While exogenous ketones (EK) are a newer supplement, having entered the market for consumers in just the past few years, scientists have been synthesizing ketone bodies in a lab since the 1960’s. They were useful for scientists studying their use for specific disease conditions, most notably childhood seizure disorders, though they were prohibitively expensive for consumers (1, 2).
Hi Rob thanks so much, many people experience inconclusive results from the pee strips, as the ketone concentration in our pee is a measure of ketones not being used by the body. Basically the overflow or unused ketones. As our body becomes more adapted to using ketones, there will be less in our urine. It’s tough to keep the variable constant of how hydrated you are across many pee tests. Don’t be discouraged by pee test results. We have had many times where our blood tests show 1-3mmol/dl BHB but our pee test showed no results. Definitely keep testing (consider using a precision Xtra) and changing the dose to suit your needs. Hope this is helpful!
Dusty you assume only everyone wants fat burning. I think this is silly. The brain and heart will prefer ketones over carbohydrates when both are present in the blood stream. Look at the research and mechanism. I don’t want fat loss, I want better brain function. I also regularly eat carbs myself. This is one of the reasons I myself use exogenous ketones. No this isn’t a magic fat loss powder, but don’t sit here and quote T-nation trying to rebuttal this article acting like that is a credible source.
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.
Do I still follow a ketogenic diet? Not anymore. I was strict keto for 12 weeks – enough time to experiment and learn about it. I did enjoy parts (lots of fat!) but I don’t see it as a sustainable way of eating, nor did I benefit from it health or sports performance wise (more on this in an upcoming article). But, I was following a strict keto diet – sans carbs. I think if I were to follow a ketogenic diet AND incorporate a regular carb refeed then the results may be different.
Second, there are inherent metabolic differences between boosting ketones via diet and boosting ketones via supplements. On a ketogenic diet, ketones go up because you’re converting body and dietary fat into ketone bodies. A rise in endogenous ketones means you’re burning fat and building the requisite machinery to metabolize the new energy source. On exogenous ketones, ketones go up because you ate some ketones; conversion of body and dietary fat into ketone bodies goes down if anything.
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.

Venous blood samples (2 ml) were obtained during all visits using a 22 G catheter inserted percutaneously into an antecubital vein. The catheter was kept patent using a saline flush following each sample collection. Additionally, during Study 1, arterialized blood from a catheter inserted into a heated hand (Forster et al., 1972) was collected into heparinized blood gas syringes (PICO 100, Radiometer, Copenhagen) from a subset of participants (n = 7) and immediately analyzed for pH and electrolytes using a clinical blood gas analyser (ABL, Radiometer, Copenhagen).

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.)
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, I still a little confused about when or how to take this. I am trying to get adapted and minimize the flu. Is it most beneficial before eating, after eating, with food or in place of food? I have been keto in the past but this time I am not switching over to fat burning mode even though my macros are good. ( I am thinking it is just too many calories and carbs at this point but I get hungry!) Help please.
Long-Term Effects of a Ketogenic Diet in Obese Patients – The present study shows the beneficial effects of a long-term ketogenic diet. It significantly reduced the body weight and body mass index of the patients. Furthermore, it decreased the level of triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and blood glucose, and increased the level of HDL cholesterol. Administering a ketogenic diet for a relatively longer period of time did not produce any significant side effects in the patients. Therefore, the present study confirms that it is safe to use a ketogenic diet for a longer period of time than previously demonstrated.
Until there is more definitive information on the necessary blood levels and the differing proportions of BOHB an AcAc to optimize cellular and organ functions, it will be difficult to specify the dosing and duration of supplemental ketones. However for fuel use, and very likely for exercise performance as well, sustained blood levels of BOHB in the range of 0.5 mM to 1.0 mM are likely to be required. This is achieved physiologically by an estimated ketone production of 50-100 grams per day in a keto-adapted human.
Do I still follow a ketogenic diet? Not anymore. I was strict keto for 12 weeks – enough time to experiment and learn about it. I did enjoy parts (lots of fat!) but I don’t see it as a sustainable way of eating, nor did I benefit from it health or sports performance wise (more on this in an upcoming article). But, I was following a strict keto diet – sans carbs. I think if I were to follow a ketogenic diet AND incorporate a regular carb refeed then the results may be different.

Slowly ramp up your ketone intake. Be patient! 🙂 For many of us, our bodies aren’t used to running on ketones, so you can expect an adjustment period. Try ¼ scoop first. Transitioning to ketosis removes water from our bodies, so getting lots of water will help with any dehydration and stomach issues. Ramp up from there, trying ½ scoop the second week or when you feel it’s appropriate, and then try a whole scoop 1-2 weeks in. You can use it for extra energy or to help get into ketosis if you aren’t there already. Most people use it 0-3 times per day.
“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.”
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]
Fortunately a new way to test ketosis has been developed - and that is by measuring acetone levels in the breath. This is rather new technology but based on the reports I have seen it does look reasonably reliable. The testing process is simple, you use a device like that made by Ketonix, you breathe into it, wait a minute or so and it will give you a color indicating the state of ketosis you are in. However, there are numerous downsides:

This research is a good reminder to discuss with your doctor before taking any supplements. Given the widespread use of calcium supplements, more research is required before any final conclusions can be drawn. Several ketone companies have tried to avoid the large sodium loads but instead relied on a bump in the calcium content from the BHB ketone salts, seemingly without consideration for the aforementioned results. Calcium BHB will likely absorb slower compared to sodium BHB due to digestion and absorption kinetics.  For those looking to optimize brain uptake of ketones, this probably isn’t the best strategy (as uptake is directly proportional to the levels in the blood).   Be cautious of supplements running from the sodium and chasing the calcium BHB instead, and make sure you factor that into your overall daily needs.


Methods and Results: In the first study, 15 participants consumed KE or KS drinks that delivered ~12 or ~24 g of βHB. Both drinks elevated blood D-βHB concentrations (D-βHB Cmax: KE 2.8 mM, KS 1.0 mM, P < 0.001), which returned to baseline within 3–4 h. KS drinks were found to contain 50% of the L-βHB isoform, which remained elevated in blood for over 8 h, but was not detectable after 24 h. Urinary excretion of both D-βHB and L-βHB was <1.5% of the total βHB ingested and was in proportion to the blood AUC. D-βHB, but not L-βHB, was slowly converted to breath acetone. The KE drink decreased blood pH by 0.10 and the KS drink increased urinary pH from 5.7 to 8.5. In the second study, the effect of a meal before a KE drink on blood D-βHB concentrations was determined in 16 participants. Food lowered blood D-βHB Cmax by 33% (Fed 2.2 mM, Fasted 3.3 mM, P < 0.001), but did not alter acetoacetate or breath acetone concentrations. All ketone drinks lowered blood glucose, free fatty acid and triglyceride concentrations, and had similar effects on blood electrolytes, which remained normal. In the final study, participants were given KE over 9 h as three drinks (n = 12) or a continuous nasogastric infusion (n = 4) to maintain blood D-βHB concentrations greater than 1 mM. Both drinks and infusions gave identical D-βHB AUC of 1.3–1.4 moles.min.
If you’ve done any reading about ketosis, you no doubt read at some point that ketosis is a “natural” state. You may have read on a bit more and learned what is meant by that statement or you may have simply skipped ahead to the keto success stories and decided to give it a try. But we’d like to direct your attention back to that little tidbit of information about keto being “natural” for a moment.
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.
Blood glucose concentrations are decreased during both exogenous and endogenous ketosis, although by different mechanisms. During endogenous ketosis, dietary carbohydrate deficit is the underlying cause of low blood glucose, along with reduced hepatic gluconeogenesis and increased ketone production (Cahill et al., 1966). With exogenous ketosis, carbohydrate stores are plentiful, yet ketones appear to lower blood glucose through limiting hepatic gluconeogenesis and increasing peripheral glucose uptake (Mikkelsen et al., 2015). One clinical use of the ketogenic diet is to improve blood glucose control, yet the elevated blood FFA may increase the risk of heart failure (Holloway et al., 2009). Thus, the ability of exogenous ketones to lower blood glucose without elevating blood FFA concentrations could deliver the desired effect of the diet, whilst also decreasing a potential risk.
However, it's important to NEVER overlook the power of exercise and of course sticking to a proper routine to get the most optimized results. The most common mistake people make is by treating any keto supplement like a "wonder drug" that will help them shed weight in their sleep. Seriously... how is that even scientifically possible. So if you are thinking about trying out a particular keto supplement, I would suggest two things:
Exogenous ketones provide the body with another fuel to employ. Think about it like an electric car that runs on both gas and electricity: by consuming ketones along with carbohydrates, the body will preferentially burn the ketones first, saving the carbohydrates for later. Exogenous ketones allow us to enter a metabolic state that wouldn't occur naturally: the state of having full carbohydrate stores, as well as elevated ketones in the blood. This could be advantageous to athletes looking to boost their physical performance. 
Animal procedures were performed in accordance with the University of South Florida Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) guidelines (Protocol #0006R). Juvenile male Sprague–Dawley rats (275–325 g, Harlan Laboratories) were randomly assigned to one of six study groups: control (water, n = 11), BD (n = 11), KE (n = 11), MCT (n = 10), BMS (n = 11), or BMS + MCT (n = 12). Caloric density of standard rodent chow and dose of ketone supplements are listed in Table 1. On days 1–14, rats received a 5 g/kg body weight dose of their respective treatments via intragastric gavage. Dosage was increased to 10 g/kg body weight for the second half of the study (days 15–28) for all groups except BD and KE to prevent excessive hyperketonemia (ketoacidosis). Each daily dose of BMS would equal ~1000–1500 mg of βHB, depending on the weight of the animal. Intragastric gavage was performed at the same time daily, and animals had ad libitum access to standard rodent chow 2018 (Harlan Teklad) for the duration of the study. The macronutrient ratio the standard rodent chow was 62.2, 23.8 and 14 % of carbohydrates, protein and fat respectively.
Other ingredients: Many of the supplements contain large amounts of caffeine – the supplement we tested from Prüvit contains the same amount as a 16 oz cup of coffee! Some supplements also contain malic acid, which is “known for its ability to increase energy and tolerance to exercise”. This leaves the nagging doubt: if the experiment shows an increase in energy and physical performance, for example, how do we know it is the (expensive) BHB causing the effect and not the (inexpensive) other ingredients?
Now that you have fasted for quite a long time, you can break your fast at around 4 to 5 pm. Try having some good fat for this purpose, such as coconut oil or MCT oil, butter, or any other healthy fat. MCT oil might come in as a better option in this case since it gets quickly absorbed by the body. It swiftly bypasses the gallbladder and reaches the liver where it is transformed to ketones rapidly.

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.


While the KetoneAid folks have been seeing tremendous success working with elite athletes to improve athletic performance, I thought it would be interesting to quantify the effects of ketone esters on cognitive performance. For the week prior to taking the ketones, I re-established baseline scores in a number of cognitive testing areas using Lumosity*:
When taken as a drink, the ester bonds are broken down to release butanediol (BDO) and D-BHB into the blood. BDO is easily metabolized by the liver to form D-BHB. Then, both molecules of D-BHB reach the blood, as the liver is unable to use ketones. Consumption of this ketone ester elevates blood ketone levels in humans safely, with few side effects.10 HVMN Ketone is WADA compliant and safe to use in all levels of sports. It is designated as a foodstuff and is FDA GRAS. Each lot is 3rd party certified and batch tested for banned substances. 
Keep these studies in mind as your body tries to play tricks on you during your first day of fasting.  Even after three days of fasting, health complications are highly unlikely. However, it is important to know about the possible issues that can be caused by fasting. If you choose to incorporate fasting into your daily diet, you typically want to eat every day as well. Occasionally going on a longer period of fasting.
Hi- Thank you for this super helpful post. I’m new to Keto and supplementing Keytones. I just got the Julian Bakery Keytones and am curious about how to take them as there are no instructions on the packaging. Indeed the website has a diet plan to follow with the keytones but I am very suspicious of it because it is 0 fat which I believe is not healthy for brain or body and given that I have soft tissue and joint issues, I try to eat enough fat daily. I want to lose weight and I crossfit 5 days per week. So how do I best start with using the keytone supplements? I took a scoop full yesterday when they arrived (in the early afternoon) but hadn’t yet eaten and I think that was a mistake because I had immediate diarrhea which lasted a few hours, even after eating.

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.

LDL is the lipoprotein particle that is most often associated with atherosclerosis. LDL particles exist in different sizes: large molecules (Pattern A) or small molecules (Pattern B). Recent studies have investigated the importance of LDL-particle type and size rather than total concentration as being the source for cardiovascular risk [56]. Patients whose LDL particles are predominantly small and dense (Pattern B) have a greater risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). It is thought that small, dense LDL particles are more able to penetrate the endothelium and cause in damage and inflammation [82–85]. Volek et al. reported that the KD increased the pattern and volume of LDL particles, which is considered to reduce cardiovascular risk [73]. Though we did not show a significant effect on LDL levels for ketone supplements, future chronic feeding studies will investigate the effects of ketone supplementation on lipidomic profile and LDL particle type and size.
Exogenous Ketones have been shown in performance studies of both humans and animals to improve metabolic efficiency, which in essence means that your body is using better fuel that burns more efficiently over longer periods of time, and decreases the amount of fuel you need while performing. Where glucose fails (glycogen depletion), ketones pick up the slack!
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.

While the KetoneAid folks have been seeing tremendous success working with elite athletes to improve athletic performance, I thought it would be interesting to quantify the effects of ketone esters on cognitive performance. For the week prior to taking the ketones, I re-established baseline scores in a number of cognitive testing areas using Lumosity*:
My two cents: I wouldn’t take ketone supps if not on some sort of low(ish) carb diet because the idea of high levels of BOTH fuels (ie, ketones AND glucose) doesn’t seem physiologically appropriate… more like a recipe for disaster, and by “disaster,” I mean “out-of-control production of Reactive Oxygen Species” — this might not matter if you’re an athlete looking for a quick performance boost, because the fuels are going to be cleared rather quickly… not so much if you’re a desk jockey.
Long-Term Effects of a Ketogenic Diet in Obese Patients – The present study shows the beneficial effects of a long-term ketogenic diet. It significantly reduced the body weight and body mass index of the patients. Furthermore, it decreased the level of triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and blood glucose, and increased the level of HDL cholesterol. Administering a ketogenic diet for a relatively longer period of time did not produce any significant side effects in the patients. Therefore, the present study confirms that it is safe to use a ketogenic diet for a longer period of time than previously demonstrated.(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2716748/)
Another effect of the ketone drinks was to lower blood glucose, free fatty acids, and triglyceride levels. This sounds great. Elevated levels of all those markers are harbingers of disease, particularly if they remain chronically elevated. But think about what this means. If free fatty acids go down, that means adipose tissue isn’t being liberated for burning.
Intense exercise — more than just fidgeting or pacing — uses ketones, when glucose is in short supply, which means the body has to create more ketones to replace what you use. This is great for those who are used to a moderate to intense activity level, but intensity is a fine dance between encouraging ketone production and elevating cortisol for the rest of us.

Hypoglycemia: why not to be concerned – Taking exogenous ketones can drive blood glucose levels quite low, but you are not likely to feel the typical symptoms of hypoglycemia. This is because when ketone levels are high enough, they dominate as fuel in the brain; hence, you will feel just fine despite having low blood glucose. A highly-cited study by George Cahill, found elevated ketone levels could protect fasted participants when they were administered insulin to induce hypoglycemia.


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.
Every 7 days, animals were briefly fasted (4 h, water available) prior to intragastric gavage to standardize levels of blood metabolites prior to glucose and βHB measurements at baseline. Baseline (time 0) was immediately prior to gavage. Whole blood samples (10 μL) were taken from the saphenous vein for analysis of glucose and βHB levels with the commercially available glucose and ketone monitoring system Precision Xtra™ (Abbott Laboratories, Abbott Park, IL). Blood glucose and βHB were measured at 0, 0.5, 1, 4, 8, and 12 h after test substance administration, or until βHB returned to baseline levels. Food was returned to animals after blood analysis at time 0 and gavage. At baseline and week 4, whole blood samples (10 μL) were taken from the saphenous vein immediately prior to gavage (time 0) for analysis of total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL), and triglycerides with the commercially available CardioChek™ blood lipid analyzer (Polymer Technology Systems, Inc., Indianapolis, IN). Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol was calculated from the three measured lipid levels using the Friedewald equation: (LDL Cholesterol = Total Cholesterol - HDL - (Triglycerides/5)) [51, 52]. Animals were weighed once per week to track changes in body weight associated with hyperketonemia.
Some general side effects of your body producing beta hydroxybutyrate is essentially the lull in time it takes to switch from carbohydrate metabolism to fat metabolism, which can take 3-4 days. This can lead to mood swings, fatigue, and general low energy. If you want to skip that step, we recommend taking exogenous BHBs to switch your body over effortlessly.
There are many different variations of intermittent fasting as well. Dr. Dom D’Agostino, the well-known ketogenic diet researcher, suggests doing a longer intermittent fast for 3 days, 3 times a year. This means not eating for 3 days, and eating normally until the next fast. Daily intermittent fasts are recommended as well. He says that it is ideal to have one to two meals after fasting for most of the day to reap the benefits of intermittent fasting every day.

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.
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!
Instead of being bound to a mineral (like ketone salts), the ketone molecule (BHB or AcAc) is bound to a ketone precursor (e.g. butanediol or glycerol) via an ester bond. While there aren't as many esters on the market as salts, there is still some variance–especially when looking at the ketone molecule in these products. Before selecting the best one for you, it's important to gather all the necessary information to make your decision.
Humans in the hunter-gatherer era survived thanks to metabolic flexibility — the body’s ability to use different fuels for energy depending on the nutrients available. This adaptation was vital during a time when the source, quantity, and frequency of food was uncertain[*]. Most of the time, people were fasting, so their bodies ran on ketones, not glucose.

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