Exogenous Ketones Pros and Cons
Exogenous ketones have been getting more attention in the media, and there is an increasing amount of information that can help us learn which situations exogenous ketones are best used in, and which ones we should avoid.
First of all, let’s be clear that your body will produce its own ketones naturally when you follow the keto diet the right way. It’s free! If you are following a low-carb high-fat (LCHF) ketogenic diet meal plan consistently and you’re totally crushing it and you feel an abundance of energy then you don’t really need exogenous ketones.
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What Are Exogenous Ketones?
Exogenous Ketones (EK for short) are ketone supplements and by definition, a supplement is a thing added to something else in order to complete or enhance it.
Think about it like building muscle, good supplements can enhance your results, but if you don’t eat right and exercise, supplements are just useless. You can’t just sit on the couch to watch TV, eat potato chips all day and drink some supplements and expect to gain muscle. A supplement is not a miracle. It’s just an addition and before you add it to your diet, you need to get the basic right first, which is dieting and exercise in the case of building muscles. The supplements are not going to lift the heavy weights for you. You do!
Back to the case of EK. If you cheat on your keto diet and eat a ton of carbs, and you want to use EK as a way to feel better and less guilty about it, it’s probably not a smart choice because EK won’t do anything for you (more on this later).
However, if you are eating LCHF and somehow you’re not feeling your best, EK can be helpful and we will explain more below.
We own and manage a few growing Keto Facebook groups with tens of thousands of members and we often see the exogenous ketones topic comes up. We have seen a lot of confusion and criticism as well as support from our members.
Most of the complaints are normally because of the expensive price of some products, the lack of understanding about what the product is and what it does to your body or because some sellers/promoters try to bend the truth to get you buy their products or recruit you into their multi level marketing team.
We recently ran a survey in our private group and asked people if they have used EK before and if it worked for them. Here’s the result:
Many people responded and said EK worked very well for them and they’ve seen all the benefits such as feeling better, having more mental clarity and energy, getting into ketosis faster and being able to control hunger, etc…
A few people responded and said EK didn’t work for them. Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all solution but what we have found interesting is the reasons why they said it didn’t work for them.
Some people were misled about the benefits of EK. Some people were misinformed and thought EK can lead to very quick (almost instant) weight loss. Others were told that you can eat all the carbs as much as you want and EK can help you stay in ketosis, which is a lie by the way (we’ll explain more when it will work and when it won’t work below). A few others who claimed it didn’t work didn’t actually use it. They might have read one article on the web or heard the opinion of their friend’s cousin’s brother-in-law (you get the point) and quickly jumped into the conclusion.
By being objective, we cannot deny the fact that many people have used EK and seen the benefits. Of course, we know which positive feedbacks are genuine and which ones are just for the sake of promoting the products.
Since many people want to know more about exogenous ketones to make the right decision for themselves, we feel our responsibility to share our opinion with everyone so they can make an informed decision. We want to be transparent with you as much as possible and provide you an unbiased view.
Some sites are promoting exogenous ketone use relentlessly, touting them as a supplement to help you shed fat without changing your diet, while others are more critical, wondering if exogenous ketone use has any benefit at all. We’ve sorted through the mess to find all the actual data and have presented it in a reference that you can actually use.
While exogenous ketones are a newer supplement, having entered the market for consumers in just the past few years, scientists have been synthesizing ketone bodies in a lab since the 1960’s. They were useful for scientists studying their use for specific disease conditions, most notably childhood seizure disorders, though they were prohibitively expensive for consumers (1, 2).
Thanks to improvements in technology, exogenous ketones have become available to the public. Not only that, but today’s supplements are far more palatable than previous incarnations, which only the bravest of souls would swallow. These products have largely been driven by consumer demand.
The keto world is small but relentless, and many hardcore keto dieters are in love with the science, so they pursue studies and push for the development of targeted, high-quality supplements that can support them in their quest for optimal health.
Understanding The Basics
As a bit of scientific background for the following analysis, you should know that ketones are molecules produced in the liver from fats and are used as energy in the absence of glucose. In the average diet, glucose is the main form of energy, and when this is dramatically reduced, the body switches to fats for fuel. If you’ve heard the term ketosis, that’s what this is referring to: the body converting fat to ketones to use for energy. In this scenario, ketones are produced endogenously, meaning inside the body (3).
Exogenous ketones, on the other hand, are synthesized in a lab and consumed as a supplement. Exogenous means growing or originating from outside an organism. This is essentially giving your body extra, easy to use energy. Today’s ketone supplements are ketone salts since they are bound to a salt for easier absorption into the body and for better stability. The ketones can be bound to any salt backbone, like sodium, calcium, or magnesium.
Top 5 Benefits of Exogenous Ketones
There are a lot of reasons that taking supplemental ketones is a great idea and a few misconceptions that we’ll address, so you can be fully informed and decide if exogenous ketone use is right for you.
#1. Getting Into Ketosis
If you have been reading the science behind the ketogenic diet, you know there can be a lot of benefits associated with choosing this way of eating. There is usually a transition period from when someone chooses to go on a ketogenic diet and implements the changes to their menu to when they actually get into ketosis and are able to produce and burn ketones for fuel. This period is often referred to as the Keto Flu period because you can feel run down, lethargic, foggy, achy, and overall unwell. The keto flu is unpleasant and is a sign that the body isn’t yet efficiently in ketosis. Your tissues are looking for glucose, and you’re not producing enough ketones yet to fill in the gaps.
In this situation, adding an exogenous ketone supplement is beneficial for two reasons:
- The first reason is that these added ketones can give you much needed energy to get through your day. You’ll be able to handle tasks that require focused thought, you’ll enjoy an improved mood, and you can even make it to the gym.
- The second reason is that it helps to kick start the body into ketosis, so producing and using your own ketones can happen faster and easier. This supplement essentially acts like a trigger, alerting your cells that ketones are the fuel of choice.
This is also an effective tactic if you’ve splurged on carb-filled foods, and want to get back into ketosis as quickly as possible. Your body will still need to burn the carbs before it can make its own ketones, but adding ketones can help you feel more energetic during this short process, and help avoid a longer transition period back into ketosis. Some people on cyclical ketogenic diets, where there are planned higher carb days, can use exogenous ketones when they are back to their normal low-carb phase.
There are also people who want to try a ketogenic diet but have hormonal issues that make it harder for them to get into ketosis. Some people who have a challenging level of hunger or whose blood sugar tends to be unregulated may also have a hard time in the beginning. For these people, exogenous ketones can be a welcome addition to their plan.
#2. Fasting, Hunger, and Training Harder
Many people on the ketogenic diet hail it as the best way they’ve found to control their hunger. There’s a lot of good science behind why that’s true. Keto helps to rebalance blood sugar, ghrelin, and leptin, all of which can cause out of control hunger and cravings. More than that, ketones can help to lower appetite all by themselves, which makes ketosis a one-two punch for anyone working to lose weight (4).
If you are using intermittent fasting as part of your plan but find you’re hungry sooner than you’d like, you can add exogenous ketones in the morning to help stave off that hunger until later. Using exogenous ketones can also help with fasted workouts. Since they provide additional energy and reduce hunger, they can help you work out harder for longer. It can be a boost for more intense workouts too, if you find you just don’t feel energetic or explosive in your training (5).
#3. Cognitive Benefits
The brain uses up the vast majority of the energy our bodies produce. Although this energy is normally generated from glucose in the blood, when glucose levels are reduced, ketones can provide 50-70% of this energy, and it’s a more efficient process (6).
Exogenous ketone use can be compared to the nootropics that have been developed for optimizing focus, memory creation, and faster cognitive performance. While you may not notice this effect on a minute to minute basis, if you keep a journal of “forgetful moments” you’ll find that you have fewer of them as time goes on. You’ll also find that you’re able to come up with better ideas, and your workflow is more efficient through the day (7).
#4. Encouraging Weight Loss (But Not What You Think!)
Some people misunderstand that exogenous ketones are weight loss supplements. They are not! Some promoters might misrepresent the products and tell you this is some kind of fat burner pills, but it’s absolutely not true.
Weight loss is a complex topic, and there are ways that exogenous ketones can help in this quest. It’s NOT something that will magically make the pounds melt off immediately, but it can be a great supporting player when the rest of the pieces are in place.
As discussed above, exogenous ketones can help to manage hunger, which is often hard to control for those who have excess weight to lose. There can be real physiological reasons for increased hunger, or it can be tied to mental patterns and behaviors. Being able to break these patterns of hunger that lead to overconsumption of foods can be a massive help to those who are on a ketogenic diet for the goal of losing weight.
Choosing this way of eating can help to balance blood sugar throughout the day, avoiding the spikes and crashes that can trigger lethargy and mindless binge eating. It can help you to shift your relationship with food in a more healthy direction.
Exogenous ketones can be an integral piece to your weight loss puzzle, as they can improve triglycerides, blood glucose, and insulin response, and even help directly with weight loss when a well-formulated way of eating is followed (8).
What’s good is that adding exogenous ketones doesn’t interfere with the body’s ability to burn fat and produce its own ketones for fuel. The extra ketones are like a bonus, extra energy the body can use for daily activities as well as workouts.
The caveat is that while the ketogenic diet and exogenous ketones can help a person to lose weight, the other pieces: a well formulated lower carbohydrate menu, eating fewer calories than you burn, and being active are still important.
Some people may have an unrealistic expectation that simply adding exogenous ketones to their daily stack can make the pounds fall off, so make sure to structure your plan in a way that supports healthy weight loss from all angles.
If you’re sure that you’re eating at a deficit, you’re increasing your activity, and you either have tested that you’re in ketosis or you’re eating less than 20g of net carbs a day, exogenous ketones can also be a great stall breaker if your weight has plateaued. Stalls are frustrating, especially when you’re doing everything right on paper.
Instead of giving in to despair, try adding some additional ketones to get into a deeper state of ketosis. A healthy and reasonable goal is to lose 0.5-2 pounds per week.
If you are having a weight loss plateau and you’ve been at the same weight for 3 or more weeks, try changing something to get back to that stable weight loss rate, like a ketone supplement. It would be exciting to lose more than that each week, but our bodies don’t adjust to dramatic changes well, and a slower rate of loss leads to more of the weight staying off in the future.
Bottom line: EK isn’t the magic pill for instant weight loss. EK triggers ketosis which is a metabolic state where your body burns fat for fuel. EK increases satiety and feeling full, and boosts energy for exercise which helps you lose weight for the long term. You should always aim for long term and sustainable weight loss and keep the weight off for good instead of looking for a quick fix.
#5. Performance Booster
Athletes who train harder and longer tend to have dramatically higher energy needs both for training and for competitions. Traditionally, this energy has been gotten from sugar-laden drinks, bars, gels, and other supplements. Since ketogenic athletes aren’t consuming all this sugar, they have to increase their energy intake some other way.
Creating ketones from the fats on your body or from foods is a slower process, and while it can yield plenty of energy for your day, there’s less circulating on a minute-to-minute basis for powerful, explosive, or endurance training (9, 10, 11).
Exogenous ketones can be portable and convenient for long competition events. They can also be combined with additional electrolyte minerals, which are of crucial importance in a ketogenic diet. Since those doing keto tend to hold less water and need more electrolytes on a regular basis, this could be an ideal electrolyte energy drink.
Cautionary Advice: When Not To Use Exogenous Ketones
Exogenous ketones can be awesome, but there are some situations where they’re not advised.
For example, if you’re eating a high carbohydrate diet, this means that your blood sugar would be in higher ranges and you’d be depending on glucose as your primary fuel source, not fats and ketones. Using exogenous ketones, in this case, is hurting your wallet, and not giving any real benefit to your body. Exogenous ketones can help you get into ketosis faster, but they don’t undo a high carb meal or a high carb diet.
It’s also a smart idea to start slowly with this supplement. We can thank Dave Asprey for the term “disaster pants” which has been used by those who try MCT oil at too high a dose when they first start using it. There is a chance that you can experience the same unpleasant gastrointestinal effect with exogenous ketones if you start with too high a dose, or if you maintain a higher carbohydrate diet while using this supplement. Used in appropriate doses, it gets absorbed through your stomach into your liver, then sent out to the rest of your body.
Because of how effectively exogenous ketones can reduce hunger for those in ketosis, pay attention to the cues your body gives you. It’s possible to extend your fasts longer than necessary because of a decreased appetite cue. While those who have some weight to lose might be tempted to think this is a favorable side effect, there is a difference between fasting and starving for nutrients. Make sure to get enough food to support your activities and maintain your muscle mass.
Individuals who have clinically unregulated blood sugar, such as those with diabetes, are cautioned to consult their trusted health care provider before choosing to use exogenous ketones. While it can be done safely, especially in the presence of a well formulated ketogenic food plan, there may be a risk of blood sugar dropping unexpectedly low. There may be therapeutic value in this application, but close monitoring is key.
There is a great deal of positive speculation that exogenous ketones can be beneficial for inflammation, cognitive enhancement, and even protection against certain types of cancer. There is mounting evidence that the ketogenic way of eating can help many people, and when used appropriately with realistic expectations, exogenous ketone supplementation can enhance these positive effects (12).
A small side effect for some people is “ketosis breath”. Many people on a ketogenic diet have experienced this temporary phenomenon, and those taking exogenous ketones can experience it as well. The smell of your breath when you are early in the ketogenic diet can have a hint of acetone to it, and it might be mildly unpleasant, but it’s also harmless. Most gum is pretty low in carbohydrates, and is a great option while your keto breath fades.
Avoid Misleading Products That Have The Word “Ketones” or “Keto” In Their Name
Be aware that there are some supplements and fat burner pills out there that may have the word “keto”, “ketosis” or “ketones” in their name or might claim that they help in maintaining the state of ketosis, but aren’t actually what they claim to be.
For example, the popular Raspberry Ketones supplement is far different than what we have been discussing in this article. Raspberry ketones are unrelated to the ketones that are produced in the body and are not the same as the ketone salts that have been covered above. There are some limited studies that indicate raspberry ketones may be helpful for weight loss, but they are inconsistent. Raspberry ketones are the molecules that give raspberries their scent and flavor, and in some cases, aren’t even derived from raspberries at all (13, 14, 15).
Exogenous ketone supplementation can be a source of significant benefit in the right situation. Ketones can be used as easy fuel for the body, but are most useful in situations where carbohydrates in the diet are reduced to very low levels.
These ketones can serve as an energy source for the body and the brain, and can improve cognitive and physical performance.
It’s important to note, however, that exogenous ketones are not a fix-all for a poor diet and lack of physical activity, nor are they marketed as a treatment or cure for any disease condition.
When choosing an exogenous ketone supplement, make sure to read the ingredients carefully. Brands that have a “proprietary blend” don’t allow you to see the quantities of each ingredient in their mix. You should know every detail about the supplements you choose, so you know exactly what is affecting your body, and you have control over the variables of your intake.
Exogenous ketone supplement can put BHB (Beta-hydroxybutyrate or ketone bodies) in your blood and effectively in ketosis. The result varies by the individual but a typical boost is about 30 min – 3 hours, then your ketone levels will return to your baseline, whether that be in ketosis (from eating a ketogenic diet) or not in ketosis (if you eat too much carbs).
EK is not a magic pill. You cannot use it to erase eating choices. Stay away from the marketers who try to tell you that “you can have your cake and eat it too or just eat all the carbs that you love, and then just use our product and you’re good to go”. This is not true! You have to follow the keto diet effectively first, then you can supplement with EK to boost your energy and increase satiety.
Exogenous ketones are not a carb blocker or a guilt eraser after you cheat on your keto diet. It is not a weight loss supplement that leads to magical weight loss either.
We would suggest you to make better choices about your food first, follow the keto diet strictly for a while to get all the ketosis benefits from it. Then if you want to supplement afterward to help out, then you can make an informed decision and try exogenous ketones.
If you want to ask other exogenous ketones users for their feedback, make sure they are unbiased. They should tell you their feedback based on their genuine use of the products and their observation, not trying to convince you to try it so they can sell it to you and recruit you to their network marketing MLM team.
Finally, if you’re pregnant or have had any major illness before, you need to talk to your doctor before using these products.
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What Are The Best Exogenous Ketone Supplement Products Can I Try?
If you have read and understood the pros and cons of EK, when to use and when not to use and decide to try it yourself then this section is for you.
There are many exogenous ketones companies and products out there that you can try. However, our recommendation is Perfect Keto Base.
We partner with Perfect Keto for many reasons:
Reason #1: Accessibility
Many EK companies use a Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) model which means you cannot purchase their products directly. You have to be referred by a promoter and use their “Referrer Code” before checking out.
With Perfect Keto, you simply make your purchase on Amazon or on their online store for a better price. There is No MLM or membership requirement.
If you decide to purchase Perfect Keto’s exogenous ketones, you can use our coupon KETOVALE for 20% OFF. Simply go to https://shop.perfectketo.com/ and enter our coupon code KETOVALE for 20% discount.
Reason #2: Good Quality and Low GI Distress
Their product is completely clean and does not contain any artificial sweeteners, dairy, soy, gluten, binding agents, or any bad stuff that doesn’t directly improve your health.
Perfect Keto products contain only high-quality beta hydroxybutyrate (BHB) ketones sourced in the United States, in just the right amounts to make sure that their products are easily digested by your digestive system. Other ingredients: Magnesium, Calcium, Cocoa, Stevia leaf, Vitamin C
Each tub contains 211 grams of product which is good enough for 15 full-scoop servings, or 30 half-scoop servings. Each serving comes with 11.3 grams of high-quality BHB.
Reason #3: Great Taste
A lot of complaints when it comes to EK products in general is the awful taste. However, Perfect Keto comes with delicious Chocolate Sea Salt and Peaches and Cream flavors. You can add this into any keto-approved beveragesuch as ketocoffee or smoothie or just in plain water and they taste phenomenol.
Reason #3: Affordable
Perfect Keto products are much cheaper than the standard price. It’s by far the most affordable brand with respect to the premium quality.
Reason #4: Doctor Developed and Recommended
Perfect Keto founder, Dr. Anthony Gustin, is a functional medicine clinician who developed the unique formula for maximum efficacy.
Perfect Keto Vs. Keto//OS
Another popular and similar ketone supplement is Keto//OS products by Prüvit which you might be familiar with. Here’s a side by side compaision between Perfect Keto and Keto//OS:
Here’s How to Use Perfect Keto
For Mental Performance
- Remember ketones are what your body breaks fat down into for useable energy. Your brain uses about 20% of your total daily energy expenditure.
- This is not a stimulant for the perception of alertness. Perfect Keto is real energy.
- Ketones are fuel for your body. When we talk about “fat-burning” we are literally describing fatty acids being metabolized into ketones.
Help with Keto Flu
- Skip the “Keto Flu” symptoms and signal your body to enter ketosis
Basically, Perfect Keto solves the all the common problems when it comes to exogenous ketones supplement: easy to buy (no MLM referral style or membership required), better taste, affordable price, made with premium ingredients with low gastrointestinal (GI) distress.
We hope you enjoy reading this article and gain an understanding about what exogenous ketones supplement is, when it works and when it doesn’t work. We recommend Perfect Keto if you want to supplement with ketone drink because of its quality, affordable price and good taste. Ultimately, it’s your choice to pick whichever brand you might want to try and be responsible with your usage. We would suggest you to start with a small dose, observe how you feel and how your body responds and change the dose to suit your needs. Be a smart experimenter instead of a consumer.
Related: Best MCT Oil & Powder Review