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What Are Ketone Esters and Should I Take Them?

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  Published on November 30th, 2023
  Reading time: 3 minutes
  Last modified October 30th, 2023
Supplementing with ketone esters

It’s no secret that a ketogenic diet brings a range of metabolic and fitness benefits. Some keto dieters are looking for ways beyond diet to level up their performance and enhance these benefits. Many turn to exogenous ketones like ketone salts and esters to boost ketosis and ramp up ketone production. So, what exactly are ketone esters? Why do people use ketone esters? Let’s find out.

What Are Ketones?

The ketogenic diet involves saying goodbye to the heavy carbs that are common on the Western diet and welcoming in more healthy (and delicious) fats like avocado and olive oil. When you switch from primarily burning carbs (glucose) for fuel to burning fat instead, your liver breaks that fat down into ketone bodies. These energizing molecules travel through your bloodstream to fuel your cells.

When your liver is burning ketones, you’ve switched to the metabolic state of ketosis. Your liver makes three main ketone bodies: acetoacetate, acetone, and beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB). [1]

What Are Ketone Esters?

Ketone esters are a type of exogenous ketone supplement. Endogenous ketone bodies are produced by your liver inside your body, whereas exogenous ketones are ketone bodies that come from outside of your body. You ingest exogenous ketones orally in the form of a nutritional supplement. 

There are two types of exogenous ketones: ketone esters and ketone salts. Ketone salts are compounds made of beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) mixed with a mineral, typically potassium, sodium, or calcium. In ketone esters, the BHB is attached to an alcohol molecule. Ketone esters and ketone salts are similar, but research shows ketone esters may be more potent and bring ketone levels higher, which makes them a great choice to energize you before a big workout. [2]

Why Do People Take Ketone Esters?

Ketone esters are designed to supplement the diet, increase ketone levels in the blood, and accelerate the benefits of this natural metabolic state of ketosis.

People might still consume carbs and take ketone esters to obtain some of the benefits of keto. Keto dieters take exogenous ketones to ramp up ketone levels and the effects of ketosis. 

exogenous ketone structure

People decide to enter the metabolic state of ketosis for many reasons, including health, fitness, cognitive performance, and weight loss. Studies are mounting on the ketogenic diet’s effectiveness and benefits, which are largely due to the energy-rich ketone molecules. Ketones are believed to be a cleaner energy source for your brain, and plenty of people in ketosis report heightened mental clarity and energy.

What Are the Benefits of Ketone Esters?

Here are some of the benefits of supplementing with ketone esters.

Reduced Appetite

Ketone esters have been proven to curb appetite and lower ghrelin, the ‘hunger’ hormone produced in your stomach that drives you to eat. [3]

Improved Mental Focus

Your brain loves ketones, and supplementing them could help with neurodegeneration [4]

Improved Glucose Tolerance (Stabilized Blood Sugar)

Ketone esters can help you better metabolize sugar and carbs. [5]

To summarize, ketone esters can:

  • Reduce your appetite
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Ramp up fat-burning
  • Increase energy
  • Increase physical performance
  • Improve mental clarity and cognition

Supplementing with Ketone Esters

If you want the benefits of ketones, we recommend simply following a ketogenic diet by lowering your carbohydrate intake until your body is in ketosis and running on ketones. However, for some people, ketone esters could be a useful supplement. 

If you want to try exogenous ketone supplementation using ketone esters, look for high potency (many ketone supplements contain so little of the active ingredient–usually the ketone BHB–that they are not effective). Look for supplements that contain 6 or more grams of BHB per serving.

Steph Green is a content writer specializing in and passionate about healthcare, wellness, and nutrition. Steph has worked with marketing agencies, written medical books for doctors like ‘Untangling the Web of Dysfunction,’ and her poetry book ‘Words that Might Mean Something.’ In 2016, after four years of struggling with her own health problems and painful autoimmune disease, Steph developed a life-changing and extensive knowledge of keto, nutrition, and natural medicine. She continues on her healing journey and enjoys helping others along the way.



Dhillon, K. K., & Gupta, S. (2023). Biochemistry, ketogenesis. Stat Pearls Publishing. Biochemistry, Ketogenesis - StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf (nih.gov)


Stubbs, B. J., Cox, P. J., Evans, R. D., Santer, P., Miller, J. J., Faull, O. K…Clarke, K. (2017). On the metabolism of exogenous ketones in humans. Front Physiol, DOI: 10.3389/fphys.2017.00848


Stubbs, B. J., Cox, P. J., Evans, R. D., Cyranka, M., Clarke, K., & Wet, H. (2018). A ketone ester drink lowers human ghrelin and appetite. Obesity, DOI: 10.1002/oby.22051


Cunnane, S. C., Courchesne-Loyer, A., Vandenberghe, C., St-Pierre, V., Fortier, M., Hennebelle, M…Castellano, C-A. (2016). Can ketones help rescue brain fuel supply in later life? Implications for cognitive health during aging and the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Front Mol Neurosci, DOI: 10.3389/fnmol.2016.00053


Myette-Cote, E., Neudorf, H., Raifiei, H., Clarke, K., & Little, J. P. (2018). Prior ingestion of exogenous ketone monoester attenuates the glycaemic response to an oral glucose tolerance test in healthy young individuals. J Physiol, DOI: 10.1113/JP275709

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