Exogenous ketones (also known as ketone supplements) and well-formulated ketogenic diets share at least one thing in common. They both result in increased circulating concentrations of beta-hydroxybutyrate (BOHB), but ultimately are associated with very different patterns of ketosis, as well as differing metabolic and physiologic outcomes. In short, they should not be assumed to have equivalent effects simply because they achieve similar BOHB blood levels. Having said that, there are many reasons we should continue to study the various forms and potential applications of ketone supplements.

Anti-carcinogenic properties: Data seems to suggest that exogenous ketones are an effective anti-carcinogen. The reason behind this is that cancer cells are unable to use ketone bodies effectively, unlike most healthy tissues in the body. In fact, dietary ketone supplementation has been shown to increase survival rates of mice with systematic cancer by as much as 70%.17


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.

The body will start making ketones when either we go extended periods without food, or we restrict the one dietary component that stops ketone formation – this being carbohydrates and also minimising protein intake as this also can halt ketone. In turn, your primary source of food is fat, with very little carbohydrate and a small amount of protein.”
There is a great deal of positive speculation that exogenous ketones can be beneficial for inflammation, cognitive enhancement, and even protection against certain types of cancer. There is mounting evidence that the ketogenic way of eating can help many people, and when used appropriately with realistic expectations, exogenous ketone supplementation can enhance these positive effects (25).

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.
The product does not work. I have taken one scoop daily and for last two days two scoops (once in the morning and once in the night). I also do intermittent fast i.e. no food from 8 pm - next day 2 pm other than this powder in the morning. My food is 1500 calories with 60% fat, 30% protein and 5% carbs. I used to achieve ketosis naturally prior to using the powder. But now, there is no ketosis. This product does not work. I am wondering how on earth did they pick up so many reviews, unless it is faked marketing.
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.

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!


Effects of ketone supplementation on triglycerides and lipoproteins: Ketone supplementation causes little change in triglycerides and lipoproteins over a 4-week study. Graphs show concentrations at 4-weeks of total cholesterol (a), Triglycerides (b), LDL (c), and HDL (d). MCT supplemented rats had signfiicantly reduced concentration of HDL blood levels compared to control (p < 0.001) (b). One-Way ANOVA with Tukey’s post hoc test, results considered significant if p < 0.05. Error bars represent mean (SD)
Meanwhile Brinkworth, et al., in their 2009 paper "Long-term Effects of a Very Low-Carbohydrate Diet and a Low-Fat Diet on Mood and Cognitive Function" looked at the effects on ketogenic diet on cognitive function and mood. The study participants ate a ketogenic diet for a year and the researchers found that mood levels decreased when compared to a group eating a high carb/low fat diet. They go on to remark “there was no evidence that the dietary macronutrient composition of LC and LF diets affected cognitive functioning over the long term, as changes in cognitive function were similar for both diets”.
So if you really want to jump start ketosis, do what the prehistoric humans did; don’t eat for 3 to 5 days. Keep the water bottle and multivitamins close and go on a strict fast. It might seem extreme and to a degree it is, but starving yourself will put you into ketosis. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. And it will cause you to lapse into a ketogenic state faster than if you tried to do so by manipulating the foods you eat (replacing carbs with fats). Once starvation has caused your body to transition to a ketogenic state, you can begin to introduce your low carb, high fat keto-friendly foods.

Lastly, EK products in general ​are usually in the form of salts, which is why they are referred to as BHB Salts. The BHB ketones are bound to common salts such as sodium​, calcium, magnesium and potassium​ to improve absorption rate. These salts are also the core electrolytes your body needs to help you avoid feeling mentally drained and physically lousy during the keto-flu transition period.
Recently, a friend of mine’s dad had high blood pressure. His doctor told him to stop consuming eggs and to avoid adding extra salt to his foods. That’s it. His recommendation was to rid a good, high-quality protein source, yet French fries, chicken nuggets, and even chicken noodle soup were all presumably okay. I’ll never understand some of these recommendations; nonetheless, they happen day in and day out, all over the world.
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.
Though research involving ketone supplements is still in the early stages, it seems promising. One study published in February 2018 in Obesity suggests exogenous ketone esters lower hunger hormones and act as appetite suppressors. That can lead to weight loss because “if we don’t feel hungry, gosh, we probably aren’t going to eat like we were,” Griffin says.
Our mission at Ketologie is to help educate and assist people in transitioning to a ketogenic way of eating for life. Primarily, we support people achieving this via adopting a VLCHF or ketogenic way of eating. Exogenous ketones can however play a useful role in transitioning to and maintaining a ketogenic lifestyle, and so we have exhaustively researched and developed a unique, “next level” ketone supplement that focuses specifically on optimizing health via the gut-brain axis.
And zero-carb, followed by fasting for two meals, and then followed up by a second zero-carb meal is almost always all you need to get into ketosis fast. By Sunday or Monday morning, after a second night of no carbs, you'll be in a deep enough ketosis that hunger will crash and your energy will surge to help you transition into your low-carb diet of choice.
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.
I’m not sure whether I am leto-adapted but have been following the keto program for about 6 weeks. The scale and the eye confirm I have been burning fat. I’ve been using ketostix to keep track of ketones as I don’t prefer to prick my fingers to get blood measurements. I have reached my weight loss goal and planning to transition to maintenance in the next couple of weeks. I’m curious if exogenous ketones will be aid in maintaining my weight.

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

I had heard horror stories about how bad ketone esters tasted (like “rocket fuel”!) so was prepared for the worst. I followed their instructions and drank the contents of the bottle in one gulp, then chased it with a sip of sparkling mineral water. While not the most pleasant aftertaste, the flavor wasn’t any worse than after a shot of well tequila. Within 15 minutes I was already well into therapeutic ketosis, and after 30 minutes my ketone meter displayed a “HI” error message (meaning my level was greater than 8.0 mmol/L)!


Exogenous ketones cause the body to rely less on fat as fuel (see Fig 3). Fat takes longer to metabolise for energy than muscle glycogen. This is why fatty acids are not the preferred fuel under heavy exercise. This could be useful for keto-adapted athletes performing high-intensity cardiovascular or strength training.12 This is particularly useful for the Keto-adapted athlete who wants to undergo high-intensity cardiovascular or strength training.


Ketone supplementation did not affect the size of the brain, lungs, kidneys or heart of rats. As previously mentioned, the rats were still growing during the experimental time frame; therefore, organ weights were normalized to body weight to determine if organ weight changed independently to growth. There could be several reasons why ketones influenced liver and spleen weight. The ratio of liver to body weight was significantly higher in the MCT supplemented animals (Fig. 5). MCTs are readily absorbed in the intestinal lumen and transported directly to the liver via hepatic portal circulation. When given a large bolus, such as in this study, the amount of MCTs in the liver will likely exceed the β-oxidation rate, causing the MCTs to be deposited in the liver as fat droplets [94]. The accumulated MCT droplets in the liver could explain the higher liver weight to body weight percentage observed with MCT supplemented rats. Future toxicology and histological studies will be needed to determine the cause of the observed hepatomegaly. It should be emphasized that the dose in this study is not optimized in humans. We speculate that an optimized human dose would be lower and may not cause hepatomegaly or potential fat accumulation. Nutritional ketosis achieved with the KD has been shown to decrease inflammatory markers such as TNF-α, IL-6, IL-8, MCP-1, E-selectin, I-CAM, and PAI-1 [8, 46], which may account for the observed decrease in spleen weight. As previously mentioned, Veech and colleagues demonstrated that exogenous supplementation of 5 mM βHB resulted in a 28 % increase in hydraulic work in the working perfused rat heart and a significant decrease in oxygen consumption [28, 41, 42]. Ketone bodies have been shown to increase cerebral blood flow and perfusion [95]. Also, ketone bodies have been shown to increase ATP synthesis and enhance the efficiency of ATP production [14, 28, 40]. It is possible that sustained ketosis results in enhanced cardiac efficiency and O2 consumption. Even though the size of the heart did not change for any of the ketone supplements, further analysis of tissues harvested from the ketone-supplemented rats will be needed to determine any morphological changes and to understand changes in organ size. It should be noted that the Harlan standard rodent chow 2018 is nutritionally complete and formulated with high-quality ingredients to optimize gestation, lactation, growth, and overall health of the animals. The same cannot be said for the standard American diet (SAD). Therefore, we plan to investigate the effects of ketone supplements administered with the SAD to determine if similar effects will be seen when the micronutrient deficiencies and macronutrient profile mimics what most Americans consume.

Ketone supplementation did not affect the size of the brain, lungs, kidneys or heart of rats. As previously mentioned, the rats were still growing during the experimental time frame; therefore, organ weights were normalized to body weight to determine if organ weight changed independently to growth. There could be several reasons why ketones influenced liver and spleen weight. The ratio of liver to body weight was significantly higher in the MCT supplemented animals (Fig. 5). MCTs are readily absorbed in the intestinal lumen and transported directly to the liver via hepatic portal circulation. When given a large bolus, such as in this study, the amount of MCTs in the liver will likely exceed the β-oxidation rate, causing the MCTs to be deposited in the liver as fat droplets [94]. The accumulated MCT droplets in the liver could explain the higher liver weight to body weight percentage observed with MCT supplemented rats. Future toxicology and histological studies will be needed to determine the cause of the observed hepatomegaly. It should be emphasized that the dose in this study is not optimized in humans. We speculate that an optimized human dose would be lower and may not cause hepatomegaly or potential fat accumulation. Nutritional ketosis achieved with the KD has been shown to decrease inflammatory markers such as TNF-α, IL-6, IL-8, MCP-1, E-selectin, I-CAM, and PAI-1 [8, 46], which may account for the observed decrease in spleen weight. As previously mentioned, Veech and colleagues demonstrated that exogenous supplementation of 5 mM βHB resulted in a 28 % increase in hydraulic work in the working perfused rat heart and a significant decrease in oxygen consumption [28, 41, 42]. Ketone bodies have been shown to increase cerebral blood flow and perfusion [95]. Also, ketone bodies have been shown to increase ATP synthesis and enhance the efficiency of ATP production [14, 28, 40]. It is possible that sustained ketosis results in enhanced cardiac efficiency and O2 consumption. Even though the size of the heart did not change for any of the ketone supplements, further analysis of tissues harvested from the ketone-supplemented rats will be needed to determine any morphological changes and to understand changes in organ size. It should be noted that the Harlan standard rodent chow 2018 is nutritionally complete and formulated with high-quality ingredients to optimize gestation, lactation, growth, and overall health of the animals. The same cannot be said for the standard American diet (SAD). Therefore, we plan to investigate the effects of ketone supplements administered with the SAD to determine if similar effects will be seen when the micronutrient deficiencies and macronutrient profile mimics what most Americans consume.
To enter ketosis, up to 80%of your daily calories should come from fat. To put this into a frame of reference, if you eat 2,000 calories a day, 1,600 of those calories should come from fat sources. This comes out to roughly 144-170 grams of fat. Both quantity and quality are equally important, so consume fats from high-quality sources, like omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Despite the recent growth of the ketone salt market, there is very little published work analyzing the effects of these products on any biomarkers or performance measurements in humans. Several studies have been carried out in rats,6,7 with blood BHB levels being relatively low (<0.5 mM) post-consumption of salt drinks. In humans, ketone salts provided peak D-BHB levels of 1 mM, whereas the same amount of BHB in a ketone ester (BD-BHB) raised blood BHB to 2.8 mM.5
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
MCT oil has recently been used to induce nutritional ketosis although it produces dose-dependent gastrointestinal (GI) side effects in humans that limit the potential for its use to significantly elevate ketones (>0.5 mM). Despite these limitations, Azzam and colleagues published a case report in which a 43-year-old-man had a significant decrease in seizure frequency after supplementing his diet with 4 tablespoons of MCT oil twice daily [96]. An attempt to increase his dosage to 5 tablespoons twice daily was halted by severe GI intolerance. Henderson et al. observed that 20 % of patients reported GI side effects with a 20 g dose of ketogenic agent AC-1202 in a double blind trial in mild to moderate Alzheimer’s patients [24]. We visually observed similar gastrointestinal side effects (loose stools) in the rats treated with MCT oil in our study. Rats were closely monitored to avoid dehydration, and gastric motility returned to normal between 12–24 h. Interestingly, the BMS + MCT supplement elevated βHB similarly to MCT oil alone, without causing the adverse gastrointestinal effects seen in MCT-supplemented rats. However, this could be due to the fact in a 10 g/kg dose of BMS + MCT, only 5 g/kg is MCT alone, which is less than the 10 g/kg dose that elicits the GI side effects. This suggests that this novel combination may provide a more useful therapeutic option than MCT oil alone, which is limited in its ability to elevate ketones in humans.

Exogenous ketones are ketones that come in the form of a powder that you mix with water to drink them. Exogenous ketones are controversial in the keto world. The problem is the marketing of them have made some people believe that all they have to do is use this product to get into ketosis. If your blood glucose is too high your body will not use the ketones and they will go to waste.


I also concluded that post by discussing the possibility of testing this (theoretical) idea in a real person, with the help of exogenous (i.e., synthetic) ketones. I have seen this effect in (unpublished) data in world class athletes not on a ketogenic diet who have supplemented with exogenous ketones (more on that, below). Case after case showed a small, but significant increase in sub-threshold performance (as an example, efforts longer than about 4 minutes all-out).

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