Ketone Supplements: Good, Bad, or Ugly?

These supplements are popping up everywhere, but do they help with weight loss?

By Mark Hamblin

It seems like there’s a new Keto-This or Keto-That supplement on the market every day.  Or maybe 100 new ones per day.

As the ketogenic diet grows in popularity, so does the draw for supplement companies to enter the market — and they all try to take advantage of everyone looking for the “magic pill” for weight loss.

Every company seems to have some “secret breakthrough formula” and they all seem to follow the same story — “If fueling your body with ketones is good, then take more ketones and that’s better!”  Not so fast, buddy.  Oh… and there is no “magic pill” for weight loss… sorry.

First… what are ketones:  Put simply, ketones are what our body makes (on our own, in our livers) as fuel when we metabolize fat.  We get the fat either from what we eat, or from our stored fat.

If we add more ketones in by ingesting them (called exogenous ketones… exogenous = coming from outside the body) then we’re just adding in more fuel to our bodies, fuel that we don’t need to generate through our own metabolic system.

But… our bodies need to do something with that extra fuel.  If we’re not going to use it up, we’ll likely store it, or not “burn” as much of our stored fat.

I feel very strongly that any average person trying to lose weight with the ketogenic diet DOES NOT NEED ANY KETONE SUPPLEMENTS.  

I have 5 good reasons why you do NOT need ketone supplements for weight-loss:

1) They’re counterproductive for weight-loss.

One of the main points of a ketogenic diet for weight loss is that by changing our diet, we’re causing our body to burn fat for fuel.

We WANT our body to burn our OWN fat — so we can get rid of it!  If we add in other energy sources (extra “exogenous” ketones), then our bodies will use those instead, and we’ll need to burn less of our own fat!

Why the heck would we want to do that?

If you’re following a Ketogenic diet and in ketosis, your body makes PLENTY of its own ketones — you don’t need to take more!

2) They give people a false sense of “being in ketosis”.

I’ve heard people say that they’re taking ketones as a way to force themselves into ketosis faster, or so that they stay in ketosis while they cheat with some carbs.

Oh boy.  That’s complete BS.

The only way to get into ketosis is by restricting your carb intake enough so that your body starts metabolizing fat to produce your own ketones.  Taking extra ketones does nothing for this.

If you’re still eating carbs, whether you’re taking extra ketones or not, your body will still prefer to burn those carbs as energy, and you won’t be in ketosis.

3) They’re a waste of money.

Have you looked at the prices of some of these supplements?  Over $5 per serving, for a little packet of crap that you’re body doesn’t need anyways!  And they recommend 3 servings per day — which would come out to $480 per month!

Spend your money elsewhere…

4) Many companies selling them are very shady.

One of the most well known brands, Keto//OS by Pruvit, is all over social media.  Why?  Not because the product is good, but because they are setup as a Multi-Level-Marketing scheme — an MLM.

MLM’s are notoriously shady — some would refer to them as pyramid schemes.  They enlist “independent sales agents” to buy the products and sell them to their friends.  They take advantage of close personal relationships to force products on people, making it very difficult for people to say NO.

Next time your friend approaches you at your kids soccer practice and pitches you on trying a free sample… just politely decline, and don’t take the bait.  Read more about MLM schemes on Wikipedia or on MLM Watch.

5) They make you focus on the wrong health priorities.

Many of the supplement companies claim their ketone products do things like “increase mental clarity” or “fight inflammation”.  Whether they actually do these things is yet to be proven… but that doesn’t even matter to me.

For most overweight people, their weight and way of eating is their #1 health risk… and probably the cause of their #2, #3, and #4 health risks too.  Increasing mental clarity and fighting inflammation are much, much farther down that list… even if these supplements do anything at all to help them.

In buying in to these other potential (unproven) benefits, you lose sight of your #1 problem, and are actually doing something that makes solving problem #1 that much harder!  Don’t do it.

The Rare Exceptions…

The ONLY people who may find some value in taking extra ketones (exogenous ketones) are very serious endurance athletes who are also in ketosis.  In other words… people who are using the Ketogenic Diet for something other than weight loss.

If they’re out doing a 200 mile bike ride, its possible they can’t produce enough ketones from their own sources to meet their fuel needs.  So in this case, taking extra ketones for extra fuel makes sense.  But keep in mind they are typically doing keto for completely different reasons… they usually have very low body-fat, and are not doing keto to lose weight like you or I.

So, save your money, don’t buy into all the crap marketing from the supplement companies, and KEEP KETO SIMPLE.

Mark Hamblin

Mark is a Keto Diet blogger, author, and coach, helping people all over the world reach their individual weight-loss goals. He has been following the Ketogenic Diet himself since 2013, achieving a staggering transformation from a very unhealthy 405 pounds to 195 pounds today. As a day-job, he works as an executive in the global electronics industry. He splits his time between San Francisco, Copenhagen, and China.
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