Athletes, Here’s Everything You Need to Know about Ketone Supplements

January 11, 2018


A new dietary supplement claims to boost performance by mimicking a low-carb diet. But scientists are skeptical."

Over the past few years, some athletes have turned to Ketone supplements in an attempt to "boost their performance." Our livers naturally produce ketones when we're low on carbohydrate fuel. Basically, ketones tell our bodies to start burning fat instead of carbs.

The whole premise behind keytone supplements is this: maybe introducing more ketones will help athletes burn fat more efficiently, and therefore last longer during endurance events like cycling and running.

However, recent studies indicate a few holes in the ketone supplement theory.

It takes our bodies anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to adapt to a low-carb, high-ketone diet. That's why athletes who try ketone supplements often feel terrible at first — slow, tired, and sometimes even fighting symptoms similar to food poisoning. A blind study reported in the New York Times showed that cyclists using a ketone supplement performed 2-4% worse than their peers.

"But most told the scientists that they thought they were riding faster during that trial, because the pedaling had felt so difficult," writes Gretchen Reynolds. "Told that their performance in fact had declined, almost all announced that they were no longer interested in using ketones for performance enhancement."

According to Louise Burke, the study’s primary author, ketone supplements need to undergo "far more research" before scientists and nutritionists can really understand their effects. For that reason, we recommend avoiding them for now.

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