A ketogenic diet can be hard. At the beginning, your energy can really suffer during the transition to ketosis. In addition, it could take about 4 weeks for your body to adapt to being energy efficient during exercise - leading to a lot of fatigue during exercise. A great solution to both of these problems is supplementing with exogenous ketones. Exogenous ketones are a ready supply of energy. We're going to review the best exogenous ketone supplements so you don't have to spend any more energy.
Here's the exogenous ketone supplements we review:
|The Best Exogenous Ketone Products|
What are Exogenous Ketones
Exogenous ketones are exactly what their name says: ketones that are created outside the body (exogenous) and used as a supplement. What are ketones you ask? Ketones are the body's main energy source when in a state of ketosis - your body's fat burning metabolic state. Your body makes them naturally when in a state of ketosis.
Taking exogenous ketones on a ketogenic diet would be similar to taking dextrose (straight sugar) on a regular diet. An immediate available source of energy. The main chemical form of ketones that your body uses is beta-hydroxybutyrate. Exogenous ketone supplements usually come in powder form, aka keto powder, but can occasionally come as concentrated liquid.
If you were to test your blood for ketones, beta-hydroxybutyrate is the chemical that you are testing for and the amounts are usually reported in mmol of ketone/liter of blood.
Who Should Use Exogenous Ketones
Primarily, exogenous ketones are used by someone on the ketogenic diet trying to up their energy levels. There are two most popular times to use exogenous ketones for someone on the ketogenic diet: they can use it when starting the keto diet to help with fatigue caused by the keto flu, or people can use it pre-exercise when their body has not yet become efficient at utilizing ketones for energy during workouts.
In addition, exogenous ketones can be used for those not on a ketogenic diet who want to induce a temporary state of ketosis. Therefore, exogenous ketones can be an effective supplement for those who are not on a ketogenic diet as well.
Benefits of Exogenous Ketones
Exogenous ketones can temporarily increase the ketones in the body. This will either induce a more pronounced state of ketosis, or a temporary state of ketosis, depending on if the user is on a ketogenic diet.
Exogenous ketones can give your body an extra "boost" of ketones. This will give your body an immediate supply of energy, especially at a time when your body is having a difficult time producing enough ketones naturally (from your fat or dietary fat sources). After a lifetime of glucose (glycogen) for energy, your body now has to adjust to this other source of energy. It takes time for your body to become efficient at producing ketones, especially around exercise.
In addition, ketosis is beneficial for several reasons including additional energy, weight loss, suppression of appetite and lowering of glucose and insulin.[i],[ii] You do not have to be on a ketogenic diet to receive these benefits if you supplement with exogenous ketones.
Type of Exogenous Ketone
There are two main forms of exogenous ketones: ketone salts and ketone esters. Raspberry ketones are not included in this category so don't get them confused!
Ketone salts are commercially available in powder or liquid form to be taken as a drink supplement. Ketone esters are not yet fully commercially available, but are in development mode (see HUMN start-up company). Ketone salts are the type of supplement that we review below.
Ketone salts mean that the ketone beta-hydroxybutyrate is attached to a salt of either magnesium, sodium, calcium or potassium. In the body, these minerals will dissociate from the beta-hydroxybutyrate.
How to Use Exogenous Ketones
If used for exercise, a person can take exogenous ketones about 30 minutes to 1 hour prior to activity to give their system a boost. It is best to take them about this time prior to exercise for two reasons. First, in studies, blood ketone levels peak about 1-1.5 hours after ingestion of ketone salts.[iii] And second, a side effect of these supplements can be diarrhea or a loose "stomach". This is only because this is an immediate dose of ketones to your system and your digestive system may have a difficult time handling the ketones. Starting with small doses will help your body get used to the ketones and this shouldn't be a problem.
If used to combat the keto flu, exogenous ketones can be taken first thing in the morning and throughout the day, preferably on an empty stomach. They should help suppress hunger, so if you are using them as a weight loss aid, you can try using them as a meal replacement if it fits your macros.
Amount of ketones you should take:
One research study[iv] in particular on supplementation with exogenous ketones studied differing amounts of ketones ingested. At the smallest does, 140mg/kg bodyweight, ketones detected in the blood rose to 0.28mmol/liter at the peak at 1-2 hours. The ketones remained elevated for about 3 hours. Keep in mind this study was on people not on the ketogenic diet.
The medium ketone level ingested was 357 mg/kg bodyweight. In these participants the ketones detected in the blood rose to 1.0mmol/liter at the peak of 1-2 hours, with an elevated level for about 4.5 hours.
In a 150 lb person, this would amount to 9.5-24 grams of beta-hydroxybutyrate supplemented. It is recommended to start small and see how your body does with exogenous ketones. One important factor that you should not overlook is that if you over consume exogenous ketones you excrete them through your urine. This is normal during the first stages of the ketogenic diet as well when your body is adjusting to how much fat it needs to break down for energy. However, excretion of ketones is coupled with excretion of important minerals like potassium and sodium. Ketone salts that contain these important electrolytes are a plus. since there could be GI distress. If you don't feel the benefits but feel fine, try increasing the dosage slightly.
Factors in our Comparison
Taste & Flavors of Ketone Supplements
Exogenous ketone supplements come in a variety of flavors. They usually come as a sports drink powder that you mix with water. To be honest, many companies have created some pretty decent flavors ranging from citrusy to chocolate. When you're on a ketogenic diet and no longer get these flavors, this can be an added bonus of a yummy drink. You can try making these drinks better by mixing them with unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk, but if you're exercising beforehand you don't want to feel weighted down.
Note to readers: ketone salts will actually taste salty if taken alone. A drink mix such as the products we review is the recommended way to take exogenous ketones to help with flavor issues.
We review any additional ingredients in the package. Most companies do a decent job not adding unnecessary ingredients, but we note any just in case.
In addition, some exogenous ketone supplements come with caffeine added for an additional boost to energy. This can be good or bad depending on how your body reacts to caffeine and your normal consumption. It is usually about the amount of caffeine in a cup of green tea to the amount in a coffee, so there's nothing to be scared of, but you should be aware of this in case you don't react well to caffeine.
Amount of Ketones in Supplements
The price per exogenous ketone supplements vary greatly. You shouldn't just look at the serving size, but at the amount of ketones in the serving size as well. If you're not careful, you could think you found the best price per serving size, but didn't realize there are a lot less ketones in each serving size.
In each review, we give you the price of the product per grams of ketone - because that's why you're buying these...for the ketones, not additional ingredients that make up volume or weight.
|The Best Exogenous Ketone Products|
Review of Exogenous Ketones
We recommend choosing an exogenous ketones supplement that fits your budget, while also has the best flavor you would like and for your purposes. Let's review exogenous ketone supplements!
Keto Magic are an exogenous ketone supplement made with a patent-pending technology called Ketoba. They promote that Ketoba will actually help induce your body into a state of ketosis because butyrate will help stimulate fat break down into ketones along with the ingested exogenous ketones. The fact that they promote less ketones in each serving size is interesting, but for a commendable reason: they want their product to help induce actual ketosis (fat breakdown) instead of a temporary effect with only exogenous ketones.
This Keto Magic product would be great for beginners to the ketogenic diet for this very reason. Helping to stimulate your fat breakdown will help your body get into ketosis even faster, yet you still get an artificial boost from a small amount of exogenous ketones to help you avoid things like keto flu symptoms.
The only flavor available is a Tropical Punch flavor, but they are coming out with a Black Cherry flavor soon. It contains the normal ingredients of citric acid, stevia extract and natural flavor, but also contains silicon dioxide (typically used to whiten food products). There is a strange smell when you open the container of fruity cheese. This is actually normal from their Ketoba technology. The good thing is that when drinking, you do not get this weird flavor.
It does contain 50mg caffeine from green tea extract, which is the same amount you'd get from a cup of green tea. It's not necessary to have caffeine in an exogenous ketones supplement, so it's too bad they don't have an option without it.
In one serving size of one small scoop contains 4 grams of beta hydroxybutyrate. This is less than most products on a gram ketone per gram powder basis, but they are also providing that the butyrate will help generate ketones naturally, so you should still get just as good of a boost as other products.
At the time of writing this review, the Keto Magic product comes out to $0.50/gram ketone. This is one of the most expensive products we review if you look at cost per gram of ketone. However, holding true that their Ketoba technology helps you burn your own fat, this may be the best exogenous ketones for keto diet beginners.
They have several flavors including Orange mango, Matcha lemonade, Black Cherry. The orange mango tastes like Gatorade - so that's a welcoming flavor if you don't know what to expect. This powder also mixes well leaving no clumps. Other ingredients are normal including citric acid, natural flavor and stevia, except that they do add natural thickeners like guar gum and xanthan gum. The Black Cherry flavor contains 100 mg caffeine, which is quite a bit when you realize it is equivalent to two cups of tea.
In one serving size of one scoop there contains 11.7 grams of beta hydroxybutyrate.
At the time of writing this review, Keto Drive comes out to cost $0.31/gram ketone. This is a very well priced item for the cost, but they don't come in small sizes.
If you already know you like using exogenous ketones, we recommend them because of their range of yummy citrus flavors and affordable cost. If you're new to exogenous ketones, these may not be your option because one package is expensive since they don't come in small quantities. However, they do offer a 60 day money back guarantee if you want to give them a shot.
There are two flavors, a Raspberry lemonade and wild limeade. Both are a nice citrusy flavor. This company keeps their product very simple with the only other ingredients being citric acid and stevia leaf extract. Although most exogenous ketone products do not add artificial ingredients, this is a refreshing product because it limited its overall ingredients to just a few. In addition, there is not much clumping when mixing the powder as opposed to other products.
In one serving size of one scoop contains 11.7 grams of beta hydroxybutyrate.
At the time of writing this review, Keto-Lift raspberry lemonade flavor comes out to $0.27/gram ketone, our cheapest reviewed product. The wild limeade flavor is actually even cheaper, so this may be a go-to if you are taking a lot of exogenous ketones and need a budget item.
The amount of exogenous ketones in Pruvit KETO//OS is not listed, so we can only guess the amount of ketones correlates with the amounts of calories, since there are no other calorie contributing ingredients on the label. Our estimate is that there are 42 grams of ketones in each packet (or serving size). This is quite a bit, which if correct begins to makeup for the price of the products, however, this is just a guess.
There are two main flavors of KETO//OS: Chocolate and orange cream. There are actually other types of ketones supplements on their website, but let's keep it simple for now. Both of these flavors come with a caffeinated version, so be aware when ordering. The other ingredients are normal with citric acid and stevia leaf extract. The orange cream flavor has MCT oil added and the chocolate has BCAA's (branched chain amino aids), inulin and butyrate added. Both of these flavors also come with a few carbohydrates as opposed to our other reviewed products. But if you only take 1/2 a package as we recommend, these carbs are almost negligible.
Adding MCT oil in the orange creme is actually a good thing, as it produces ketones in the body. It also has a different rate of producing ketones in the body, so could be a better product for longer sustained energy as opposed to a larger shorter energy boost.
The chocolate swirl flavor is actually the best option if you're an athlete because it has extra potassium.
For ketone products, both of these flavors actually taste pretty good.
1 packet contains 22.7 grams of powder. The chocolate contains 56 calories while the orange cream contains 110 calories (from the added MCT oil). This is the highest calorie of any product we've reviewed, so if you are being super strict on calories, be careful here.
Personally, I don't like the fact that these come in single serving packets because I don't need my servings to be that big. I prefer the container with a scoop, but I can see how the single servings could be good for someone on the go.
At the time of writing this review, $26 for 5 packets of 22.7 grams each. We can't say the exact price per ketone since they do not state it and we've only speculated above. People certainly do feel ripped off with the expensive price, but their serving size is almost double that of other brands. But since we don't know the amount of ketones in the product, we can't say whether this would be worth the seemingly expensive price.
They have three flavors: Chocolate sea salt, peaches and cream, and coffee. This may not be the best tasting exogenous ketone product, as it tends to taste salty. However, it has a decent taste when mixed with heavy cream and water. In addition, they're keeping their additional ingredients very minimal which is probably where the taste difference comes from when compared to other products. The other ingredients are very minimal: a natural flavor, stevia leaf and citric acid.
Similar to several of the other products, Perfect Keto Base serving size is 1 scoop of 15 grams with 11.38 grams of beta hydroxybutyrate in each serving.
At the time of writing this review, Perfect Keto Base cost $0.28/gram which equates to $.37/gram ketone putting it at a medium priced exogenous ketone supplement. Similar to other products they only sell large containers, so this may not be a product to buy if it's your first exogenous ketone supplement.
This product may be your best option of you prefer minimal additional ingredient.
In our opinion, the best exogenous ketone supplement is one that has a good flavor, mixes well and does not contain many added ingredients. We personally prefer the supplements without caffeine (if I want caffeine I get it from tea or coffee), however, you can make that personal choice on your own.
The price for all the compared exogenous ketone products is relatively close except for the KETO//OS supplement (which we can't say since we don't know how many ketones are actually in the product).
If you're just looking to give exogenous ketones a shot, then the Keto Magic is our best exogenous ketone supplement of choice. You can purchase it in a small quantity and if their proposed Ketoba technology is true, is beneficial that it will help you burn more fat. we would go with the smallest container sold which is X. Most of these supplements have the same amount of ketones per gram, so the most important aspect after price is taste. If you like a citrusy flavor then there are a lot of options, but if you like chocolate or a coffee flavor then Perfect Keto or KETO//OS are ok options.
[i] Richard L. Veech. Ketone ester effects on metabolism and transcription. J Lipid Res. 2014 Oct; 55(10): 2004–2006.
[ii] Brianna J. Stubbs, Pete J. Cox, Rhys D. Evans, 1 Malgorzata Cyranka, Kieran Clarke, and Heidi de Wet. A Ketone Ester Drink Lowers Human Ghrelin and Appetite. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2018 Feb; 26(2): 269–273.
[iii] Brianna J. Stubbs, Pete J. Cox, Rhys D. Evans, Peter Santer, Jack J. Miller, Olivia K. Faull,1 Snapper Magor-Elliott, Satoshi Hiyama, Matthew Stirling, and Kieran Clarke. On the Metabolism of Exogenous Ketones in Humans. Front Physiol. 2017; 8: 848.
[iv] Kieran Clarke, Kirill Tchabanenko, Robert Pawlosky Emma Carter,Todd King,c Kathy Musa-Veloso, Manki Ho, Ashley Roberts, Jeremy Robertson, Theodore B. VanItallie, and Richard L. Veech. Kinetics, safety and tolerability of (R)-3-hydroxybutyl (R)-3-hydroxybutyrate in healthy adult subjects. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2012 Aug; 63(3): 10.1016/j.yrtph.2012.04.008.