Ketones, ketosis, keto diet, are words that are gaining popularity among those who want to improve their health, lose weight, and boost their productivity.
If you are one of those and want to learn everything you need to know, in an easy way, I recommend you sticking around and keep reading!
First things first: What are ketones? An excellent fuel
Ketones are alternative fuels for the body that are made when glucose is in short supply, which means that are formed when there is not enough sugar or glucose to supply the body’s fuel needs. They are made in the liver from the breakdown of fats. (2)
“You produce ketones when you don't have enough insulin in your body to turn sugar (or glucose) into energy. You need another source, so your body uses fat instead.” (1)
The metabolic state that causes your body to use fat for energy is known as ketosis. During overnight, dieting or fasting, insulin levels are low, but glucagon and epinephrine levels are relatively normal. This combination causes fat to be released from the fat cells. (2)
“Ketosis is a natural metabolic state in which there’s a high concentration of ketones in the blood. This happens when fat provides most of the fuel for the body” (3)
Let me explain to you exactly how ketosis works in some simple steps. (4)
The ketogenic diet (or keto diet, for short) is a low-carb, high-fat diet that offers many health benefits. Ketogenic diets may even have certain benefits with some diseases, like diabetes, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, etc. (8)
On the low carb, high fat keto diet, your body enters ketosis, a state in which you burn fat as your main source of fuel rather than carbs. (9)
For many people, being in ketosis can help improve blood sugar levels, reduce appetite, and help maintain muscle mass — all of which may contribute to weight loss. (9)
Initially, the keto diet was used to treat epilepsy, but research now shows that the benefits of keto might extend far beyond the neurological system. (16)
Certain supplements can increase ketosis, like apple cider vinegar, magnesium, vitamin D, exogenous ketones, etc. (15)
Now that you know what ketones are and how you produce them in your body, it's time to talk about exogenous ketones
You may have heard about endogenous and exogenous ketones, but what do they mean?
Endogenous ketones are produced naturally inside the body by the liver as a result of restricting carbs and sugar. On the other hand, exogenous ketones are ketones supplements, the ones you administer to your body. (6)
As the keto diet is highly restrictive, many people fail to achieve ketosis because find it difficult to stick to the diet. Exogenous ketones are supplements that could help a person achieve ketosis while being slightly less strict regarding what they eat. (5)
“Exogenous ketones are supplements that could help a person achieve ketosis while being slightly less strict regarding what they eat.” (5)
Ketones salts (a type of ketones) are the ones that have been heavily commercialized. (6)
Ketone salts are a dietary supplement that “encourage” the body to derive its energy by burning fats. Numerous online resources suggest that this nutritional supplement can be used as an aid to weight loss, as well as acting as a reliable energy booster for athletes. (10)
“Ketone salts are meant to increase the level of ketones in the blood, similarly to ketosis, so that the body will derive its energy from them.” (10)
Ketone salts consist of a ketone body combined with minerals or electrolytes, such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium, and they are available in a variety of forms, including drinks, pills, and powders.
“Salts are also one way to deliver other nutrients (minerals, amino acids) along with BHB, which could have certain health benefits.” (18)
There may be a lot of terms going on here. This is last but not least.
There are different types of ketone body, BHB is one of three ketones the body produces during states of fasting or through low-carb, high-fat diets. Of the three ketones (BHB, acetone, and acetoacetate), BHB is present in significantly higher quantities in the blood. (14)
“Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) is one of the ketone bodies used by the body for energy.” (7)
And just so you know, BHB seems to help nerves and the brain to work better. (13) Extra point for that!
The first goal of the ketogenic diet is elevating blood ketone levels. And BHB supplements do exactly this, as studies have shown. (17)
You may be wondering if that means you can skip the whole low-carb thing and just take a BHB pill. Well, it is not that simple.
The thing with exogenous ketones, just like with any dietary supplement, is that they are not meant to be a quick fix. Instead, they're meant to complement your diet and lifestyle to help make it easier and more efficient. (17)
If you are interested in trying a keto-based diet, exogenous ketones are a great way to aid the transition into it! (18)
Ketone salt supplements have been shown to increase blood ketone levels. This elevation in blood ketone levels following supplementation is beneficial for people who want to transition into ketosis without necessarily having to follow the diet. (11)
“Supplementing with ketones is thought to have many of the same health benefits as a ketogenic diet, including weight loss." (11)
Ingesting ketones is an efficient way to elevate BHB in the blood. Plus, exogenous ketone supplementation causes blood glucose to decrease significantly, which means that you will use fat as fuel. (13)
Exogenous ketone supplements provide a multitude of benefits. These include athletic performance enhancement, more efficient weight loss, disease prevention, cognitive improvement, anti-inflammatory properties, and even healthier skin. (12)
Other benefits from taking ketones are (17):