Should You Include Ketone Drinks in Your Keto Diet?

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The ketogenic diet, also known as the "keto" diet, involves consuming foods considered high in fat and low in carbs, such as eggs, nuts, berries, and vegetables. Following this diet is quite popular throughout the world at the moment, and ketogenic enthusiasts will find no shortage of bestselling culinary books, recipe websites, and keto-friendly supplements and beverages on the market.

How Does the Keto Diet Work?

By keeping your carb intake low, you can help move your body into a new state called ketosis, in which you burn fat for energy instead of carbs. In ketosis, the burning of fat produces fatty acid byproducts known as ketones.

When you need energy for anything from intense exercise to an activity as simple as thinking (as the brain is a muscle that needs energy to function), ketones are used instead of carbs when your carb storage runs low. This can lead to fat and weight loss.

Because of the challenges of remaining in ketosis (as your body naturally craves carbs for stamina), people often either give up and return to their normal eating habits. Some also follow a non-strict keto weight-reduction plan that includes consuming a small number of carbs and sweets. In addition, keto followers might add certain ketone supplements to their diet, such as ketone drinks, to assist with staying in ketosis when sheer willpower alone doesn't work.

Are Ketone Drinks Regulated?

Ketone drinks are not industry regulated. You should note that currently, under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act, as amended by the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, dietary supplement organizations, such as those that market ketones supplements, do not need approval from theFood and Drug Administration (FDA) prior to bringing their products to the public.

Because of this non-regulation, we don't know if ketone drinks are safe and effective for consuming. Only ingest them after doing your homework and reading verified testimonials for the product.

Types of Ketones

You will find two main types of ketones on the market today:

  • Ketone esters are the strongest of the ketone supplements and could keep your body in ketosis for longer than other types. A popular brand is H.V.M.N. Ketone Ester. The cost of this product is a consideration—a three-pack is $99. Also, due to their strong, odious taste, you might want to consider a more flavorful drink or food chaser to wash down a ketone ester drink.
  • Ketone salts can be found in drink form. Manufacturers often add electrolytes to the beverage (as you can get dehydrated when following a keto diet because of the lack of water-dense foods), as well as potassium and calcium to boost their nutritional content. Ketone salt drinks can put your body in ketosis, but this doesn't last as long as a ketone ester.

What Research Says

With the significant interest in achieving ketosis based on numerous reports of compelling and noticeable weight loss, researchers have investigated ketone esters and ketone salts.

In an October 2017 study published in Frontiers in Physiology, researchers studied the effects of ketones on metabolism. Fifteen participants consumed beverages containing ketone esters or ketone salts. The results showed that all participants achieved a state of ketosis using either type, and the researchers concluded that "exogenous ketone drinks are a practical, efficacious way to achieve ketosis."

This study, however, involved a limited number of participants.

In a July 2016 study from Cell Metabolism, researchers gave a group of elite cyclists ketones esters at rest and an equal amount of ketone esters at 45 minutes of cycling exercise. They also gave separate carb- and fat-rich drinks to two other groups in an effort to compare all three groups.

Results showed that the elite cyclists who drank the ketone beverage cycled an average of 400 meters farther than the other two groups. This is not a sizeable increase, but it is an increase nonetheless.

Researchers from a 2016 study from Cell Metabolism also show ketones can help endurance athletes in three ways: by serving as an energy source during workouts,, improving athletic performance by approximately two percent, and reducing lactic acid.

But not all studies come to the same conclusion. In a second October 2017 study published in Frontiers in Physiology, researchers found the opposite results: athletes actually performed worse after consuming a ketone drink. (Although the athletes didn’t consume the popular H.V.M.N. beverage like other similar studies.)

In this study, a group of 11 elite cyclists drank a ketones supplement prior to exercise. Their bodies did indeed achieve ketosis but were two percent slower than a group that didn’t drink anything. In addition, the top cyclists experienced gastrointestinal distress, which included acid reflux and nausea. Even one of the cyclists dropped out of the exercise because he felt too sick from dizziness and vomiting.

Again, the study included a small number of participants and more research is needed for further results that can be stated for the greater population. 


Consuming a ketones drink can lead to any of the following conditions, and you should discuss your weight loss intentions with a medical professional before beginning a keto diet.

  • Gastrointestinal issues, such as digestion and stomach problems
  • Electrolyte imbalances, as certain ketones drinks contain extra electrolytes. You should be sure to drink a lot of water with a keto diet or risk dehydration.
  • High blood pressure
  • Weakness and lethargy from the lack of carbs for energy

Overall results

Most studies show that ketones drinks can help supplement a keto diet in a positive way. But you need to be careful with which brands you consume, as you could experience gastrointestinal issues and dehydration.

Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  • Beware of Products Promising Miracle Weight Loss. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Updated January 5, 2015.

  • Cox PJ, Kirk T, Ashmore T, et al. Nutritional Ketosis Alters Fuel Preference and Thereby Endurance Performance in Athletes. Cell Metabol. August 9, 2016. P256-268. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2016.07.010

  • Egan B and D'Agostino P. Fueling Performance: Ketones Enter the Mix. Cell Metabol. September 13, 2016. 3(24);373-375. doi:/10.1016/j.cmet.2016.08.021

  • Leckey JJ, Ross ML, Quod M, et al. Ketone Diester Ingestion Impairs Time-Trial Performance in Professional Cyclists. Front Physiol. October 23, 2017. doi:10.3389/fphys.2017.00806

  • Stubbs BJ, Cox PJ, Evans PJ, et al. On the Metabolism of Exogenous Ketones in Humans. Front Physiol. 2017; 8: 848. doi:10.3389/fphys.2017.00848

By Jennifer Purdie, M.Ed, CPT
Jennifer Purdie, M.Ed, is a certified personal trainer, freelance writer, and author of "Growth Mindset for Athletes, Coaches and Trainers."