Can exogenous ketones help you lose weight?
What’s the hype?
There has been a lot of hype about the wonders of exogenous ketones (Beta Hydroxybutyrate aka BHB salts) and their link to weight loss. The American supplement industry is literally exploding with new BHB products being introduced every week…but do they actually work?
A quick Google search will pull up a photo after photo of before and after weight loss reviews–mainly promoted by Pruvit Promoters. Is there any substance to this or is it just another one of those fat burner crazes or herbal life fads?
So, do they really work? And if so, how do they work?
The first things you need to understand are ketones and ketosis. In the absence of carbohydrates and sugars, our bodies need to find an alternative fuel source. So the liver converts nutritional (consumed) fat and body fat into ketones – this process is called ketosis. So in essence, your metabolism switches from sugar burning to fat burning; explaining the correlation between ketosis and weight loss!
Hence, exogenous ketones are a ‘bio-hack’ into instant ketosis, aka ‘Fat Burning Mode’.
Fuel from Fats: Become a fat burner
In ketosis, we are powered by ketones (fuel from fat) as opposed to glucose (fuel from sugar & carbohydrates).
It may sound like a crazy idea but our Palaeolithic ancestors would have been in ketosis most of the time. They mainly ate animal fats and animal proteins, and due to food scarcity would have experienced frequent periods of fasting. It is only in the past few hundred years that humankind has been predominantly dependent on carbohydrates for energy. Did you know that babies are born in ketosis? Amazing!
So, being a fat burner is actually our more natural metabolic state.
Sugar Equals Inflammation
It is also arguable that the majority of chronic illnesses that we humans suffer from are due to our sugar abundant diet. Sugar causes inflammation and this inflammation causes health problems! Illnesses such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s, dementia, epilepsy, obesity, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, obesity and cancer (yes, cancer cells thrive on glucose, check out this blog post) are linked to the inflammatory properties of excessive sugar.
In ketosis, there isn’t enough sugar in your system to cause inflammation! This is why blood ketones of 2-5mmol is often referred to as ‘therapeutic ketosis’ as it is indeed therapy for the cells and body.
Unlock your fat stores
When you are running on sugar or carbohydrates, your body won’t tap into your fat stores because it doesn’t need to–as it has an abundance of glycogen and glucose to use as fuel instead. This means that you are keeping the padlock locked on your fat stores. You can only effectively burn fat when you have first used up the glucose in your body.
Thus, sugar and carbohydrates prevent you from burning fat.
So, can exogenous ketones help you lose weight?
To the crux of the issue: If you take exogenous ketones and get into ketosis, will you lose weight?
Not necessarily! Exogenous ketones do put you into ketosis—the fat burning metabolic state—but it’s your job to restrict carbohydrates and/or exercise more to create a caloric deficit so that you keep in fat-burning and weight-loss mode.
They make it easier to burn fat and lose weight as they teach your body to tap into your own fat stores —but ultimately—you have to do the work.
Exogenous ketones support weight loss by:
- Helping you tap into your fat stores for energy
- Retraining your metabolism to use ketones (fats) for fuel
- Suppressing your appetite–meaning, you’ll have fewer snacks and smaller meals
- Balancing blood sugar levels—you won’t get ‘hangry’ anymore!
- Suppressing cravings for sugar and carbohydrates—you’re so much more satiated and satisfied with ketones that your brain will stop screaming for sugar!
- Supporting intermittent and extended fasting periods
- Increasing physical energy–this means you can be more active on fewer calories
- Increasing mental focus and energy–it’s when you’re tired that you’re most likely to overeat or choose sugar-laden foods
- Preserving Muscle Mass
Muscle Preservation & Body composition
A tremendous benefit of ketosis is that ketones actually preserve muscle mass—so losing weight in ketosis means you won’t get that ‘skinny fat’ look! This is because on glucose, the body breaks down lean muscle mass into energy (gluconeogenesis); yet in ketosis, your body only converts fat into energy and so muscle is protected.
So, still interested? How can you use them to lose weight?
If you do want to try them to kick start your ketosis, then I recommend having them in the morning to boost your energy, focus and suppress your appetite. This way, you’ll be less inclined to snack or overeat during the day and you’ll have extra energy too.
Learn more about the ketogenic diet here.
Experiencing a weight loss plateau? Read this to restart your fat burning.
Find out the differences between the Exogenous Ketone Products here.
Feeling thirsty on the ketogenic diet? Find out how important it is to replenish your electrolytes here.
Do you have any questions? Let us know your thoughts below!