With the tremendous rise in the ketogenic diet over the past couple years, tons of companies are taking advantage of the trend by releasing “ketogenic diet supplements”.
The most popular supplement you most likely heard of are exogenous ketones. Several anecdotal and scientific studies have shown that these supplements can help people lose fat, increase energy, and get better results on the ketogenic diet[*].
In this Keto Beginners Series, you’ll learn everything you need to know about this emerging supplement.
What are Ketones?
When you remove carbohydrates from your diet, you’re depriving your body of its main energy source, glucose. When this occurs, your body seeks out an alternative fuel source.
Eventually your liver will start converting fat into ketones that can be used for energy when blood sugar is limited. This is called being in a state of ketosis and it’s a focal point of the ketogenic diet.
What are Exogenous Ketones?
There are two different types of ketones, endogenous ketones and exogenous ketones.
Endogenous ketones are created naturally inside your body as a result of carbohydrate restriction.
Exogenous ketones can be consumed as a supplement to provide your body with an outside source of ketones, even if you recently ate carbs.
Think of exogenous ketones as a shortcut to experiencing ketosis.
Note: While exogenous ketones can do a great job in boosting overall ketone levels, consider using it sparingly because long-term use will cause your body to produce less of its own endogenous ketone source.
Here are three of the most popular exogenous ketone sources:
Ketone salts are the most popular exogenous ketone supplement available on the market. These are sold as “beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB)” combined with essential minerals like sodium, magnesium, and potassium.
They are known to have a “moderate” effect on increasing overall ketone levels when consumed.
Ketone esters are the least popular of the three but they’re considered the most effective. They are literally the exact ketone your body produces (BHB) without any additional compounds or ingredients like minerals added to it.
This form of exogenous ketone has been shown to increase your ketone levels the most but they’re the least popular because many people claim the taste is intolerable.
MCT (medium chain triglyceride) isn’t technically considered an “exogenous ketone” but it has the ability to help your body produce more ketones indirectly.
Instead of shuttling BHB into your blood like ketone salts or esters, MCT oil is first broken down by your cells and ketones are produced indirectly.
MCT oil is the cheapest supplement you can purchase to boost ketone levels but they’re also considered the least effective. Additionally, MCT oil contains 14g of fat per serving as compared to zero calories from esters and salts.
If your goal is to lose weight on keto, limit your MCT oil use as much as possible.
Advantages of Using Exogenous Ketones
Many people have experienced profound health benefits when supplementing with exogenous ketones, especially if you are currently on a low carb, high fat diet.
These benefits include:
Improved Fat Burning Abilities
This is one of the most popular benefits of exogenous ketones as they are often marketed to people who want to “burn fat” off their body.
While exogenous ketones may not directly help you lose more weight, it does help your body use ketones for energy thus, burning more dietary and stored body fat.
Helps with Symptoms of the Keto Flu
During the transition phase from running on carbohydrates to fats, your body goes through a process that can lead to flu like symptoms.
This occurs because your body isn’t adjusted to using ketones for energy yet so when your main fuel source is restricted (glucose from carbs), you may experience the keto flu.
Luckily, exogenous ketones help mitigate these symptoms by allowing your body to function more efficiently on fats for energy.
Induces Ketosis Faster
Exogenous ketones have the ability to help you get into a state of ketosis even when your glucose stores are full.
Taking exogenous ketones allow you to use fat as an energy source even after you just recently ate carbohydrates.
Increased Mental Cognition
Research has shown that the brain functions better on ketones rather than glucose[*].
Exogenous ketones provides your brain with a more efficient fuel source which helps you focus longer, improves mood, and increases mental clarity.
Exogenous Ketones Are Great for Beginners and for Short-Term Use
While exogenous ketones are a great way to start experiencing the benefits of ketosis right away, it’s important to use them sparingly.
They’re great for beginners who may be experiencing the keto flu and want to ease their way into becoming a fat-burner.
The more advanced you become with the ketogenic diet, the less you will have to depend on exogenous ketones to stay in ketosis.
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