I’m getting an increasing number of questions about exogenous ketones. Are they good? Do they work for performance? Is there a dose-response curve? If I’m fasting, can I consume them without “breaking” the fast? Am I in ketosis if my liver isn’t producing ketones, but my BOHB is 1.5 mmol/L after ingesting ketones? Can they “ramp-up” ketogenesis? Are they a “smart drug?” What happens if someone has high levels of both glucose and ketones? Are some products better than others? Salts vs esters? BHB vs AcAc? Can taking exogenous ketones reduce endogenous production on a ketogenic diet? What’s the difference between racemic mixtures, D-form, and L-form? What’s your experience with MCTs and C8?
[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)

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.


If you are not on a vigorous exercise plan, I wouldn't go more than about a scoop a day (if you are a 30min/day, low carb person like me) because some of the research available says that if you get into ketosis using diet only and supplement with extra ketones, you may experience a slower rate of weight loss since you are getting your ketones from a supplement rather than the body transforming fat to ketones. As I progress, I will probably move up to 2 scoops per day.

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


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.
Most people know that you can lose weight by consuming fewer carbs and a lot more protein. However, it's very important that you watch your protein intake carefully if you want to achieve ketosis quickly. There needs to be a balance in the amount of protein you are consuming, since too much of it is not going to be beneficial for you. What you need to remember is that this process is all about getting the right balance of fats, proteins, magnesium, salts, etc., to get your body into ketosis faster.
When your body transitions from using energy from carbohydrates to ketones, there can be a lot of nasty and unwanted side effects. These include low energy, bloating, irritability, headaches and fatigue. This is because your body is “in between” burning carbs and burning ketones and hasn’t become efficient at burning ketones and producing them from your fat stores yet.
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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!
The liver is always producing ketones to some small degree and they are always present in the bloodstream. Under normal dietary conditions, ketone concentrations are simply too low to be of any significant benefit. A ketogenic diet and exogenous ketone supplements will increase the amount of ketone in your body. The idea that ketones are “toxic” is ridiculous. Ketones are a normal physiological substance that play many important roles in the human body.

Several studies have investigated the safety and efficacy of ketone supplements for disease states such as AD and Parkinson’s disease, and well as for parenteral nutrition [40, 48–50, 100–103]. Our research demonstrates that several forms of dietary ketone supplementation can effectively elevate blood ketone levels and achieve deleted: therapeutic nutritional ketosis without the need for dietary carbohydrate restriction. We also demonstrated that ketosis achieved with exogenous ketone supplementation can reduce blood glucose, and this is inversely associated with the blood ketone levels. Although preliminary results are encouraging, further studies are needed to determine if oral ketone supplementation can produce the same therapeutic benefits as the classic KD in the broad-spectrum of KD-responsive disease states . Additionally, further experiments need to be conducted to see if the exogenous ketone supplementation affects the same physiological features as the KD (i.e. ROS, inflammation, ATP production). Ketone supplementation could be used as an alternative method for inducing ketosis in patients uninterested in attempting the KD or those who have previously had difficulty implementing the KD because of palatability issues, gall bladder removal, liver abnormalities, or intolerance to fat. Additional experiments should be conducted to see if ketone supplementation could be used in conjunction with the KD to assist and ease the transition to nutrition ketosis and enhance the speed of keto-adaptation. In this study we have demonstrated the ability of several ketone supplements to elevate blood ketone levels, providing multiple options to induce therapeutic ketosis based on patient need. Though additional studies are needed to determine the therapeutic potential of ketone supplementation, many patients that previously were unable to benefit from the KD may now have an alternate method of achieving therapeutic ketosis. Ketone supplementation may also represent a means to further augment ketonemia in those responsive to therapeutic ketosis, especially in those individuals where maintaining low glucose is important.
The table below shows the same measurements and calculations as the above table, but under the test conditions. You’ll note that BHB is higher at the start and falls more rapidly, as does glucose (for reasons I’ll explain below). HR data are almost identical to the control test, but VO2 and VCO2 are both lower. RQ, however, is slightly higher, implying that the reduction in oxygen consumption was greater than the reduction in carbon dioxide production.
There are a couple factors that will make this look much more viable and achievable. For example, if you were to skip breakfast and have your first meal at 12PM, you could eat up until 8PM. This will also mean that dinner needs to be eaten slightly earlier. But let’s not forget about the fact that if we were to combine this with the 6-10 hours of sleep that you would normally have each night, that’ll take up the majority of your fasting period. Obviously, you’re not restricted to these hours, as everyone has a different schedule. Doesn’t sound as bad as you initially thought? Well let’s make it even more enticing! During your fasting hours, and this is extremely helpful during mornings up until you can have your first meal, non-caloric beverages such as tea and coffee can help starve away those hung pangs. Just make sure you’re taking these drinks on it’s own, without any added sugar or milk. There are many variations of intermittent fasting with the most common being 16/8. But depending on your schedule, there are other options advocated such as 20/4, 22/2, and if you’re crazy enough and can eat a full day’s worth of calories in one sitting then there is also OMAD (one meal a day).
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.
While ketone salts are widely available, unfortunately in the near-term ketone esters are in short supply and the only people who will be able to afford taking them several times per day will be elite athletes, the military, corporate CEO-types, and professional poker players. Even with economies of scale and ramping up production, the cost of raw materials to produce pure ketone esters will keep their price tag prohibitively high for most people, but could realistically get down to a few dollars per gram.
Look around your grocery store, and you’ll soon start to see “Fortified with Calcium” on a variety of different labels, along with calcium supplements everywhere you look. Calcium is essential for cardiovascular health, but several studies have found too much calcium to be associated with cardiovascular events and even death.  One study found that consumption of 1000+ mg of supplemental calcium per day was associated with an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease in men but not women[13]. Dietary calcium intake (i.e., calcium from incorporated foods such as milk, etc.), on the other hand, was not associated with death from cardiovascular disease in men or women. Additionally, a different study found 1000 mg of supplemental calcium to be associated with an increase in rates of cardiovascular events in women[14].
The Zenwise Keto Life BHB Salt uses a custom calcium, magnesium and sodium ketone complex to help access ketones for fuel without the low carb diet or fasting. This product is another all-natural option that goes as far as using turmeric for its added coloring. It is a proven product with hundreds of happy customers. They seem to have a strong grasp on the lemonade side of the exogenous market with their Raspberry Lemonade and Wild Limeade flavor choices.
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. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15123336)
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.

1 – If you’re not looking to spend a ton of money up front while testing the ketogenic lifestyle – no problem! For starters, you need to try nutritional ketosis before ever worrying about exogenous supplementation. If you don’t like the diet, it’s not going to matter how many supplements you by. However, if you want to get an idea if exogenous ketones are for you, we would suggest a simple MCT Oil, or a great beginner exo keto like Keto CaNa.


The two compounds commonly referred to as ‘ketone bodies’ (BOHB and AcAc) are produced and used for multiple purposes across nature from algae to mammals, but seldom in concentrations useful for extraction as human food. For this reason, the source of most exogenous ketones is chemical synthesis. Furthermore, most current research and use of ketone supplements focuses on BOHB. That is because AcAc is chemically unstable – it slowly breaks down to form acetone by releasing of one molecule of CO2.
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?
Great information. And apparently I have found out what my problem is. I got into Keto a few weeks ago. Transitioned into ketosis after a week, and then had to travel….while I followed a keto diet as best I could, (I took your powdered MCT Oil with me and it is great), but I did fall out of ketosis. Now it’s been 2 weeks and I can’t seem to get back into ketosis.
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.
I'm using this in conjunction with a low carb diet (40g net daily) and Adipex. Perfect Keto actually helped alleviate a lot of the keto/low carb flu symptoms I typically experience when starting a low carb diet. I can't give a full review on how this works with weight loss, because I'm just using it as a supplement (1 scoop) to help keep me in solid ketosis and have only been doing so for the past two weeks and using the low carb diet and Adipex in addition to this supplement doesn't give me a pure experience with this product. But I'm down 10 pounds in the two weeks, so I'm sure it's playing a part!
Fortunately, you don’t need to be a dietary math savant to cash in on these rewards because the supplement eggheads took the liberty of creating exogenous ketones, which act as direct substitutes to the ones your body creates. Unlike other fat burners that give you the skits jitters, these are actually helping exercisers reach new personal bests while getting leaner, and are totally legal. Here’s what you need to know to get a slice of the action safely.
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].
Working memory involves temporarily storing and manipulating information. The game involves seeing three cards – a top card with a symbol that then moves along a track and is flipped over, exposing a new card above. The goal is to remember the symbol of the cards two cards back and indicate whether it matches the visible card or not. If you have ever played dual n-back games, this is very similar.
The ketogenic journey should be more of a lifestyle than one that acts like a fad. So taking more than a day for your body to enter ketosis should not be the greatest of concern. It’s more important to stay discipline and to consistently keep your body in a fat-burning state. Although, if you are someone who has fallen out of ketosis after a cheat day, or rather somebody who is just starting out and finding it longer than expected to enter ketosis, then this article can definitely help in that respect. It’s nothing new, and it’s definitely no secret but strict dieting, fasting, exercise, controlling stress levels, sleep, and certain supplements can help you boost ketogenesis!
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)
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.
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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