Should I Be Taking Exogenous Ketones? (Say What?!)

Should I Be Taking Exogenous Ketones? 

Exogenous ketones were introduced in 2014… About the same time I really started diving into the health benefits of more fat in the diet.

But let me back up here, you may not even be familiar with the word “exogenous” so let’s start there:

Exogenous vs Endogenous

Exogenous = Originates from a source external from the body

Endogenous = Originates from a source internal to the body

Exogenous ketone bodies are just ketone bodies that are ingested through a nutritional supplement. Ketone bodies produced in the liver are more properly referred to as endogenous ketone bodies.

What does the science say?

Although I don’t think eating a diet ample in healthy fat is a fad, I do know that when science proves something is beneficial for us, there is a company working relentlessly to manufacture a product related to that discovery that will fly off the shelves.

Remember when resveratrol, found in red wine, was proven to be good for us? Supplement companies went crazy marketing pills and drinks with even just the tiniest hint of resveratrol in it promising anti-aging and weight loss.

What about garcinia cambogia? Remember that? It was marketed as a product that stopped the body’s ability to make fat and reduce appetite. Very small studies were shown that garcinia cambogia slightly raised levels of serotonin in the brain…that was all. There was no proof that it inhibited fat production and actually suppressed the appetite enough to generate any weight loss.

Most of the research put into exogenous ketone supplementation has been for the medical treatment of conditions such as cancer, epilepsy and Alzheimer’s/dementia. Any other research has been done for athletic performance. The goal is to see if the use of exogenous ketones provides any additional fuel sources for the body when pushed to its limit.

For weight loss

However, I know that most people who are considering supplementing their diets with exogenous ketones are wanting to do so for weight loss. This is where research is lacking.

So let’s just say that you were eating a diet with lots of healthy fat and are producing your own endogenous ketones…would supplementing with exogenous ketones also help me burn fat even faster? No!

Let me explain:

Your body has a natural response to significantly elevated blood ketones. It will actually increase insulin secretion (the current thinking behind this is to restrict ketone production to prevent ketoacidosis). Remember, insulin is our fat storing hormone. Ketones may actually decrease fat oxidation if consumed in high enough amounts, just like other macronutrients. This is why in The MADE Diet, I have most people between 40 and 60% fat.

And from what I hear, there are some companies that will tell you that you can, “Eat carbs and stay keto-adapted.” UGH! NO!

Burning fat for fuel

If there is one thing you take away from our conversation, it’s that a diet higher in carbs and fat is detrimental to your health. Having spikes of insulin in your bloodstream and lots of fat in your diet is one sure fire way to never lose the weight you’re after.

What we really want is for our bodies to start burning fat for fuel instead of sugar. The production of endogenous ketones is what makes this a reality. Many people now measure their blood ketones through urine, breath and/or blood. Nutritional ketosis is a range of .5 to 3.0 mmol/L.

Most people who eat the Standard American Diet (SAD) will measure in at a .2 or .3. Getting to .5 and up only requires fewer carbohydrates (and those chosen to be from quality sources), a moderate amount of protein and a good amount of healthy fats. That’s when the body will start to burn fat for fuel.

Personally, I usually measure at .8 mmol/L and have a body fat percentage of 17%.

This girl just doesn’t believe that you need added ketones from external sources in your diet in order to be a great fat burner.