2018's 10 Best
Fitness and health is a vast industry, to say the least. There’s a ton of information and research out there on each aspect of training and nutrition. Most of it is reliable, but some of it… not so much. Thus it can become quite tricky to discern fact from fiction, especially if you’re just starting out.
It would be fair to say that in recent years, the “glamorization” of fitness has indeed brought about a sharp spike in public interest. As a result, the health/fitness supplement industry seems to be experiencing a boom. It seems like every other day that we come across a supplement, super-food, or hack that promises to “crack open the floodgates of unbounded fitness, stamina, and muscle mass”. Yeesh.
In recent years though, exogenous ketone supplements have popped up, and they have gained quite a bit of traction in fitness and health circles.
Are you interested in knowing more about these kinds of supplements? We’ll talk a little here about what exogenous ketones are and what benefits they offer. We’ll also shed some light on what a keto diet is, how it works, and how exogenous ketones help with the diet. Not here for the info? Go ahead and Jump to Our 10 Best Exogenous Ketones List
What Are Ketones and What is Their Purpose?
Ketones are chemical compounds produced in the liver. Their main objective is to be used as an alternative source of energy when the body’s insulin reserves are low. Here’s how the process works. The main source of energy for most of the body’s key physiological functions is glucose. We derive most of our glucose needs – hopefully — by consuming carbohydrates such as rice, bread, grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Straight-up sugar can be a source as well, although we wouldn’t suggest imbibing too much of it.
Depending on our needs and level of activity, our body either immediately breaks down carbohydrates into glucose or stores them in the form of glycogen, which can later be converted to glucose. But sometimes, like when we cut our carbohydrates, our glucose supply can become depleted. This shortage of glucose makes our body look for an alternative energy source – our fat stores. The liver uses the fat reserves to make glucose. Ketones are what is produced as a result of this process. Our body then uses those ketones as an alternative source of energy.
There are three main types of ketones that form in our body:
- Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB)
Exogenous ketones are ketone bodies that are consumed through a supplement. Endogenous ketone bodies are the ones that are produced by the liver. If you look at the words, you’ll recognize “exo” as being “outside” (ants have an exoskeleton!) and “endo” being “inside”, or at least “not outside”.
The key driver of exogenous ketone bodies for most supplements is BHB. There are two key reasons for that. First, our body finds it easier to convert BHB to energy. And second, it is easier to convert BHB into a supplement. Double bonus.
Athletic Benefits of Exogenous Ketones
The use of exogenous ketone supplementation among fitness and competitive sports circles has gained quite a bit of traction. There are two key aspects of athletic performance that are affected by the use of exogenous ketone supplementation. These are the amount of energy expended by our body and the body’s fuel source. Here’s a detailed look at how the process works:
THEY PREVENT MUSCLE GLYCOGEN DEPLETION
It is well known that low muscle glycogen levels impede sustained physical performance. Exogenous ketones counter that by facilitating sharp ketosis that can last for several hours. This essentially means that with exogenous ketones in our system, our body does not use glycogen reserves to sustain athletic performance. A 2014 study clearly shows how the provision of exogenous ketones can enhance athletic performance and that low glycogen levels impair athletic performance.
THEY PREVENT LACTATE BUILDUP
At an increasingly higher level of athletic intensity, our muscles switch from fats to carbohydrates as a fuel source. This causes an increase in lactate levels. When we have exogenous ketones in our system, they can counter the increase of lactate by preventing our body from using carbohydrates as a fuel source. One 2016 study shows how exogenous ketones can help improve athletic endurance by altering our body’s fuel preference.
PERFORMANCE BOOST FOR KETO-RELIANT ATHLETES
Exogenous ketones are especially beneficial for athletes who tend to follow ketogenic diets. Since a major chunk of calories in keto nutrition comes from fats, this could be counterproductive for keto-reliant athletes involved with high-intensity strength training. That’s mainly because fat takes longer to metabolize. Exogenous ketones provide a quick source of energy by reducing our body’s reliance on fat as fuel.
INCREASE FREE CARNITINE DURING AN ATHLETIC SESSION
Carnitine is a compound used for energy production and metabolism in our body. It helps improve physical performance, and exogenous ketones can increase the amount of free carnitine available during exercise. Jump to Our 10 Best Exogenous Ketones List
Other Health Benefits of Ketone Supplementation
BHB seems to act as a signal for neuronal pathways. These enhance synaptic plasticity, cognition, and neuronal stress resistance. One 2016 study conducted on mice shows that the ingestion of ketone esters for 5 days improved their spatial learning and memory.
Animal research suggests that exogenous ketones are an effective anti-carcinogen. That’s because cancer cells cannot use ketone bodies, unlike other healthy tissues in the body. A 2014 study on mice shows that ketone supplementation can significantly improve the survival rate of mice with cancer.
Research has shown that ketone bodies play an important role in countering inflammation by preventing a type of proteins called inflammasones.
The Keto Diet, How It Works, and How Exogenous Ketones Help
The basis of ketogenic nutrition is a diet that is rich in fats, complemented by a moderate amount of protein and very low carbohydrates. The goal of a keto diet is to bring your body into a metabolic state (i.e. a fat-burning state). The key is to make the body tap into the fat reserves as a primary source of energy, thus accelerating the fat burning process.
Our body uses glycogen as a source of energy when we have enough carbs in our system. This means our fat reserves remain stored instead of being used. During a keto diet, we systematically deprive our body of carbohydrates. This kickstarts a process in our liver where fat is broken down into ketones, which are used as energy by our body.
When exogenous ketones are combined with a properly-maintained ketogenic diet, there are many health benefits that can be derived. Here are a few of them:
ACCELERATED FAT LOSS
First, it is important to understand what exogenous ketones are not. They are not a magic pill that will make up for someone’s poor eating or activity habits. They offer fat loss benefits, but they need to be combined with proper training and a well-thought-out nutrition plan, ideally a keto diet plan.
Numerous exogenous ketone supplements come with a mixture of BHB salts and good fats. That helps maintain your energy levels and prioritizes your body’s fat reserves as an energy source, especially during your exercise sessions.
PROPER HORMONAL REGULATION
For many people, weight loss is not as simple as caloric deficit or exercise. Hormonal imbalances can add an extra challenge, as hormones can often dictate how our bodies respond to different diets or training protocols.
One such hormone is cholecystokinin (CCK). Your intestines release CCK in response to eating, and it helps prevent the stomach from emptying, which typically reduces appetite. One issue is that losing weight may cause less CCK to be secreted, which may increase appetite. The good news is that a study has shown that a ketogenic diet can increase CCK levels to the level it was before the weight was lost. This should help you keep the weight off rather than immediately putting it back on.
Healthy fats have also been known to help with hormonal issues. Since exogenous ketone supplements are rich in healthy fats, they can play a valuable role in correcting hormone levels.
COUNTERING “KETO FLU”
Keto flu is a generic term that describes certain temporary side effects when you first start a keto nutrition plan. These aren’t dangerous and go away within a few days once the body settles down with the new diet. These side effects can include slight dizziness and mild stomach bugs.
These side effects are experienced by both keto newbies and experienced keto practitioners, but it usually gets easier as you get more experienced. Taking exogenous ketone supplements can help relieve these symptoms, as they aid with fatigue and boost energy levels by raising the ketone levels in the blood and providing essential electrolytes to your system. Several exogenous ketone supplements also come with MCT oils, which go directly to the liver and are quickly converted to energy.
Types of Exogenous Ketone Supplements
There are 3 key types of exogenous ketone supplements. Here’s a brief explanation of each and when or if you should take them:
KETONE SALT SUPPLEMENTS
Ketone salts are formed when the ketones are bound to a salt, such as sodium, calcium, potassium, or magnesium. This improves their absorption rate. These are also known as “BHB mineral salts” or “ketone mineral salts”. Ketone salts are a perfect ketone supplement if you’re just starting out with ketone supplementation and keto dieting in general. Jump to Our 10 Best Exogenous Ketones List
KETONE ESTER SUPPLEMENTS
Ketone esters are essentially raw BHB ketones without any salts or other compounds. Their key advantage is that our body can experience a sharp spike in blood ketone levels because esters’ raw state facilitates quick utilization of ketones by our body.
Although they are available commercially, they are usually used for research purposes or by advanced users. This is mainly because they are not very pleasant to consume and can often cause intestinal irritation.
KETONE OIL SUPPLEMENTS MSCT OIL POWDER
This is a more indirect approach to ketone supplementation. Coconut oils or more concentrated medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oils and oil powders contain medium-chain fatty acids that can raise your level of ketones.
When we take ketone salts or ketone esters, our body utilizes them instantly. MCTs, on the other hand, are broken down first before they are used for energy. The energy from MCT oil powder is quicker than for foods with longer chain fatty acids but slower than ketone salts or esters. It’s also important to note that MCT oils have a high caloric density and can sometimes cause you to have an upset stomach.
Dosage and Side Effects
The proper dosage of exogenous ketones depends on what your goals are. For best results, follow the directions on the label and consult with your doctor or nutritionist. As with other supplements, exogenous ketones may also have some side effects. Here are a few of the most common.
Mild electrolyte depletion. Supplementing with exogenous ketones will facilitate a sharp state of ketosis, which will impact how often you urinate. Since ketone supplementation affects water retention, you will be urinating more often. This may cause electrolyte depletion. As such, it’s a good idea to drink an electrolyte solution if you are urinating a lot when supplementing with ketones.
Bad breath. Unpleasant breath is an issue with both keto diets and keto supplementation. That happens because of fat metabolism. The best way to counter this is to have a chewable mint or gum by your side at all times. Or you could just embrace the breath and chew some raw garlic.
Flatulence. Gas buildup can happen when exogenous ketones are taken in high doses. With moderate doses, this should not be much of an issue,. New users can experience this, but it will get better as their system settles down with further ketone supplementation.
Exogenous ketones are a fairly young category of nutritional supplements. Although initial research has been encouraging, as with any new supplement, we recommend doing your research. Take into account any conditions you may have and consult your doctor and/or athletic coach before starting on an exogenous ketone supplementation routine.
Best Exogenous Ketones
Our top 10 list of exogenous ketone supplements is organized to reflect what you most value in your supplements. First and foremost is quality. All of our top ten supplements meet high standards of quality and come from brands with a proven record in excellence and purity. Another important factor in deciding the top ten was cost. You don’t have to pay through the nose to get a high-quality exogenous ketone supplement. In addition, all the companies represented on our list have stellar records with customer service and prompt shipping. This ensures that your supplement experience is enjoyable from the first click to your final dose.
- Pete J. Cox and Kieran Clarke Acute Nutritional Ketosis: Implications for Exercise Performance and Metabolism PubMed.gov
- Pete J. Cox and Kieran Clarke, et. al. Nutritional Ketosis Alters Fuel Preference and Thereby Endurance Performance in Athletes PubMed.gov
- Peggy R.Borum The Role of Carnitine in Enhancing Physical Performance PubMed.gov
- A.J. Murray and Kieran Clarke, et. al. Novel Ketone Diet Enhances Physical and Cognitive Performance PubMed.gov
- Poff, A.M., Ari, C., Arnold, P., Seyfried, T.N., D’Agostino, D.P. Ketone Supplementation Decreases Tumor Cell Viability and Prolongs Survival of Mice with Metastatic Cancer PubMed.gov
- Yun-Hee Youm, Kim Y. Nguyen, Ryan W. Grant, Emily L. Goldberg, Monica Bodogai, Dongin Kim, Dominic D’Agostino, Noah Planavsky, Christopher Lupfer, Thirumala D. Kanneganti, Seokwon Kang, Tamas L. Horvath, Tarek M. Fahmy, Peter A. Crawford, Arya Biragyn, Emad Alnemri & Vishwa Deep Dixit The Ketone Metabolite Beta-Hydroxybutyrate Blocks NLRP3 Inflammasome–Mediated Inflammatory Disease Nature.com
- Anthony Gustin, D.C., M.S. How to Use (and Not to Use) Exogenous Ketones for Weight Loss PerfectKeto.com
- Anthony Gustin, D.C., M.S. What Are Exogenous Ketones: When And How To Supplement With Ketones PerfectKeto.com
The Standout: High Quality at Industry Low Cost
Nutricost's Ketone Salts (4-in-1) earned its top spot on our list due to its incredible price and value. Ketone Salts (4-in-1) is formulated with Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), an important source of ketones, along with a balanced ratio of Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium, and Potassium, designed to deliver vital electrolytes.
- 16 grams per serving
- Half the cost of the industry standard
- 4-1 Formula
- 30 servings per bottle
- Exogenous Ketone
- Supports electrolyte balance
Ketone Salts (4-in-1) are designed to provide a multitude of touted benefits such as athletic performance enhancement, efficient weight loss, optimized cognitive function, and anti-inflammatory properties.
With 16 grams per serving, Ketone Salts (4-in-1) is the perfect addition to your low carb lifestyle at half the price per gram compared to other leading exogenous ketone supplements, and a 100% Money Back Guarantee.
For more reviews head to Amazon, where Nutricost's Ketone Salts have climbed their way to the top as the leading Ketone supplements. See other 5-star reviews from satisfied customers! Keep Reading »
The Standout: A Quick and Efficient Dive Into Ketosis
Perfect Keto's Base is another Exogenous Ketone supplement that makes the #2 spot on our list. Made with high-quality beta hydroxybutyrate, each serving helps burn fat, boost energy, and enhance ketosis, and contains ZERO carbs, ZERO caffeine, and ZERO sugars.
- Slip Effortlessly Into Ketosis
- No Additives
- Exogenous Ketones
- 15 Servings
- 14 Grams Per Serving
This is perfect for any athlete on the go with a price that warrants and guarantees legitimate gains while your body quickly and effectively burns through fat. This all guaranteed without the typical crash of any other fat burning diet. This product mixes easily with water, coconut milk, coffee and shakes, and comes in several creamy, delicious flavors.
The perfect addition to any low-carb lifestyle, or athlete looking to maximize performance, endurance and focus. Keep Reading »
The Standout: Clean, convenient, and refreshing.
Zhou Nutrition's Keto-Drive makes #3 due to their Patented Beta-Hydroxybutyrate formula that also includes Vitamin A and C, Calcium, Sodium, and Magnesium. This ensures that you can hit that perfect level of ketosis to burn fat, but maintain all necessary endurance and brain power.
- Accelerate Performance at Peak Ketosis
- Less than 2% additives
- 3-1 Ketone Complex
- 16 Servings Per Container
- 14.7 Grams Per Serving
This refreshing tropical blend is designed to help support increased blood ketone levels, athletic endurance, mental performance, sustained energy, and fat burning. With no carbs, caffeine, or sugar, you can meet your keto needs guilt free.
Each serving can be conveniently added to your shakes, or brought to the gym with ease. Mixes well and tastes great with just water thanks to the delicious fruity flavor that masks the strong Ketone taste that usually marks other salts. Keep Reading »
Looking for an even more convenient way to get those exogenous ketones into your meal plan? Pruvit Keto//Os is an exogenous ketone formula specifically designed in individual packets that can be added to your favorite beverages on-the-go. It delivers advanced macro nutritionals such as crucial vitamins and minerals, to not only help boost energy and optimizes cellular function, but also enhance energy production and overall mood. This all in one blend also contains caffeine for an added boost, and comes in two mouth-watering flavors.Keep Reading »
LevelUp's Keto Boost is another list maker, chalked full of high quality Beta-Bydroxybutyrate intended to boost ketone levels or conserve muscle glycogen, depending on your goals. Keto Boost is both stimulant-free and carbohydrate-free, and provides instant energy and rapid fuel for the brain. Curb cravings on the spot and enhance weight loss to help you look and feel your best.Keep Reading »
If you're looking to deepen your level of ketosis even further, Julian Bakery's InstaKetones is the perfect fit. A company already familiar with ketogenic products, their InstaKetones is another low carb favorite. With 11.7g Beta-hydroxybutyrate Per Scoop, you can be guaranteed to boost those blood serum ketone levels. Perfect for those who had a few hidden carbs sneak up on them, or for individuals that do a cyclical ketogenic diet. Getting into ketosis is now faster than ever!Keep Reading »
Kegenix Prime is an exclusive and patented blend of Real Ketones, designed by health experts and the doctors from the University of South Florida. This formula consists of natural thermogenesis-boosting ingredients, such as Calcium, Magnesium, Green Tea Extract, and Taurine, which maximizes your ability to produce ketones and burn fat in just 60 minutes, and enjoy 225% more energy than carbs. Weight loss has never been this simple, thanks to this elite exogenous ketone supplement.Keep Reading »
NutriKeto's Ketone Shake is the perfect low carb meal replacement, and contains the ideal 80/15/5 Ketogenic Macro Nutrient Ratio with 19g Fat, 8g Protein, and 3g Carbs. It is also the perfect Pre or Post Workout Recovery formula, available in 2 flavors, Gourmet Cake Batter and Creamy Dutch Chocolate, that will stave off hunger for hours and leave you feeling satiated.Keep Reading »
Kiss My Keto's Exogenous Ketones is another hassle-free NO sugar, NO carbs, NO Caffeine exogenous supplement, that delivers 12 grams of pure exogenous ketones per serving. Exogenous Ketones is also blended with sodium and calcium for easy absorption and crucial electrolyte balance. Don't let that cheat meal leave you feeling guilt ridden, when you can raise your blood ketone levels and get into ketosis almost instantly.Keep Reading »
KetoSports' KetoCaNa is a no-nonsense exogenous supplement that contains 11.7 grams of Beta-Hydroxybutyrate (BHB) per serving, along with no artificial sweeteners, flavorings or colors. KetoCaNa is targeted for ketogenic dieters who need energy but must limit carbohydrate intake, or for those who consume carbohydrates to provide an additional energy source and limit exercise induced glycogen depletion. Whatever your goals, KetoCaNa delivers optimal results.Keep Reading »
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