Can Ketone Pills and Powders Really Provide the Same Benefits as a Low-Carb Diet?

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Photo by Shana Novak

 

The ketogenic diet is is enjoying a surge of popularity these days and for good reason. Going “keto” can help you tap into your body’s stored fat—up to 100,000 calories of readily available energy—allowing you to push longer and harder during training without constantly refueling. Of course, this comes at a price: You have to eradicate nearly all carbohydrates from your diet and subsist on fats—they should make up 70 to 80 percent of what you eat—and protein. Making the metabolic shift to full fat-burning mode can take three to six weeks.

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MORE: What Really Happens to Your Body When You Ditch Carbs

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That’s a tall order. So the performance nutrition market has responded with a short- cut: ketogenic supplements. They come in powders, capsules, chews, meal replacements, and even coffee creamer and claim to help you immediately burn more fat, shed pounds, and perform better—without giving up bread.

Those are some incredible benefits. But look past the promises and the science unravels.

Keto supplements claim they can trick your metabolism into thinking it’s carb deprived and send it into ketosis. This could be an evolutionary adaptation the human body created to survive famine. Lisa Sasson, a nutritionist at New York University, explains that during ketosis, the liver begins to break down fatty acids, sending ketone compounds into the bloodstream, which can be used to fuel muscles.

Hypothetically, taking supplements with synthetic ketones would move the body into ketosis in minutes and last a couple of hours, says Brendan Egan, an associate professor of sports and exercise physiology at Dublin City University. But that doesn’t mean you’ll suddenly be able to power through burpees or run for miles without stopping. Of the few reports done on commercially available ketone supplements, some suggest only a negligible performance improvement while others actually found a reduction.

As for the supplements’ weight-loss guarantees, here again, don’t be fooled. “The fat-burning idea seems to be conflating the effects of a ketogenic diet with the effects of ketones themselves,” says Egan. In other words, the only way to get the fat-burning benefits of a ketogenic diet is by actually stick- ing to the diet. Downing a ketone pill or powdered shake and continuing to eat whatever you want won’t magically lean you out. But we’re guessing your gut—whether it’s thick or thin—told you that already.

Now that we’ve disproved the promise of keto pills and powders, you might be wondering how the heck you’re going to stick with this challenging, demanding, and effective regime. Admittedly, the keto diet is not straight forward and while giving up carbs for fats like bacon might seem like a fair trade, a lot of newbies understandably struggle to fully commit. That’s why we’ve outlined a guide of what to eat and what not to eat when going keto. Hopefully, this helps demystify any questions you may have around items like vegetables, some of which are considered too carb heavy for this fat-forward diet.

 

There are a few ways you can make truly going keto a little bit easier. If you’re struggling to stay keto and are finding it hard to get the motivation you need to keep going, you absolutely need to try Noom. Here’s why: Noom not only provides personalized coaching; it also offers a network of others looking to tackle the same weight loss and fitness goals as you.

Struggling with keto? Why Noom might be best for you.

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We also recommend stocking up on keto-approved snacks to satisfy any cravings and avoid any cheat days. Jerky and biltong are two of our favorites. There are also a whole host of keto-approved snack bars available on Amazon. If you’re really looking to go whole hog, there are also some crave-worthy keto-focused gift baskets available that we’d highly recommend. Add them to your wishlist or treat yourself… after all, there’s nothing wrong with rewarding yourself for sticking to your diet goals, right?

Finally, consider joining Keto Club. Keto Club can help you step up your game by giving you all the tools you need to make transitioning to the Keto diet a lot easier on yourself. For $20 a month, it offers support, insights, and accountability so that you can stick to your diet without any short cuts.

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