Ketogenesis is the metabolism of fatty acids by β-oxidation. 4 This process gives acetyl CoA which then leads to β-hydroxy-β-methyglutaryl-CoA (HMG-CoA) as seen below5. HMG-CoA converts into Acetoacetone which can switch back and forth to BHB. Acetoacetone to Acetone conversion is irreversible (on the left below). Acetoacetate and BHB (via acetoacetate) are used to produce energy when converted back into acetyl-CoA within a cell’s mitochondria whilst Acetone is excreted in the breath and urine.4
If you've tried this type of diet before, or if you've done some research about it beforehand, then you should know that these ten tricks are necessary to get into a ketogenic state quickly, but you will be surprised at the number of people who actually jump on the ketogenic bandwagon without knowing any of the basics first. Remember: A good working knowledge coupled with an effective meal plan can go a long way.
These studies were approved by external Research Ethics Committees (London Queen's Square: 14/LO/0288 and South West Frenchay: 15/SW/0244) and were conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki (2008). Studies took place at the University of Oxford between September 2014 and September 2016. Participants were healthy, aged 21–57, non-smokers and had no history of major illness. Female participants were using oral contraception to minimize the effects of menstrual phase on results. Participants provided written informed consent prior to inclusion, and completed a confidential medical screening questionnaire to determine eligibility. Anthropometric characteristics are shown in Table ​Table1.1. Sample sizes were chosen following an estimated power calculation based on the effect size in previous work using KE drinks (Clarke et al., 2012b; Shivva et al., 2016).
These studies were approved by external Research Ethics Committees (London Queen's Square: 14/LO/0288 and South West Frenchay: 15/SW/0244) and were conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki (2008). Studies took place at the University of Oxford between September 2014 and September 2016. Participants were healthy, aged 21–57, non-smokers and had no history of major illness. Female participants were using oral contraception to minimize the effects of menstrual phase on results. Participants provided written informed consent prior to inclusion, and completed a confidential medical screening questionnaire to determine eligibility. Anthropometric characteristics are shown in Table ​Table1.1. Sample sizes were chosen following an estimated power calculation based on the effect size in previous work using KE drinks (Clarke et al., 2012b; Shivva et al., 2016).
One thing to remember here is that even if your calculated daily ‘keto approved’ protein allowance is (let’s say) 150g, that doesn’t mean you can eat 150g in one meal and still be in ketosis. You may find that you can’t eat more than 40g of protein at a time, otherwise you will drop out of ketosis. OR, you may find you can eat 50g of protein but you need a LOT of fat. Whereas a small serve of 15g of protein without fat might knock you out of ketosis. 
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.
 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.
Great question. So if you are already in nutritional ketosis from your diet, exogenous ketones would still help raise ketone (energy) levels when you want that (maybe for focus at work or energy at the gym. They also help get you back into ketosis after cheat meals and skip the “keto flu” which is the period when your body is using up stored glycogen.

When our cells undergo the process of autophagy, non-essential parts like damaged proteins are recycled and invading microorganisms and toxic compounds are removed. This means that autophagy plays an important role in stopping the aging process, reversing disease, and preventing cancer, but it doesn’t happen all the time. Fasting, protein restriction, and carbohydrate restriction are the three main ways that can initiate different autophagic processes — all of which are not the same. This is part of the reason why a ketogenic diet has so many positive effects, and it also shows you why intermittent fasting is a way to improve your diet even more.


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?
We demonstrated that therapeutic ketosis could be induced without dietary (calorie or carbohydrate) restriction and that this acute elevation in blood ketones was significantly correlated with a reduction in blood glucose (Figs. 2, ​,33 and ​and4).4). The BMS ketone supplement did not significantly induce blood hyperketonemia or reduced glucose in the rats. The KE supplemented rats trended towards reduced glucose levels; however, the lower dose of this agent did not lower glucose significantly, as reported previously in acute response of mice [59]. MCTs have previously been shown to elicit a slight hypoglycemic effect by enhancing glucose utilization in both diabetic and non-diabetic patients [86–88]. Kashiwaya et al. demonstrated that both blood glucose and blood insulin decreased by approximately 50 % in rats fed a diet where 30 % of calories from starch were replaced with ketone esters for 14 days, suggesting that ketone supplementation increases insulin sensitivity or reduced hepatic glucose output [89]. This ketone-induced hypoglycemic effect has been previously reported in humans with IV infusions of ketone bodies [90, 91]. Recently, Mikkelsen et al. showed that a small increase in βHB concentration decreases glucose production by 14 % in post-absorptive health males [92]. However, this has not been previously reported with any of the oral exogenous ketone supplements we studied. Ketones are an efficient and sufficient energy substrate for the brain, and will therefore prevent side effects of hypoglycemia when blood levels are elevated and the patient is keto-adapted. This was most famously demonstrated by Owen et al. in 1967 wherein keto-adapted patients (starvation induced therapeutic ketosis) were given 20 IU of insulin. The blood glucose of fasted patients dropped to 1–2 mM, but they exhibited no hypoglycemic symptoms due to brain utilization of ketones for energy [93]. Therefore, ketones maintain brain metabolism and are neuroprotective during severe hypoglycemia. The rats in the MCT group had a correlation of blood ketone and glucose levels at week 4, whereas the combination of BMS + MCT produced a significant hypoglycemic correlation both at baseline and at week 4. No hypoglycemic symptoms were observed in the rats during this study. Insulin levels were not measured in this study; however, future ketone supplementation studies should measure the effects of exogenous ketones on insulin sensitivity with a glucose tolerance test. An increase in insulin sensitivity in combination with our observed hypoglycemic effect has potential therapy implications for glycemic control in T2D [40]. Furthermore, it should be noted that the KE metabolizes to both AcAc and βHB in 1:1 ratio [29]. The ketone monitor used in this study only measures βHB as levels of AcAc are more difficult to measure due to spontaneous decarboxylation to acetone; therefore, the total ketone levels (βHB + AcAc) measured were likely higher, specifically for the KE [14]. Interestingly, the 10 g/kg dose produced a delayed blood βHB peak for ketone supplements MCT and BMS + MCT. The higher dose of the ketogenic supplements elevated blood levels more substantially, and thus reached their maximum blood concentration later due to prolonged metabolic clearance. It must be noted that the dosage used in this study does not translate to human patients, since the metabolic physiology of rats is considerably higher. Future studies will be needed to determine optimal dosing for human patients.
Hi Mark, sorry this is off topic but not sure where to send a question for a future Ask Mark. I’m about to go into my yearly physical and I am wondering if there is any specific bloodwork that you like to do for your annual check up. I’m 47 year’s old and the than the basic blood work like lipid panel, etc..I’m going to ask my doctor to test my testosterone, HbA1C, fasting insulin, and Vitamin D levels. I’m also going to ask my doctor to do a stool test to check for parasites or other infections I may have picked up from open water swimming for triathlons. Can you recommend any other blood work that might be useful? Thanks!
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.
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.
We tested the effects of 28-day administration of five ketone supplements on blood glucose, ketones, and lipids in male Sprague–Dawley rats. The supplements included: 1,3-butanediol (BD), a sodium/potassium β-hydroxybutyrate (βHB) mineral salt (BMS), medium chain triglyceride oil (MCT), BMS + MCT 1:1 mixture, and 1,3 butanediol acetoacetate diester (KE). Rats received a daily 5–10 g/kg dose of their respective ketone supplement via intragastric gavage during treatment. Weekly whole blood samples were taken for analysis of glucose and βHB at baseline and, 0.5, 1, 4, 8, and 12 h post-gavage, or until βHB returned to baseline. At 28 days, triglycerides, total cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) were measured.
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’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.
Lastly, EK products in general ​are usually in the form of salts, which is why they are referred to as BHB Salts. The BHB ketones are bound to common salts such as sodium​, calcium, magnesium and potassium​ to improve absorption rate. These salts are also the core electrolytes your body needs to help you avoid feeling mentally drained and physically lousy during the keto-flu transition period.
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.
Do you need carbs to train? No. Again this is an anecdote only, but I have done numerous training sessions in a carb deprived state. Heck some of my best training sessions where done in a fasted, carb deprived state. And there are a lot of endurance athletes who are using a ultra-low carb/ketogenic diet and putting up some great times (more on this below).

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 shred weight in their sleep. Seriously... how is that even scientifically possible. So if you are thinking about trying out a particular supplement, I would suggest two things:

Ketone supplements contain exogenous ketones—synthetic ketones made in a lab. Most use a type of ketone called beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), which is the same as the ketones the body produces naturally. “We’re literally biohacking," says Amie Heverly, who began taking a ketone supplement called Prüvit last year and now works as a promoter selling Prüvit products. "You’re not adding a foreign substance to your body, because BHB is identical to what your body would naturally produce,” she explains.
Most of the information regarding the effects of ketosis come from studies on the ketogenic diet, wherein ketones are made by the liver and become a major fuel source for the body. The ketogenic diet is currently under investigation for its potential therapeutic effects in a number of healthy and disease states. More recently, studies are beginning to reveal that many of the effects observed with the ketogenic diet are mechanistically attributable to ketones, which is a primary reason that exogenous ketones are being developed and studied. However, because they are such a new technology, there’s not a lot of data on exogenous ketones themselves. In a few pre-clinical studies, exogenous ketones have mimicked the therapeutic effects of the ketogenic diet”
Beta-Hydroxybutyrate (BHB) is naturally ketone body that is produced when free fatty acids are broken down in the liver. The other two types of Ketone bodies are acetoacetate (AcAc) and acetone. Ketones provide pure energy to fuel the human brain and other tissues. The elevation in ketones in your blood have been a rapidly emerging area of research and studies are continuing to show improvements in performance, brown adipose tissue, and several other possible applications.

Ketostix are very unreliable. There are many factors which can alter results such as hydration level, if you’ve worked out recently and the amount of unused ketones in your body to name just a few. Never rely of Ketostix to determine whether you are in ketosis or not. The Precision Xtra blood ketone monitor is the gold standard for testing for ketones in your body. After following a ketogenic diet for a while, you should be able to tell if you are in ketosis or not by the way you feel.
The ketone supplements were associated with a 5.4% decrease in physical performance while the artificially-sweetened, non-caffeinated beverage I used as a placebo was associated with a 20.3% increase: a big difference in favour of the placebo. Before you go rushing out to buy some, remember that this experiment was not performed under fully-controlled, laboratory conditions, and we were working with too small a group to prove that the placebo caused an increase in physical performance. But what we can say is that we couldn’t find any correlation between ketone supplements and an increase in physical performance in this experiment. According to Brianna Stubbs, some of the work currently being done on new kinds of ketone salts is starting to show more promise in relation to physical performance, so there may be better news on this down the line.
How did I do this? Simple, I went into a full fast and exercised. What prevents you from entering ketosis is all the glycogen stored in your liver and muscles. Your body can use this glycogen instead of ketones to fuel your brain, so until you deplete your stores of glycogen, you won’t be able to enter ketosis. By eating nothing, you are going to tap into the glycogen to fuel your brain because you are eating 0 grams of carbs and will also be using that glycogen to walk around all day.
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.
There’s debate raging about which dietary tactic is the god particle for making you leaner, faster and healthier. How the ketogenic diet option squares off against the low carb route is vital for understanding the ways in which exogenous ketone supplements work. To get into ketosis the natural way, you need to keep your carb intake low enough for long enough for your body to begin using use fat as fuel. Your liver then converts a portion of that fat into energy molecules called ketones. These work together with glucose as a fuel source, but can actually kick in faster, allowing your body to operate more economically during lengthy, high-energy exercise efforts.

-       Take ketone supplements (therapeutic ketosis): A second option is to consume ketones in the form of a supplement. Supplements like Perfect Keto Ketone Salts that provide the exact same ketone bodies that are produced naturally in the body. And while supplements are not a complete replacement for the benefits of ketones produced through diet, they do lower the barrier by allowing anyone to start benefiting from therapeutic ketones.
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)!
Neuroprotection: As humans age, the brain becomes more susceptible to neurodegeneration and subsequent conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Exogenous ketone supplementation appears to ameliorate the typical decline in cognitive function that comes with aging. The likely mechanism for this neuroprotective property is that ketone bodies reduce the inflammation and hyperexcitability that is normally exhibited as glucose metabolism declines in the brain.18, 19

The reason for testing after one hour was based on Prüvit’s “59-minute test”, which recommends testing ketones 45-60 minutes after taking the supplement (by the way, saying “59 minutes” instead of 60 minutes or 1 hour just sounds like another marketing gimmick to me). Kegenix Prime also promises “ketosis in 60 minutes” on its packaging. We carried out the testing at more or less the same time each day.


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!
It’s not clear that the Weir coefficients used to estimate EE are relevant for someone in ketosis, let alone someone ingesting exogenous BHB. (The Weir formula states that EE is approximated by 3.94 * VO2 + 1.11 * VCO2, where VO2 and VCO2 are measured in L/min; 3.94 and 1.11 are the Weir coefficients, and they are derived by tabulating the stoichiometry of lipid synthesis and oxidation of fat and glucose and calculating the amount of oxygen consumed and carbon dioxide generated.) While this doesn’t impact the main observation—less oxygen was consumed with higher ketones—it does impact the estimation of EE and substrate use.

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