Blood, urine, plasma, and breath ketone concentrations following mole-matched ketone ester or isocaloric dextrose drinks in fed and fasted subjects (n = 16) at rest. Data from both of the two study visits in each condition (fed and fasted) completed by an individual are included in the analysis. Values are means ± SEM. (A) Blood d-βHB. (B) AUC of blood d-βHB. (C) Urine d-βHB excretion. (D) Plasma acetoacetate (AcAc). (E) Measured breath acetone (ppm = parts per million). (F,G) Mean d-βHB Cmax and difference between βHB Cmax over two visits when subjects separately consumed two ketone ester drinks in both the fed (F) and fasted (G) state. X axis = mean d-βHB Cmax of the 2 visits (mM), Y axis = difference between d-βHB Cmax in each visit. 95% confidence limits are shown as dotted lines. Significance denoted by: *p < 0.05 fed vs. fasted.
Full disclosure: after carrying out the background research, I was already, as you might imagine, feeling a little less neutral about these products. You may have noticed a hint of that in part 1 of the 2-part video series we made about the project (watch part 2 at the top of this page!). However, and although this was by no means a controlled scientific study under laboratory conditions, we designed the experiment in a very objective way. The aim was to give the supplements the best possible chance of showing the benefits they are claimed to have.
This is another point that Brianna Stubbs put me onto: often, ketone-salt companies use terms such as “technology developed by Dominic D’Agostino” as a tool to market their products. Dom D’Agostino holds the patent for the technology being used but is not associated with the products and does not necessarily promote them. In many cases, this feels like a marketing strategy that name-drops a famous keto expert in order to make a product sound more legitimate. There is an example of this on Real Ketones’ website.
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.
A common question is why BHB is the go-to ketone body for exogenous ketone supplements. The likely reason is a combination of its efficient conversion into energy and its ease of formulation. In other words, that it is easier to formulate BHB into a nutritional supplement. And the body efficiently converts BHB to acetoacetic acid, which effectively raises blood ketone levels.
I interviewed Dr. Brianna Stubbs, a ketone researcher with a Ph.D. in Metabolic Physiology from the University of Oxford who is now Research Lead at HVMN, specializing in developing ketone esters. She told me that in terms of science on the ketone salts and their effect on physical performance, one of the most-cited benefits of ketone salts, the scientific studies that have been done show at best no effect on physical performance and that, currently, there is no peer-reviewed scientific research on the ketone salt products on the market.

Price: The supplements are expensive – very expensive. At the top end, if you follow Prüvit’s guidelines on “getting in the n8tive zone” (which is such a gimmicky marketing slogan it almost makes me cringe), you will require 2 servings of their Keto-OS product per day. This means around 60 servings per month, which will set you back a whopping $390 per month if you buy direct from their website! In the case of Prüvit, this is in part due to the multi-level marketing structure they operate under.
Taking MCT oil (medium chain triglyceride) or coconut oil (contains 60% MCT) can help boost ketone production. This is because your body absorbs MCT very quickly as it bypasses the gallbladder and into the liver to be processed into ketone bodies. Make sure you’re getting unprocessed versions of coconut oil that is labelled as ‘organic’ or ‘extra virgin’. This, along with grass-fed butter, is what I add into my ‘bulletproof’ coffees.

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).
The ketone esters are, hands-down, the worst tasting compounds I have ever put in my body. The world’s worst scotch tastes like spring water compared to these things. The first time I tried 50 mL of BHB monoester, I failed to mix it with anything (Dom warned me, but I was too eager to try them to actually read his instructions). Strategic error. It tasted as I imagine jet fuel would taste. I thought I was going to go blind. I didn’t stop gagging for 10 minutes. (I did this before an early morning bike ride, and I was gagging so loudly in the kitchen that I woke up my wife, who was still sleeping in our bedroom.) The taste of the AcAc di-ester is at least masked by the fact that Dom was able to put it into capsules. But they are still categorically horrible. The salts are definitely better, but despite experimenting with them for months, I was unable to consistently ingest them without experiencing GI side-effects; often I was fine, but enough times I was not, which left me concluding that I still needed to work out the kinks. From my discussions with others using the BHB salts, it seems I have a particularly sensitive GI system.
Animal research findings report that BHB supplementation also enhances oxygen utilization, especially in the central nervous system (CNS).[11] While molecular oxygen is a crucial molecule for health and longevity, too much of it can be potentially toxic and speed the effects of aging in tissues throughout the body.Therefore, using a BHB supplement can effectively mitigate the toxic buildup of molecular oxygen, particularly in the CNS/brain.
More tolerable than MCT oil: MCT oil has been known to cause gastrointestinal distress in users, especially when taken in higher amounts. Exogenous ketones in the form of ketone salts, in comparison, are well-tolerated. Thus they enable one to avoid adverse GI events while providing the body with similar types of benefits. Figure 2 shows Ketone esters can be effective at reducing appetite. A combination of MCT oil and exogenous ketones may aid weight loss and allow a lower loading of ketone supplements, without the GI distress seen with MCT oil.
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.
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.
Individuals who have clinically unregulated blood sugar, such as those with diabetes, are cautioned to consult their trusted healthcare provider before choosing to use exogenous ketones. While it can be done safely, especially in the presence of a well-formulated ketogenic food plan, there may be a risk of blood sugar dropping unexpectedly low. There may be therapeutic value in this application, but close monitoring is key.
The difference in peak blood d-βHB concentrations between matched amounts of βHB as ester or salts arose because the salt contained l-βHB, as the blood concentrations of d- plus l-βHB isoforms were similar for both compounds. It is unclear if kinetic parameters of KE and KS drinks would be similar if matched d-βHB were taken in the drinks. Unlike d-βHB, blood l-βHB remained elevated for at least 8 h following the drink, suggesting an overall lower rate of metabolism of l-βHB as urinary elimination of l-βHB was in proportion to plasma concentration. Despite similar concentrations of total βHB, breath acetone was ~50% lower following KS drinks compared to KE, suggesting fundamental differences in the metabolic fates of D- and L-βHB. These findings support both previous hypotheses (Veech and King, 2016) and experimental work in rats (Webber and Edmond, 1977), which suggested that the l-isoform was less readily oxidized than the d-isoform, and is processed via different pathways, perhaps in different cellular compartments. It seems that l-βHB is not a major oxidative fuel at rest, and may accumulate with repeated KS drinks. However, the putative signaling role of l-βHB in humans remains unclear. In rodent cardiomyocytes, l-βHB acts as a signal that modulates the metabolism of d-βHB and glucose, Tsai et al. (2006) although no differences in blood glucose were seen here. Furthermore, L-βHB can act as a cellular antioxidant, although to a lesser extent than D-βHB (Haces et al., 2008).

Alright, first of all, I tried every combination available for this product. I really loved the idea of adding it to my morning iced coffee with MCT, 1 tbs of heavy cream and stevia. To be honest, my morning coffee is one of my favorite things throughout my day and I was very dissppointed when it didn’t taste *exactly* like an iced mocha. I found it to be very bitter and tough to finish. Not to mention it was ruining my love for my morning coffee time.
Skipping breakfast on a keto diet is a popular way to boost ketone levels. Despite the age-old myth that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, research shows that breakfast skipping is not only safe but beneficial. Skipping breakfast causes intermittent ketosis and also suppresses appetite [6]. Make sure your next meal of the day isn't too late in the evening as studies show that eating meals late at night causes weight gain and impairs fat metabolism [7].
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.
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
Measurements taken included whole blood glucose and BHB (every 5 minutes); VO2 and VCO2 (every 15 seconds); HR (continuous); RQ is calculated as the ratio of VO2 and VCO2. In the video of this post I explain what VO2, VCO2, and RQ tell us about energy expenditure and substrate use—very quickly, RQ typically varies between about 0.7 and 1.0—the closer RQ is to 0.7, the more fat is being oxidized; the reverse is true as RQ approaches 1.0

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