Exogenous ketones have been growing in popularity ever since they were first introduced in early 2014. They are especially popular among keto dieters. But even those not on this diet seem to be jumping on the exogenous ketones bandwagon.
This should come as no surprise given the aggressive marketing and flashy promises you see with exogenous ketones. From effortless weight loss and enhanced athletic performance to improved mental functioning and lower disease risk, exogenous ketones seem to provide it all. But is there any truth to these claims?
Well, we're here to tell you that, yes, exogenous ketones are very useful and helpful for keto dieters and other wellness enthusiasts. But there is also plenty of misinformation surrounding them. One common misconception is that exogenous ketones put you into ketosis instantly. This is simply not true, and we will explain how ketones actually work in this article.
We will also explain more about what ketones are, what types exist, how they benefit health, and more.
Ketones, also called ketone bodies, are water-soluble molecules that your liver makes when you fast, exercise, restrict carbs, and sleep. In all of these states, your body begins to run low on glucose, which is normally its main source of energy. Medical experts recognize the three following ketones as the most important for ketosis :
- Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB)
Your liver makes these molecules from your own fat stores or from the fat you eat, but only in the absence of glucose. They function as an alternative fuel to glucose for your body's energy production. This is why they are often referred to as the "fourth macronutrient."
The three ketone bodies differ in their molecular structure and the roles they play in your body. Beta-hydroxybutyrate and acetoacetate are the most biologically active, i.e. they help produce energy. Acetone has a minor metabolic effect and is excreted through the breath and urine.
Ketones are the whole purpose of the ketogenic diet. Raising their levels boosts weight loss, increases energy, and improves health and well-being. You can boost their levels by following the ketogenic diet or by taking them as supplements. Learn more about ketones and their benefits here.
What Are Exogenous Ketones?
In biology, the term exogenous means originating outside of the body. In the case of ketones - they originated in the laboratory. In other words, exogenous ketones are the synthetic form of ketones. They are available as a dietary supplement. Although exogenous ketones are a synthetic form of ketone bodies, they work just like the real thing. There are two types of exogenous ketones:
1. Ketone esters – A synthetically made form of ketones. These are the most effective for reaching ketosis.
2. Ketones salts – These are either a powder containing ketones bound to a mineral salt or an amino acid molecule.
But regardless of the type, most exogenous ketones contain the BHB or acetoacetate types as these are biologically active and both have their equal share of advantages and disadvantage . Which ones you should choose depends on how much you are willing to spend as well as your goals, tastes, and preferences.
Advantages of Ketone Esters
- Deliver ketones without a high salt or acid load
- Provide higher blood ketone levels after ingestion
- Approved by the FDA and not prohibited in competitive sports
Disadvantages of Ketone Esters
- Have an unpleasant taste that is difficult to mask
- Expensive to make
- Can cause gastrointestinal side effects
Advantages of Ketone Salts
- Raise ketone levels slightly
- Cheaper to make than ketone esters
- Nutritious when bound to proteins
Disadvantages of Ketone Salts
- They increase the risk of excess salt intake
- Can cause gastrointestinal side effects
- Are not metabolized rapidly
- Are still not recognized as safe or approved by the FDA
Bottom line: Ketone esters are the winners in terms of safety and efficiency, but they're also more expensive and tend to taste bad. Ketone salts, on the other hand, are better for your budget and taste buds. Still, they are not as effective in raising blood ketone levels as ketone esters, but they still do the job pretty well.
The Benefits of Exogenous Ketones
Exogenous ketones provide a range of benefits for the keto dieter, in particular. When you take them in conjunction with a ketogenic diet, you can use them to get the following benefits:
Exogenous ketones can help you burn fat more effectively when you are going keto. They signal your body to burn fat for fuel and help lower blood glucose and insulin levels.
To avoid the “keto flu”
The keto flu happens to even the healthiest of keto dieters. Luckily, it turns out that you can minimize keto flu symptoms with the help of exogenous ketones. In case you don't know what the keto flu is, you can read about it here.
Getting back to ketosis
Decided to pause ketosis for a short time? Don't worry, using exogenous ketones will help you revert much faster and easier than if you were to rely on a keto diet alone. In fact, most keto dieters use exogenous ketones for this exact purpose. When trying to go back into ketosis, it's a good idea to take exogenous ketones to speed up the process.
Athletes usually need more carbs than allowed on a keto diet. But luckily, research shows that exogenous ketones can help with this problem. Once an athlete's glucose and glycogen stores run low, exogenous ketones can take their place and give an athlete steady and consistent energy.
For mental productivity
If your work and life demand superhuman brain power from you, then exogenous ketones may be just what you needed. And this is especially the case if you also happen to be on a keto diet because a keto diet becomes demanding when you're on a busy schedule. Exogenous ketones are here to give you a morning boost of energy and keep your mentally alert throughout the day.
The benefits of exogenous ketones don't apply to just the keto diet. Researchers are currently looking into their potential for treating deadly diseases and improving overall health. Here is what they've found out so far:
Researchers originally made exogenous ketones because they were looking for a way to induce ketosis without the need for carb restriction. These products seem to be effective in this regard. One study from 2016 even concluded that taking exogenous ketones without restricting carbs causes a rapid and sustained rise in blood ketones, indicating a nutritional ketosis was taking place .
Taking exogenous ketones can help you lose weight mostly by suppressing your appetite. Several studies show that ketones, in general, have a natural appetite-lowering effect . And when it comes to exogenous ketones specifically, one study from 2016 states that ketone esters, in particular, lower the levels of hunger hormones and cause people to eat less .
It's a well-known fact that ketones provide a more powerful and sustained form of energy than glucose. This is exactly why they've garnered the interest of athletes. Researchers believe exogenous ketones to be a promising supplement for improving athletic performance because of this .
If you're suffering from a chronic case of brain fog, then you may find exogenous ketones helpful. The keto diet is appreciated among many other things for improving mental clarity and the same benefit is available through exogenous ketones. However, you will have to invest in some high-quality ketone esters as a recent study found that ketone salts don't cut it for mental clarity .
The ketogenic diet is an effective treatment for type II diabetes and high blood sugar. Now studies show that even taking exogenous ketones can help normalize your blood sugar levels even when you eat carbs .
Recent animal studies found exogenous ketones to have an anxiety-reducing effect . This is a new discovery as keto diets and ketones were never really considered as an anxiety treatment. The main reason why ketones reduce anxiety seems to lie in their positive effect on brain structure and functioning.
Cancer cells thrive on carbs and blood sugar. If you starve them of their fuel by taking exogenous ketones, then you have a greater chance of reducing your risk of cancer. One animal study found that ketone supplements increase survival by 70% in mice with cancer metastasis .
Most diseases plaguing the Western world are a result of low-grade inflammation. Examples include autoimmune disorders, diabetes, atherosclerosis, and cancer. Ketones prevent inflammation by blocking a range of inflammation-causing proteins . Furthermore, elevated blood glucose is also linked to inflammation and we already know that ketones control blood glucose levels
What About Raspberry Ketone?
Raspberry ketone is a chemical usually extracted from red raspberries, but that also exists in other berries, kiwi fruit, peaches, grapes, apples, and rhubarb. The chemical became a popular weight loss supplement after Dr. Oz mentioned it on his show in 2012 .
However, the name raspberry ketone is quite misleading because these compounds are not ketone supplements at all. They also don't cause ketosis and they're not extracted solely from raspberries. Raspberry ketone is simply a phenolic compound that gives raspberries and other fruit a pleasant aroma. They were originally isolated from fruit for use as a flavoring agent but now are used as supplements.
As far as research on raspberry ketone goes, there's not much evidence that it helps with weight loss. Most studies on raspberry ketones were carried out on mice. A fairly recent study even states that raspberry ketones only suppress appetite and have no effect on fat burning .
All in all, if you want to induce ketosis or increase your ketone levels, then raspberry ketone won't do the trick. You can still use them to control appetite. Keep in mind that these products are quite expensive and that the cheaper ones are usually a synthetic form of raspberry ketone.
MCT oil is not really in any way related to exogenous ketones. It is, however, a supplement that boosts your body's own ketone production. MCT is short for medium-chain triglycerides, which are types of saturated fatty acids that your body prefers to use for ketone production more than fat storing. Coconut oil is one of the best sources of MCTs and this is exactly why it's considered a keto staple.
But unlike coconut oil which is only around 60% medium-chain triglycerides, MCT oil is 100% medium-chain triglycerides. This means that MCT oil is a highly concentrated source of these fatty acids. Unfortunately, this also means that MCTs can prove to be a bit hard on your stomach. Every keto dieter using MCTs to boost ketone levels needs to start gradually with these products because they are powerful.
But how do MCTs work to boost ketone levels? Well, the saturated fatty acids in these oils are different from those in, say, lard or butter. Your body digests and absorbs them quite differently than any other fat. MCTs are absorbed in the small intestine and sent right to the liver where there are stored or used for ketone production. If you're on a keto diet, MCTs will help you reach ketosis faster and easier.
When to Use Exogenous Ketones?
You can take exogenous ketones whenever you feel like it but within the recommended limits. For example, at Kiss My Keto, we suggest limiting our Exogenous Ketones to two scoops per day. After all, you don't want to feel nauseated from taking more than your body is able to use.
If you want to make the best use of exogenous ketones, then timing your intake can make a major difference. Here are some tips on when and how to best use our exogenous ketones:
Take one scoop of our Exogenous Ketones – Unflavored early in the morning to give yourself an energy boost for more morning mental clarity. You can add the product to your morning smoothie or simply add it to 8 ounces of water early in the morning. The product has a fairly mild flavor, so you won't notice it's there.
Take a scoop of our Exogenous Ketones Pink Lemonade and add it to a glass of water. Drink 30 minutes before a workout. If you plan to work out longer than an hour, you may want to slightly increase the dose to half a scoop for every hour of workout.
Fighting the keto flu
Our Exogenous Ketones with electrolytes and caffeine mixed berry is your perfect keto flu remedy. The added electrolytes will benefit you most since the majority of keto flu symptoms are a result of electrolyte imbalances. The caffeine also helps increase energy. Add a scoop to a glass of water in the morning and another one in the evening.
Getting into ketosis
Add our Exogenous Ketones Unflavored to a glass of water, coffee, or lemonade to enter ketosis faster. Keep in mind that you need to be on a ketogenic diet to fully enter ketosis. Exogenous ketones simply help you reach this metabolic change faster but won't bring you there on their own.
You can also use exogenous ketones to stay in ketosis after having a higher-carb meal and for faster weight-loss. For mental focus, you should take it on an empty stomach and you can also take them during
Like with any other supplement, exogenous ketones aren't perfect. They may cause some side effects and research on these products is still scarce which isn't surprising because they became available only 4 years ago.
Stomach ache and nausea can happen when you're just starting with exogenous ketones. This is especially common for ketone esters because these are more potent than ketone salts. To reduce this common side effect, start with smaller doses and build on gradually until your body gets used to exogenous ketones.
Dehydration and electrolyte imbalances
Ketone salts contain sodium or other electrolytes which in excess can cause dehydration. When you are taking these types of exogenous ketones, you may want to reduce your sodium and electrolyte intake to keep the balance. Also, drink plenty of fluids if you notice that you are urinating more frequently, sweating, and experiencing constipation or headaches.
Lack of research
Another downside to exogenous ketones is that we don't know much about their long-term safety. Most to-date research did not find any reason for concern when it comes to taking exogenous ketones. Overall, most people seem to tolerate them well, so you likely don't have any reason for concern. Hopefully, more research on their safety will come in the near future.
If you're on a keto diet, you can benefit greatly from taking exogenous ketones. These products help you get into ketosis faster and stay there when you eat more carbs than you should. They also work as a keto flu remedy and give your body the energy for longer workouts.
But even if you are not on a keto diet, you can use these products to suppress your appetite, boost weight loss, and increase your energy levels. Add them to your drinks and smoothies once or twice a day, and we are sure you'll notice the benefits soon.
You can choose either ketone esters or salts based on your budget and preferences. Both raise ketone levels, but both also have their disadvantages. Whichever exogenous ketones you choose, make sure the product is clean, meaning that it does not contain any suspicious ingredients other than ketones (flavorings are an exception).
Our range of exogenous ketones are made using high-quality ingredients and are made goBHB, a registered trademark under global distribution by Compound Solutions, Inc. All contain salts for easier digestion and absorption. Consider adding them to your keto meals and make them a part of your keto diet plan today.