The problem? Exogenous ketone supplements work by flooding your bloodstream with ketones. But unless you’re also eating a ketogenic diet (and producing a steady stream of ketones naturally), those supplemental ketones won’t stick around forever. “The benefit of exogenous ketones is limited due to their excretion through the urine,” explains Madge Barnes, MD, family medicine specialist with Texas Health Family Care. In other words? They’ll only work for a few hours until you pee them out. As a result, you need to keep on supplementing—which can get expensive. Twenty single-serving packets of Prüvit’s Keto//OS MAX Pure Therapeutic Ketones, for example, cost $130. (The company doesn’t specify how often you should take them.)
Now onto the best ketone supplements. All of these 5 are great products with good customer experiences and reviews. The list contains 3 MCT oil powders and 2 BHB salts. Since it’s just 5 products, there’s no room for bad quality. If you see a lower rating it may be due to price/value, the taste or perhaps a lack of third-party inspection certificates.
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)!
Bottom line: EK isn't the magic pill for instant weight loss. EK triggers ketosis which is a metabolic state where your body burns fat for fuel. EK increases satiety and feeling full, and boosts energy for exercise which helps you lose weight for the long term. You should always aim for the long term and sustainable weight loss and keep the weight off for good instead of looking for a quick fix.
I’m often asked if it’s necessary to buy and use keto products like urine sticks. They’re small test strips that you dip in urine to see if your body is producing ketones (and therefore indicate if you’ve entered ketosis.) There's very little information on how to know that you are in ketosis other than using these ketones supplements because they are as accurate as can be in determining your current state. Outside of that, you can only guess if you are in it or not by your body's performance.
Geek note: Technically speaking, beta hydroxybutyrate is NOT a legitimate ketone body. Ketone bodies, or ketones are technically molecules with carbonyl carbons which are bonded to two additional carbon atoms. One carbon has four available bonds. When that carbon is double bonded to oxygen and also has two single bonds to carbon, we have a ketone body. If you have a carbon atom that is double bonded to an oxygen (carbonyl group), which is also bound to an -OH group instead of two different carbon atoms, that would be a carboxylic acid, but that really doesn’t matter in this case. For all intents and purposes of the ketogenic diet, betahydroxybutyrate should be considered one of the three ketone bodies and a “ketone” nonetheless. Your body uses BHB pimarily for energy in the state of ketosis, so it’s a ketone, okay?
The human studies aren’t quite there yet, but it seems likely that they’d help. A recent human case study found that ketone esters added to the regular diet improved Alzheimer’s symptoms. Animal studies indicate that adding exogenous ketones to a regular lab (read: not ketogenic) diet can reduce seizure activity and improve overall symptoms in epilepsy animal models, reverse early neuronal hyperactivity in Alzheimer’s animal models, and reduce anxiety in rats.
Two ground-breaking studies have recently been published on the effects of intermittent fasting on males. One group of researchers studied the effects that 16 hours of intermittent fasting had on males that lift weights. They found that muscle mass stayed the same, fat mass decreased significantly, and the males who fasted for 16 hours a day burned more fat for fuel compared to the control group that only fasted for 12 hours.
This was a big surprise. We were at the very least expecting that drinking a ketone supplement would cause blood ketones to rise, but an average increase of 0.33 mmol/L is very small. The supplement associated with the highest average increase in blood ketones was Prüvit’s Keto-OS Max, but it was only an increase of 0.6 mmol/L. Brianna Stubbs, the ketone researcher I consulted with, agrees that an increase of below 2.0-3.0 mmol/L is unlikely to be of much use.
Considering both the broad therapeutic potential and limitations of the KD, an oral exogenous ketone supplement capable of inducing sustained therapeutic ketosis without the need for dietary restriction would serve as a practical alternative. Several natural and synthetic ketone supplements capable of inducing nutritional ketosis have been identified. Desrochers et al. elevated ketone bodies in the blood of pigs (>0.5 mM) using exogenous ketone supplements: (R, S)-1,3 butanediol and (R, S)-1,3 butanediol-acetoacetate monoesters and diester . In 2012, Clarke et al. demonstrated the safety and efficacy of chronic oral administration of a ketone monoester of R-βHB in rats and humans [49, 50]. Subjects maintained elevated blood ketones without dietary restriction and experienced little to no adverse side effects, demonstrating the potential to circumvent the restrictive diet typically needed to achieve therapeutic ketosis. We hypothesized that exogenous ketone supplements could produce sustained hyperketonemia (>0.5 mM) without dietary restriction and without negatively influencing metabolic biomarkers, such as blood glucose, total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and triglycerides. Thus, we measured these biomarkers during a 28-day administration of the following ketone supplements in rats: naturally-derived ketogenic supplements included medium chain triglyceride oil (MCT), sodium/potassium -βHB mineral salt (BMS), and sodium/potassium -βHB mineral salt + medium chain triglyceride oil 1:1 mixture (BMS + MCT) and synthetically produced ketogenic supplements included 1, 3-butanediol (BD), 1, 3-butanediol acetoacetate diester/ ketone ester (KE).
When you start this process, changes in your daily food and drink intake are designed to increase the amount of healthy fats being burned by your liver, which produces and releases more of these endogenous ketones into your blood stream. When breastfeeding, the female body naturally burns more fat to produce the endogenous ketones, which is an infants resource to the nutrients they need for their young minds. As an adult, a lot of us have substituted the goodness of this compound for more sugar fueled energy. However, I'm sure there are many of you that are wondering right now, "does keto work at all and if so how long does ketosis last?" After numerous tests and studies, it has been recognized that it indeed does work and has been proven to have long lasting effects, so you can rest easy and maybe throw away those weight loss pills that claim instant results but don’t seem to do much.
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.
Interestingly, the effects of exogenous ketones on blood substrate concentrations were preserved with the metabolic stimulus of a mixed meal. Following KE drinks, FFA and glucose fell and remained low in both fed and fasted subjects, despite higher insulin throughout the fed arm, suggesting that there was no synergistic effect of insulin and βHB to further lower blood glucose or FFA. In agreement with previous work, the threshold for the effects of βHB on glucose and lipids appears to be low (<1 mM), as there was no significant dose-response relationship between increasing blood βHB and the small changes in plasma FFA, TG or glucose across all of the study drinks (Mikkelsen et al., 2015).
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?
Funding. This work supported by an Industrial DPhil Fellowship to BS from the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851. JM was supported by the EPSRC Doctoral Training Centre and Prize Fellowship; Ref: EP/M508111/1. The funding sources were not involved in the design, conduct or analysis of this study. TΔS Ltd. provided the ketone ester, ΔG®, and NTT DOCOMO Inc. provided the acetone meter for the study.
You are probably wondering how there could possibly be a benefit to eating less frequently that goes beyond what you are already getting with a ketogenic diet. Restricting carbs and eating enough fat and protein does come with a plethora of health benefits, but when you add intermittent fasting to your lifestyle you can increase energy and reverse aging by harnessing the power of a nobel prize winning process.
Ketones may be a better source of fuel than glucose, and a far better beverage than Fruitopia, but it's a question of whether or not you can spare the extra fuel. Because just like adding sugar to a diet, it's like pressing pause on the fat burning process since the body preferentially burns it for fuel. Adding ketones to the diet does the same thing.
Increased calcium levels in the bloodstream may contribute to the hardening of arteries (atherosclerosis), which in turn can lead to a heart attack. Calcium from supplements enters the bloodstream in one bolus, whereas we usually tend to get calcium from foods in small doses from the breakdown process. This might explain why calcium from food doesn’t create the same risk that is introduced by calcium supplements. At first glance, it seems to be the case that high calcium intake –at least from supplements–may not be ideal.
Thank you, Mark! I am an ME/CFS patient, and I have improved quite a bit on a ketogenic diet, which I have been following for the past 3 months. I am slowly losing weight (much needed) and I wondered, does using exogenous ketones inhibit fat loss? I’m trying to balance the benefits of continuing weight loss with benefits in dealing with ME/CFS symptoms. Thank you for any info you can offer!
Each serving of Core BHB™ contains a clinically effective dose (12 grams) of pure goBHB™ exogenous ketones. This ensures you’re getting the purest and most efficacious BHB salts available. Research and scientific findings continue to demonstrate the promising benefits of exogenous ketones, especially when used with a calorie-controlled diet and healthy exercise regimen.
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
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.
BHB isn’t just an energy source for the brain–it has other effects which promote brain health. BHB can trigger the release of chemicals called neurotrophins, which support neuron function and synapse formation. One of these neurotrophins is called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), which is a protein in the brain associated with cognitive enhancement, alleviation of depression and reduction of anxiety.10
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