Will taking Exogenous Ketone Supplements Help with Weight Loss?
First, let's take a look at what a keto diet or "ketogenic diet" consists of. A keto diet, simply put, is a very low-carbohydrate, high fat diet. Once you begin a keto diet, your body goes into a metabolic state called ketosis. Ketosis is a nutritional state which is characterized by raised levels of ketones in your blood and accelerated weight loss.
The keto diet can provide great results, but it can also be a difficult diet to follow consistently. The theory with ketone supplements is that they mimic ketosis, causing your body to raise the ketone levels in your blood, without following a strictly keto diet. Unfortunately, that's not how it's interpreted by your body. Today we will look at the ability of exogenous ketone supplements to help you shed extra weight.
What is Happening to my Body During Ketosis?
When you are on a high-carbohydrate diet, your body and its cells rely on glucose for fuel. Many times we hear nutritionists or reporters talk about glucose but really have no idea what it is. Glucose is created from the carbs you consume in your diet, this includes the most common foods like pasta, bread, sugar, and even some vegetables. Once you starve your body of these foods, like when you begin a ketogenic diet, you force your body to find an alternative fuel source. That's when your body begins to burn fat for fuel, this process is what produces ketone bodies in your blood. This entire process is known as the metabolic state of ketosis. There are also other ways in which we can trigger ketosis like periods of fasting or strenuous exercise.
There are two primary ketone bodies you will produce during ketosis and they are acetoacetate and beta-hydroxybutyrate. There's a third, but it's much less abundant Acetone.
The combination of these ketone bodies replaces the usual glucose that your body would use as fuel and then provides your brain, heart, and muscles with the energy it needs to function. Many believe that the ketone bodies themselves may be the reason we experience weight loss when adhering to a ketogenic diet.
What We Learned
Ketosis is the process by which your body uses very high levels of ketones for energy rather than the usual glucose, which you would get from eating carbs.
Research has found that ketone bodies can be produced endogenously (in your body) or can be consumed from a synthetic source (which is outside the body, such as Ketone Supplements). This makes the ketones we find in Ketone Weight Loss supplements exogenous ketones.
The main ingredient in every Ketone Supplement is beta-hydroxybutyrate ketones. The other primary ketone we discussed earlier is, acetoacetate isn't chemically stable as a supplement.
We will look at the two main forms of ketone supplements, used in products found in the market today:
Ketone Salts: These ketones are named because they are found bound to salt, in the majority of cases sodium, potassium, calcium, or magnesium. Traditionally these compounds are sold in powder form and mixed with liquid when consumed.
Ketone Esters: These aren't used nearly as much but they are ketones that are linked to another compound called an ester. Esters are traditionally packaged in liquid form but rarely available for purchase as ketone salts. Studies have shown both forms of these ketone supplements increase ketone levels in your blood, which means they are mimicking what happens when your body reaches ketosis after following a strictly ketogenic diet. This leads us back to everybody wanting a magic pill to lose weight. Some would call this form of supplement exactly that, a magic pill. Imagine eating whatever you want, in moderation of course, and still being able to get your body into a state of ketosis so that you are burning fat for fuel rather than glucose. That's the dream! One study out of the USA has found that supplementing with 11 grams (11,000 mg) of ketone salts will increase that person's blood ketone levels by over 300%!
I wonder how long it takes to reach those numbers by simply dieting alone? In case you're wondering what serving size these supplements are taken in, the typical serving is 8-12 grams of ketones. What does this tell us? Well, an elevation in blood ketone levels while using these supplements is very helpful for people who are looking to transition their body into ketosis without strictly following a keto diet. The keyword here is "Strictly". You still need to try to limit your carb intake, these supplements will be a little more forgiving though so if you sneak a few in, it won't completely knock your body out of ketosis. That's why we have seen an uptick in purchases of keto supplements, people take them AND follow a keto diet, especially during the beginning of the new diet, as it will kickstart your weight loss and sometimes that little extra motivation is exactly what someone needs in order to stick to this lifestyle. By taking these, it will reduce the time it takes for your body to reach ketosis and one of the bigger positives is it will lessen the uncomfortable effects many experiences when transitioning from the normal, higher-carb diet straight to a ketogenic diet. These symptoms, which many experiences when beginning the diet is commonly known as the "keto flu". While this isn't a virus or flu of any kind, rather your body's reaction to this different type of diet. The symptoms are unpleasant at best and many will experience constipation, severe headaches, bad breath, muscle cramps, and sometimes diarrhea. They claim to help with these symptoms but note that there is very limited clinical research to suggest that ANY ketone supplements can really reduce these symptoms.
What we learned
If you take exogenous ketone supplements they will increase the ketone levels in your body, this imitates the metabolic state of ketosis, which is normally achieved through a ketogenic diet.
Another great benefit of taking ketone supplements is that it has been shown to decrease a person's appetite, which will obviously lead to more weight loss. In a study by German scientists, participants of normal weight were given a beverage containing ketone esters and experienced 50% less hunger after fasting overnight than the other group of participants who were drinking a sugary beverage. This effect of appetite-suppressing is attributed to much lower levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin, in between one and three hours after drining their ketone ester drink. The other finding is that this ketone supplement may have much less effect on the appetite of participants who had a meal beforehand. This study has also observed much higher ketone levels in the blood of participants who didn't eat a meal before consuming a ketone supplement compared to others who did. That means that since it is the elevated ketones that cause the reduction in appetite and lower ghrelin levels, ketone supplements may only work during times of fast, like when you first get up in the morning, instead of after a meal that contains carbohydrates. What they concluded was that taking ketone supplements directly after a meal with carbs will raise blood ketone levels but not nearly to a level as high as if you had fasted. So your body uses fewer ketones as fuel as it will use the glucose from the carbs you just ate.
What We Learned
A German study found that exogenous ketone supplements are effective in reducing your appetite over 4 hours, which will kickstart your weight loss goals. Remember, additional research is still needed to confirm ketone supplements can be recommended for appetite control primarily. Should We Be Taking Exogenous Ketones for Weight Loss Despite the little we do know about the potential appetite-suppressing effects ketone supplements can have, their actual weight loss benefits aren't known just yet. That's why many doctors and health care professionals cannot recommend them for weight loss at this time. Their actual effectiveness and weight dropping potential benefits are unknown. There are studies on the other side that state these supplements may actually hinder weight loss. Our experience has been positive and even if the weight loss we experienced was due to the "placebo effect", I'll take that because, at the end of the day, a keto diet and keto supplements allowed me to drop over 150 lbs of unwanted body fat.
Do Ketones Inhibit Fat Breakdown
The entire purpose of the ketogenic diet for weight loss is to produce ketones from stored fast as an alternative fuel source. The problem is that if your ketone blood levels reach a level that is too high, your blood then becomes dangerously acidic. In order to prevent this, most healthy people rely on a feedback mechanism that will slow down the production of ketones in their boy at the point they become too high. So, the more increased your blood ketone levels are, the less your body will produce naturally. What researchers have found is taking ketone supplements may actually prevent body fat from being burned as fuel, if nothing else in the short term.
Do Ketones Contain Calories
Since your body can use ketones as a fuel source, the answer is yes, they have calories. Each ketone contains about 4 calories per gram, which is the same number of calories found in carbs or protein. If you are taking a single serving of exogenous ketone salts, they will contain less than 100 calories, but in order to keep your boy in ketosis, you would need several servings throughout the day. The reason is that the effects of a ketone supplement only last a few hours, requiring repeated doses several times per day in order to maintain ketosis. The other downside is that you are looking at a minimum of $3 per serving, it can become quite costly over time.
What We Learned
Ketone supplements are not ketogenic, meaning they will prevent your body from producing its own ketones. Ketone Supplements also contain calories, which could actually hinder weight loss.
Are there any Side Effects
While most agree that exogenous ketone supplements are mostly safe and effective in increasing ketone body concentrations, the long term effects are widely unknown. Anytime you are altering a vital function or your body, you run the risk of complications. The most experienced side effects associated with ketone salts rather than ketone esters and they include nausea, diarrhea, and stomach discomfort. Many are also reported to have a "gross" aftertaste as well.
The biggest argument against using ketone salts to achieve ketosis is due to the high amounts of minerals you'd be ingesting.
Here's the breakdown on the serving ketone salts provide:
- 675 mg of sodium (that's 27% of the daily value)
- 320 mg of magnesium (that's 85% of the daily value)
- 590 mg of calcium (that's 57% of the daily value)
It doesn't sound like too much but then you remember that in order to maintain a state of ketosis, you'll need to re-dose every two to three hours, which will double or triple these numbers. The manufactures of these ketone supplements recommend taking up to 3 servings per day. Remember, while ketone supplements work to help you maintain ketosis even after a meal, the rise in levels of ketones in the blood is much greater if you fast or avoid carbs all-together.
What We Learned
Ketone Supplements can have mild side effects from upset stomach to diarrhea. Also, keto supplements are bound to salts, so consuming too much is definitely not recommended.
Final Thoughts on Ketogenic Diet Supplements
These keto Supplements' largest claim is that they will put your body into a state of ketosis without having to follow a strict ketogenic diet. A recent study has found that exogenous ketone supplements help to decrease your appetite over several hours if you take them in a fasted state but another study has suggested that they may actually hinder your weight loss attempts. The bottom line is that there is a lot of research that will still need to be done in order to say, without a doubt, 100% Ketone Supplements WORK in helping you lose unwanted body fat.