Exogenous ketones are powerful. They will get you into ketosis whether keto-adapted or not. The benefits of this range from weight loss to sustained mental and physical energy. The benefits are the same as those from nutritional ketosis, however, they’re not a substitute for nutritional ketosis. More on that below before we get into the top 5 exogenous ketones for 2018.
Beta hydroxybutyrate floats around in your blood, and importantly, can cross different barriers to be able to be turned into energy at all times. One of the most important areas where this happens is in the brain. The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is usually a very tightly regulated interface that doesn’t allow the transfer of many molecules, but since BHB is such a rock star and so hydrophilic, your brain knows to let it in so it can bring energy to the party at any time. This is one of the main reasons why increased levels of ketosis lead to improved mental clarity, focus and reduction in neurodegenerative diseases.

Dominic D’Agostino has two in-depth interviews on The Tim Ferriss Show (Part 1, Part 2). Discussion includes exogenous ketones for mitigating the onset of neurodegenerative diseases, using ketones in place of fasting for chemo-protection, benefits of ketone supplementation when consuming carbohydrates, the risks and potential toxicities of ketones.


The second ketone ester compound was developed at the University of South Florida. This is a diester of AcAc and BDO. In rodents, this ketone ester raises blood D-BHB to 1-4 mM and blood AcAc to up to 5 mM.19 There is one published study of this ketone ester in humans; results showed a 2% decrease in 31 km cycling time trial performance.16 This may be due to the high rate of side effects of this ester studied. Other factors may have been low levels of BHB (<2 mM), the short, high-intensity time trial used, or the use of AcAc vs. BHB.
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.
I also concluded that post by discussing the possibility of testing this (theoretical) idea in a real person, with the help of exogenous (i.e., synthetic) ketones. I have seen this effect in (unpublished) data in world class athletes not on a ketogenic diet who have supplemented with exogenous ketones (more on that, below). Case after case showed a small, but significant increase in sub-threshold performance (as an example, efforts longer than about 4 minutes all-out).
If you are trying to lose weight, following a ketogenic diet can help you burn fat fast. However, trying to get into ketosis can be a frustrating experience. Am I eating too many carbs, not enough fat, too much protein? Getting into ketosis usually takes 3 to 5 days at least, and can take people up to two weeks. Recently I have discovered a simple and easy way to get into ketosis very quickly. I went from eating lots of carbs one night, to in ketosis 24 hours later.

Getting enough sleep not only helps in the production of growth hormones vital for muscle growth, but it plays a particular role as already discussed. If you’re intermittently fasting then sleep is crucial is helping you sustain the fast. 6-10 hours of your day will be dedicated to sleep, helping you to reboot and not think about food during this time. That means less time for you to actually be fasting! Stress is another factor – if we don’t get enough sleep, we’ll tend to feel more stress and agitation throughout the day. Ensuring that we’re well rested plays a huge part in keeping down cortisol levels so that are insulin and blood sugar levels don’t spike.

Intellectual property covering uses of dietary ketone and ketone ester supplementation is owned by BTG Ltd., the University of Oxford, the National Institute of Health and TΔS Ltd. Should royalties ever accrue from these patents, KC and PC, as inventors, will receive a share of the royalties under the terms prescribed by the University of Oxford. KC is a director of TΔS Ltd., a company spun out of the University of Oxford to develop and commercialize products based on the science of ketone bodies in human nutrition. At the time of data collection and manuscript preparation, BS was an employee of TΔS Ltd., funded by the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851. SH is an employee of NTT DOCOMO, Inc. (Japan). The other authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.
But some people chose to use supplements to benefit from ketosis (Therapeutic Ketosis), and finally there is the MCT Ketogenic Diet – which in a form of nutritional ketosis (ULC, limited protein, high fat) with a twist – about 30-60% of the fat intake in the diet comes from MCT (Medium Chain Triglyceride) fats. Sources of MCT fats include Pure MCT Oil, Coconut oil and coconut products. The MCT Ketogenic Diet is often used with epilepsy suffers, as the high levels MCT oil create a higher level of ketones in the blood – which helps prevent seizures.

Eating around 20 grams of net carbs a day is as a foolproof way to get you into ketosis a quickly as is humanly possible. However, having 50 grams of total carbs will also get you into ketosis within three days [3]. This amount of carbs is enough to deplete glucose reserves. It's also low enough to prevent fat being used to make glucose and, instead, the body is forced to make ketones.


At the same time, research suggests that getting as much of your calcium from your diet, rather than supplements is a good idea. For instance, there is some evidence that the calcium intake from food is better for bone mineral density than the same calcium intake from supplements[17]. Foods that are high in calcium include dairy, leafy green vegetables, fish with edible bones, tofu made with calcium sulfate, and calcium-fortified foods and beverages.

First, there’s something unnatural about having elevated levels of ketones and glucose together. It’s really hard to make that happen using traditional whole foods. The closest natural approximation you could get to it would be the traditional coconut-rich diets of the Kitava people in the South Pacific, where the medium chain triglycerides (MCT) in the coconut fat increased ketone production alongside the carbs in the fruit and tubers they ate. They had excellent metabolic health, but they weren’t anywhere close to a ketogenic diet. Coconut fat isn’t as ketogenic as purified MCT oil, let alone exogenous ketones.
Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...
Exogenous ketones are created in a lab to accelerate both physical and mental performance. These ketone drinks were actually used in pro cycling races back in 2015, trading at prices that would make using your kidney as a bartering tool seem like a cut price deal. Fortunately, they’ve now come down in cost and are used often in between meals as a way of blackmailing your body into getting into ketosis way faster.

I just started down the Keto path with the help (hopefully) of Ketond. My problem with all the websites and info I’ve seen is that no-one says how often you should take the EK. The packages say the serving size is one scoop…. but how many servings per day? It (Ketond) also says one serving will put you in Ketosis for 3-5 hours – so, does that mean you should take another serving after the 3-5 hours to stay in Ketosis?


If the claims about the benefits of exogenous ketones are accurate and true, then it’s fantastic news for people who are looking to enhance their keto lifestyle and who have the money to spend. But two of our core values are trustworthiness and goodness, and it is important to us to test assumptions made by marketing claims and help make sure that people are getting what they are told they are getting when they spend money on a product.


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.
The classical KD consists of a 4:1 ratio of fat to protein and carbohydrate, with 80–90 % of total calories derived from fat [27]. The macronutrient ratio of the KD induces a metabolic shift towards fatty acid oxidation and hepatic ketogenesis, elevating the ketone bodies acetoacetate (AcAc) and β-hydroxybutyrate (βHB) in the blood. Acetone, generated by decarboxylation of AcAc, has been shown to have anticonvulsant properties [28–32]. Ketone bodies are naturally elevated to serve as alternative metabolic substrates for extra-hepatic tissues during the prolonged reduction of glucose availability, suppression of insulin, and depletion of liver glycogen, such as occurs during starvation, fasting, vigorous exercise, calorie restriction, or the KD. Although the KD has clear therapeutic potential, several factors limit the efficacy and utility of this metabolic therapy for widespread clinical use. Patient compliance to the KD can be low due to the severe dietary restriction - the diet being generally perceived as unpalatable - and intolerance to high-fat ingestion. Maintaining ketosis can be difficult as consumption of even a small quantity of carbohydrates or excess protein can rapidly inhibit ketogenesis [33, 34]. Furthermore, enhanced ketone body production and tissue utilization by the tissues can take several weeks (keto-adaptation), and patients may experience mild hypoglycemic symptoms during this transitional period [35].

Studies show that exercising depletes both liver and muscle glycogen faster than fasting [4]. For example, swimming for an hour and a half depletes the same amount of glycogen as a 24-hour fast. However, it's a good idea to eat a tiny amount of carbs and protein before and after a workout to prevent muscle damage. Your body can break down proteins in your muscles if glycogen stores get depleted during workouts.
The final graph, below, shows the continuous data for only VO2 side-by-side for the 20 minute period. The upper (blue) line represents oxygen consumption under control conditions, while the lower line (red) represents oxygen consumption following the BHB ingestion. In theory, given that the same load was being overcome, and the same amount of mechanical work was being done, these lines should be identical.

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