The ketogenic diet is very restrictive. Many people struggle with sticking to the diet, and fail to achieve ketosis. Exogenous ketones are supplements that help a person achieve ketosis, while being slightly less strict about what they eat.
The FDA does not regulate exogenous ketones. Therefore, ketone supplements have not been properly tested for safety, purity, or effectiveness. Researchers are also unsure whether exogenous ketones have the same benefits as natural ketones.
In this article, I’ll tell you whether ketone supplements can actually help you shed those extra pounds.
What Are Exogenous Ketones?
Ketone bodies are either produced in your body (endogenously), or come from a synthetic source (exogenously). For example, our keto chocolate beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) powder contains exogenous ketones. Supplements like ours only contain the BHB ketone.
There are two main forms of ketone supplements:
- Ketone salts: Ketones bound to a salt, typically sodium, potassium, calcium or magnesium. They’re most often found in powder form, and mixed with liquid.
- Ketone esters: Ketones linked to another compound called an ester. These are packaged in liquid form. Ketone esters are used primarily in research. They aren’t as readily available for purchase as ketone salts.
Both forms of supplements can mimic what happens when you follow a keto diet. That said, supplementing with ketones can have many of the same health benefits as a keto diet, including weight loss.
Several people take supplements when they first start the keto diet. They do this to quickly reach ketosis. Supplements can also reduce the dreaded “keto flu.”
Exogenous Ketones May Decrease Appetite
Ketone supplements can decrease your appetite, to help you eat less and lose weight.
In a recent study, people who drank a ketone ester beverage felt 50% less hunger then to those who drank a sugary beverage.
However, keto supplements may not affect appetite as much in people who eat first. Studies show higher blood ketone levels in those who didn’t eat a meal before taking a supplement.
Elevated ketones are linked to a reduced appetite. Therefore, ketone supplements may only be beneficial during a fast.
Taking a ketone supplement after a meal will still raise blood ketone levels, but not as high as if you fasted. That could mean that your body is using fewer ketones as fuel.
Exogenous ketones are generally considered to be a safe and effective way to lose weight. But the long-term effects are still unknown. Reported side effects are more common with ketone salts, than ketone esters.
Moreover, specialists do not recommended using ketone salts to reach ketosis, due to the high amounts of minerals you’d ingest.
One serving of ketone salts provides:
- 680 mg of sodium (27% of the DV)
- 320 mg magnesium (85% of the DV)
- 590 mg of calcium (57% of the DV)
You’ll need to take a dose every two to three hours to maintain ketosis. Manufacturers of ketone supplements recommend taking up to three servings per day.
Ketone supplements can help you maintain ketosis, however they work much better during a fast.
The Bottom Line
Studies show that exogenous ketones can help induce ketosis in people who want to lose weight or increase stamina.
However, it is unrealistic for a person to think that they can eat whatever they want while using keto supplements to lose weight. Exogenous ketones are unlikely to induce or maintain ketosis alongside an unsuitable diet.
Talk to a doctor first before using ketone supplements to lose weight. Your doctor will test your electrolyte balance, and assess whether these supplements are safe for you to use.
There’s no real support for using ketones as a weight loss aid, until more research is available.