The Beginner’s Guide to Exogenous Ketones

Have you been wondering what exogenous ketones are? If so, you’re not the only one. The keto-dieting world has been buzzing with information about developments on exogenous ketones for awhile now, with many brands producing exogenous ketones that are used by Keto lifestylers around the world.

But the majority of Keto dieters don’t completely understand what exogenous ketones are or how they can benefit their diet (or dieting options).

In this post, we’ll provide you with easy to read information about exogenous ketones. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to utilize exogenous ketones in your diet, and teach others about their value.

Let’s start with the label!

The Definition of Exogenous Ketones

Two words: exogenous and ketones.

The word exogenous describes something that is developed from external factors; something outside of the usual production. So in terms of ketones, this means that exogenous ketones are synthetic: created outside of your body by scientists and then ingested for accelerated ketosis.

We assume that you already know what ketones are, but just in case, we’ll give you a brief description of this term as well.

Ketones, are organic compounds produced by in your body when your system experiences starvation, or when you restrict carbohydrates and increase fats, which inhibits a starvation-like state that produces ketone bodies.

These ketones are an ideal fuel source for your body and your brain. Studies have suggested that when your body is in a ketogenic state, it utilizes oxygen more efficiently in the generation of energy.

In short, ketones are secret weapons for anyone looking to take their body’s fueling system to the next level!

To restate the point: Exogenous Ketones are ketone supplements. They’re created outside of your body and ingested by you, instead of being produced in your body.

Why should I take Exogenous Ketones?

Exogenous Ketones can increase flexibility in what you can eat, decreasing the burden of a strict Ketogenic Diet. They can also help you get back into Ketosis faster than nutritional Ketosis.

But that’s not all they can do! There are multiple reason to utilize exogenous ketones. Here are some other ways to leverage Exogenous Ketones:

Athletic Performance

Curiosity has grown about the effects ketosis and ketone bodies have on athletic performance. From diving performance of Navy Seals, to the Tour De France, exogenous ketones have been the at the center of breakthroughs, and controversies.

Dr. Dominic D’Agostino proposed that Navy SEALs who use oxygen respirators while training underwater, could benefit from exogenous ketones while underwater. This is because the respirators used by the divers can cause oxygen toxicity to the brain, which can cause seizures.

Dr. D’Agostino discovered that exogenous ketones can maintain the brain’s metabolic integrity, which in turn can prevent the formation of free radicals in the brain that can form from mitochondria and cause neurological failure.

Another study by Dr. Peter Attia discovered that exogenous ketones can actually improve output and stamina for prolonged athletic activity. The advantage of exogenous ketones was further displayed at the Tour De France, when rumors of leading riders using supplementing them raised concerns over fairness for those who weren’t.

The Big Idea Behind Exogenous Ketones and Athletic Performance:

Exogenous Ketones have been shown in performance studies of both humans and animals to improve metabolic efficiency, which in essence means that your body is using better fuel that burns more efficiently over longer periods of time, and decreases the amount of fuel you need while performing. Where glucose fails (glycogen depletion), ketones pick up the slack!

KETOCANA/KETOFORCE PRODUCT REVIEW HERE

Wiggle room while you’re dieting

Sometimes you’re in the mood to be a hardcore dieter, and other times – not so much. Exogenous ketones are an asset to anyone struggling to stay in nutritional ketosis. This is because they allow you to decrease the ratios of fat to carbs to a less strict number.

A “classic” ketogenic diet macronutrient (fat, protein, and carbohydrate) ratio would be 4 grams of fat to every 1 gram of protein or carbs. However, if you’re utilizing exogenous ketones, you could drop this ratio as low as 1:1!

This means that you can get all the benefits of the state of Ketosis without the discipline required for nutritional ketosis.

Ease the stress of a medically enforced Ketogenic Diet

The burden that comes with medically forced low-carb diets can be psychologically taxing on individuals who’ve never lived without carbs. Many people don’t choose the Keto Diet – it chooses them.

Diseases such as diabetes, cancer, or neurological issues like epilepsy often cause physicians to suggest the Ketogenic Diet as one of the only options for survival. Patients who need a “mental break,” will find exogenous ketones a godsend.

Dieting is hard. Exogenous ketones make it less hard.

Taking Exogenous Ketones

Like many supplements, exogenous ketones come in different forms. Liquid, powder, and pill forms are all available depending on what suits you best.

A word of warning – exogenous ketones do not have the best taste! Peter Attia quipped that “The world’s worst scotch tastes like spring water compared to these things.”

The powder form is said to be the most tolerable of all the forms. Powder exogenous ketones are also easier to travel with. So if you’ll be moving around a lot from work, to gym, to home, powdered should be your first choice.

Powdered forms of exogenous ketone allow you to mix the supplement with other ingredients, making them ideal for breakfast keto shakes, or any other sort of meal replacement.

If you’re interested in using exogenous ketones, we’ve listed some of the top brands below:

Onnit MCT Oil

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 11.37.49 AM

Onnit is an incredible company that’s making a massive impacts in the lives of athletes in nearly every sport. From Olympic Gold Medalists, to NFL middle linebackers, Onnit has taken athletic performance to a new level. Providing supplements, food, and training equipment, Onnit was an early adopter of the elite performance booster that is exogenous ketones!

Onnit MCT Oil provides a shot of healthy-fats that turn you into the fat burning machine were built to be! Add some to your coffee, protein shakes, or salads and watch your strength and endurance explode!

Onnit Emulsified MCT Oil

Emulsified MCT Oils

Onnit’s Emulsified MCT Oil brings a accommodating exogenous ketone product to the table. It is an ideal supplement for anyone who wants to A) add some variety to their ketone supplementation or B) doesn’t have the stomach or pallet for regular MCT Oil.

What makes this possible is the emulsifying process that Onnit uses to create an exogenous ketone that mixes in beverages much like a coffee creamer would. So instead of the oily residue that many MCT users complain of, you get an evenly mixed beverage with a refreshing flavor.

KETO//OS

Keto//Os is rapidly growing in popularity in the exogenous ketone market.

full group of exogenous ketones image

The product comes in two powdered forms, “Charged” and “Caffeine Free.” Pruvit provides multiple serving sizes of the product, ranging from the 75 serving “Go Pack,” the 30 serving “Kan” (a tub), to the smallest, 15 serving “On The Go” pouches.

exogenous ketones go pack

Here’s a rundown on the pricing structure:

**Prices for one order

The Ingredients (as listed on the pruvit website)

MCT Powder, Beta Hydroxybutyrate, Natural Flavor, Malic Acid, Stevia and Caffeine. Contains Milk Ingredients (Gluten Free)

Dosage instructions (per the pruvit website)

“Consumption of KETO//OS before exercise can result in significant decreases in oxygen demand and increases in performance. We recommend 30 minutes before a workout. Note: Pre-workout use is recommended after building up to a full dose. The best way to maximize energy, appetite control and sustain energy is to take KETO//OS first thing in morning. To maximize benefits, build up to 1 serving 3 times daily – morning, afternoon and early evening. May be used with carbohydrate supplements if desired or by itself as a non-carb, highly efficient energy source.”

Customer reviews vary on the product from extremely pleased, to demands for a refund. The positive reviews focused on Keto//Os’ ability to get them into Ketosis within an hours’ time, while negative reviews focused on poor taste and lack of effectiveness.

To see consumer reviews, click here.


Keto CaNa

Keto Sports’ exogenous ketone supplement Keto CaNa presents a more straightforward exogenous ketone than Keto//Os.

KetocaNa exogenous ketone image

Like Keto//Os, Keto CaNa comes in a powdered form, but unlike Keto//Os Keto CaNa offers only one recipe and one container size for users.

The supplement comes in a 10.75 ounce tub, and offers one flavor: natural orange.

One tub of Keto CaNa is priced at $75.00.

As we stated above, the Keto CaNa supplement offers a more “barebones” exogenous ketone supplement, with the only ingredients being:

Calcium, Beta Hydroxybutyrate, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors, and Stevia

Keto CaNa’s serving instructions are as follows:

“Dissolve one heaping scoop in 8 ounces of cold water and stir vigorously. Consume 15 minutes prior to cardio intensive exercise. May be used with carbohydrate if desired or by itself as a non-carb highly efficient energy source. Do not exceed over 3 servings per day.”

The reviews were mostly positive, with the negative comments being centered around taste and ineffectiveness. The positive reviews suggested increased ketone levels, and improved athletic performance.

To see consumer reviews, click here.


KetoForce

KetoForce is also a Keto Sports’ product, however KetoForce comes in liquid form instead of powder.

The supplement comes in a 16 fluid ounce bottle and is unflavored. Because it’s unflavored, KetoForce often draws criticisms for being very hard to drink due to the taste.

exogenous ketone liquid form

One bottle of KetoForce is priced at $75.00.

The ingredients for KetoForce are as follows:

Calcium, Beta Hydroxybutyrate, Water, Citric and/or Sodium Hydroxide

On the bottle, the serving instructions read:

“Consume 3 capfuls. Do not exceed 3 capfuls per 24 hour period. Bes if mixed with acidic beverage. (4 to 8 ounces).”

The reviews speak highly of KetoForce’s ability to get users into Ketosis and improve their athletic ability. However, negative reviews said that the supplement was very hard to drink due to poor taste.

Read consumer reviews here.


Why Exogenous Ketones?

Exogenous ketones are a great addition to anyone attempting to achieve the benefits of ketosis. But before you start purchasing exogenous ketones, it’s important to know what you’re buying, which is why we created this starter guide.

Use exogenous ketones to get back into ketosis after a weekend of not-so-low-carb eating, or if you want the benefits of nutritional ketosis without the strict diet.

Whether you’re using them for increased athletic performance, cognitive ability, or weight loss, exogenous ketones should be a part of your ketogenic regimen. These supplements will become more popular as dietary science proves the value of ketosis for the human body.

Don’t miss out.

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42 thoughts on “The Beginner’s Guide to Exogenous Ketones

    1. Yes! Keto OS v1.0 and v1.2 were the bomb!!!! But they have discontinued those and have newer formulas which do not work for me. I dont know why they had to wreck a great thing?

    1. Great question Jason! After experimenting with both, our suggestion would be the following:

      – Keto CaNa is a much more straightforward product (calcium and sodium Beta-Hydroxybutyrate). It doesn’t give you the caffeinated option that KETO//OS does, but is more affordable. It could be a great starter supplement as you experiment more, or are simply trying to become a fat-adapted person, and not an athlete per se.

      – KETO//OS definitely provides more options in terms of container size, and also offers a caffeinated version that comes in handy before training sessions if you are a fat-adapted athlete. However, this product is significantly pricier than Keto CaNa, so we would suggest trying the smallest order before going all out.

      – KETO//OS’ mixture is also a bit more complex than Keto CaNa’s (MCT Powder, Beta Hydroxybutyrate, Natural Flavor, Malic Acid, Stevia and Caffeine)

      In short, one is farther down the evolutionary chain of exogenous ketones than the other. So your decision should be based on what your long-term goals are.

      Hope this helps!

  1. I’m new to learning about ketosis and exogenous ketones, and I’m trying to understand how does the craze over raspberry ketones fit into ketosis or using exogenous ketones.

    1. Hey Charmaine! The effectiveness and value of Raspberry ketones has been hotly debated. For starters, Raspberry Ketones aren’t even in the neighborhood of what we’re discussing when we talk about Exogenous Ketones – here’s why:

      – Raspberry Ketones are a phenolic compound, which factors in the smell and taste of the raspberries. It’s chemical makeup is dictated by its bond to the aromatic hydrocarbon group.

      – The Exogenous Ketones that we discuss are from the simple compound group because they do not have reactive groups like a phenolic compound would have.

      Our suggestion: Don’t waste your time with Raspberry ketones.

      Thanks for the comment!

      1. Thank you for the information! I’m interested in exogenous ketones, but I couldn’t find whether or not raspberry ketones fell into that category. I’ll look elsewhere.

  2. I’m looking to try the ketogenic way, but not looking to spend an arm and a leg. What’s the different between HMB(hydroxy-methyl-butyric acid) and HBH(beta-hydroxybutyric acid)?

    1. Hey Kyle! First of all, we’re grateful for your question – it’s awesome to see people seeking out information on their fitness lives before they “take the plunge.” We’ll break this answer into two parts:

      1 – If you’re not looking to spend a ton of money up front while testing the ketogenic lifestyle – no problem! For starters, you need to try nutritional ketosis before ever worrying about exogenous supplementation. If you don’t like the diet, it’s not going to matter how many supplements you by. However, if you want to get an idea if exogenous ketones are for you, we would suggest a simple MCT Oil, or a great beginner exo keto like Keto CaNa.

      2 – HMB (beta-methylbutyrate) is a metabolite of the BCAA (Branched Chain Amino Acid) Leucine. This metabolite – in the grand scheme of HMB supplements – is designed to fight the breakdown of protein, and also help with muscle recovery and stamina.

      Beta-Hydroxybutyrate, on the other hand, is a ketone body (along with acetone and acetoacetate) that is produced when your pursue a ketogenic diet, or a fasted period. Beta-Hydroxybutyrate is found in many of the exogenous ketones on the market, and is essential to fueling your body in place of carbohydrates when your body transfers into ketosis.

  3. Thanks for the insightful article. After reading your article, I was thinking the ONNIT MCT Oil would be a good option to have daily, but does MCT Oil also have positive effects/feedback for getting back into ketosis like Keto//OS or would it just be best to have both products on hand, one for daily use and one for getting back into Ketosis?

    1. Hey Matt, great question!

      In terms of getting back into Ketosis, Keto//OS would most likely be a better choice (and a change back to a low-carb diet, of course) because it not only has MCTs, but also provides beta-hydroxybutyrate, which is the product that comes from your liver after it synthesizes acetoacetate. However, since this product also has caffeine (great for workouts), you might want to go with the decaf if you’re strictly looking for a ketosis jumpstart.

      You’re very right in suggesting that MCTs are a great choice for daily use! As a matter of fact, the two (a product like Keto//OS and MCT Oil) can work in tandem. If I were you, I’d try and incorporate both supplements into your daily routine, with the MCTs providing their benefit not only for fuel, but for satiety of appetite.

      Hope this helps!

  4. Hi. Thanks for the informative article! I have fallen down the exogenous ketone rabbit hole for the last 2 days trying to figure everything out. I am currently on a nutritional ketonic diet but after 8 months, I am finding it difficult to stay on it 100%. I would like to remain on a low-carb diet, but also have a little more flexibility in my food choices. If you take the expense out of the equation, which product would you recommend for someone who wants to use ketosis as a method of weight loss? Thank you so much.

  5. Hi! So what would happen if I consumed (either product) and ate carbs within that 2-3 hour window. I’ll still be in a ketosis state? Or will I temporarily out of ketosis until the next dose? I’m just to figure out how does the body know which fuel type to use when your giving it ketones and glucose.

  6. When you take exogenous ketones, does that mean your body burns those ketones rather than your own fat? I’m already on a fairly low-carb diet for weight loss.

  7. I was wondering if you could provide a bit of clarification on this part of the article:

    “A “classic” ketogenic diet macronutrient (fat, protein, and carbohydrate) ratio would be 4 grams of fat to every 1 gram of protein or carbs. However, if you’re utilizing exogenous ketones, you could drop this ratio as low as 1:1!”

    I am new to ketogenic dieting and have purchased KetoCaNa and Brain Octane to ease my transition into ketosis, use as a pre-workout (KetoCaNa), and ideally allow for some wiggle room in my diet (allow for more carbs/day, an occasional cheat day, or maybe even both?).

    My calculated keto marcos are as follows:
    Net Carbs 25g (6%)
    Protein 80g (18%)
    Fat 147g (76%)

    – If I am consuming one or both of these supplements every day, how much of an increase should I expect to get with that 25g net carb limit?
    – Any advice on how often and when to take which supplement to maintain ketosis with a slightly higher carb limit?
    – Let’s say cheat day happens and for lunch, I eat an entire pizza and wash it down with some beer in a moment of weakness. Will these supplements really help me get right back into ketosis the very next day if I skip dinner that night, wake up the next morning and have bulletproof coffee & some KetoCaNa, and resume my normal keto diet?
    – If I make myself some protein pancakes (24g net carbs as-is) and add in some fiber powder to the batter, does that further decrease the net carbs? It sounds too good to be true but I figured I would ask…

    Just a bit of background information: I am not looking to lose weight. If anything, I would benefit from gaining some weight (muscle mass). I am a 27 year old female, 118 lbs., and I CrossFit 3x/week and lift heavy things on my own 2x/week. I am also a personal trainer and am on my feet all day spotting clients, doing movement demos, etc.

    Any advice you might have would be greatly appreciated!

  8. I am confused on the diet part. I’ve tried ketogenic diets and have experienced great health benefits (I’m diatabetic), but it also helped with sleeping through the night, increased energy, appetite suppression, and balancing of hormones. However forcing myself to eat fat and eliminate God foods like fruit, and trying to keep ratios of fat to protein to carbs was really hard for me. Can supplementing with the exogenic Ketones while having a diet of Proteins, veggies, fruits, healthy fats (avacado, cocnut oil, etc) and some grains (brown rice), produce ketosis?

  9. Hi thanks for the useful info and the follow up to the various questions posted.
    I’m a newbie to this, over-weight and just getting back in to light exercise (slowly).
    Saying that my eating habits are not that bad, I’ve kicked booze & cigarettes in and will continue to get more active.
    For me based upon me sticking to 80% of the suggested diet breakdown and light exercise, would you suggest the addition of Keto CaNa?
    There may be a few days I don’t do any exercise, my goal is to lose fat (I’m no athlete).
    Thanks!

  10. Hi! I have what might be a silly question about using these supplements. What happens if you are taking them and your diet goes off the rails, like you take the Keto//OS and then eat a bunch of pizza or chocolate. Does your body just immediately revert back to using the carbs for energy instead of the ketones? Or, if it doesn’t, would that mean your body would just store those carbs as fat? I realize that ideally you wouldn’t eat the pizza, but sometimes I do and I worry about what exactly I’m doing to my body if I’ve also taken ketones.

  11. Is there any way to understand how many keytones each product might produce to compare the effectiveness of the products?

  12. So I’ve been primarily on a Keto diet for almost 6 months. During this time, I have fine tuned a lot to get my ketone levels up (Eating more fat and less protein). Most recently, I have used blood measurements for my ketone levels and I fluctuate between .6 and 2.6. The higher readings I get on the days I workout in the morning (about 5 hours before I draw blood and take a reading). I don’t have any problems sticking to the diet. It only seems to get easier. I’ve also incorporated 16 hour fasts which also are becoming easier over time. My priority and motivation for doing a keto diet is first and foremost weight loss. So far I have lost 40 pounds and I need to lose about 20 more. I do however want to improve my performance (running) and strength (I am doing the Stronglifts 5×5 program now).

    Will taking exogenous slow down my fat loss? Since now before digging into my body for energy/ketones, I will first use up the exogenous ketones I ingest. Also do exogenous ketones somehow help get even more keto adapted, keeping in mind I have been on a strict keto diet without a problem and don’t mind it at all. Outside of performance improvements, do you think exogenous ketones is for someone like me who is primarily looking for fat loss.

    Thanks for your time.

  13. Hi – Are there benefits to exogenous ketones if I am already in nutritional ketosis? Also, what would the benefits be for cyclical ketogenic diets? Thanks!

  14. So in the absence of a nutritional ketogenic diet, exogenous ketones would not be very beneficial. Is this correct?

  15. Have you tried Ketogenix brand, and if so, is it the same or better than KETO/OS in helping ones “achieve” ketosis, taste?

    1. I’m sorry I meant “Kegenix”, it is suppose to put your body into ketosis in less than 60 mins and last for up to 12 hours…

  16. I have the KETO/OS ordered and en route. I am a little confused what is the recommended macros, I am in the short term interested in leaning up a little without losing muscle, hopefully. Do you have any recommendations on macro ratio? thanks in advance for your help.

  17. I’m looking into fasting for six days. To ease my body’s transition into this which product would you recommend?

  18. What about using a lower dose if you’re keeping to a fairly strict diet? I can’t really find any studies or info on using different dosages. Thank you for the article.

  19. so a lot of the questions bounced around this but not clearly addressed it – i understand this simply as ketosis is the state that CREATES ketones. so if i am in ketosis i create ketones, but if take exogenous ketones i can’t create ketosis – it only works one way.

    so doesn’t that mean then that taking exogenous ketones wont fat burn at all or do much of anything – because it doesn’t put my body in ketosis?

    you mention a few times that it does in fact biohack you into going into ketosis faster – but how? if i am eating carbs then it wont work, simple – right?

    and if i am IN ketosis and taking additional ketones how does that somehow make it better? I understand that if i am a real endurance athlete doing massive sessions and need more ketones fair enough, but i do crosssfit for an hour and then Im done. Im interested in the BEST way to fat burn like crazy and it seems like i need two things

    1 – get into ketosis genuinely with nutrition – obviously using brain octane oil etc to add more good fats

    2 – forget these additional ketones – cause they then get used first for energy and my body doesn’t burn its fat stores (which is what i want)

    what am i missing?

  20. Thanks for the help in learning a bit more about this topic.

    I’m just getting back into an active lifestyle after being sedentary for a few years.. Rough start I must admit but I’m focused.. Objective is to lose 80lbs. I’ve previously had my body in ketosis when I was dieting and working out so I can attest to the benefits I’ve felt before.. Now that I see Exogenous Ketones are available, I’m wondering if it’s recommended to start taking them to help jumpstart my body into ketosis since that is the goal for burning fat…

    Thanks for your help and for this article!

  21. Hi all…thanks for your articles and info. I am currently on a paleo diet, but want to lose more weight and bring it up a notch w/ ketogenic diet and be in ketosis. Not sure which product is best? Do you take the MCT oil and also a ketone powder. I know it may be difficult at first, but I am up for the challenge as we start the new year and would like to loose 40 lbs by May/June. Please advise as to what products are best so I can purchase. THANKS

  22. Thanks for teh great writeup, so what is teh difference between teh exogenous ketones listed here and say raspberry ketone pills you see at vitamin stores?

    Also, I got into Keto due to a podcast episode on Joe Rogan with Mark Sisson. ive lost 30lbs in 3 months and feel fantastic, always have energy. I started using ONNIT Shroom Tech and Onnit Alpha Brain, i am a HUGE supporter of their products and am excited to try their MCT oil once i get through teh brand i have now.

  23. If you’re following a SCD with a cheat day, and eating few enough carbs to enter ketosis between cheat days, how would you best go about supplementing these to re-enter ketosis post binge?

  24. Hi, I have recently found a chemical supplier who can supply bhb. Is it safe to experiment with these salts? And what would be the dose of pure sodium bhb?

  25. Thanks for the posting, very helpful. Just wanted to clarify one thing…it am following a keto diet and can get myself into nutritional ketosis with diet alone. If I take one of these supplements will it fuel my body instead of my own fat supply (like glucose does)?

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