Do Exogenous Ketones Help You Get in Ketosis?

Well, yes.

But it’s not black and white…

Let’s take a closer look at exogenous ketones and why they matter.

Since their introduction as diet supplements, exogenous ketones have become very popular in recent years. Either people have come to love them, hate them or just don’t have enough information about them so they end up hanging on the fence. You have probably found yourself reading this article since you fall into any of these categories.

If so, you are in good company. This article seeks to separate the wheat from the chaff regarding exogenous ketones which will tell us whether these ketones will; help you get into ketosis.

What are Ketones?

Ketones are organic compounds which have a carbonyl group =C=O. They bond with two groups of hydrocarbons. Oxidizing secondary alcohols produce ketones. Acetone is an example of a ketone.

Quite technical right?

Let me bring the whole subject closer to you.

Your liver produces ketones as it breaks down fatty acids. This is a normal process where the ketones produced will be completely broken down. The few that remain will be seen in urine.

Your body uses glucose to provide you with energy. For instance, as you read this article, you need the energy to read and understand the information that I am presenting to you.

If by any chance your body does not have sufficient energy for you to finish reading this article, you won’t get an error message saying “Sorry, insufficient energy to finish reading the article.”

No. Instead, it will switch to body fats which will lead to increased production of ketones. And that is how you will end up reading this article to the end.

And that bring us to-

Exogenous ketones.

Exogenous is the new word here. It means outside. If you replace the words, you get “outside ketones.” These are ketones that are produced outside your body. Your body produces endogenous ketones.

Exogenous ketones come in the form of supplements in the diet. They come different forms such as pills, powders, and liquids.

Depending on what form pleases you, you are free to choose any. However, your taste buds are likely to frown at you in frustration. They don’t have the best taste.

Powder form may not disappoint since it makes it easier to move around with, from the gym, home, and work. You may mix it with other ingredients making it perfect for breakfast.

Who Uses Exogenous Ketones?

Athletes use them to enhance their performance. Once they ingest ketones, they create acute ketosis which tends to last for some hours. Exogenous ketones, in one way or another, improve the levels of ketones without using up glycogen stored in the muscles.

You must have heard the word ketone come up sometimes in weight loss or diabetic discussions. With fitness goals ahead, those trying to lose weight may need to suppress their appetite. A suppressed appetite, in turn, reduces food intake. Exogenous ketones have been seen to be effective in reducing the amount of weight gained.

Data collected has shown that ketones are effective anti-carcinogens. A study conducted on mice which were put on ketone as a diet supplement showed a 70% increase in their survival rates with systemic cancer. It indicates that cancer cells cannot effectively use ketone bodies as compared to the majority of healthy tissues in the body.


When ketone bodies are too many in the body, then this is what is called ketosis. It is mainly linked to diabetes mellitus and abnormal breakdown of fats.

In just a while, we will be finding what causes ketosis paying attention to exogenous ketones which are our subject of interest.

Ready? Let’s roll on.

It may have emerged from some circles that ketosis is a hazardous condition. Well regardless of where this may have come from, you must have bought into the argument. I’ve been there too, so it’s okay to get confused at times.

Ketosis exists in two forms; nutritional ketosis and diabetic ketoacidosis.

Nutritional Ketosis

This is a process that is controlled by insulin which causes the body to release fatty acids and produce ketones. It is a response to either starvation or reduction in intake of carbohydrates.

The body operates a system where an output from one node influences the type of input going into the same node. It, therefore, means that production of insulin prevents high levels of ketones from being produced.

High ketone levels may lead to a change in pH levels which in turn results in serious problems.

Beta-hydroxybutyrate levels of about 0.5-3.0 mM indicate a state of nutritional ketosis where your body has adapted to ketones.

If you continuously take less than 50 grams of carbohydrate in a day, your body will adapt by changing reliance on glycogen to fat as the main source of energy.

The brain changes from relying on glucose to fat and in particular, beta-hydroxybutyrate which is safe. It is not in any way related to diabetic ketoacidosis.

Diabetic Ketoacidosis

When the body does not have sufficient insulin, there is a sudden increase in the levels of glucose in the blood. The fat that has been stored is released from the cells.

This is a deviation from the norm, and it results in an excessive production of ketones.

High levels of ketones and increased levels of glucose in the blood usually lead to a disruption of the pH in the blood which may be life threatening.


The chaotic release of ketone bodies causes them to accumulate in the blood stream. Ketones are slightly acidic in nature, and they, therefore, cause the pH of the blood to be lower than normal. Beta-hydroxybutyric levels are usually around 15-25mM.

A condition known as acidosis results. Note that ketones are not the problem here, the condition that they cause is hazardous.

Acidosis causes:

  • Nausea
  • Hyperventilation
  • Fruity breath
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dehydration

All these happen as the body makes an effort to remove excess amounts of ketones in the blood through urine and lungs.

If not treated in time, coma or death may occur.

Ketogenic acidosis may also occur in the following situations:

  • Severe exercise for extended periods
  • Prolonged starvation
  • Binge drinking

Final Thoughts

Next time someone asks you whether exogenous ketones cause ketosis, reply, yes, they do.

After that, add this-

To be clear, they cause the good type of ketosis, which is nutritional ketosis. It is not hazardous to our bodies, and that makes it safe for us to use exogenous ketones for the their different beneficial purposes.

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