Exogenous vs. Endogenous Ketones

There is a new(ish) fad trending in the ketogenic world as of late: exogenous ketones. You may have heard of them or even know somebody trying to sell them to you. 

I suspect I may make some enemies or lose some followers with this post, but I am here to be a truth-teller and spreader of information so if that doesn’t jive with you, then we can part friends - no hard feelings.

What are Exogenous Ketones?

Let’s start with the basics:

  • Exogenous ketones are ketones made outside of the body and usually taken in the form of supplements.
  • Endogenous ketones are made in the liver when the body transitions from being a glucose burner to a fat burner through diet.

The attraction of buying and taking the exogenous ketones is that it’s often marketed as a magic bullet to get you into ketosis within a matter of hours.

There are people everywhere looking for a pill or quick-fix to help with weight-loss, which is exactly why you’ll see them on almost every keto forum.

In this post, I’m focusing on the weight-loss aspect of these supplements. There have been some newer studies showing the possibility of using these supplements for cancer and neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and epilepsy.  That’s exciting news and definitely worth paying attention to but not what I’m focusing on in this post.

What Happens When You Take Exogenous Ketones?

Here’s the reality about taking exogenous ketones: when you take these supplements, you may experience a hit of energy and your appetite may be lessened but it does nothing to help you burn your fat stores, especially if you haven’t already made the transition to fat-burning through diet.

Taking supplements will give you the energy but does nothing to help you lose weight or burn fat. 

When you force your body to produce ketones, a byproduct of ketosis, through carb or calorie restriction, it goes after your fat stores to turn it into fuel for the brain and body.

That’s what we are aiming for. We want our bodies to work for the energy we need by converting the fat into ketones through the liver. That’s why it’s called "fat-burning." Literally, burning the fat stores for fuel.

Now, if you’re an endurance athlete and are looking to perform at a higher level, fueled on ketones, you would be somebody that could possibly benefit from added supplementation. 

When you go looking for specific marketing on these exogenous ketones, you won’t find actual claims by the manufacturers for use in weight-loss. They are marketed as a superhuman fuel and a way to “...optimize your human potential” by Pruvit (just one of many brands out there).

Pruvit also goes on to say that it isn’t necessary to change your diet to be able to experience the benefits but you should start to lower your carb intake.

So, therein lies the problem for me. The wording is vague and potentially misleading. If people are driven to the website after looking at side-by-side pictures on many keto forums, seeing massive body transformations, they may be under the impression that they can achieve these results without having to really address the underlying problem - diet.

As Always, It Starts with the Food!

Weight-loss just won’t happen until the diet is right. This means eating real food - not loading up on bacon or taking these supplements like many people post about.

Let's be clear, the ketogenic life is not about eating lots bacon. It's about eating lots of veggies, the color of the rainbow, if you will; lots of healthy fats like coconut oil, mct oil, olive oil, raw nuts and avocado; coupled with moderate amounts of protein. Bacon is the exception not the norm.

It's about eating real, organic, clean food without a list of ingredients accompanying them.
FYI real food doesn't have a list of ingredients...

Starting with the food, you can help your body go from glucose-burner to fat-burner and reap all of the health benefits you may be wanting to achieve. You will lose weight if you stay low-carb (under 20-25 grams), eat moderate amounts of protein (which I promise, is way less than you might think), and have a majority of your calories coming from high-quality fats.

The carbs you do eat ideally come from veggies, seeds and some nuts.

Intermittent fasting is another big component of the weight-loss and health equation. I love fasting and do it daily. I will be posting a blog on this very subject in 2 weeks so keep an eye out for it.

In the meantime, if you’re looking to lose weight and turn your body into a true fat-burner, don’t waste your money on any of these exogenous ketones. You just may find your wallet is the only thing to get any lighter.