“Ketone supplements” are marketed to raise blood ketone levels and enhance performance. A ketone is a molecule your liver makes from fat during periods of starvation (>72 hours) or if you follow a strict ketogenic diet. During these times, ketones are the main energy source used by the body.

Ketones also can be made in a laboratory. Ketone supplements typically contain beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB; a ketone) and sometimes medium-chain triglycerides (MCT, which your liver can make into BHB), along with other ingredients. (Don’t confuse these ketones with raspberry ketones, a plant extract used in some weight-loss supplements.)

Insufficient evidence is available to support the use of ketone supplements to improve performance. Currently, no studies with ketone supplements have been conducted in military populations.

For information about ketogenic diets, please read the article in HPRC's Performance Nutrition.

Updated 25 April 2016

References

Burke, L. M. (2015). Re-examining high-fat diets for sports performance: Did we call the ‘nail in the coffin’ too Soon? Sports Medicine, 45(S1), 33–49. doi:10.1007/s40279-015-0393-9

Hashim, S. A., & VanItallie, T. B. (2014). Ketone body therapy: From the ketogenic diet to the oral administration of ketone ester. Journal of Lipid Research, 55(9), 1818–1826. doi:10.1194/jlr.R046599

Kesl, S. L., Poff, A. M., Ward, N. P., Fiorelli, T. N., Ari, C., Van Putten, A. J., . . . D’Agostino, D. P. (2016). Effects of exogenous ketone supplementation on blood ketone, glucose, triglyceride, and lipoprotein levels in Sprague–Dawley rats. Nutrition & Metabolism, 13(1). doi:10.1186/s12986-016-0069-y