Keto diet, ketosis and ketones – three things you probably already know about if you ever stumbled upon the idea of low-carb dieting. Not unexpectedly, a new industry had appeared to appeal to those who struggle with the diet of this sort. Most of them sell dietary supplements with “the best exogenous ketones” out there.
But, how does it work? What are exogenous ketones? What are the side effects? All of these are normal questions that follow. Especially at the very beginning, it all may seem like uncharted area of dietary supplements.
In this article I will try to answer those questions. I will also analyse exogenous ketone side effects, as well as possible benefits.
For those who are interested solely in the best exogenous ketones provider list, simply click here.
What Are Ketones?
Let’s start with the low carb diet as it is a great example that illustrates how ketones work.
There are three main macronutrients that your body can consume as energy. Those are carbohydrates, protein and fat. While each serves a slightly different purpose in the body, in the end all of them is just energy for the body.
Not unless you’re following a specific diet or have any dietary restrictions, probably at least half of your macronutrients come from carbohydrates
(or carbs for short). Carbs are abundant in foods that have sugar (like fruit, candies and soda) or starch (like potatoes, rice and pasta).
Your body uses carbohydrates as the primary source of energy because it is easy for it to consume and most of the time, it’s readily available. The downside of carbs is that any excess you consume gets converted to fat. This is how most people get overweight.
On keto diet, you need to strictly reduce your carbohydrate intake. Your body then needs to find another source of energy. When this happens, it turns to ketosis, a special process that only activates when you are low on carbs or haven’t eaten in a while.
During ketosis, your body deconstructs fat and converts it to ketones. A ketone is a molecule that your body can use as energy whenever it needs it. The end result is – as long as you’re low on carbohydrates, your body burns fat non-stop, 24/7.
What Are Exogenous Ketones?
This process of ketosis stemmed an idea for researchers. Can you introduce ketones into a human body from the outside and this way start ketosis without the need of a very restrictive diet?
This is where exogenous ketones come in. The word “exogenous” means from “outside of the body”. To put it simply, it is the same ketone that your body produces. The only difference is that it was manufactured in a lab.
A Ketone is actually an umbrella term for several chemical compounds that serve the same purpose. They are all products of ketosis and they all can be consumed as fuel.
The most chemically stable ketone that can be produced is beta-hydroxybutyrate. It is often abbreviated as BHB. This is what manufacturers of ketone supplements use as the base.
Exogenous ketones usually come in two different forms – ketone salts and ketone esters.
Ketone salts are the most widespread in exogenous ketone supplements. They are usually branded as BHB salts. It is essentially just a BHB ketone, chemically bound to a mineral. Most of the time it is either sodium, potassium, calcium or magnesium. All of these atoms are a part of commonly available salts.
Ketone salts usually comes in a form of powder that is you should mix with water. Less frequently, they are produced as capsules.
It is another compound that is a bit more difficult to come by when it comes to dietary supplements. They usually come in liquid form and are a bit more “powerful” than ketone salts.
Ketone esters are usually used in scientific studies when researching the side effects of exogenous ketones. For this reason you can expect most studies to exaggerate both the negative and the positive effects of supplements like this.
Exogenous Ketones Side Effects
Even the best exogenous ketones, produced by trustworthy brands have side effects. This goes for all foods and supplements, but it’s important to know the risks as well as the benefits.
Below I listed the most common exogenous ketones side effects that people feel after consuming them. While it is not the full list, I think it covers what vast majority of people experience based on research and consumer reports.
The Positive Effects of Exogenous Ketones
The positive side effects is what dietary supplement manufacturers sell their products for. I will do my best to provide an honest opinion about what they are and how credible are the claims.
May Decrease Hunger
This is a well-known side effect when ketones are present in the bloodstream. One of the hypothesis why this occurs hints to the correlation between ketones and ghrelin. The latter is a hormone is that is responsible for the feeling of hunger. (PubMed Central Source)
For example, when people are on keto, this effect is very clear. People then tend to crave for food less, some even feel comfortable to outright quit snacking. This is a good reason why keto works so well with intermittent fasting.
However, it is important to note that this side effect becomes less powerful immediately after eating a meal.
May Reduce Time to Ketosis
In one of the studies it was shown that once exogenous ketones are ingested, the body starts producing its own ketones. This triggers ketosis and thus initiates fat burn. (PubMed Source)
However, in the scientific community this is considered a bit controversial. The reason for that is that the effect was relatively small and should not be relied upon when making bold claims about induced ketosis.
Additionally, the research was relatively small. For this reason, I would wait for more reasearch before recommending exogenous ketones as a “ketosis kickstarter”.
However, exogenous ketone advocates still stand by the idea, saying that even though the effect is not significant, it can be just enough to help someone start ketosis.
This is one of the reasons why exogenous ketone supplements should be taken only when people are on a low-carb diet. Otherwise the effect of the supplement might be close to non-existant.
Reduce Keto Flu Symptoms
Keto flu is a group of symptoms, similar to the ones you get when you have the common flu. This includes feeling tired, nausea, muscle pains, headache and so on.
When you’re on keto, the side effects are usually temporary. You can expect them to last anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks. This is your body reacting to the energy source switch from glucose (carbs) to ketones.
Because most of the flu symptoms correlate with the lack of energy, exogenous ketones can bridge the gap by fueling your body and reducing the unwanted symptoms. (PubMed source)
May Help With Weight Loss
Some manufacturers claim this to be as the main side effect. According to them, exogenous ketones will help you lose the extra weight through ketosis.
However, because this is directly related to the exogenous ketone’s ability to induce ketosis, it is controversial for the very same reason. I would put this side effect as a group of effects that might help you with your weight loss journey.
Just the fact that exogenous ketones can decrease the feeling of hunger, reduce the side effects of dieting and provide you with extra energy. It is something that plays well with weight loss.
One of the most common reasons why diets don’t work is the fact that people have problems sticking to them for prolonged periods of time. If exogenous ketone supplements can help you prevent this, then it might be worth the investment.
The Negative Effects of Exogenous Ketones
People often forget to mention the negative aspects of keto supplements and the ketogenic diet.
The exogenous ketone side effects vary from person to person.
And while people usually feel like the positive effects outweigh the discomfort, it is important to know what to expect.
The list that I’ve compiled below is not full. However, I think it covers the most areas that people usually stumble upon.
Ingesting a Lot of Minerals
Like I mentioned before, exogenous ketone supplements come in the form of BHB salts, meaning they have a lot of sodium, magnesium, calcium and potassium.
Normally this should not be a cause for concern as long as you stick to the recommended serving sizes.
If you do stick to a low-carb diet when taking exogenous ketone supplements (which I highly recommend for best results), extra minerals should help you replenish your electrolytes.
Being low on water and electrolytes is one of the main things that keto dieters experience. This phenomena occurs due to body’s reduced ability to retain water.
Always drink plenty of fluids when you’re on a low-carb diet.
This is another side effect that’s relatively common. The discomfort is usually temporary and is often related to person’s dietary changes in general. (PubMed Central Article)
If you’re feeling uncomfortable or the side effect lasts too long, always stop consuming the supplement and consult your physician.
While this is not exactly a side effect, it is something that people tend to be unhappy about when they take their exogenous ketone supplements.
Ketones naturally have an unpleasant taste and exogenous ketone manufacturers do their best to create a mix that masks that.
Some do a better job than others, but an acidic aftertaste is something you should expect if you decide to use ketone supplements.
If you want to avoid the taste altogether, you can opt for supplements that come in the form of pills. This way, you can have a tasteless capsule with your glass of water in the morning.
The Best Exogenous Ketone Supplements
It’s difficult to pick the best exogenous ketones supplement. In the end, they all sell the same BHB compound. The only difference is what they put into their mixture, the packaging, the selection of flavors, the variety of products and price.
However, I have combined a list of my favorite exogenous ketone products below.
Perfect keto is probably the one with the widest selection of products. According to customer reports, it also seems to be one of the best tasting products out there.
They sell numerous products that appeal to people who are looking for the best exogenous ketone supplements. Perfect Keto has a regular BHB salt base that comes in a form of powder. They also have MCT oil supplement (both pure and in a form of powder).
Both of these products have at least 3 flavors to choose from. Those who don’t want sweeteners and flavors can also opt for an unflavored product.
Perfect Keto might also suit those who might be looking for keto-friendly snacks. At the time of writing they have numerous flavors of instant keto coffee, as well as keto bars (chocolate chip cookie, salted caramel and other tempting flavors).
Perfect Keto has another selling point. They have a range of products aimed at people who are regularly exercising. They sell low-carb protein powder as well as other products that contain BCAA and collagen.
From what I can tell, Perfect Keto is probably the best exogenous ketone supplement for beginners. If you’re interested in trying their product, you can get a beginner’s kit. It contains several different products that are great for testing what you like.
This is yet another company that provides a big variety of flavors and product options.
Their current flagship product is called Pruvit Keto OS NAT. It comes in a as a BHB salt powder and bunch of flavors that range from Swiss chocolate to summer lemonade.
Another great thing about Pruvit Keto OS is the fact that each product has two versions. A caffeinated one (they call it “charged”) and a caffeine-free one.
Their idea behind it is that you should take the charged one in the morning and the normal one in the evening. According to them, this gives you a nice boost of energy after you wake up and lets you fall asleep calmly in the evening.
If you decide to go Pruvit Keto OS route, always double check their nutrition facts, especially when choosing new flavors. Macronutrient ratios and allergens do differ from product to product.
However, Pruvit Keto OS is a bit notorious for having a bigger price tag than the competition.
While this might not be the best exogenous ketone supplement out there, it is definitely worth the consideration. This especially goes for those who are looking for a rainbow of flavors to choose from.
3. Kiss My Keto
Kiss My Keto is a big dog in exogenous ketone supplement market. It somewhat resembles Perfect Keto in terms of the selection of products.
They offer their exogenous ketones in both the form of powder and capsules (the base is BHB salts). Powdered options also comes in a couple different flavors.
On their website you can find various keto supplements that also include MCT, a source of fat that works well with the ketogenic diet.
Kiss My Keto also sells keto-friendly foods. It includes chocolate, instant coffee and keto bars. All of which are available in several flavors.
This is one of the simpler and more cost-efficient options. Purefit Keto sells only one product – BHB salts in the form of pills.
As an exogenous ketone supplement – it does the job just as well as the competition. However, some people don’t enjoy the concept of pills and would much rather make themselves a drink similar to a protein shake.
Like I mentioned before it is cheaper than the competition. In terms of the amount of exogenous ketones you get per dollar, this is one of the best deals.
Purefit Keto was also involved in a little controversy regarding their early marketing materials.
It is believed that it was advertised as featured on US TV show called “Shark Tank”. However, these claims are false and it was never featured on the TV show. Unfortunately, there is no surviving evidence of such material being in use.
5. Keto Fit
Keto Fit is a product that contains exogenous ketones (not unsurprisingly, also as BHB salts). The product comes in form of pills, therefore there are no flavors are available to choose from.
It is sold by a company called Vitauthority. Compared to the competition, the price is also on the lower side, making exogenous ketones a bit more affordable.
Just like Purefit Keto, Keto Fit was involved in a similar Shark Tank controversy. However, the claims are also false and it was not a part of any episode.
Exogenous Ketones: The Bottom Line
Exogenous ketones is a relatively novel way to enrich your low-carb diet with energy. While many people have found success when taking the supplement, some of the benefits that appear in advertisements should be taken with a grain of salt.
Whether or not to try them is completely up to you and the goal that you want to achieve. If you feel like you would benefit from an improved feeling at the very beginning of your keto diet, then the supplements might be a good addition.
Either way, I hope that I gave you a good insight on the best exogenous ketone supplements available right now. For what I’ve noticed, low-carb diets usually leave people missing the flavors of carbohydrate-rich foods.
For this very reason I’ve put manufacturers with the widest choice of flavors and snacks at the very top. This way you can get the best of two worlds at once. You can enjoy the exogenous ketones and at the same time, enjoy the taste of foods that you may have missed.
Good luck on your keto journey!