“Imagining that everyone is going to go on a ketogenic diet is very unlikely. I’ve done it myself, and it is hard as a diet to sustain for a long period of time,” said Verdin. “The interest for us in BHB is [if] can we recapitulate all the beneficial effects that we are seeing from the ketogenic diet simply by administering BHB as a food or as a drug, whatever you want to call it.”
 Effects of beta-hydroxybutyrate on cognition in memory-impaired adults. – Glucose is the brain’s principal energy substrate. In Alzheimer’s disease (AD), there appears to be a pathological decrease in the brain’s ability to use glucose. Neurobiological evidence suggests that ketone bodies are an effective alternative energy substrate for the brain. Elevation of plasma ketone body levels through an oral dose of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) may improve cognitive functioning in older adults with memory disorders. On separate days, 20 subjects with AD or mild cognitive impairment consumed a drink containing emulsified MCTs or placebo. Significant increases in levels of the ketone body beta-hydroxybutyrate (beta-OHB) were observed 90 min after treatment (P=0.007) when cognitive tests were administered. beta-OHB elevations were moderated by apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype (P=0.036). For 4+ subjects, beta-OHB levels continued to rise between the 90 and 120 min blood draws in the treatment condition, while the beta-OHB levels of 4- subjects held constant (P<0.009). On cognitive testing, MCT treatment facilitated performance on the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive Subscale (ADAS-cog) for 4- subjects, but not for 4+ subjects (P=0.04). Higher ketone values were associated with greater improvement in paragraph recall with MCT treatment relative to placebo across all subjects (P=0.02). Additional research is warranted to determine the therapeutic benefits of MCTs for patients with AD and how APOE-4 status may mediate beta-OHB efficacy.
At day 29 of the study, animals were euthanized and brain, lungs, liver, kidneys, spleen and heart were harvested and weighed. Organ weights were normalized to body weight. Ketone supplementation did not significantly change brain, lung, kidney, or heart weights compared to controls (Fig. 5a, b, d, f). MCT supplemented animals had significantly larger livers compared to their body weight (p < 0.05) (Fig. 5c). Ketone supplements BMS + MCT, MCT and BD caused a significant reduction in spleen size (BMS + MCT p < 0.05, MCT p < 0.001, BD p < 0.05) (Fig. 5e). Rats administered KE gained significantly less weight over the entire study compared to controls. BMS + MCT, BMS, and BD supplemented rats gained significantly less weight than controls during weeks 2 – 4, and MCT animals gained less weight than controls at weeks 3 – 4 (Fig. 6). Increased gastric motility (increased bowel evacuation and changes to fecal consistency) was visually observed in rats supplemented with 10 g/kg MCT, most notably at the 8 and 12-h time points. All animals remained in healthy weight range for their age even though the rate of weight gain changed with ketone supplementation [53–54]. Food intake was not measured in this study. However, there was not a significant change in basal blood glucose or basal blood ketone levels over the 4 week study in any of the rats supplemented with ketones (Fig. 7).
Beta hydroxybutyrate floats around in your blood, and importantly, can cross different barriers to be able to be turned into energy at all times. One of the most important areas where this happens is in the brain. The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is usually a very tightly regulated interface that doesn’t allow the transfer of many molecules, but since BHB is such a rock star and so hydrophilic, your brain knows to let it in so it can bring energy to the party at any time. This is one of the main reasons why increased levels of ketosis lead to improved mental clarity, focus and reduction in neurodegenerative diseases.
[1] Shannon L. Kesl, corresponding author Angela M. Poff, Nathan P. Ward, Tina N. Fiorelli, Csilla Ari, Ashley J. Van Putten, Jacob W. Sherwood, Patrick Arnold, and Dominic P. D’Agostino (2016). Effects of exogenous ketone supplementation on blood ketone, glucose, triglyceride, and lipoprotein levels in Sprague–Dawley rats. Nutrition & Metabolism, 13(9)
If Prüvit’s Keto OS-Max is “not a weight loss supplement” as stated in their disclaimer, why is the official website full of success stories of people who claim to have lost huge amounts of weight from taking the supplements? Ketōnd also feature a number of weight loss success stories on their site. I will get to why there is a problem with weight loss claims later on.
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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.

Blood, breath, and urine ketone kinetics following mole-matched ketone ester (KE) and ketone salt (KS) drinks, at two amounts, in 15 subjects at rest. Values are means ± SEM. (A) Blood d-βHB. (B) Tmax of blood d-βHB. (C) AUC of blood d-βHB. (D) Isotopic abundance (%) of d- and l-chiral centers in pure liquid KE and KS. (E) Blood d-βHB and l-βHB concentrations in subjects (n = 5) consuming 3.2 mmol.kg−1 of βHB in KS drinks. (F) d-βHB and l-βHB concentrations in urine samples from subjects (n = 10) consuming 3.2 mmol.kg−1 of βHB in KS drinks. (G) Blood d- and l-βHB after 4, 8, and 24 h in subjects (n = 5) consuming 3.2 mmol.kg−1 of βHB in KS drinks. (H) Breath acetone over 24 h in subjects (n = 5) consuming 3.2 mmol.kg−1 of βHB in KE and KS drinks (ppm = parts per million). (I) Urine d-βHB excreted over 4 h after KE and KS drinks (n = 15). (J) Urine pH 4 h after drink, dotted line indicates baseline. †p < 0.05 KE vs. equivalent amount of KS, *p < 0.05 difference between 1.6 vs. 3.2 mmol.kg−1 of βHB, §p < 0.05 difference between amounts of d- and l-βHB, p < 0.05 difference between baseline and post-drink level.
Neuroprotective benefits: A natural part of the aging process is neurodegeneration, which is largely responsible for cognitive defects like Alzheimer’s disease. Recent research suggests that exogenous ketone supplementation can drastically slow neurodegeneration and the resulting decrease in mental function.[7] However, the mechanism behind this finding remains to be elucidated; though, researchers suggest exogenous ketones act to reduce brain inflammation. Glucose, on the contrary, may actually accelerate inflammatory response in the brain.[8]

Plenty of supplements make you a fractionally better sportsman and these are no different. The synthetic exogenous ketones helped Olympic-caliber cyclists cover an average of 411 additional meters during a 30-minute time-trial, which resulted in a two percent increase in overall speed, found a paper in Cell Metabolism. That can be the difference between feeling the glorious tug of the winner’s ribbon across your chest or rolling in with the stragglers.

Keto-adaption is a complex set of metabolic processes in which the body shifts from using primarily glucose for energy to using largely ketones and fat for energy. Achieving ketosis doesn’t mean the body is maximizing the use of these ketones; it takes longer than a few days for the body to get used to burning fat and ketones as its predominant fuels.
BHB supplementation can drastically enhance your insulin sensitivity, resulting in better shuttling of blood glucose into cells.[10] With type-2 diabetes and insulin resistance becoming growing concerns, BHB supplementation may provide a promising alternative for healthy blood glucose regulation in the coming years.Even for everyday gym goers and fitness enthusiasts, increasing insulin sensitivity via BHB supplementation can be a great benefit as this puts your body in a better position for partitioning nutrients/carbohydrates to energetically demanding, glycolytic tissues, such as skeletal muscle.
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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