How BHB turns into energy is a fairly simple process. As we’ve mentioned, beta hydroxybutryate eventually leads to energy production after you consume it or after your body breaks stored body fat down. It does this by going into the cell, entering the mitochondria (energy factories) at which stage it cleaves the carboxyl acid group and becomes acetoacetate (another “ketone body”). Acetoacetate turns into acetoacetyl-CoA, which then is cleaved to acetone (another “ketone body”) and acetyl-CoA. Acetyl-CoA is the whole reason we want BHB in the first place. This jumps into what is called the Kreb’s cycle (don’t you remember any of your biochemistry classes?) and is churned into ATP — the energy currency of your cells!
Keto-adaption is a complex set of metabolic processes in which the body shifts from using primarily glucose for energy to using largely ketones and fat for energy. Achieving ketosis doesn’t mean the body is maximizing the use of these ketones; it takes longer than a few days for the body to get used to burning fat and ketones as its predominant fuels.
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.
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.
Halitosis (bad breath) – If you’re on a ketogenic diet you are probably aware that as the body starts to metabolize fat, ketones can cause poor breath. There is very little one can do about this, it’s just the nature of the beast. Unfortunately, this can also arise when using exogenous ketones, but it’s not as lasting as when on a ketogenic diet. Chewing gum or mints is about the best option if it becomes a noticeable issue. This maybe caused by over consumption of the ketone supplement, tailoring the quantity consumed may prevent excess BHB being converted to acetone, which is likely excreted by the lungs.
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).

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.
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.
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!
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/)
As I mentioned before, this was by no means a scientific experiment carried out under lab conditions, and this means we can only draw tentative conclusions from any of the data. Nonetheless, carrying out the testing in the way described above should give most people a good idea of how well the ketone supplements show the noticeable benefits they are marketed to have and provide a clear enough basis for a decision on whether or not to buy them.

MCT Oil is a keto supplement that helps your body make ketones. The oil contains pure medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are types of fatty acids that your body prefers using for immediate energy. Unlike long-chain fatty acids, MCTs don't require enzymes and bile for digestion and they go straight to the liver where they are used for making free fatty acids or ketones. Studies on MCTs show that they promote weight loss [5].

Ketone supplementation did not affect the size of the brain, lungs, kidneys or heart of rats. As previously mentioned, the rats were still growing during the experimental time frame; therefore, organ weights were normalized to body weight to determine if organ weight changed independently to growth. There could be several reasons why ketones influenced liver and spleen weight. The ratio of liver to body weight was significantly higher in the MCT supplemented animals (Fig. 5). MCTs are readily absorbed in the intestinal lumen and transported directly to the liver via hepatic portal circulation. When given a large bolus, such as in this study, the amount of MCTs in the liver will likely exceed the β-oxidation rate, causing the MCTs to be deposited in the liver as fat droplets [94]. The accumulated MCT droplets in the liver could explain the higher liver weight to body weight percentage observed with MCT supplemented rats. Future toxicology and histological studies will be needed to determine the cause of the observed hepatomegaly. It should be emphasized that the dose in this study is not optimized in humans. We speculate that an optimized human dose would be lower and may not cause hepatomegaly or potential fat accumulation. Nutritional ketosis achieved with the KD has been shown to decrease inflammatory markers such as TNF-α, IL-6, IL-8, MCP-1, E-selectin, I-CAM, and PAI-1 [8, 46], which may account for the observed decrease in spleen weight. As previously mentioned, Veech and colleagues demonstrated that exogenous supplementation of 5 mM βHB resulted in a 28 % increase in hydraulic work in the working perfused rat heart and a significant decrease in oxygen consumption [28, 41, 42]. Ketone bodies have been shown to increase cerebral blood flow and perfusion [95]. Also, ketone bodies have been shown to increase ATP synthesis and enhance the efficiency of ATP production [14, 28, 40]. It is possible that sustained ketosis results in enhanced cardiac efficiency and O2 consumption. Even though the size of the heart did not change for any of the ketone supplements, further analysis of tissues harvested from the ketone-supplemented rats will be needed to determine any morphological changes and to understand changes in organ size. It should be noted that the Harlan standard rodent chow 2018 is nutritionally complete and formulated with high-quality ingredients to optimize gestation, lactation, growth, and overall health of the animals. The same cannot be said for the standard American diet (SAD). Therefore, we plan to investigate the effects of ketone supplements administered with the SAD to determine if similar effects will be seen when the micronutrient deficiencies and macronutrient profile mimics what most Americans consume.
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.
Also known as the carb flu, the keto flu is commonly experienced by people who are transitioning to a Ketogenic diet. “Keto flu” is not actually flu but mimics the experience of flu with very similar symptoms. It can happen when someone who has become accustomed to relying primarily on carbohydrates as fuel removes them from their diet. Whilst this is a necessary step towards adjusting from being a sugar-burner to a fat-burner, the sudden change can trigger some unpleasant symptoms, much like withdrawing from an addictive substance. Keto flu symptoms can include drowsiness, nausea, dizziness, achy muscles, mental fogginess and an irritable mood. The good news though, is that most of these experiences relate to dehydration and electrolyte depletion, and so are easily prevented or managed. Simply adding a ¼ - ½ teaspoon of a high quality sea salt or sodium/potassium powder to a glass of water works wonders; however you may still require a separate magnesium supplement; particularly if you are prone to muscle cramps or restless legs. Another popular way to manage your electrolytes is via a good quality bone broth powder. Finally, since BHB’s are normally delivered via a mineral salt base*, keto flu symptoms are easily prevented or reduced by using an exogenous ketone supplement powder.
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.
In a nutshell… WOW! The chart above shows each of the games/categories I played, showing my prior 5-day averages compared to the day I took the ketone esters. Compared to my baselines, my scores increased across the board, with the biggest improvements in spatial orientation (+32.2%), working memory (+23.7%), quantitative reasoning (21.5%), task switching (+14.9%), and information processing (+14.9%). Below are more detailed comparisons:
Effects of ketone supplementation on triglycerides and lipoproteins: Ketone supplementation causes little change in triglycerides and lipoproteins over a 4-week study. Graphs show concentrations at 4-weeks of total cholesterol (a), Triglycerides (b), LDL (c), and HDL (d). MCT supplemented rats had signfiicantly reduced concentration of HDL blood levels compared to control (p < 0.001) (b). One-Way ANOVA with Tukey’s post hoc test, results considered significant if p < 0.05. Error bars represent mean (SD)
Exogenously delivered ketone supplements significantly altered rat weight gain for the duration of the study (Fig. 6). However, rats did not lose weight and maintained a healthy range for their age. Rats have been shown to effectively balance their caloric intake to prevent weight loss/gain [97–99]. Due to the caloric density of the exogenous ketone supplements (Table 1) it is possible for the rats to eat less of the standard rodent chow and therefore less carbohydrates while maintaining their caloric intake. Food intake was not measured for this study. However, if there was a significant carbohydrate restriction there would be a signifcant change in basal blood ketone and blood glucose levels. As the hallmark to the KD, carbohydrate restriction increases blood ketone levels and reduces blood glucose levels. Neither an increase in basal blood ketone levels nor a decrease in basal blood glucose levels was observed in this study (Fig. 7). Additionally, if there were an overall blood glucose decrease due to a change in food intake, this would not explain the rapid reduction (within 30 min) in blood glucose correlated with an elevation of blood ketone levels after an intragastric bolus of ketone supplement (Figs. 2, ​,33 and ​and44).

We’ve all been taught that high sodium intake is bad for us, similar to how we’ve been told for decades that fat is the driver of coronary heart disease, and consuming large amounts will kill us.  Sodium has been thought to increase blood pressure, and therefore increase the risk of heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, osteoporosis, and stomach cancer. Thus, many of us tend to avoid consuming foods or supplements with labels that have high amounts of sodium.


I’ve tried this, got a few bags of one ketone salts bound to mostly potassium and another one bound to calcium. As for working out, I find that consuming 15-20 grams of glucose ( dextrose ) 30 minutes before either a HIIT or a heavy lifting session gives me a much, much bigger boost than ketones. so they just sit in my cupboard. I also got spooked about the amount of potassium i’d consume in one go ( don’t particularly fancy a cardiac arrest ). I find it a bit useful when I have a big meeting or something else that requires super concentration and I’m fasting, other than that – it’s pretty useless. I’d probably use more of it if I could find a formula that’s mostly sodium/magnesium based rather than potassium and/or calcium.
MCT oil has recently been used to induce nutritional ketosis although it produces dose-dependent gastrointestinal (GI) side effects in humans that limit the potential for its use to significantly elevate ketones (>0.5 mM). Despite these limitations, Azzam and colleagues published a case report in which a 43-year-old-man had a significant decrease in seizure frequency after supplementing his diet with 4 tablespoons of MCT oil twice daily [96]. An attempt to increase his dosage to 5 tablespoons twice daily was halted by severe GI intolerance. Henderson et al. observed that 20 % of patients reported GI side effects with a 20 g dose of ketogenic agent AC-1202 in a double blind trial in mild to moderate Alzheimer’s patients [24]. We visually observed similar gastrointestinal side effects (loose stools) in the rats treated with MCT oil in our study. Rats were closely monitored to avoid dehydration, and gastric motility returned to normal between 12–24 h. Interestingly, the BMS + MCT supplement elevated βHB similarly to MCT oil alone, without causing the adverse gastrointestinal effects seen in MCT-supplemented rats. However, this could be due to the fact in a 10 g/kg dose of BMS + MCT, only 5 g/kg is MCT alone, which is less than the 10 g/kg dose that elicits the GI side effects. This suggests that this novel combination may provide a more useful therapeutic option than MCT oil alone, which is limited in its ability to elevate ketones in humans.
Many of us avoid foods like processed meats and cheeses or salted nuts because of their high sodium content. However, processed carbohydrate sources can have equal or higher amounts of sodium per serving. An ounce of salted pretzels[3] has over four times as much sodium as an ounce of salted peanuts[4]. Just because we can’t taste the sodium doesn’t mean it isn’t in there. Flavors from other ingredients like sugar and spices can make it difficult to identify salt as a dominant flavor.
I have Type 2 Diabetes. I have bought a product that has Beta Hydroxybutyrate in it. Is it dangerous for me to take it whereas I am a Type 2 diabetic. Can it cause me to go into Diabetic ketoacidosis which is very dangerous for a diabetic even deadly. I have been trying to find an answer to my question and your sight seems to have the best insight on Beta Hydroxybutyrate . I bought the product without knowing it had Beta Hydroxybutyrate in it and have not tried it out of fear that it will cause me to go into Diabetic ketoacidosis. Other people I know have taken it and lost weight and I really want to take it but I am afraid. Just so you know it is on a patch with other elements in it. Please help me I look forward to your answer

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.
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.
Recent studies suggest that many of the benefits of the KD are due to the effects of ketone body metabolism. Interestingly, in studies on T2D patients, improved glycemic control, improved lipid markers, and retraction of insulin and other medications occurred before weight loss became significant. Both βHB and AcAc have been shown to decrease mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) production [36–39]. Veech et al. have summarized the potential therapeutic uses for ketone bodies [28, 40]. They have demonstrated that exogenous ketones favorably alter mitochondrial bioenergetics to reduce the mitochondrial NAD couple, oxidize the co-enzyme Q, and increase the ΔG’ (free enthalpy) of ATP hydrolysis [41]. Ketone bodies have been shown to increase the hydraulic efficiency of the heart by 28 %, simultaneously decreasing oxygen consumption while increasing ATP production [42]. Thus, elevated ketone bodies increase metabolic efficiency and as a consequence, reduce superoxide production and increase reduced glutathione [28]. Sullivan et al. demonstrated that mice fed a KD for 10–12 days showed increased hippocampal uncoupling proteins, indicative of decreased mitochondrial-produced ROS [43]. Bough et al. showed an increase of mitochondrial biogenesis in rats maintained on a KD for 4–6 weeks [44, 45]. Recently, Shimazu et al. reported that βHB is an exogenous and specific inhibitor of class I histone deacetylases (HDACs), which confers protection against oxidative stress [38]. Ketone bodies have also been shown to suppress inflammation by decreasing the inflammatory markers TNF-a, IL-6, IL-8, MCP-1, E-selectin, I-CAM, and PAI-1 [8, 46, 47]. Therefore, it is thought that ketone bodies themselves confer many of the benefits associated with the KD.

Although several studies have linked calcium supplementation with an increased risk of heart attack and heart disease[18], other studies have not found the same association. For example, a study on calcium supplementation (1000 mg/day) in postmenopausal women indicated a reduced risk of hip fracture, but no increase in cardiovascular disease or mortality in the supplement group, compared to the placebo group[19]. Another study found no effect from calcium supplementation (600 or 1200 mg/day) on abdominal aortic calcification[20].
Anti-cancer potential: Recent research suggests that ketogenic diets can blunt malignant tumor growth.[5] This is due to the fact cancer cells can’t metabolize ketones effectively to nourish their growth and replication. Astonishingly, one study found that supplementing with BHB salts increases odds of survival in mice with systemic cancer by up to 70% in comparison to mice who didn’t receive exogenous ketones.[6]
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.
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.
BHB easily crosses the blood-brain barrier resulting in easily accessible energy to the brain and muscle tissues, becoming a source of energy after entering the mitochondria, being converted to Acetyl-CoA, and then ATP through the Krebs cycle (the same process that glucose goes through to become ATP). This ultimately results in many direct benefits, including:

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