Remember how important it is to measure ketone blood levels accurately? Same goes for food tracking. A food tracking app, like MyFitnessPal, provides insight into macronutrient intake and thus the ability to tweak the diet to achieve ketosis. Tracking diet (inputs) and measuring ketones levels (outputs) delivers the best shot at optimizing the keto diet plan.
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)

Sure Leslie, the goal is to induce the burning of stored fat in your body. This process usually take a few days of strictly limiting carbohydrate intake. Supplementing with exogenous ketones is a way to shortcut the wait time, essentially “tricking” your body into ketosis. I imagine supplementing with too many could have negative effects on fat loss, but the research is not out supporting that claim yet.
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.

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).


[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)
Of course, there may be some people who choose to take these supplements because they genuinely do feel they benefit from them. This is of course your choice and this article in no way aims to shame or criticize anybody. However, I do think that, for most people, eating a low-carb diet based on real foods is a lot more likely to be associated with the benefits that the supplements claim to provide than the supplements themselves.
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]
In fact this was one of the biggest surprises I had when exploring ketosis. For years I have been following a cyclical lower carb diet. For years I wouldn’t consume a carb until later in the afternoon (ala Carb Backloading style). After eating 5 days without any carbs I tested my ketone levels… they were 0.1 mmol. This reading was done first thing in the morning (10 hours fasted) after 5 days without a carb in my diet.
Patrick Arnold is an organic chemist who is notorious for being the creator of several performance-enhancing steroids. He is arguably one of the strongest influencers on the advancement of sports supplementation. Currently he is focused on developing products under the KetoSports brand, which includes two exogenous ketone products – KetoForce and KetoCaNa.
First, there’s something unnatural about having elevated levels of ketones and glucose together. It’s really hard to make that happen using traditional whole foods. The closest natural approximation you could get to it would be the traditional coconut-rich diets of the Kitava people in the South Pacific, where the medium chain triglycerides (MCT) in the coconut fat increased ketone production alongside the carbs in the fruit and tubers they ate. They had excellent metabolic health, but they weren’t anywhere close to a ketogenic diet. Coconut fat isn’t as ketogenic as purified MCT oil, let alone exogenous ketones.
Other studies have found that fasting was as effective as chemotherapeutic agents in delaying progression of different tumors and increased the effectiveness of chemotherapeutic drugs against melanoma, glioma, and breast cancer cells. Although this research may not apply to your life, it does suggest that intermittent fasting can help support your body in times of toxic stress.
If you truly want to optimize health and performance, magnesium should not be neglected. There is still more research to be done on its potential. Good sources of magnesium include whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, green leafy vegetables, and supplements. However, be careful about taking too much magnesium at one time, or else you might end up running to the bathroom in a hurry.
Ketogenic diets have been successfully used to treat diseases that have an underlying metabolic component, effectively decreasing seizures in recalcitrant pediatric epilepsy (Kossoff et al., 2003), lowering blood glucose concentrations in type 2 diabetes mellitus (Feinman et al., 2015) and aiding weight-loss (Bueno et al., 2013). Emerging evidence supports several clinical uses of ketogenic diets, for example in neurodegenerative diseases (Vanitallie et al., 2005), specific genetic disorders of metabolism (Veech, 2004) and as an adjunct to cancer therapy (Nebeling et al., 1995). Ketone bodies themselves may underlie the efficacy of the ketogenic diet, either through their role as a respiratory fuel, by altering the use of carbohydrate, protein and lipids (Thompson and Wu, 1991; Cox et al., 2016), or through other extra- and intracellular signaling effects (Newman and Verdin, 2014). Furthermore, ketone metabolism may offer a strategy to improve endurance performance and recovery from exercise (Cox et al., 2016; Evans et al., 2017; Holdsworth et al., 2017; Vandoorne et al., 2017). However, achieving compliance to a ketogenic diet can be difficult for both patients and athletes and may have undesirable side effects, such as gastro-intestinal upset (Cai et al., 2017), dyslipidemia (Kwiterovich et al., 2003) or decreased exercise “efficiency” (Edwards et al., 2011; Burke et al., 2016). Hence, alternative methods to raise blood ketone concentrations have been sought to provide the benefits of a ketogenic diet with no other dietary changes.
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.
Ketones are an alternate energy or fuel source for brain and body that our bodies have naturally produced and used for millennia. Ketones have recently leapt to the forefront of health and wellness conversations worldwide as the scientific body of research that seeks to understand their numerous unique properties and profound systemic effects has begun to grow (see below).
There are three types of ketones produced when you’re on ketogenic diet: acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), and acetone. The kinds that you’ll find in your supplements are BHB because your body can readily use and absorb them. This means that not all ketones are created equal and there are several different types, each with unique properties that are worth considering when shopping.
Importantly, at Diet Doctor we do not think you need to spend any extra money at all in order to revolutionize your health. You can achieve radiant health just by enjoying authentic food that is naturally low in carbohydrates, getting plenty of sleep and some exercise (going for a walk is free) and reducing stress. A lot of you who answered the survey made exactly these points in your explanations of reasons for not taking the supplements. I whole-heartedly agree.
Miriam, Thank you for the questions. I am going to do my best here to provide you with answers: Q: The manufacture of BHB salts involves ionic bonding of an anion (beta-hydroxybutyrate) with a cation (Na+, K+, Ca+, Mg+). At least one of the exogenous ketone products you listed does in fact contain potassium ions. People taking potassium-sparing drugs need to know this and that raises concerns about leaving it off your chart. A: The table lists the BHB and the mineral content from the BHB salts (no added minerals). Therefore, since potassium BHB is not in any of the… Read more »
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]
Our bodies are produce three types of ketone bodies for fuel: beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), acetoacetate (AcAc), and acetone. Each is used by the body differently. Acetone is the least abundant, produced in much smaller amounts, and is usually exhaled through the lungs rather than being used as fuel.3 Acetoacetate is part of the metabolic pathway whereby humans make and use ketones, but it tends to be found in the blood at lower levels than BHB.
Ketogenic Diets and Physical Performance – Impaired physical performance is a common but not obligate result of a low carbohydrate diet. Lessons from traditional Inuit culture indicate that time for adaptation, optimized sodium and potassium nutriture, and constraint of protein to 15–25 % of daily energy expenditure allow unimpaired endurance performance despite nutritional ketosis. (http://nutritionandmetabolism.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1743-7075-1-2)
The CNS cannot use fat as an energy source; hence, it normally utilizes glucose. After 3–4 days without carbohydrate consumption the CNS is ‘forced' to find alternative energy sources, and as demonstrated by the classic experiments of Cahill and colleagues4 this alternative energy source is derived from the overproduction of acetyl coenzyme A (CoA). This condition seen in prolonged fasting, type 1 diabetes and high-fat/low-carbohydrate diets leads to the production of higher-than-normal levels of so-called ketone bodies (KBs), that is, acetoacetate, β-hydroxybutyric acid and acetone—a process called ketogenesis and which occurs principally in the mitochondrial matrix in the liver.6
The “BHB salt” is simply a compound that consists of sodium (Na+), potassium (K+), and the ketone body β-hydroxybutyrate.  In supplements like Pruvit’s Keto OS  these individual components are being held together by ionic bonds; however, when you consume the product, it is absorbed into the blood where it dissociates into free Na+, K+, and BHB since it is a water-based solution.  Thus, consuming the product directly and immediately puts more ketones into your blood.
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).
One common concern regarding the KD is its purported potential to increase the risk of atherosclerosis by elevating blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels [55, 56]. This topic remains controversial as some, but not all, studies have demonstrated that the KD elevates blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides [57–62]. Kwitervich and colleagues demonstrated an increase in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and a decrease in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) in epileptic children fed the classical KD for two years [27]. In this study, total cholesterol increased by ~130 %, and stabilized at the elevated level over the 2-year period. A similar study demonstrated that the lipid profile returned to baseline in children who remained on the KD for six years [63]. Children typically remain on the diet for approximately two years then return to a diet of common fat and carbohydrate ingestion [64]. The implications of these findings are unclear, since the influence of cholesterol on cardiovascular health is controversial and macronutrient sources of the diet vary per study. In contrast to these studies, the majority of recent studies have suggested that the KD can actually lead to significant benefits in biomarkers of metabolic health, including blood lipid profiles [65–72]. In these studies, the KD positively altered blood lipids, decreasing total triglycerides and cholesterol while increasing the ratio of HDL to LDL [68–77]. Although, the KD is well-established in children, it has only recently been utilized as a strategy to control seizures in adults. In 2014, Schoeler and colleagues reported on the feasibility of the KD for adults, concluding that 39 % of individuals achieved > 50 % reduction in seizure frequency, similar to the results reported in pediatric studies. Patients experienced similar gastrointestinal adverse advents that have been previously described in pediatric patients, but they did not lead to discontinuation of the diet in any patient [78].
Hello! I’m planning on taking a short vacation and will be having “kept friendly” drinks, mostly vodka and water with lemon and stevia. When should I take my exogenous ketones? That night before bed or early the next morning or after the 3 day vacation is completely over? I’m unsure how to manage this to have the best odds of staying in ketosis and get back to burning FAT. Also, I just purchased Instaketones from Julian Bakery, what are your thoughts on this brand? Thanks for what you do!
Personally, I do this on Friday night to Saturday night, so if something happens and my hunger hasn’t crashed by Sunday morning, I have another day that I can go zero carb to keep the momentum going. While the body will trigger ketosis as soon as you run out of glycogen, hunger is attached to your triglyceride and insulin levels, which might take an extra day to normalize.

Most people confuse thirst for hunger, and it's crucial to not make that mistake when you're dieting. Try to drink water first before heading to the fridge to get some snacks--you might realize that you're not really hungry at all and you are, in fact, only thirsty. Training yourself to spot the difference between hunger and thirst will help you induce ketosis faster. 
As repeated KE consumption would be required to maintain nutritional ketosis, we investigated the kinetics of drinks in series and of continuous intra-gastric infusion. During starvation, the accumulation of ketones (>4 mM) reportedly inhibited ketone clearance from the blood, however the underlying mechanism is unknown (Hall et al., 1984; Wastney et al., 1984; Balasse and Fery, 1989). In Study 3, βHB uptake and elimination were identical for the second and third KE drinks, suggesting that βHB may have reached a pseudo-steady state should further identical boluses have been given at similar intervals. Furthermore, when the KE was given at a constant rate via a NG tube, blood ketone concentrations remained ~3 mM. Therefore, repeated KE drinks effectively maintain ketosis at the intervals and doses studied here.
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 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.
It’s sometimes the case that a person has been attempting to transition to a state of ketosis, but in spite of their best efforts, they seem stuck in a kind of limbo where they’re eating hardly any carbs, but they don’t seem to be losing weight or experiencing the other benefits of the keto diet. But the science is the science, which means if you’re doing everything right you should be in ketosis. If you’re not, or you seem to be drifting in and out of a keto state, it’s not your body’s fault, it’s your diet.
Personally, I think it is wise to include a regular carb meal in your diet if you are going to follow a ketogenic diet. Long term ketogenic diets do seem to downregulate your thyroid and metabolism, and a weekly carb meal (or carb day) can help avoid this. The Carb Nite diet by J. Kiefer is a good example of this. And BJJCaveman posted his labs showing how a weekly carb meal helped his thyroid HERE.
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.
Background and aims: Currently there is considerable interest in ketone metabolism owing to recently reported benefits of ketosis for human health. Traditionally, ketosis has been achieved by following a high-fat, low-carbohydrate “ketogenic” diet, but adherence to such diets can be difficult. An alternative way to increase blood D-β-hydroxybutyrate (D-βHB) concentrations is ketone drinks, but the metabolic effects of exogenous ketones are relatively unknown. Here, healthy human volunteers took part in three randomized metabolic studies of drinks containing a ketone ester (KE); (R)-3-hydroxybutyl (R)-3-hydroxybutyrate, or ketone salts (KS); sodium plus potassium βHB.
 “Though the small amount of carbohydrates in the diets may be more than balanced by the potential sugar production from the large amount of protein to keep the ratio of fatty acid to glucose below the generally accepted level of ketogenesis, the respiratory quotient data suggest another mechanism also” ß (most likely the CPT-1A mutation, which had not been discovered at that time)

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Ketoacidosis is driven by a lack of insulin in the body.  Without insulin, blood sugar rises to high levels and stored fat streams from fat cells.  This excess amount of fat metabolism results in the production of abnormal quantities of ketones. The combination of high blood sugar and high ketone levels can upset the normal acid/base balance in the blood and become dangerous.  In order to reach a state of ketoacidosis, insulin levels must be so low that the regulation of blood sugar and fatty acid flow is impaired.
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)

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.
If you read about ketosis in magazine or heard about it in a podcast and wanted to jump on the bandwagon, then I think you should avoid it. Remember, it is a strict diet, and the potential health downsides may not be worth the upsides, unless you are working with a medical professional and or you are tracking your labs to see what’s going on with your health (thyroid).

Here we investigated the effects of KE and KS consumption on blood βHB and metabolite concentrations. As we found that KE ingestion delivered a >50% higher plasma concentrations of d-βHB alone, we subsequently determined the reliability and repeatability of ketosis following KE consumption and the effects of concomitant meal ingestion on blood ketone and substrate kinetics. Finally, we determined whether nasogastric infusion could be used for KE administration, given that some patients require feeding in this manner.
77. Volek JS, Sharman MJ, Gomez AL, Scheett TP, Kraemer WJ. An isoenergetic very low carbohydrate diet improves serum HDL cholesterol and triacylglycerol concentrations, the total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol ratio and postprandial pipemic responses compared with a low fat diet in normal weight, normolipidemic women. J Nutr. 2003;133(9):2756–61. [PubMed]

This is probably one of the most understood notions of a true ketogenic diet (and the difference between a keto diet and a low carb diet). An optimal ketogenic diet will be low in carbohydrates AND protein. Many people who have experimented with low carb dieting simple reduce carbs and increase protein. A big reason behind this is due to the misconception that ‘’excess fat is bad – which is untrue, more on this HERE). However, excess protein can be converted to glucose (blood sugar) through a process called gluconeogenesis.


This fasting process will not only activate autophagy in your cells, it will also increase your ketones much more quickly than if you were just eating a standard ketogenic diet. If you start implementing intermittent fasting and activities (like walking, cycling, or lifting weights) together, you can raise ketone levels and increase autophagy more than you would with intermittent fasting alone. This suggests that intermittent fasting would be a great addition to your life, but it is important to be familiar with the negative symptoms that can arise before you start.
Testing BHB levels in the blood is simple but can get pricey if you are doing it many times a day.  The Precision Xtra blood glucose and ketone meter is a good buy at $28-$30.   The expensive part is the ketone test strips here which can cost $4 each.   If you are looking at testing yourself every day it is going to cost you $120 a month and the $30 meter.  Here is a starter kit you can get on Amazon.
I just read your comment and was wondering the same thing. I can see how exogenous ketones can be a great energy boost to people on the ketogenic diet, but I don’t see how they can speed fat loss. Keto OS claims you can eat higher carbs and still see the benefits of ketosis. I don’t see how that is possible. the whole point of weight loss through ketosis is the breaking down of your own fat to create energy. I don’t see how exogenous energy will increase natural fat breakdown. I wish I could get a straight answer to this from somebody.
The benefits of intermittent fasting translate to untrained overweight and obese individuals as well. One study published in Obesity Reviews found that eating fewer calories is effective for fat loss, but it does come with some muscle loss. However, if the subjects fasted for 24 hours and ate as much as they wanted on the next day for a period of 12 weeks, they lost significantly less muscle mass.
Also known as the carb flu, the keto flu is commonly experienced by people who are transitioning to a Ketogenic diet. “Keto flu” is not actually flu but mimics the experience of flu with very similar symptoms. It can happen when someone who has become accustomed to relying primarily on carbohydrates as fuel removes them from their diet. Whilst this is a necessary step towards adjusting from being a sugar-burner to a fat-burner, the sudden change can trigger some unpleasant symptoms, much like withdrawing from an addictive substance. Keto flu symptoms can include drowsiness, nausea, dizziness, achy muscles, mental fogginess and an irritable mood. The good news though, is that most of these experiences relate to dehydration and electrolyte depletion, and so are easily prevented or managed. Simply adding a ¼ - ½ teaspoon of a high quality sea salt or sodium/potassium powder to a glass of water works wonders; however you may still require a separate magnesium supplement; particularly if you are prone to muscle cramps or restless legs. Another popular way to manage your electrolytes is via a good quality bone broth powder. Finally, since BHB’s are normally delivered via a mineral salt base*, keto flu symptoms are easily prevented or reduced by using an exogenous ketone supplement powder.
Comments are welcomed and encouraged. The purpose of comments on our site is to expand knowledge, engage in thoughtful discussion, and learn more from readers. Criticism and skepticism can be far more useful than praise and unflinching belief. There’s an art and science to critical thinking and how to conduct yourself. There’s a multitude of fallacious appeals we could spell out, but a good rule of thumb is not to attack the person, attack the ideas. Don’t look for the flaws in the person, look for the flaws in the hypothesis. Let’s keep the brawling to movies depicting minor league hockey teams and political “news” shows. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

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