All of the ketones!!
Just a few years ago, finding an exogenous ketone supplement to purchase and play with was quite difficult. I’ve watched as exogenous ketones went from a very difficult to come by supplement, to a supplement sold for weight-loss (exogenous ketones do not cause weight-loss), to now where the the market is flooded with a gold mine of exogenous ketone options!
In a relatively short period of time, we’ve gone from “I really want to try these! Where can I buy them?” To: “Oh my goodness, there’s so many! How do I choose?”
Let’s take a moment to sort this out.
First, WHY would someone choose to use an exogenous ketone supplement?
1. BRAIN/COGNITIVE FUNCTION
“Ketones are the preferred source of fuel for your brain. A study out of University or Sherbrooke showed that even when glucose is present, your brain will use ketones first. Your brain will uptake ketones even when glucose is present.” -Devon Price
Exogenous ketones elevate your blood ketone levels. These ketones are then able to cross the blood-brain barrier and can act as fuel for the brain, helping you achieve and sustain peak mental acuity.
In one study, ketones improved brain network stability by 87%, which can help increase brain activity and sharpen mental clarity.
By stabilizing brain networks, ketones may protect the aging brain from cognitive decline and conditions like dementia.
Using digit-symbol substitution (DSST) as assessment (correct responses in 90 sec), ketone supplementation significantly improved cognitive performance by 7%.
Even when glucose is available, ketones can contribute up to 80% of the brain’s fuel.
Researchers are closely studying these benefits and discovering how elevated ketone levels support memory, concentration, and mental clarity.
Exogenous ketones support longevity by promoting strong metabolic and cognitive health.
Studies show that ketones may help decrease blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity. When paired with a healthy diet and exercise, this can prevent serious illnesses like type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
Ketones may reduce oxidative stress, decrease brain inflammation, and alter certain neurotransmitters involved in health and disease. This may help alleviate some cognitive diseases.
Ketones have been shown to increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF helps grow neurons, promote synaptic connections, and support long-term brain health, learning, and memory.
3. FASTING & APPETITE CONTROL
Exogenous ketones can be used to support weight loss goals when used in combination with a ketogenic diet, exercise, and/or fasting. Ketones have been shown to significantly reduce ghrelin, the hunger hormone. A reduced appetite makes it easier to maintain a calorie deficit and achieve and manage a healthy weight!
“Increased blood ketone levels may directly suppress appetite, as KE drinks lowered plasma ghrelin levels, perceived hunger, and desire to eat.”
4. ENDURANCE & RECOVERY
Exogenous ketones can raise ketone levels to a range that can help unlock key benefits for endurance and recovery.
Ketones are 28% more efficient as a fuel than glucose alone, meaning that the body can perform more work with the same amount of oxygen.
Athletes who drank ketones for recovery and sleep over a 3-week period saw a 15% increase in power output.
One study found that athletes saw a 2% increase in endurance after consuming ketones.
Now that we have a clearer idea of the reasons one might choose to integrate exogenous ketones into their daily wellness routines, how do we choose?
Let’s now take a brief look at the different forms of exogenous ketones.
Ketone salts are ketone bodies (BHB) that have been bound to a mineral: calcium, sodium, magnesium or a combination of those minerals.
Ketone salts were the first type of exogenous ketone to be made available for purchase by the general public.
Since the ketone bodies are attached to a mineral, they generally taste better and are easier to mask with flavor than ketone esters. Ketone salts raise your blood ketones, but they don’t raise your ketones quite as high as ketone esters do.
These were the very first types of exogenous ketones I played with. I LOVED them! I still do. They felt amazing and even though the first versions available caused quite a bit of “gastro fun”, they felt so good I didn’t care. Much has changed and evolved in the ketone salt space since those first products hit the market.
Most ketone salts you’ll find now are well-formulated and not likely to cause any gastro-intestinal distress. In my opinion, Audacious Nutrition's KETOSTART ketone salt + electrolyte product is the best option out there! It’s the best we’ve tasted and it provides a long steady bump in ketones. Use KETOSTART to:
START YOUR DAY - Keeps you stay energized all day, bring it in your bag everywhere.
START YOUR WORKOUT - Super tasty and convenient before and after your exercise.
STOPS CRAVINGS - Used in between meals, helps you adhere to your diet.
SUPPORTS A LOW CARB DIET - Excellent when transitioning to a ketogenic diet.
Ketone esters are bound to a ketone precursor (like butanediol) via an ester bond. There are three ester bonds: monoester (one), diester (two), or triester (three). All esters will raise ketone levels, but monoesters are superior.
One ketone monoester, butanediol-BHB, has been shown in studies to improve human endurance performance, recovery and cognition with few GI side effects.
Most importantly, this monoester safely raises blood ketone levels to around 4 mml within 30 minutes of consumption, which has proved beneficial for endurance performance, recovery, hunger control, blood glucose management and neurodegenerative disease.
The downside of ketone esters? The taste and the cost.
But! In recent years the cost has come down and the flavor profiles have improved…a bit. Ketone esters will never be delicious, but they will always get you a guaranteed boost in energy, clarity & focus.
HVMN was the first to market with a ketone ester a number of years ago. I hunted it down, bought it and loved it! But it was incredibly cost prohibitive, so i used it sparingly and rarely.
Now though, HVMN now offers ketone esters as an easy to use shot, AND as much more cost effective concentrate! Check out the below episode of the Health Via Modern Nutrition Podcast where the HVMN team talks about the path the company has taken in the past few years and how they've been able to lower the cost with their new products. It's a great listen!
HVMN's new Ketone-IQ shots make it easy to take your ketones on the go!
Ketone-IQ delivers a clean, focused boost of energy to power your routine workouts and your toughest competitions. This revolutionary drink has only 1 active ingredient: pure ketones [R-1,3 Butanediol], an ancient energy source scientifically proven to support mental clarity, endurance, recovery, and more.
Personally, i've incorporated Audacious Nutrition's ketone salts AND HVMN's ketone esters into our fat adapted tool kits. I like to use the salts prior to a workout and I like to use the esters as a guaranteed tool for fast hyper-focus on long days.
The salts will bump my ketones to 1.5 to 2mml and the esters will bump my ketones to 2.5 to 4+ mml. Those of you who are deep into keto and fully fat-adapted will know how those different blood ketone ranges feel.
BOTH are highly beneficial and get you all of the above outlined benefits. You will though have to play with them yourself to feel how each option "hits" your own physiology.
Keto on friends!