Exogenous Ketones & MCTs: Why They Don't Work For Fat Burning - Old School Labs
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Home » OSL Blog » Exogenous Ketones & MCTs: Why They Don’t Work For Fat Burning

Exogenous Ketones & MCTs: Why They Don’t Work For Fat Burning

June 25, 2019

Struggling with the dreaded keto flu? Have trouble maintaining a healthy level of ketosis? Either way, you might be thinking about using keto supplements. These products claim to accelerate fat loss and help you reach ketosis faster. The truth, however, is a little more complicated.

Exogenous ketones and MCTs are among the bestselling keto supplements on the market. Proponents say that these products boost athletic performance and energy levels, reduce inflammation, and suppress appetite.

What they won’t tell you is that there are no magic supplements that will offset bad eating habits. These products can make it easier to reach ketosis, but they won’t melt away the fat.

There are safer, better ways to get into ketosis and stay there. Exogenous ketones and MCTs can slow down your progress.

That’s right! Your body produces its own ketones naturally (up to 185 grams per day!) and burns its own fat, so you don’t really need these products.

Feeling confused? That’s why we’re here. Let’s see how these keto supplements work, what they can do (and CAN’T do), and what alternatives exist.

Ketones 101

It’s impossible to talk about the ketogenic diet without mentioning ketones. Also known as ketone bodies, these organic compounds are produced by your liver when there isn’t enough insulin in the blood. Your brain, cells, and tissues can use them as a source of fuel.

Ketones 101
Ketones are produced by the liver as a source of fuel when insulin isn’t enough.

As you already know, the keto diet is low in carbs, high in fat, and moderate in protein. After ingestion, carbohydrates are converted to glucose and used for energy. Some are stored as glycogen in your liver and muscles — and the excess is deposited in your adipose tissues.

Glucose is the body’s primary source of fuel. When this nutrient isn’t readily available, your liver starts to convert fatty acids into ketone bodies that can be used for energy. These include 3‐β‐hydroxybutyrate (3HB), acetoacetate (AcAc), and acetone. Their levels increase in response to carbohydrate restriction, prolonged intense exercise, fasting, and more.

These chemical substances have a specific smell resembling that of nail polish remover, which is mostly due to acetone — hence, the term “keto breath.”

ketone
Ketone molecules are responsible for keto breath at the early stages of the diet.

Ketosis occurs when blood ketone levels go beyond 0.5 millimoles per liter (mmol/L). To stay in ketosis, it’s necessary to keep your blood ketone levels between 1.5 and 3.0 mmol/L.

Nutritional Ketosis

There are a few telltale signs of nutritional ketosis. These may include:

  • Bad breath
  • Lack of appetite
  • Short-term fatigue
  • Tiredness and low energy
  • Diminished exercise performance
  • Sleep problems
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Frequent urination
  • Rapid weight loss

These symptoms last for a week or two and subside on their own. They are often referred to as the “keto flu.”

Once you reach full ketosis, you’ll experience greater energy and stamina, enhanced mental focus, increased physical performance, and sustainable weight loss. Plus, you’ll end up eating less without even realizing it.

A 2014 review published in the journal Obesity suggests that appetite decreases while in ketosis. Furthermore, ketogenic diets increase fat burning during exercise, making them ideal for fatherless (what does fatherless mean?) and active individuals.

Not to mention that ketones are a more efficient source of fuel than glucose!

1. Ketosis vs. Ketoacidosis

Before going any further, make sure you know the difference between ketosis and ketoacidosis. The former is a metabolic state induced by fasting, starvation, carb restriction, and other lifestyle factors. As we’ve mentioned earlier, it occurs when your ketone levels reach 0.5 to 3.0 mmol/L.

Extremely high keto levels (greater than 3.0 mmol/L) may induce ketoacidosis, a life-threatening condition. In this case, your blood becomes acidic, which in turn, may lead to unconsciousness, diabetic coma, swelling in the brain, and even death. Ketoacidosis is a medical emergency and requires immediate care.

ketone test
Ketoacidosis occurs when blood keto level is higher that 3.0 mmol/L

Another difference between the two is that ketoacidosis tends to occur in people with type I diabetes. In rare cases, it may affect those with type II diabetes. Healthy individuals are unlikely to experience this condition.

What Are Exogenous Ketones?

The time it takes to enter ketosis varies from one person to another. It depends on several factors, including your age, insulin sensitivity, metabolism, and macronutrient ratios. In general, you can expect to reach full ketosis within one to three days.

If your diet was high in carbs before starting keto, it might take longer to get into ketosis because your body first needs to deplete its glycogen stores.

In the first few days, you may experience the so-called keto flu. For some folks, these symptoms can be severe enough to make them quit dieting.

tired male
Keto flu has many symptoms including fatigue, dizziness, and keto breath.

One way to reach ketosis faster and feel better overall is to take keto supplements. Exogenous ketones, for example, may help relieve fatigue, headaches, brain fog, and other “keto flu” symptoms. Manufacturers claim that these products will boost your energy levels, suppress appetite, and speed up fat loss.

According to a 2017 review published in Frontiers in Physiology, exogenous ketone drinks cause a rapid increase in blood ketone levels while lowering blood glucose and lipids. As a result, they make it easier to get into ketosis.

keto symptoms
Some studies indicate that exogenous ketones catalyze ketosis & reduce keto flu quicker.

Another study, which was featured in the journal Neurobiology of Aging, indicates that ketone esters can significantly reduce anxiety levels and improve mental performance. Furthermore, they boost memory and cognition.

These supplements are available in several forms, including ketone esters and ketone salts. Both have been found to raise blood ketone concentrations. They typically provide 8 to 12 grams of ketones per serving.

However, there’s little evidence that exogenous ketones reduce the time it takes to achieve ketosis and lessen its symptoms.

1. Why Exogenous Ketones Are NOT Necessary

Like everything else, these products have potential drawbacks. First of all, their benefits are short-lived.

Exogenous ketones will only work for a couple of hours until you pee them out. Unless you’re on a ketogenic diet, you’ll need repeated doses throughout the day in order to stay in ketosis. Expect to pay a few hundred bucks for a one-month supply.

Exogenous ketone drawback
Exogenous ketones use can be frustrating as they wear out after few hours & inhibit fat breakdown.

Another drawback is that exogenous ketones inhibit fat breakdown. That’s right. Although these products are supposed to facilitate weight loss, they may prevent your body from using stored fat as fuel.

According to a study featured in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, (D)-β-Hydroxybutyrate — one of the primary ingredients in these supplements — inhibits adipocyte lipolysis aka fat burning. In a clinical trial, (D)-β-Hydroxybutyrate has been shown to decrease the lipolytic rate in healthy men.

While it’s true that exogenous ketones raise plasma (D)-β-Hydroxybutyrate levels, they may inhibit your body’s own ketone production.

These supplements are NOT ketogenic and can stall your progress. Additionally, most claims made by manufacturers lack scientific proof.

But that’s not all.

Exogenous ketones supply calories — that’s the last thing you need when you’re trying to lose fat.

Most brands have about 4 calories per gram, which is the same calorie value as protein or carbs. Since you’ll need at least two daily servings, the calories can add up quickly.

2. Potential Side Effects of Exogenous Ketones

The potential side effects of exogenous ketones shouldn’t be overlooked either. In clinical trials, these products caused nausea, fatigue, lethargy, chest pain, and insomnia. Subjects also reported the following:

  • Mild anxiety
  • Somnolence
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Rhinitis
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating and gas
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

Higher doses increased the frequency and severity of these symptoms.

abdominal pain
Exogenous ketones have several side effects including abdominal pain.

In a 2017 study, exogenous ketones have been shown to impair cycling performance and cause digestive distress. Athletes who these supplements also reported a higher perception of effort.

So far, we know that exogenous ketones inhibit hunger and enhance mental performance. However, this doesn’t mean they aid in fat loss.

On the contrary — these supplements interfere with your body’s ability to produce ketones and reduce fat burning. Plus, they carry potential side effects, from fatigue and gut discomfort to diminished physical performance.

If you really want to give them a try, use them for up to five days while you’re transitioning into ketosis. Start with a small dose and spread it throughout the day. Beware that high doses may cause an upset stomach and bloating.

Better yet, there are safer, more efficient ways to lose fat and make the keto diet work for you. For example, you can take the Old School Labs Real Keto Fat Burner, our latest formula for a muscular, lean body. It’s specially designed for keto dieters, helping you break through plateaus. Did we mention that it’s free of MCTs and exogenous ketones?

In case you’re wondering what’s wrong with MCTs, read on. We’ll tell you the whole story.

What Are MCTs?

Along with exogenous ketones, MCT oil is one of the most popular keto supplements out there. It consists of medium chain triglycerides, which are said to boost energy and natural ketone production.

MCT Oil
MCT oils consists of medium chain triglycerides which boosts natural ketone production.

You can add it to your morning coffee — just like you’d do with coconut oil — as well as to shakes, fat bombs, smoothies, and even home-cooked meals. Another option is to purchase MCT oil powder, which is easier to use when you’re on the go.

The concept behind MCT oil is simple. This supplement contains fatty acids that stimulate the production of ketone bodies. As a result, you’ll enter ketosis faster and have greater energy.

coconut oil
MCTs are more concentrated than coconut oil.

Compared to coconut oil, MCTs are more concentrated, so you’ll get more bang for your buck.

Proponents say that MCT oil improves digestion, mental clarity, and immune function. They also claim that it boosts your mood and reduce brain fog. These benefits, though, are likely to due to ketosis — not necessarily to MCT oil.

Lauric acid, capric acid, caprylic acid, and caproic acid are the main types of MCTs. Some are more effective than others and exhibit anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and appetite-suppressing properties.

MCT Study & Obese Women

In a small study conducted on 17 obese women, MCTs increased fat oxidation to a greater extent than LCTs (long-chain triglycerides). Researchers suggest that MCTs may help prevent weight gain in the long run.

healthy Keto diet foods
MCT consumption alongside a keto diet can decrease inflammation and improve insulin response.

A more recent study, which was published in the European Journal of Nutrition in 2016, has found that medium chain triglycerides decreased inflammation and improved insulin response while suppressing fat accumulation. Furthermore, MCTs inhibit hunger and increase satiety by balancing the hormones that regulate appetite.

MCTs may also improve your performance in the gym, according to a clinical trial published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology.

Recreational athletes who supplemented their diet with MCT for 14 days reported a significantly greater time to exhaustion and burned more fat than those using LCTs. These effects could be due to the fact that MCTs suppress the utilization of glucose for fuel, causing the body to use fatty acids to generate energy.

1. Do MCTs Actually Cause Fat Loss?

We’ve all heard about the coconut oil craze. From protein bars and coffee drinks to keto cookies, manufacturers add coconut oil to most foods. The same goes for MCTs.

Whether you’re on keto or not, calories matter. Any type of fat, including MCT oil, provides calories. In fact, there are 9 calories in each gram of fat. Since your goal is to slim down, it doesn’t make sense to increase your calorie intake.

MCT oil
MCT oil can help when consumed in moderation.

Getting up to 500 calories extra from your morning coffee won’t help you get leaner or fitter. On the contrary, it will cause you to pack on pounds.

When consumed in moderation, MCT oil may help. However, it also carries potential side effects that you might not be aware of.

2017 Food & Function Study

For example, a 2017 study published in Food & Function shows that MCTs reduce adiposity and insulin resistance but promote fat accumulation in the liver. Researchers state that high doses of MCT may affect liver function and lipid metabolism over time.

Furthermore, these keto supplements are made from food oils — which may or may not be healthy. The truth is that you don’t really know what’s inside the bottle.

On top of that, MCT oil isn’t the best choice for cooking as it has a low smoke point. Sure, manufacturers claim the opposite, but that’s just marketing hype.

Samir Bannout
Samir Bannout, the Lion of Lebanon, flourished on a keto diet.

Think about famous old school bodybuilders like Samir Bannout and Serge Nubret. They followed the keto diet and had great results — but none of them used MCTs, coconut oil or exogenous ketones. Supplements were slim back in the Golden Era — athletes relied on real food to achieve ketosis and torch fat.

Maximize Your Fat Burning Potential

Without a doubt, exogenous ketones and MCTs have their perks. However, this doesn’t mean they help with ketosis or fat loss.

These supplements are actually quite high in calories and can stall your progress. Plus, most studies that support their benefits are inconclusive, biased, or too small to prove anything.

But this doesn’t mean you’re out of options.

real keto fat burner
The Real Keto fat Burner will boost fat loss and improve appetite control.

The Real Keto Fat Burner, our latest thermogenic formula, might be exactly what you need.

It’s free of MCTs, exogenous ketones, and other synthetic compounds. Instead, it contains lipotropics, DL-phenylalanine, and 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), three powerful ingredients that ignite fat loss and improve appetite control.

Lipotropic compounds, such as choline, methionine, inositol, and betaine anhydrous, increase fat breakdown in the body and raise metabolic rate. At the same time, they support hepatic health by facilitating fat removal from the liver.

Choline, for example, can quickly reduce body fat mass and leptin levels, according to a study published in the Journal of Human Kinetics. Taekwondo and Judo athletes who supplemented their diet with this B vitamin before competing experienced rapid fat loss.

Researchers point out that choline suppresses appetite, increases satiety, and reduces fatigue without causing any side effects. In fact, this vitamin occurs naturally in a wide range of foods, from whole grains and beef liver to eggs, shellfish, leafy greens, and peanuts.

Our formula also contains 5-HTP, a serotonin precursor that balances your mood and reduces stress levels, leading to improved appetite control. A 2014 study featured in the journal Gastroenterology Research and Practice indicates that 5-HTP regulates satiety mechanisms and lowers the hunger hormone ghrelin levels.

This natural compound crosses the blood-brain barrier, increasing serotonin production. In fact, it’s widely used for its anxiolytic and antidepressant properties. When used as part of a balanced diet, it can help reduce your food intake and prevent emotional eating.

DL-phenylalanine, another key ingredient in the Real Keto Fat Burner, exhibits appetite-suppressing and antidepressant properties. It works by raising dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain, which in turn, helps improve mental focus, alertness, and mood.

This amino acid stimulates the release of cholecystokinin (CCK), a satiety hormone that curbs hunger and increases feelings of fullness.

The Real Keto Fat Burner also features a potent metabolism-boosting complex to maximize fat burning. It contains caffeine, tyrosine, guggul, and other clinically proven ingredients.

These compounds are 100% natural and have none of the potential side effects of MCTs and exogenous ketones.

What’s your experience with the ketogenic diet? Have you ever tried exogenous ketones? Share your experience below!

Disclaimer: None of the individuals and/or companies mentioned necessarily endorse Old School Labs or COSIDLA Inc. products or the contents of this article. Any programs provided for illustration purposes only. Always consult with your personal trainer, nutritionist and physician before changing or starting any new exercise, nutrition, or supplementation program.
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