Why Ketone Supplements = Stupid

Do ketone supplements help with weight loss? you've got more chance seeing a flying pig. Or a unicorn.
Mike Sweeney, UK RD
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Mike Sweeney, UK RD

UK Registered Dietitian at Nutritionable
Mike is probably the UK's loudest and most outspoken UK Registered Dietitian. He lives in Leicester where he has a clinical caseload in the NHS, works with elite athletes on their performance nutrition and provides nutrition education to trainers that doesn't suck. He's been referred to by clients as "The Shaolin Master Of Nutrition" & generally he tries not to take life too seriously as you can tell by the silly picture.
Mike Sweeney, UK RD
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Sometimes weight loss (for you or your clients) is a lot like driving. Or road rage. I’ll let you decide.

Imagine you’re sat in traffic on your way somewhere. The journey usually only takes 15 minutes but its been 26 minutes already.

You can see the road is packed with cars but that doesn’t stop you looking up ahead trying to spot a gap. Maybe you check google maps for a reroute. Nothing.

You’re getting agitated because things are moving so bloody S  L  O  W.  You look across at another lane on the opposite side of the road and see that lane moving faster. Argh! When the traffic finally clears you put your foot down breaking all kinds of speeding laws simply to get where you wanted to go.

People (you, your clients) do this with weight loss too. 

You start a diet. Show up for training. You’ve been as good as possible with the diet. In 2 weeks maybe you only lose a few pounds. You start wondering why are things moving so bloody S  L  O  W? You get irritated because someone else is losing faster than you.

And just like when driving you start looking for ways to speed things up. Short cuts. There has to be something..

And thats when you see the seemingly fairly convincing advert that states something like “being in ketosis speeds up fat loss because you burn fat for fuel. But ketogenic diets are hard. Take our ketone supplements to get the same benefits without the hard work”.

Thats when you think you’ve found it. The holy grail. The miracle. The shortcut you’ve always dreamed of.

Except you haven’t. 

Instead what you’ve found is what seems like a shortcut. A back road. You fly down it only to find you end up in the same bloody traffic. Grid locked.

Ok, enough stupid driving analogies. To put this another way, what you’ve found is a hotbed of cockroaches that will say or do anything to get your money, including blatantly bullshitting about ketones, accelerated fat loss etc.

Not convinced? Didn’t think you would be. So without further ado..

Here’s Why Ketone Supplements For Weight Loss = Fucking Stupid

#1 ketosis is not needed to lose body fat 

Pushers of ketone supplements want you to believe that you need to be in ketosis to burn fat. They achieve this by blatantly confusing you with biochemistry they hope you won’t understand.

They tell you that when insulin levels are raised your body stops burning fat. Which is true. At this point it all sounds so convincing, doesn’t it? Reduce your carbs, your insulin levels drop and shazam! You’re in fat burning mode baby!

Except thats only part of the story.

You see researchers have been using non-ketogenic diets to help people lose weight for decades. In fact regardless of which diet people are put on, ketogenic or not, as long as caloric intake is controlled all diets lead to weight/fat loss as I point out here.

Intuitively you know this already. Bodybuilders have for decades relied on lower fat higher carbohydrate intakes to train at such high volumes to create the physiques you see on stage. If you needed to be ketogenic to lose body fat then how come some of the most ripped athletes on the planet aren’t ketogenic?

So considering ketogenic diets aren’t needed why the fuck would you take ketone supplements for weight loss? Oh, I hear you murmuring some tripe about accelerated fat loss. Lets dig into that then..

#2 being in ketosis does not accelerate fat loss 

In 2015 Kevil Hall and co did this study that compared low fat to low carb to see which diet lead to the most fat loss. The low fat diet won, which surprised everyone. Yet some idiots still came out and said “oh well the low carb group weren’t ketogenic, if they were they would have lost more.”

Ok smart-ass, lets examine that.

You go full ketogenic meaning you eat less than 50g of carbs per day. Your circulating insulin levels drop and glucagon increases. Long (and boring) story short, you’re now using mainly fat as fuel.

And this again is where the sneaky salesmen leave out details or maybe they’re just confused.

See fat oxidation does increase on a ketogenic diet. Mainly because you’re now deprived of dietary sources of glucose. Fat oxidation though is simply fat utilisation. Without a decrease in overall caloric intake you won’t lean out because simply using dietary fat as fuel does not necessarily lead to lipolysis (fat loss). The latter is simply achieved with a caloric deficit.

As an example this study (one of many) demonstrates there is no advantage of ketogenic diets for weight loss.

So if ketosis doesn’t accelerate fat loss, why supplement with something thats supposed to mimic ketosis? Oh yeah, you wouldn’t.

#3 ketogenic diets are hard and impair performance 

Even though ketogenic diets are very good at suppressing appetite the diet is still hard as nails to do. Trust me, I went ketogenic for 4 full months during my masters degree course in dietetics as a self experiment.

And theres nothing to say that supplemental ketones provide that same benefit, especially when you’re still chowing down carbohydrates.

Plus have you ever tried restricting your carbs and doing a high intensity style workout? Trust me, it sucks balls. Big time.

This is the reason high end athletes eat carbohydrate rich diets, because it helps them perform at their best during those high intensities (at high intensities your body uses primarily glucose as fuel).

Ketogenic diets are perfectly fine and dandy to do if you like making things hard for yourself. Nothing bad will happen to your health. But hopefully I’ve made the point that there isn’t anything about ketosis that makes supplementing ketones worthwhile. Its just yet another weight loss industry fucking scam.

None of the supplement pushers I see selling this crap have any research in humans that categorically demonstrates a benefit attributable to their supplements. None.

So What Are Ketogenic Diets/Supplements Useful For?

Its worth pointing out that ketosis isn’t completely useless. Children with epilepsy can use the diet to help control seizures without medication which is kinda cool. Theres also some interesting stuff going on with fasting (which is what ketosis mimics) and brain health. So in the clinical sense, maybe ketone supplements will have a use but thats an on-going area of research and a whole different article.

If You Liked This Article Then You Might Also Like "The Busy Trainers Guide To Supplements"

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The supplement industry is riddled with bullshit. Grab this ONE PAGE "PRINTABLE" titled The Busy Trainers Ultimate Guide To Supplements. It details which supplements can help improve your clients health and results. Inside I also explain when and why to use them. All based on the latest scientific evidence.

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About The Author

Mike Sweeney, UK RD

Mike is probably the UK's loudest and most outspoken UK Registered Dietitian. He lives in Leicester where he has a clinical caseload in the NHS, works with elite athletes on their performance nutrition and provides nutrition education to trainers that doesn't suck. He's been referred to by clients as "The Shaolin Master Of Nutrition" & generally he tries not to take life too seriously as you can tell by the silly picture.