The use of ketone supplements by athletes as a means to enhance their performance has been a subject of debate among researchers. While some studies have suggested that these supplements can improve performance, others have found no effect or even a negative impact on performance.
Natural ketones are known to serve as a fuel source for the brain and muscles. When following a ketogenic diet, which is low in carbohydrates and high in fat, the body produces more ketone compounds and utilizes them for energy. Ketone supplements aim to expedite this process without requiring strict adherence to the ketogenic diet.
Researchers, such as Martin Gibala, a professor in the kinesiology department at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, have explored the potential benefits of ketone supplements. Gibala explains that one perceived advantage is the idea that ketones could act as an alternative fuel source during exercise or influence the utilization of other major fuels like carbohydrates and fats, ultimately enhancing endurance capacity.
However, the findings from Gibala’s study suggest otherwise. The researchers selected 23 well-trained endurance athletes who regularly cycled for five or more hours per week, ensuring their performance consistency. Each participant underwent two trials that were identical except for the drink they consumed before completing a 20-minute cycling time trial, which serves as a predictor for 40-kilometer race performance. One trial involved a ketone supplement, while the other used a placebo.
Devin McCarthy, the lead author of the study and a graduate student in the department of kinesiology at McMaster, explains that the key observation was that the cyclists’ sustained speed during the test was lower after consuming the ketone supplement compared to the placebo. This finding aligns with their earlier research, which demonstrated that ketone supplements increased cardiorespiratory stress during exercise.
In conclusion, while some studies have shown promising results regarding the benefits of ketone supplements, this particular research indicates that these supplements may not improve athletic performance and could even hinder it. The use of ketone supplements as a performance-enhancing strategy requires further investigation and consideration.