Exogenous ketones are often marketed as a weight loss aid. The claim is that taking ketone supplements will magically get you into ketosis and help you lose weight.
Ever heard the saying, “Too good to be true”? If losing weight was as simple as taking some ketones, everyone would be doing it.
Here’s the full scoop!
What are exogenous ketones?
First, let’s define what ketones are: ketones are the end result of fat oxidation. What does that mean?
That means that when your body no longer has glucose to use as a fuel, it breaks down fats and forms ketones to use as fuel instead.
Exogenous ketones are just ketones that come from outside the body (“exo” means “outside of”); in other words, a supplement.
BHB Salts is the most common form of exogenous ketones.
Taking ketones while not on Keto
If you are not on a Keto diet (or fasting long enough to burn through all your glucose) simply taking exogenous ketones is NOT going to get you into ketosis.
It doesn’t work this way. You can’t trick your body. It’s smarter than that.
Yes, ketone tests will show elevated ketones. But that doesn’t mean your body will be using those ketones. If you are still eating carbs your body is going to use glucose, not ketones.
You will only switch over to using ketones as fuel once your stored glucose is used up.
There are, however, some situations where exogenous ketones can be beneficial.
Taking ketones as a Keto beginner
When you’re new to Keto, it can be rough getting started. There are a few ways that exogenous ketones can help you adjust.
- Reducing Keto Flu symptoms – Keto Flu is a rite of passage into the Keto lifestyle. Exogenous ketones supplements usually contain electrolytes. So they can help to reduce symptoms like headaches, brain fog, and fatigue.
- Switching over to fat burning mode – If you’re already on the brink of ketosis but struggling to make the switch, exogenous ketones can help. Your body will make a faster switch from burning glucose to burning fat – but only if you’re already cutting the carbs.
- Getting back on the Keto wagon – If you fell off the Keto wagon, exogenous ketones can help you get back in the flow. It’s not a cheat though! You can’t binge on carbs and expect exogenous ketones to fix it. You’ll still have to burn through the glucose.
- Reduce fatigue – ketones do provide an instant hit of energy and so can help to reduce fatigue in the first few weeks of Keto
- Cravings – Some people report that ketone supplements help to curb cravings in the beginning of Keto.
Taking ketones when fully Keto-adapted
For those who are fully Keto-adapted, supplementing with exogenous ketones has several additional benefits:
- Boosts energy and athletic performance – your energy levels will already be ramped up on Keto. Exogenous ketones can enhance your energy levels even further. So they work well as a pre-workout supplement.
- Boosts mental focus – Your brain also loves ketones. Exogenous ketones can ramp up mental clarity and focus.
- Long-term health benefits – Same as with following a keto diet (or fasting), supplementing with exogenous ketones can reduce inflammation and support longevity
Basically, taking exogenous ketones when fully Keto-adapted will amplify all the benefits you’re already getting.
What exogenous ketones are not going to do
As you can hopefully see, exogenous ketones are not a weight loss supplement. Supplementing with ketones is not going to help you lose weight.
It can help indirectly, by making you feel better during the transition into fat burning. But they will not help with weight loss in a direct way.
Think about it: any source of fuel that you take in is going to give your body something else to burn before it turns to your stored fat. That includes exogenous ketones.
Conclusion: Exogenous Ketones can work – but only if you do!
Don’t buy into the gimmicks and the false claims that you can take exogenous ketones, continue to eat carbs, and somehow manage to get into fat burning.
But if you’re committed to the keto lifestyle and already doing the work, supplementing with exogenous ketones can boost all those amazing benefits you’re already seeing, and help you have a much more pleasant experience with the keto diet, especially if you’re just getting started.
Author: Roo Black
Roo is a fasting coach with over 5 years of experience. She leads the admin team of the Official Fasting for Weight Loss Facebook group – one of the largest fasting communities on social media with over 125,000 members. We highly recommend this group for anyone who is looking for fasting advice or coaching.