June 30

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Pros and Cons of Exogenous Ketones

By Dr. Junaid Tariq

June 30, 2019

exogenous ketones, keto supplements

Ketones are probably the trendiest thing in the world of fitness and nutrition these days. They are a product of fat metabolism and an alternative to carbs for energy consumption.

Because people naturally like getting more from doing less, ketone supplements have emerged in the market as a hot-seller. But do they actually work and are they worth buying?

There are several things to consider before you try incorporating them in your diet.

While there are many advantages of using these supplements, there is a downside to using them as well.

Long story short, these supplements may work for certain people, but they must absolutely not be considered magic pills that can singlehandedly get you on the path of weight loss.

This article will help you explore things to consider before using exogenous ketones on a daily basis.

It will also help you decide the best approach to leading a quality life whilst following the keto diet.

Are Keto Supplements Worth it? Top Things to Consider

Before you start supplementing your body with exogenous ketones, you must be familiar with every aspect of these supplements.

It is highly advised to consider thoroughly the pros and cons of these supplements so that you can decide if you really want to use them.

Mentioned below are the top things to consider before you decide to use exogenous ketones on a daily basis:

The Pros of Exogeneous Ketones

Using ketone supplements can be particularly beneficial for your body in a variety of ways. Some of these benefits are explained below in detail:

Weight Loss

When you start supplementing your body with ketones, it automatically increases the efficiency of burning more fat to release energy. Increased fat burning ultimately leads to weight loss.

keto weight loss

Another reason to take these supplements is that they let you enjoy a variety of meals while staying in keto.

For example, if you decide to go for a cheat meal, your body would be thrown out of ketosis and require two to three days to get back in.

Taking exogenous ketones in these circumstances speeds up this process and gets you back on track in the shortest possible time.

Decreased Appetite

Recent research has indicated that supplementing with ketones lowers the levels of ghrelin in your body for up to 4 hours. Ghrelin is the hunger hormone that helps you perceive hunger and instills the desire to eat.

Some scientific bodies argue that by controlling the release of this hormone, ketone supplements can actually help you control hunger and, in turn, calorie intake.

Anecdotal evidence coming from people who have tried this diet also indicates that maintaining higher levels of ketones in their bodies helps control their appetite and accelerate weight loss.

Smoother Transitioning into Ketosis

During the initial days of the keto diet, a lot of people experience certain uncomfortable side effects such as fatigue, irritability, and bloating. These effects are collectively known as the keto flu.

how long does it take to get into ketosis

Keto flu hits you exactly when your body is in the middle of two metabolic states. It is moving away from a carb burning mode (using sugar/carbohydrates for energy) to a state in which it burns fat for energy.

Because your body has not fully adapted to either of these states, keto flu often hits you making the journey difficult.

This is where the role of ketone supplements kicks in.

If you start taking keto supplements during this phase of transition, the ketone levels in your blood get a major surge, forcing your body to transition into a fat-burning state as quickly as possible.

This helps save you from the dreadful effects of keto flu.

All you need to do is take 12 grams or so of these exogenous ketones twice a day.

Enhanced Mental Clarity

keto brain fog

Ketones are considered the most efficient type of fuel for your brain.

The energy extracted from these ketones is readily used by the brain and helps it function properly and with higher efficiency.

Using ketone supplements is, therefore, a great way to achieve mental clarity.

For decades, the scientific community was convinced that glucose was the primary source of energy for the brain. However, newer research has revealed that ketones are also able to surpass the blood-brain barrier and help the brain cells function more efficiently.

Ketones are also thought to boost mental performance and sharpen focus.

Using ketone supplements has also been known to decrease the risk of acquiring neurodegenerative diseases by stimulating the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).

BDNF is a peptide that helps your neurons grow and proliferate at a higher rate.

Promotion of Long Term Ketosis

People who have been on the keto diet admit that this diet can be pretty challenging at times. It is not an easy diet, but the rewards it offers are certainly huge.

Due to this reason, a lot of people tend to fall off the keto wagon or are unable to follow it in the right manner for a sustained period of time.

To stop yourself from getting sidetracked and watching your hard work go to waste, many experts advise supplementing your diet with exogenous ketones.

no weight loss on keto

Taking these supplements can improve the benefits of the keto diet and make it a bit easier for you.

If you feel like you are a struggling keto dieter, all you need to do is add these supplements to your diet and watch your body get a boost.

These supplements will help your body maintain ketosis even if you decide to treat yourself with a bit of carbs every now and then.

Click here to read our post on the Best Exogenous Ketone Supplements

Increased Physical Performance

Many bodybuilders and regular gym goers follow the keto diet, with the help of exogenous ketones.

exercise on keto

These supplements will provide you with enough energy to keep exercising while following the high fat, low carb diet.

A person who exercises on a regular basis mostly relies on carbohydrates as the main fuel for energy.

In these circumstances, following a keto diet can be harsh for those who are physically active because they are restricting their daily carb intake to minimum levels.

Taking keto supplements can help people exercise even on a keto diet by providing them with an additional boost of energy.

This means no more skipping the gym just because you don’t feel energized enough.

Adjunct Treatment for Several Medical Disorders

Extensive research on the keto diet and exogenous ketones has revealed that being in a state of ketosis can help patients suffering from certain diseases including Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and a few types of cancers.

Exogenous ketones can help these patients stay on the keto diet and reap the benefits of it.

As you can see, keto supplements are definitely not magic pills to experience immediate weight loss. However, when used with an appropriate dietary approach, they can work wonders.

Before you start using them in your daily life, you must also look at the other side of the picture.

Let’s explore the potential downsides of using these keto supplements.

The Cons of Exogeneous Ketones

Just like every other supplement, exogenous ketones come with their own list of disadvantages, some of which are mentioned below:

Affordability

ketosis state

Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of a keto supplement is the price.

Every product containing exogenous ketones is extremely expensive and can be out of budget for a lot of people.

Ketone salts are comparatively cheaper than other forms of supplements, but even they can cost you at least $60 for only 16 servings.

Ketone esters, on the other hand, are even more expensive and may cost four times more per gram of ketones.

The extremely high price tag forces keto dieters to look for alternative options, such as MCT oil, which are comparatively cheaper and can be afforded by most people.

MCT Oil is not without its own set of pro’s and cons. Read these articles before you purchase MCT Oil:

10 Best MCT Oil for Keto – In Depth Buyers Guide for 2020

MCT Oil Side Effects: A Complete Guide to Avoid Negative Effects

brain octane oil

Unpleasant Taste

Many ketone salts are difficult to use, especially in the form of drinks. This is because they taste bitter and unpleasant.

However, this disadvantage has been partially overcome by the introduction of flavored ketone supplements.

Ketone esters are relatively difficult to consume, and it is extremely difficult to get rid of or mask their unpleasant taste.

Short Lived Side Effects

Using exogenous ketones can sometimes cause side effects, particularly in the early days as your body gets used to these supplements.

water keto diet

Side effects include dizziness, diarrhea, cramping, constipation, heart palpitations, headache, and fatigue. These effects mostly occur due to the diuretic effect of ketones.

Higher levels of ketones in your blood increase diuresis (the excretion of water from the body.) This means that if you are not taking care of your water intake, using these supplements may induce dehydration.

People have also reported experiencing abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting after consuming ketone esters.

Suspicious Ingredients

Among different types of ketones, D-BHB is considered the most effective one for weight loss and other benefits.

Yet, there are many ketone supplements on the market that have a mixture of acetoacetate, L-BHB, and D-BHB in their composition.

This affects their efficacy and quality and may not allow you to experience the promised benefits.

Additionally, many keto products have hidden net carbs and sweeteners in their ingredient list, which makes it harder for you to get into ketosis and burn fat.

Temporary Benefits

In contrast to the long-term positive effects of exogenous ketones on your body, many experts argue how these effects are short lived and truly last as long as it takes for the body to utilize them.

calcium beta hydroxybutyrate

Research has indicated that your body only needs three to six hours to consume the ketones you just ingested.

This means that within six hours of ingesting a ketone supplement, the blood ketone levels will drop back to baseline.

The exact time may vary in different people depending on their activity levels, diet, and efficiency to burn ketones.

Decreased Ketone Production and Fat Burning

Using keto supplements can help your body get into ketosis at a much faster rate.

However, some argue that as soon as you start taking exogenous ketones, your body prefers burning them instead of breaking down fat and releasing its own ketones.

More research is needed to clarify the exact effects of exogenous ketones on fat burning and ketone production. Until then, the subject remains highly controversial.

Ketone Wastage

If your body does not have the proper metabolic machinery to take care of the ketone load coming from the exogenous supplements, it may end up excreting them directly without gaining any benefits.

If this is happening, you may be able to detect it in certain ways. For example, your body odor or breath will smell like nail polish remover or overripe fruit. Or, you could suffer from the side effects listed above as your body eliminates this as waste.

Additional Calorie Intake

keto calories

Your body is not technically able to store ketones in the form of fat.

However, these supplements are still considered a source of calories and you must includes these in your daily calorie count.

If you start supplementing your body with exogenous ketones on a daily basis, these calories start accumulating and may disrupt your keto diet.

Increased Competition

Lastly, before taking exogenous ketone supplements, it is better to do a market survey and take a look at other alternatives to these products.

Fortunately, the market is filled with different types of keto supplements, like MCT oil, which provide similar effects at cheaper rates.

This may force many people to turn to the cheaper alternatives instead of buying exogenous ketones at a hefty price.

We will take a look at these supplements after we finish our examination of exogenous ketones.

What are Different Types of Exogenous Ketone Supplements?

Before you start using exogenous ketones in your daily life, another thing to consider is the different types of supplements you will come across in the market.

Mentioned below are the two different types of exogenous ketone supplements:

Ketone Esters 

Ketone esters refer to the ketone bodies that are synthetically attached to a carbon-based functional group to form an ester.

This leads to the stabilization of the ketone and makes it more efficient.

The only drawback to this type of ketone supplement is that it is relatively expensive and rather unpalatable due to an unpleasant taste.

Ketone Salts 

Ketone salts refer to ketones (particularly BHB) that are attached to minerals. This makes them stable and increases their bioavailability.

It is easier to consume these ketone salts which successfully hide their unpleasant taste. 

When ingested, these salts quickly cause a surge in the blood ketone levels and help you achieve nutritional ketosis more quickly.

Related Questions

What should you consider when choosing an exogenous ketone supplement?

When choosing a suitable ketone supplement, it is important to keep in mind:

  1. Their impact on your blood ketone levels and the level of ketosis they can help you achieve.
  2. Their quality, ingredient list, and the possibility of containing any impurities like caffeine, sugar, etc.
  3. The importance of your experience and the factors determining it such as the taste, price, side effects, etc.

Are raspberry ketone supplements as effective as other exogenous ketones?

Not always. There is some research that highlights their effect on weight loss in animals, no study has been able to prove similar benefits in human beings.

best raspberry ketones

One of our Shortcut to Ketosis authors, Jeremy Stone, tried raspberry ketone supplements with good effect. You can read his review here.

Key Takeaways

Exogenous ketone supplements can prove to be extremely helpful, but not in the way many people think. Ketone esters and ketone salts, the two main types of exogenous ketone supplements on the market, cannot stimulate ketone production or fat loss, per many studies.

There is also not enough data to support their roles in weight loss.

What these supplements can do is boost physical activity, treat certain health problems, boost energy levels, and prevent the horrid symptoms of the keto flu.

Another thing that experts know for sure is that these supplements are in no way a replacement for the keto diet.

Being in ketosis by following a keto diet is very different from being in ketosis after consuming ketone supplements.

The best way to achieve your weight loss goal and enjoy the benefits of ketosis is by following a keto diet properly.

You can always use these supplements to complement your efforts, but remember that taking them alone can never help you achieve anything.

That being said, if you wish to boost your blood ketone levels temporarily or need to prevent the symptoms of the keto flu without spending so much on exogenous ketones, there are other ways to do this such as:

Drinking a caffeinated drink every morning (because caffeine increases the ketone production.)

Consuming more MCTs.

Combining the keto diet with intermittent fasting.

Adding more exercise to your daily routine. (Fasted exercise can rapidly boost your ketone levels.)

However, keep in mind that even the methods mentioned above are to be used in combination with a well-formulated keto diet to get maximum benefits.

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