Question:

I have been hearing also about a ketogenic diet using exogenous ketones. I’m 63 years old, 5’4″ and weigh 170. I joined LA fitness two weeks ago and I’m working with a trainer. My goals are weight loss and strength training. I’ve been doing (and I’m committed to) about 45 minutes of cardio 3-5 times per week and weight training 3 days a week. I am in fairly good health with well controlled mild hypertension as my only health concern. Any information you could provide or direct me to would be appreciated.

– Susan D.

Answer:

I had to do a little research on this one, Susan, but I am glad to be kept on my toes! For our other readers: exogenous ketones are those ingested as supplements as opposed to those produced by the body (called endogenous). The intended goal of dietary-induced ketosis is for the body to use ketones, or fat-derived compounds, as an alternative fuel source instead of carbohydrates for certain body systems.

An outside source of ketones, such as beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), in the absence of glycogen depletion, will only produce a short-term state of ketosis lasting a few hours. So you’d need to keep taking the product to get an effect prolonged enough to be significant. You could end up spending well over $100/month – ideal for the supplement company!

Money Down The Drain

During forced ketosis, the body regulates ketone production by shutting down the liver’s production of endogenous ketones and getting rid of excess ketones through urinating.

The use of such ketones (and therefore the bulk of research) has been for its effects on Alzheimer’s, cancer, epilepsy and elite athletic performance. Little is known to establish exogenous ketone use for weight loss. In fact, on PubMed.gov, I could not find one study that directly observed exogenous ketone administration and reduction in body weight. Lots of bits of information that might lead one to assume this would be the case, but no evidence to support such a theory.

My advice – You’d likely be better served by consuming natural caffeine sources to help prolong your cardio workouts for increased fat burning. Coffee won’t break the bank, either!

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.


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