ketone salts. Less common are ketone esters, which are the purest form of ketones. Griffin says they work quickly (in 10 to 15 minutes, as opposed to an hour for the salts) and effectively, but they’re more expensive, have a more-revolting taste, and are harder to find (HVMN is one U.S. company that sells them). People also use medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil — or partially manmade fats — to put the body into a state of ketosis.


There are several ways to approach the “intermittent” part of food restriction. One of the most common is limiting the window in which food is consumed to about eight hours a day. Another is fasting for a full 24 hours once a week, or once a month. Fasting beyond three days can be stressful on the body and should be done with medical advice and supervision.
It's also important to note that you probably should follow a low carb diet or ketosis diet when using this product. Your brain prefers glucose as fuel because it's easier for the body to metabolize from food, so if you are eating a standard American diet of 100g+ carbs per day, or excessive protein, this won't help you lose weight, even with exercise because you'll have more than enough glucose to power your brain. Carbohydrate restriction, moderate protein, and lots of good healthy fat is what puts your body into ketosis.
This may have been mentioned, I haven’t checked all comments, but glutamine causes gluconeogenesis so that may explain why it affects Ketosis. Whenever I took a glutamine powder supplement for gut healing, I noticed I would “feel” less Ketogenic and I knew it was affecting me adversely. Glycine (which is also in bone broth) also has this effect I believe. Apparently some amino acids are just more easily converted to glucose.
I stumbled onto this trend before it even blew up, I have read just about every peer-review journal of the topic, I have trialed as well as tested different methods and keto products (exogenous ketones, MCT oils, pills, etc), and lastly, I have reported and analyzed my performance to share with you all. It hasn't been an easy task, but I have also seen the fruits of the labor, and the fruit is sweet.
Ketosis is a unique metabolic state where your body burns fat instead of glucose for fuel. Glucose is a simple sugar molecule derived from carbohydrates. Your body prefers using glucose to using fat and protein to make energy. This is because glucose it is easy to burn as it doesn't require much energy. On the other hand, your body uses fat and protein to build and repair tissue and make hormones.
There’s debate raging about which dietary tactic is the god particle for making you leaner, faster and healthier. How the ketogenic diet option squares off against the low carb route is vital for understanding the ways in which exogenous ketone supplements work. To get into ketosis the natural way, you need to keep your carb intake low enough for long enough for your body to begin using use fat as fuel. Your liver then converts a portion of that fat into energy molecules called ketones. These work together with glucose as a fuel source, but can actually kick in faster, allowing your body to operate more economically during lengthy, high-energy exercise efforts.
Hi all…thanks for your articles and info. I am currently on a paleo diet, but want to lose more weight and bring it up a notch w/ ketogenic diet and be in ketosis. Not sure which product is best? Do you take the MCT oil and also a ketone powder. I know it may be difficult at first, but I am up for the challenge as we start the new year and would like to loose 40 lbs by May/June. Please advise as to what products are best so I can purchase. THANKS
The ketone supplements were associated with a 5.4% decrease in physical performance while the artificially-sweetened, non-caffeinated beverage I used as a placebo was associated with a 20.3% increase: a big difference in favour of the placebo. Before you go rushing out to buy some, remember that this experiment was not performed under fully-controlled, laboratory conditions, and we were working with too small a group to prove that the placebo caused an increase in physical performance. But what we can say is that we couldn’t find any correlation between ketone supplements and an increase in physical performance in this experiment. According to Brianna Stubbs, some of the work currently being done on new kinds of ketone salts is starting to show more promise in relation to physical performance, so there may be better news on this down the line.
Supplemental BHB’s are ideal for people new to the ketogenic way of eating. The changes that happen in your brain and body when adapting to a VLC diet are both immediate and profound. For example, our kidney’s start processing minerals salts much more efficiently. Ironically, after years of being advised to decrease our intake of salt (sodium), it turns out that for people transitioning away from the Standard American Diet (SAD diet) towards a lower carb or ketogenic diet there is actually a need to increase dietary mineral salts such as potassium, sodium, magnesium and calcium. During the process of becoming keto-adapted, it is very important to increase your intake of these essential minerals, in order to prevent the onset of unpleasant symptoms (known as “keto flu”).
Divided attention involves processing multiple streams of information. The game involves observing a pond full of koi fish swimming around, and tapping each fish only once to feed it a pellet without feeding any fish previously fed. Each level adds more fish with increasing speed and redirection. It’s similar to pretending to be an air-traffic controller who must keep track of every plane on their radar.
Ketosis is a unique metabolic state where your body burns fat instead of glucose for fuel. Glucose is a simple sugar molecule derived from carbohydrates. Your body prefers using glucose to using fat and protein to make energy. This is because glucose it is easy to burn as it doesn't require much energy. On the other hand, your body uses fat and protein to build and repair tissue and make hormones.
Your body is trained to use glucose as its main energy source, but when you decrease your consumption of carbs, your body turns to another source of energy that is naturally produced by our own bodies--fat. Therefore, a great way to lose weight faster is to consume low-carb fruits, vegetables and other food that are specially designed for a low-carb diet.
Exogenously delivered ketone supplements significantly altered rat weight gain for the duration of the study (Fig. 6). However, rats did not lose weight and maintained a healthy range for their age. Rats have been shown to effectively balance their caloric intake to prevent weight loss/gain [97–99]. Due to the caloric density of the exogenous ketone supplements (Table 1) it is possible for the rats to eat less of the standard rodent chow and therefore less carbohydrates while maintaining their caloric intake. Food intake was not measured for this study. However, if there was a significant carbohydrate restriction there would be a signifcant change in basal blood ketone and blood glucose levels. As the hallmark to the KD, carbohydrate restriction increases blood ketone levels and reduces blood glucose levels. Neither an increase in basal blood ketone levels nor a decrease in basal blood glucose levels was observed in this study (Fig. 7). Additionally, if there were an overall blood glucose decrease due to a change in food intake, this would not explain the rapid reduction (within 30 min) in blood glucose correlated with an elevation of blood ketone levels after an intragastric bolus of ketone supplement (Figs. 2, ​,33 and ​and44).
Plus, take a look at this promotional video from Prüvit. It claims that “ketones make the fat melt off your body”, which is simply not true (I’ll get back to this later). It also claims that if you wanted to reach ketosis naturally, you would either need to work out 10x harder and longer or be like one of the “extreme people” who “biohack their bodies” to get into ketosis, which “can take weeks or months”. For me, this is irresponsible. A keto diet can be simple and enjoyable, but this video makes switching to a healthy, real food, keto diet sound extreme and difficult while promoting an easy way out in the form of a drink. And that’s just bad advice.
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.
It's important to listen to your body when going through the ketogenic process. This means that you should only eat when you're hungry and not every single time you get a craving. It's our obsession with food that causes us to stuff ourselves whenever we feel like it, and you should know by now that it's not healthy to do that. When you make it a point to eat only when you're hungry, you're diminishing any food intake that your body doesn't really need. 
All data are presented as the mean ± standard deviation (SD). Data analysis was performed using GraphPad PRISM™ version 6.0a and IBM SPSS Statistics 22.0. Results were considered significant when p < 0.05. Triglyceride and lipoprotein profile data were analyzed using One-Way ANOVA. Blood ketone and blood glucose were compared to control at the applicable time points using a Two-Way ANOVA. Correlation between blood βHB and glucose levels in ketone supplemented rats was compared to controls using ANCOVA analysis. Organ and body weights were analyzed using One-Way ANOVA. Basal blood ketone and blood glucose levels were analyzed using Two-Way ANOVA. All mean comparisons were carried out using Tukey’s multiple comparisons post-hoc test.
When taken as a drink, the ester bonds are broken down to release butanediol (BDO) and D-BHB into the blood. BDO is easily metabolized by the liver to form D-BHB. Then, both molecules of D-BHB reach the blood, as the liver is unable to use ketones. Consumption of this ketone ester elevates blood ketone levels in humans safely, with few side effects.10 HVMN Ketone is WADA compliant and safe to use in all levels of sports. It is designated as a foodstuff and is FDA GRAS. Each lot is 3rd party certified and batch tested for banned substances. 

Exogenous Ketones have been shown in performance studies of both humans and animals to improve metabolic efficiency, which in essence means that your body is using better fuel that burns more efficiently over longer periods of time, and decreases the amount of fuel you need while performing. Where glucose fails (glycogen depletion), ketones pick up the slack!


Exogenous ketones are also for those just looking to try it out. It lets anyone be able to access ketones simply by consuming these exogenous forms of ketones. Technically, MCTs are not an exogenous ketone such as BHB salts. They’re not ketones. But they readily convert into ketones. So MCT oils and powders are a great source of endogenous ketones. The end result is similar, and thus this top 5 list includes MCT oil powders as well as BHB salts.
Methods and Results: In the first study, 15 participants consumed KE or KS drinks that delivered ~12 or ~24 g of βHB. Both drinks elevated blood D-βHB concentrations (D-βHB Cmax: KE 2.8 mM, KS 1.0 mM, P < 0.001), which returned to baseline within 3–4 h. KS drinks were found to contain 50% of the L-βHB isoform, which remained elevated in blood for over 8 h, but was not detectable after 24 h. Urinary excretion of both D-βHB and L-βHB was <1.5% of the total βHB ingested and was in proportion to the blood AUC. D-βHB, but not L-βHB, was slowly converted to breath acetone. The KE drink decreased blood pH by 0.10 and the KS drink increased urinary pH from 5.7 to 8.5. In the second study, the effect of a meal before a KE drink on blood D-βHB concentrations was determined in 16 participants. Food lowered blood D-βHB Cmax by 33% (Fed 2.2 mM, Fasted 3.3 mM, P < 0.001), but did not alter acetoacetate or breath acetone concentrations. All ketone drinks lowered blood glucose, free fatty acid and triglyceride concentrations, and had similar effects on blood electrolytes, which remained normal. In the final study, participants were given KE over 9 h as three drinks (n = 12) or a continuous nasogastric infusion (n = 4) to maintain blood D-βHB concentrations greater than 1 mM. Both drinks and infusions gave identical D-βHB AUC of 1.3–1.4 moles.min.
You may wonder why we are emphasizing on using these specific oils. Well, this is because the extra virgin oil is an unprocessed form, and contains lauric acid that is antimicrobial in nature and is good for brain health. (This is the same lauric acid that is naturally found in breast milk as well.) Its antibacterial property also indirectly supports the growth of Candida that keep your gut healthy.
If you’re somebody who isn’t already a keto-goer, then you might be wondering why? Why do I need to limit my carbohydrate intake to get my body into a state of ketosis? Simply put, and without getting to technical; you want your body to be in a constant state where fat is the is the primary source of fuel for the body rather than glucose. You see, once you eat carbs, the body will break this down into glucose which it will then use for fuel before tapping into your fat reserves for energy. If you limit the amount of glucose that is in your system by restricting your carbohydrate intake, the body has no choice but to tap into your fat stores for energy. Fats are metabolised in the liver where ketones are then produced for your physical and cognitive needs.
When you are in a state of ketosis, the body turns fatty acids into ketones - these appear as beta-hydroxybutyrate in the blood. Measuring blood ketones is regarded as the gold standard and most accurate way to track ketone levels. Testing this way can be expensive, its can cost up to $3 a strip, so if you're testing multiple times a day it can get pricey.
I wrote this post at about the same time Germany won the World Cup in Rio de Janeiro in 2014. There’s been a lot of moving and shaking in the world of exogenous ketones since then, not to mention soccer. Looking back on my post, I still consider it relevant in terms of what exogenous ketones possibly can (and cannot) do for performance. In this case, to see if exogenous ketone esters provide me a “boost” by allowing me to do the same amount of work while expending less energy (and work at a relatively lower VO2) compared to no supplementation.

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