Science Update

New study demonstrates the effect of exogenous ketone supplementation on ghrelin and appetite

Ketogenic diets has become increasingly more popular over the past few years to support weight loss, neurological disorders and those with insulin resistance. In a new study published this month in Obesity, researchers demonstrated that exogenous ketone supplementation can be used to decrease appetite and support weight loss.

Ketones are non-carbohydrate energy sources that are converted from fatty acids in the body. Ketones are generated in the body in a carbohydrate-deprived environment or from exogenous ketone supplementation.

In this study, 15 healthy individuals ages 21 to 42 consumed an exogenous ketone drink or isocaloric dextrose following an overnight fast. Laboratory assessment included βeta-Hydroxybutyrate (BHB) levels, glucose, insulin, ghrelin, and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1). In addition, a visual analogue scale was used to measure hunger, fullness, and desire to eat.

As a result, exogenous ketone supplementation increased blood BHB levels from 0.2 to 3.3 mM after 60 minutes. Isocaloric dextrose consumption increased plasma glucose levels between 30 and 60 minutes. Postprandial plasma insulin, ghrelin, and GLP-1 levels were significantly lower 2 to 4 hours after exogenous ketone supplementation compared to isocaloric dextrose consumption. In addition, the reported hunger and desire to eat was significantly suppressed one and a half hours after exogenous ketone supplementation.

Ketogenic diets are an effective strategy for weight loss; however, transitioning to a ketogenic diet can be a challenge as the body is switching from burning glucose to fat for fuel. Many individuals often experience fatigue, nausea, dizziness, and irritability during this transition. Perceived hunger is also a common barrier to weight loss. Based upon this recent research, exogenous ketones are a great adjunct to a ketogenic diet, intermittent fasting, or for an individual transitioning to a ketogenic diet for weight loss. Exogenous ketone supplementation increases blood ketone levels, which may directly suppress appetite as they lower plasma ghrelin levels and reduce cravings.


Source: Stubb BJ, Cox PJ, et al. A Ketone Ester Drink Lowers Human Ghrelin and Appetite. Obesity. 2018 Feb;26(2):269-273. doi: 10.1002/oby.22051.