Whether you’re brand new to keto or have been following a ketogenic diet for years, you’ve surely heard about exogeneous ketones. Unless you’re a keto expert, you probably have a few questions about them. What are exogeneous ketones? How can I use them to advance my keto journey? Are exogeneous ketones safe?
We’ve got you covered. In this guide, we’ll explain in detail what exogeneous ketones are, why keto followers supplement with them, and when and how you should do the same.
What Is Ketosis?
To understand what ketones are, we need to first know what ketosis is. When our bodies need energy to get us through the day, they typically turn to glucose. Glucose is produced by eating carbohydrates. If you’re a lover of carbs, you’re certainly familiar with the sudden dip in energy that can happen when you binge on some of your favorite dense foods. This is because carbohydrates aren’t the ideal energy source for our bodies.
Ketosis is a metabolic state achieved by eating a ketogenic diet. This type of diet consists of getting most of your daily calories from fat, eating a moderate amount of protein, and highly restricting carb intake. As our body begins to enter ketosis, it looks to fat for fuel and the liver produces ketones. The deeper state of ketosis you’re in, the more ketones will be present.
There are three types of ketones your body makes: acetoacetate, acetone, and beta-hydroxybutyrate. Because beta-hydroxybutyrate can easily make its way through blood and to organs and tissues, this is the type of ketone most exogeneous products include.
What Are Exogeneous Ketones?
Our bodies produce ketones when we’re in ketosis. Put simply, exogeneous ketones are those that are made outside of the body and then consumed. We already mentioned beta-hydroxybutyrate is the most common ketone found in exogeneous ketones but there are a few different types of exogeneous ketones you may come across.
Ketone esters are a raw ketone. They aren’t bound to any other compound. The body can use this type of ketone a bit quicker than others as it doesn’t have to remove the ketone from a compound, but this comes with a price. Most say that the taste of these types of ketones is so bad they just can’t be consumed. There is also a higher risk for stomach distress.
In a salt based ketone supplement, the ketone is attached to a salt, like magnesium, calcium, sodium, or potassium. This type won’t raise your ketone levels as fast as an ester will, but the taste is more enjoyable, and it shouldn’t disrupt your stomach or bathroom habits.
Medium chain triglyceride oils are common ketone supplements. It takes a bit longer for ketones to enter your system because the body needs to break down the product first, with ketones being produced as a byproduct. While still effective, oils don’t tend to raise the ketone levels in blood as much as other products, making it a bit more difficult to monitor. Using oils alongside another type of supplement is always an option.
5 Reasons to Supplement with Exogeneous Ketones
Some take exogeneous ketones just because they think they have to on a ketogenic diet. But the truth is that people with all types of lifestyles can take exogeneous ketones. Whether they follow a ketogenic diet or eat carbs all day, taking a supplement can have a positive effect on their overall health. Here are the top five reasons people supplement with exogeneous ketones.
To burn fat
One of the most common reasons for using exogeneous ketones is to lose weight. Don’t make the mistake of thinking the product alone makes you lose weight. Instead, it helps you enter ketosis faster or deepen your level of ketosis for more effective fat burning.
To avoid the keto flu
If you’re familiar with entering ketosis, you know about the keto flu. As your body transitions from using energy from carbs to ketones, side effects are common. You may experience low energy, irritability, headaches, fatigue, and bloating. Overall, you may feel like you’re coming down with the flu. Exogeneous ketones will make the side effects less extreme and last shorter.
To get back into ketosis
Maybe you allowed yourself a cheat day or simply messed up your macros without realizing it. Either way, your body is now out of ketosis. You could start all over and wait for your body to do its thing or you could turn to exogeneous ketones. They’ll help you get your body back into ketosis effortlessly without having to mentally punish yourself.
For more endurance
Whether you just want to get in a few more workouts a week or your job or daily life is temporarily more demanding, using exogeneous ketones can help you keep up. When you use exogeneous ketones, your body will be able to use the energy almost immediately and without using as much oxygen. You’ll be able to sweat it out for longer.
For brain power
If you rely on your brain more than your muscles, exogeneous ketones can still be the supplement for you. If you’re familiar with ketosis, you know that one of its benefits is improved cognitive function. When you eat a bunch of carbs, your brain can never be properly fueled. That’s because glucose can’t directly cross the brain barrier. But ketones can. So, whether you’re in ketosis or not, exogeneous ketones can help lift brain fog and boost your mental energy.
How to Supplement with Exogeneous Ketones
It’s not as simple as taking a serving of exogeneous ketones and waiting for results. The reason you’re taking them will determine how you supplement with them. Here are a few scenarios to consider.
When testing out a product
If you’re giving a new exogeneous ketone product a try, start small. Take half of a serving in the morning for two days. Keep track of how your body reacts. Do you feel more energetic? Is your mind clearer? Is your stomach upset at all? Once you feel you can build up, go ahead. Just keep track of how much you’re taking and the results. This will all help you determine if a product is right for you.
When trying to lose weight
Taking exogeneous ketones for weight loss is common. Luckily, it’s not difficult to work in this extra step to your routine for results. Take one serving every morning to kickstart your body’s energy. This will help keep you active all day and encourage you to make healthy decisions at meal times. While exogenous ketones for weight loss will work better if you’re on a ketogenic diet, you may also experience results while still eating carbs. Just limit them as much as possible.
When trying to get back into ketosis
If you did something to take your body out of ketosis, exogeneous ketones can help quickly get you back on track. To use them for this reason, take half a serving of exogeneous ketones as soon as possible after discovering or suspecting you’re no longer in ketosis. Be sure to test later in the day to see where you stand.
When trying to avoid the keto flu
No one likes the keto flu. If there’s a way to avoid it, it would be silly not to. While not guaranteed, you can take exogeneous ketones to at least minimize the side effects of keto flu, or the transition time between the body using glucose for energy and then fat. When trying to skip the keto flu or at least make it more manageable, split your exogeneous ketone dose into about three doses throughout the day. Continue this for up to a week or until you feel you’ve made it through the worst of the keto flu.
When you want to rock out at the gym
If you want to use exogenous ketones to improve your performance at the gym or another physical activity, take a serving immediately before a workout. If you plan on remaining physical for several hours, like a marathon or extra-long training day, take additional half servings every hour after the first two hours have passed. If you’re taking an exogeneous ketone supplement with caffeine, make sure you’re not taking in any other caffeine to avoid becoming jittery with extra servings.
When you want to think clearer
If you rely on exogeneous ketones specifically for mental productivity, you’ll take the supplement a little bit differently. You’ll experience the best mental clarity if you take the product on an empty stomach. However, if you’ve never taken exogeneous ketones before, you may want to take a small dose to see how it affects your stomach and then work up. When taking a full dose, you can expect up to six hours of improved brain power.
Additional Advantages of Exogeneous Ketones
We’ve covered when to use exogeneous ketones but there are more advantages than first meet the eye. Here are some of the top benefits of exogeneous ketones.
- A common myth is that taking in too many exogeneous ketones will never lead to weight gain. Kidneys work rapidly to filter out excess ketones through urine. While protein, fat, and carbohydrates may be converted to adipose tissue, exogeneous ketones never will.
- Exogeneous ketones can boost physical performance for up to 8 hours.
- Even though the brain prefers glucose, it drastically improves in function when fueled by exogeneous ketones.
- Recent research suggests that exogeneous ketones could be a cancer fighter. Cancer cells can’t metabolize ketones and therefore can’t grow. One study showed that mice who were fed BHB salts experienced a 70% increase in survival rates compared to the mice who didn’t receive exogeneous ketones.
- Exogeneous ketones have also been linked to Alzheimer’s disease prevention and treatment. While it doesn’t qualify as a possible cure, exogeneous ketones have been shown to slow neurodegeneration and reverse slowing mental function.
As you can see, there’s more to exogenous ketones than simply losing a few pounds or boosting your energy levels. We still have a lot to learn about them but the future of exogeneous ketones is promising.
How to Choose an Exogeneous Supplement
With so many types and brands of exogeneous supplements on the market, how do you know which is right for you? Here are some of our tips for finding the perfect exogeneous ketone supplement for your needs.
Which type is right for you?
We covered the different types earlier in the guide. You’ll find that for the most part, all exogeneous ketones are BHB salts. But there are oils and raw esters available. Because they’re the most common, most of our questions and answers will focus on BHB salts. But determining which is best for you of the three main types is the first step.
Do you want a powder or liquid?
The majority of BHB salts are powders that you mix with water to make a drink with. While there are a few liquids on the market, they’re rare. You’ll find that liquids are fast acting but powdered exogeneous ketones are longer lasting.
Are you looking for added ingredients?
While some exogeneous ketone products are 100% pure, others have additional vitamins or minerals. If this is important to you, you’ll have to do some research to find which meets your needs. Some have caffeine, green tea, taurine, or vitamin C.
What BHB content are you looking for?
You’ll find exogeneous ketones have varying amounts of BHB. More isn’t necessarily better. This is especially true if you’re just starting out. Remember, your body will flush out any excess ketones so finding a product with the perfect amount of BHB is something you should focus on. You can always move up as you finish products so start on the lower end if you’re not sure.
How important is taste to you?
This shouldn’t be a main deciding factor in your search for the best exogeneous ketone supplement. But if this is something you’re going to consume daily, you’ll want to make sure you enjoy the taste. There are sweeter citrus options, chocolate options, and unflavored as well.
Have you checked reviews?
Once you’ve narrowed your choices down to one or two, look into reviews. You’ll want to make sure that previous buyers were satisfied with the product. There will always be a few negative reviews so take those with a grain of salt. Determine if the bad reviews are a deal breaker or something that won’t affect your satisfaction.
Are you ready for a trial?
The only way to really know if an exogeneous ketone supplement is right for you is to try it. You may have to try a few before you find the perfect one. Just remember to only use one at a time and give your body some time in between different products.
Exogenous Ketone Concerns
Nothing is perfect, including exogeneous ketones. There are a few disadvantages or concerns you should be aware of before making a decision about using them.
If you take exogeneous ketones in large doses, especially if you’re not in ketosis or have never used them before, you may experience GI discomfort. This includes cramping, gas, bloating, and diarrhea. We always recommend starting with smaller doses and working your way up to the recommended dose over the course of several days.
Being in ketosis is naturally diuretic. When you add exogeneous ketones to the mix, the issue can become serious. To prevent deficiencies or dehydration, make sure you drink plenty of water, possible with an electrolyte solution if necessary.
Bad breath is a common side effect of ketosis in general, but it can be more intense when taking exogeneous ketones. To combat this, drink plenty of water and keep up on your dental hygiene.
You’re not necessarily in ketosis
When you’re in ketosis from eating a ketogenic diet, your body will remain in the metabolic state until you change your diet. You’re essentially teaching your body to run on fat. When you take exogeneous ketones, you’re not changing how your body runs.
You may gain weight after using exogeneous ketones
Just as the body’s use of ketones isn’t permanent when taking exogeneous ketones, neither is weight loss. You may lose a few pounds quickly while taking exogeneous ketones but unless you change other parts of your diet or lifestyle, the weight will most likely come right back on once you stop the ketones.
When to Avoid Ketones
Are there times when you should avoid ketones? The answer to this lies within your overall health. One of the biggest concerns regarding exogeneous ketones is type 2 diabetes. While exogeneous ketones can be used to help manage the condition, it can be dangerous in certain circumstances. If you have type 2 diabetes and want to use exogeneous ketones, speak with your doctor first. They can help you come up with a plan that will keep you safe.
Exogeneous ketone supplements can be used for a variety of reasons and improve health with very little investment. Whether you’re a ketogenic diet follower or not, exogeneous ketones could be what you need to shed a few pounds, boost your physical endurance, or strengthen your mental clarity and focus.