Keton Esters; superfuel?

This week, professor Peter Hespel of the University of Leuven (Belgium), published a study about keton esters. They tested 18 students and their response on keton esters. The students trained for 3 weeks, 6 times a week, 2 times a day. The researchers described it as “a tour de france on indoor trainers”. The group who took the supplements showed a “greater time to exhaustion”, could take “15% more training volume” and performed “5% better in a TT”.

Keton esters are not on the WADA doping list, you can buy them anywhere but they are expensive. A cure of 4-6 weeks will cost you almost $600-$800.

The media here in Belgium calls the supplement “a piece of the puzzle in the succes of the quick step team”.

Would you guys give it a go before your A race?!

Ketones are metabolic fuel, not a supplement per-se. You could say it’s a macronutrient like carbs, protein or fat, it’s just that we don’t tend to find them in the wild. On a low-carb diet, your liver makes ketones for free. Ketone-salts are much cheaper than esters. MCT oil is also metabolized directly into ketones by the liver, I believe on any diet. The unique promise of ketone esters is they can raise your blood ketone levels higher and faster than most other methods. An ester can of course be stacked on top of any of the preceding methods. On a calorie basis, there’s not a lot of energy, but at high outputs a little bit extra can make a big difference. They’re very easily metabolized and require less oxygen per atp produced, which is crazy-awesome when you’re on your limit already.

I already do all of the above except the ester for basically all races. I might consider the ester, if they were cheaper, in place of the ketone-salt. But because of the cost I’ve not tried it, and probably won’t. I certainly wouldn’t train regularly with it or anything like that.

I believe that studies have shown they have a glucose sparing effect when used.

I noticed about 2 weeks ago that Phil Gaimon is using them now when attempting a KOM on his youtube channel. He made the comment that it is like rocket fuel while on the bike. He mentioned that a number of pro teams are doing the same.

With the exception of the ketone ester/controldrinkand the post exercise recovery shakes prescribed by the study protocol, food intake during the full study period was ad libitum.Concurrent with the increase in training workload from training week 1 to 3,KE subjects spontaneously increased their total energy intake by ~20%from ~14700 to ~17600 kJ·day-1. Total energy intake increased proportionately(+1966 ± 826 kJ·day-1at week 2 and +2880 ± 489 kJ·day-1at week 3, p <0.01 and p < 0.001vs. wk1, respectively)with the training loadand the concomitant increase in energy expenditure(+1089± 135kJ·day-1at week 2 and +3362 ± 104 kJ·day-1at week 3; assuming a mechanical efficiency of 23.8% (Ettema & Loras, 2009)) inKE, while it remained stable in CON(energy intake: -384 ± 794 kJ·day-1at week 2 and -157± 751kJ·day-1at week 3, p = 0.86)(Table 4).The increasing energy intake in KE was largely effected by greater amounts of carbohydrate intake (+25.5 ± 6.3%at week 2 and +29.9 ± 5.9%at week 3, both p < 0.001)at fairly constant fat and protein intake. Subjective ratings of appetite were similar between the groupsand over time(data not shown).

I don’t know why this would be the case that the ketone group would eat more, but this is what I’d attribute most of the differences in the two groups. They should have controlled for total calorie and carbohydrate intake between groups.


Isn’t he sponsored by them? I know he is sponsored by thefeed. I truly love Phil, but it’s kind of hard to figure out when he really like something, and when he’s doing his job. I’m super curious about this for my double century.

Curious at what point WADA considers a substance a PED?

I went back to listen to what he said. He asked them to send it to him for that effort and they did. Nothing about a sponsorship. He also said it’s the worst thing he ever tasted but also the most effective nutrition he has used on the bike. Incidentally, he never gave the name, HVMN.

I’ve followed the development and listened to podcasts about the supplement and I almost feel like it will make it’s way to the banned list at some point. HVMN characterizes it really as a 4 macronutrient group. It’s really expensive so I have never tried it but I do use MCT and eat low carb.

It would be interesting to know what pros are using it.

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Thanks for the follow up. I would love to get @chad to speak about this on the podcast. It seems kind of ridiculous and extravagant but for my 200 mile A event this year I would absolutely spend the money if it was that effective. @Jonathan @Nate_Pearson :slight_smile:


Have a listen to this podcast. She is one of the people who developed the ester.


I’m curious how you are supposed to use this. Some studies are as a pre workout, others post workout

Well it depends I guess what you’re trying to get out of it. Pre-work out, you’ll burn it as fuel. I would think you would want to reserve it for an HIIT session or race of some sort since it’s short on calories. As a post workout supplement, I guess you’d be going after signaling effects. BHB can do a lot to tamp down on inflammation, for example. Might be helpful for weeks 3 and 7 of build plan, or a multiday stage race where you have to go hard day after day.

I have tried the Keton Salts drinks. They are a bit cheaper and taste quite nice. I do not want to name brands. My experience has been very positive in training (hard efforts.) I must admit that I consider myself very fat adapted and I might not even need exogenous ketons as I produce my own when doing fasted rides. I have not raced with ketons but will attempt a race in July around the famous Nürnburg Ring in Germany.

The Keton Salt drinks are much cheaper and taste quite nice. If you want to use them for a long ride, try them for a while.

I decided to try HVMN Ketone for my “A” road race a couple weeks ago.

My N=1 experience is this:

  • Purchased the 3-pack ($100) and planned to used two bottles for a Cat 3 road race in Tennessee. Did not test them on any prior races or rides (mostly due to their cost).

  • Course was 55 miles with 6200 feet of climbing. Rolling terrain until the final 7 miles, which was a 40 minute (2,500 ft) steady climb to the finish.

  • I consumed one bottle just prior to the neutral roll out, and a second bottle 1.5 hours into the race, about 30 minutes before the final climb.

  • My thought was that the ketone esters would help to conserve carbohydrate stores until they were needed most, during the final climb.

  • Whether I was wrong with this assumption, or just had a bad day on the bike, the climb did not go anywhere close to how I’d anticipated and I cracked about 10 minutes into the climb. I may have gone out a little hard, with the first 5 - 10 minutes at or slightly above threshold, but after that point I was unable to recover and for the next 30 minutes my power numbers continued to fall.

  • With a ftp of 295 I was aiming for 270-290 for 40 minutes, but by the finish line 200 watts was feeling like 290. (I’ve done longer climbs at similar elevation and have not cracked like this)

I’m not sure if the ketone esters are to blame, or if there were other factors at play. But considering I can’t say they improved my performance in any way, I don’t plan on buying them again.


Did you use them as a replacement for carbs or in addition? What was thr rest of your nutrition strategy for the race?

I used the HVMN ketones in addition to carbs. I didn’t change anything about my nutrition strategy for a 3hr race aside from the ketone esters.

  • Breakfast 3 hr before race: 1 cup muesli, greek yogurt, banana, apple. (~1000 calories, ~100g carbs)

  • Pre race: SIS caffeine gel, HVMN ketone bottle

  • During race: 1.5 packs SIS Beta fuel (120g carbs) divided between two bottles. Second bottle contained the second bottle of HVMN. Can’t remember for sure, but I think i also had another SIS caffeine gel mid-race.

But they taste horrible. :rofl::rofl::rofl:

I bet if anybody took the time to do the study, they’d find that even post exercise taking ketones helps replenish muscle/liver glycogen faster.

They do taste truly awful, though. When you take them, have something to chase it with.

Isnt that what the study above tried to show? There wasnt a faster replenishment attributed to the ketones alone

Is that not a bit pointless? You use the ketons so you can stay in ketosis. If you add carbs to the equation, you will turn the fat burning off and your cells will use the carbs instead. I think you might be wasting your money if you mix both. Secondly you should be fully fat adapted in order to use the Ketons properly. Just my thoughts. I have used the Keton salts but not the Esters.

Look into HVMN ketone esters. They are intended to be used with carbs.