Difference Between Exogenous and Endogenous Ketones

You're probably aware of how popular the ketogenic diet is these days. But, for most people, starting a ketogenic diet is hard. Wouldn't it be great, though, if you could get all the benefits of a ketogenic diet by just taking a pill or drinking a shake? It would make life so much easier and less miserable. Who wouldn't want to improve their health and wellness if there were a way to do so without spending all of the time and effort it takes to exercise and drastically change your diet?

Well, thanks to this line of thinking, manufacturers have stepped up and started selling exogenous ketone supplements. But what are they, exactly? What's the difference between those, and the ketones that your body is supposed to make by following a ketogenic diet? Are there any benefits to taking them, even if you're still following a Standard American Diet? We did some digging and found actors to those questions and more. You're about to learn all there is to know about exogenous ketone supplements!

Endogenous Ketones

Endogenous ketones ("endo-" meaning "inside") are produced by your body and without the help of supplements. In order for your body to produce ketone bodies, two very specific conditions have to be met:

  • Your blood glucose levels have to be fairly low
  • The levels of glycogen in your liver and muscles must be nearly depleted

Under these circumstances, your body will first tempt you into consuming sugary and starchy foods by manipulating your hunger hormones. Your ghrelin levels (the hunger hormone) will rise, and your leptin levels (the "I'm full" hormone) will fall. These changes will likely continue until you either re-feed or until your body gets desperate and starts breaking down its own fat cells for energy.

When your body does resort to breaking down fat cells, it's takes the contents of your fat cells and carries them to your liver through the bloodstream. For the most part, your fat cells contain fatty acids. Fatty acids are what your liver uses to produce something called acetoacetate. Acetoacetate is the main ketone body. From there, it can be broken down into either acetone, or beta hydroxybutyrate. That last one, the BHB, is the most important of all the ketone bodies. Beta hydroxybutyrate is the ketone body most easily absorbed by your brain, your heart, your muscles, and all of the other tissues in your body which would normally burn glucose for energy instead.

Exogenous Ketones

These days, most of us are so carb adapted from following a Standard American Diet that our body produces unhealthily low levels of ketones. Instead, it burns glucose for energy because of how much more readily available it is in our blood stream. When most people go without sugar/carbs for too long, our bodies act like our own worst enemy and manipulate us into indulging in high-carb, sugary foods by throwing our hunger hormones (like we just mentioned) way out of balance, making us miserable until we finally give in. This is why most people have a hard time switching to a ketogenic diet.

If you're currently struggling with your own ambitions to get into a state of ketosis, or if you love your carbs so much that you don't even want to bother, you should strongly consider taking an exogenous ketone supplement. Exogenous ketones are not made by the body ("exo-" means "outside"), but they can be ingested in either pill, powder, or liquid form. To review, the three main types of ketone bodies are: acetoacetate, acetone, and beta hydroxybutyrate. Different pharmaceutical and nutraceutical manufacturers have experimented with making exogenous ketone supplements out of all three. But by far, the most effective and affordable type of exogenous ketone supplement is beta hydroxybutyrate.

Why acetoacetate doesn't work: Acetoacetate tends to be the most versatile of the ketone bodies because it can be converted into both beta hydroxybutyrate and acetone. But, unfortunately, it is not as readily absorbed by the tissues as BHB. It cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, and it must be converted into one of the other two ketone bodies before it can even be burned for energy.

Why acetone doesn't work: So why choose a beta hydroxybutyrate supplement over acetone? Well, the truth is that acetone is extremely difficult to turn into a supplement. Unlike most exogenous ketone supplements - which are made with beta-hydroxybutyrate salts - acetone supplements are highly problematic. For starters, they cause extreme GI distress for most of the people who take them. Secondly, no matter what form they come in, the foul taste is usually so unbearable that nausea and vomiting are practically inevitable.

Why BHB supplements work best: Based on the negatives associated with the to ketone bodies we've just discussed, it should be easy to figure out why BHB ketone supplements are your best option:

    Exogenous Endogenous Ketones
  • They are more easily absorbed by the body because they do not have to be broken down first
  • They do not cause severe GI distress the way acetone does
  • Most BHB supplements are either entirely flavorless, or may have natural flavors added by the manufacturer

Exogenous BHB ketone supplements are still good for you even if you intend to stick to a Standard American Diet. Although many tissues in your body prefer glucose, ketone bodies are easier to burn for energy. They also produce fewer toxic byproducts. Supplementing with a sufficient amount of ketones on a daily basis can help train your body to burn these fuels first instead of glucose - meaning that despite your carbohydrate intake, fewer of them will be stored as fat.

Exogenous BHB ketones also produce much more energy than carbohydrates. If you really dig into the science of it, you'll find out that each molecule of glucose only produces 7.3 Units of energy that your body can use to flex its muscles, fuel the brain, and carry out its basic daily functions. A molecule of BHP, on the other hand, produces 13 units of energy. To think of it in an easier way: if you could get a gallon of gas that gave you 7.3 MPG for the same price that you could get a gallon of gas that gave you 13 MPG, which one would you buy?

Like many other people, you would probably choose the most efficient fuel source - exogenous BHB ketone supplements. Of course, with the rising popularity of the ketogenic diet, there are so many different supplements out there that it can be hard to pick the best one. Luckily, we've already done the hard work for you. We've done extensive research into which supplements perform the best at the best value. You can find our reviews of two products, Ultimate BHB Keto and Keto XS right here on this site.