The keto diet is one of the most valuable and overall beneficial diets there is – not only can it help with weight loss, but it can also control several crippling conditions such as epilepsy.
Despite its laundry list of fantastic benefits, a keto diet can also be one of the hardest to follow.
If you persevere and stick to a plan, anyone can maintain ketosis but it does take hard work and dedication.
For those who have started their journey on the ketogenic diet, or perhaps want to give it a try, there is a beneficial supplement that can help – exogenous ketones.
In this article…
We look at why you should consider using exogenous ketone supplements and how they can benefit your diet.
What are exogenous ketones?
An exogenous ketone is effectively a ketone body that you can ingest as a supplement. Exogenous in this case means that the ketone is created outside the body. However, it’s molecularly identical to the BHB made in the body (i.e. endogenously) as a byproduct of fat metabolism.
There are two main types of exogenous ketone supplements – ketone esters and ketone salts.
Ketone esters are ketone bodies that are synthetically bound to another carbon-based functional group in order to create an ester. This stabilizes the molecule (typically BHB is used) and makes them more potent for elevating blood ketone concentrations. The drawback of ketone esters is that they are expensive to produce and they are unpalatable. Until those two hindrances are resolved, it’s unlikely ketone esters will make for viable exogenous ketone supplements.
Ketone salts are ketones (specifically BHB) bound to minerals, creating salts that are stable and bioavailable. These can then be flavored to mask the fairly unpleasant taste of raw ketone salts. When ingested, BHB salts rapidly increase blood ketone concentrations, resulting in acute ketosis.
Be wary: If you’ve heard of raspberry ketone, keep in mind that it’s not related to the ketones made as part of fat metabolism (e.g. BHB, acetone, acetoacetate). Raspberry ketone is a plant-derived ketone that has entirely different functions metabolically and will not put you in ketosis as BHB will.
Why should I consider using exogenous ketones?
To help understand why you should consider using exogenous ketones, check out the five main benefits below:
To transition smoothly into ketosis
Often when starting the keto diet, you can experience some unfortunate side effects such as irritability, fatigue and bloating (known colloquially as the Keto Flu).
This happens because your body is changing between states – you are progressing from burning predominantly carbs/sugar for energy to burning mainly fat and your body has not yet transitioned fully.
This is where exogenous ketones are hugely beneficial as they can provide your body with exactly what it needs whilst you transition to nutritional ketosis.
Once you start the diet, to avoid these unwanted side effects, consider taking about 12 grams of BHB salts (exogenous ketones) once or twice daily to help you transition into deeper ketosis.
To boost mental clarity
Exogenous ketones can actually fuel your brain and help provide a higher level of mental clarity.
For years, it was thought that glucose was the brains primary source of fuel, but new research is showing that ketones can cross the blood-brain barrier and support brain cells.
In fact, ketones appear to boost mental performance and reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases by increasing the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) – a peptide that helps neurons grow and proliferate.
To help promote long-term ketosis
There is no denying that the ketogenic diet can be challenging. This is certainly not one of the easiest diets, but the rewards can be great. Due to this fact, many people often fall off the wagon and have periods where they simply can’t diet in the correct manner.
To avoid spoiling the hard work you have started and the progress you have made, exogenous ketones can help maintain the benefits of ketosis during those difficult periods.
If you feel that you are struggling to cope, simply supplement your diet with a dose of exogenous ketones to give yourself a boost and keep you in ketosis even if you end up eating a bit too many carbohydrates.
To speed up the ketosis process
In a similar manner to the first point, taking keto supplements can also help you get into ketosis faster, or get back into ketosis faster if you have stopped the process for a lengthy period of time.
As already mentioned, exogenous ketones provide you with a direct dose of ketones and therefore the results are quicker – effectively it is like “rapid ketosis” (albeit not as long-lasting or sharp as diet-induced ketosis). To that end, if you have started keto and want to speed up the process, exogenous ketones can help.
If you’re an athlete or you simply enjoy exercise and are using the keto diet as part of your plan to lose weight, exogenous ketone supplements can help.
A person who engages in regular and intense exercise or sporting events generally relies on carbohydrates to fuel performance; obviously, this is not the case on the keto diet.
But where will you get your energy from if you’re an athlete or active individual on keto?
The answer: Fat (duh!) and exogenous ketones.
Taking exogenous ketones can help someone who exercises maintain their keto diet and also provide them with an additional energy source when they need it most, such as before hitting the gym or athletic competition.
 Pinckaers, P. J., Churchward-Venne, T. A., Bailey, D., & van Loon, L. J. (2017). Ketone bodies and exercise performance: the next magic bullet or merely hype?. Sports Medicine, 47(3), 383-391.
 Fischer, T., Och, U., Klawon, I., Och, T., Grüneberg, M., Fobker, M., … & Marquardt, T. (2018). Effect of a Sodium and Calcium DL-β-Hydroxybutyrate Salt in Healthy Adults. Journal of nutrition and metabolism, 2018.
 Valdebenito, R., Ruminot, I., Garrido-Gerter, P., Fernández-Moncada, I., Forero-Quintero, L., Alegría, K., … & Barros, L. F. (2016). Targeting of astrocytic glucose metabolism by beta-hydroxybutyrate. Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism, 36(10), 1813-1822.
 Hu, E., Du, H., Zhu, X., Wang, L., Shang, S., Wu, X., … & Lu, X. (2018). Beta-hydroxybutyrate Promotes the Expression of BDNF in Hippocampal Neurons under Adequate Glucose Supply. Neuroscience, 386, 315-325.