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Exogenous Ketone Ester Drink Reduces Hunger

Effect mediated by blunted postprandial rise in ghrelin

by Lewis Chang, PhD 

Increased blood ketone levels following consumption of a ketone ester drink delayed the onset of hunger in conjunction with a delayed rise in plasma ghrelin levels, a human study found.1

Ketogenic diets are linked to decreased appetite and altered gut hormone levels; however, it is less clear whether elevated blood levels of ketone body (as opposed to other dietary ingredients) were responsible for the observed changes. Researchers from the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics at University of Oxford (Oxford, UK) conducted a human study aimed to provide some insight into this question.

In a randomized, single-blinded, crossover design, 15 healthy adult participants with normal body weight consumed 2 isocaloric drinks, separated by at least 3 days. One contained 1.9 kcal/kg of ketone ester, and the other 1.9 kcal/kg of dextrose (simple sugar) matched for taste and appearance. Multiple blood samples were collected, satiety and desire to eat were assessed for 4 hours following consumption.

Results indicated that consumption of ketone ester did, indeed, increase blood β-hydroxybutyrate (bHB) levels to ketosis level within 60 minutes whereas dextrose had no effect on blood bHB levels. Raised  blood bHB levels were significantly correlated with decreased hunger and desire to eat. Postprandial plasma rise in ghrelin was significantly weakened following the ketone ester drink compared to the dextrose drink. Total area-under-the-curve for ghrelin was significantly lower with ketone ester drink than with dextrose drink. Other satiety signals such as GLP-1 and PYY were also downregulated after consumption of ketone ester drink.

These data demonstrated the short-term effect of exogenous ketone ester on perceived appetite. It remains to be seen whether these products can be successfully used for long-term appetite control.

Why is this Clinically Relevant?

  • Successful long-term weight management requires prolonged maintenance of a dietary calorie deficit
  • Exogenous ketone ester products may help attenuate levels of hunger hormone and reduce appetite, at least in short term
  • Exogenous ketone ester products may be a valuable component in a comprehensive weight management program

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  1. Stubbs BJ et al. A ketone ester drink lowers human ghrelin and appetite. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2018;26(2):269-273.


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