Posted on: February 14th, 2023

Ketone bodies (KBs) have versatile effects on multiple organs including the brain, heart, and bones. Studies on ketones have shown promise as energy provisionary bodies, anti-inflammatory effects, and ameliorating oxidative stress, among other actions. 

There has been a long-standing interest in developing ingestible forms of ketone bodies that have recently led to the commercial availability of exogenous ketone supplements (EKS). EKS like ketone salts and esters facilitate nutritional ketosis. 

Studies have suggested the beneficial effects of EKS on endurance performance, and recovery. The potential benefits for athletic performance have been a key area of modern research.

Exogenous Ketone Supplements

Exogenous ketones refer to direct ketone supplementation or supplements that have ketone precursors. Exogenous ketones are sold as supplements. Ketogenic diets and exogenous ketones have many similarities but research is needed to ensure they have the same health and therapeutic outcome effects.

Achieving ketosis without supplements, i.e., through dietary changes, is called natural ketosis.  Natural ketosis takes prolonged periods of dieting or fasting, and the dietary changes are generally extreme.  This is why engaging in a dietary regimen to achieve natural ketosis should be done only under supervision by a medical and/or nutritional professional. 

Using supplements, or exogenous ketones, the achieve ketosis seeks to eliminate dietary restrictions, thereby helping the body achieve a state of ketosis without all the work.

Natural ketosis has shown potential for aiding such functions as athletic performance. Supplementation with ketones, if it provides the same benefits, would allow a quick way of achieving ketosis without major alterations in a person’s lifestyle.

Important Exogenous Ketone Information

Ketone bodies such as acetoacetate and β-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) have wide-ranging metabolic and molecular effects on organs including the brain, heart, and skeletal muscle. In particular, research data has suggested potential benefits to athletes in terms of performance and recovery.

Anecdotal reports and increased commercial availability of ingestible forms of exogenous ketone supplements have amplified interest in increased interest in human exercise studies to better understand and confirm the effects of ketone supplements on athletic performance.

However, most studies on exogenous supplements in various athletic contexts to date have failed to observe benefits to performance or recovery. Some evidence for an effect on biochemical mechanisms underlying performance function has been reported. Whether the changes lead to an actual observable clinical effect under the right conditions or with certain amounts of consumption remains to be seen. Future research on whether there are contexts in which exogenous ketone supplements are effective is greatly needed.

Research at Biofortis

Biofortis is dedicated to protecting consumer health worldwide by delivering a wide range of testing and consultancy services to the food, supplement, and nutrition industries. Biofortis supports this mission in two ways—through clinical trials and sensory and consumer insights testing. We specialize in clinical research targeting foods, ingredients, and dietary supplements that affect body structures, function, and overall health. Contact us with any clinical trial or scientific consulting needs.

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