What are Exogenous Ketones? Learn more in this article.

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Nutrition Blog

The ketogenic (or keto as it’s abbreviated as) diet is a very low-carb as well as  high-fat diet. Being on the diet for a number of days puts your body into a state of ketosis. This is a nutritional state that is characterised by raised blood ketones and weight loss. While the diet may offer a number of benefits, it can also be difficult to follow consistently. Some people suggest that ketone supplements can mimic ketosis and raise blood ketone levels without changing your diet.

What Is Ketosis?

When the body finds itself in a state of ketosis, it burns fat as opposed to carbohydrate as its primary source of energy. The entire process of burning fat has the outcome of producing fatty acid by-products that are called ketones. These are the substances which the body uses for energy when carbohydrates are in short supply.

The keto diet is highly restrictive. As previously mentioned, many people have difficulty sticking to the diet. This means that they, therefore, fail to achieve ketosis. Exogenous ketones are supplements which could help a person achieve ketosis while being slightly less strict regarding what they eat.

What Are Exogenous Ketone Supplements?

Ketone bodies may be produced in your body (endogenously) or result from a synthetic source outside your body (exogenously). Thus, ketones found in supplements are called exogenous ketones. These exogenous ketone supplements contain only the beta-hydroxybutyrate ketone. The other main ketone body, acetoacetate, is not deemed to be chemically stable as a supplement.

There are two primary types of ketone supplements:

  • Ketone salts: These are ketones which are bound to a salt – typically sodium, potassium, calcium or magnesium. They are most often found in powder form in addition to being mixed with liquid.
  • Ketone esters: These are ketones that are linked to another compound called an ester and are packaged in liquid form. Ketone esters are utilised mainly in research and aren’t as readily available for purchase as ketone salts.

Both formats of ketone supplements have been shown to increase blood ketone levels, mimicking what takes place in ketosis when you follow a ketogenic diet.

In one recent study, supplementing with around 12 grams (12 000 mg) of ketone salts improved participants’ blood ketone levels by over 300%. For reference, most accessible ketone supplements contain between 8 and 12 grams of ketones per serving. This increase in blood ketone levels after supplementation is beneficial for people who would like to transition into ketosis without automatically having to follow the diet. That said, supplementing with exogenous ketones is thought to have a lot of the same health benefits as a ketogenic diet, together with weight loss.

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