How To Use Exogenous Ketones For Recovery, Cognition, Sleep & Beyond.

What are ketones or ketosis? Ketones have carved it’s own lane as a food group and has been coined the "4th macronutrient" that goes beyond proteins, fats, and carbs. This article will discuss how exogenous ketones have improved ketosis research, as well as unique uses for ketosis and the future research that is yet to come.

Just How Exogenous Ketones Have Unlocked Ketosis Research

Ketone esters came to the industrial market in 2017 based on work by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). This organization was researching ketone esters in diets to see if it would boost physical and mental abilities during warfare – a time when soldiers experience extreme mental and physical stress.

Since then, the commercial accessibility of ketone esters has accelerated because of research programs, sports practices, and also hobbyist trial and error, shining more light on the benefits.

While DARPA recipients focused more on therapeutic uses of ketone esters, teams at Oxford University, Bath University, and the University of Leuven looked into whether it improves physical performance.

Early information suggested an improvement in performance enhancement of around 2%, and this article will cover the usage and protocols based on write-ups and comments from those who have used and experienced this unique ingredient. This includes some of the planet's finest athletes and performers.

Ketosis is now one of the most researched topics on metabolism and physiology. Analysis groups are investigating it as an ingredient to prevent issues such as type 2 diabetes and it’s also capable of taking physical performance to an entirely new level. Analysts are studying the underlying systems that may result in brand-new strategies like improving Alzheimer's management by using ketones as an alternate energy source for the brain, as well as increasing our lifespans.

All this recent attention to ketones is due to two factors:

  • The work of very early tastemakers such as Dominic D'Agostino, Peter Attia, Tim Ferriss, as well as Joe Rogan.
  • The advent of cost-effective exogenous ketones in the marketplace to help further probe the intricacies of biochemistry as well as the rate of metabolism of ketosis. This means it can be taken separately from a ketogenic diet.
  • These factors are helping to answer questions whether they can benefit a high-carb diet, how they can be enhanced during fasting, and how it will affect athletics in general.

Exogenous ketones have uncovered a flood of new questions. But for this article, we'll focus on exogenous ketosis and ketosis esters. We should take a moment here and clearly define a few terms: 

Ketosis means there are ketones in the body and brain.

Ketogenesis is the endogenous or internal creation of ketones from the liver.

In the past, these two terms were locked together, one directly related to the other. But today's availability of exogenous ketones like ketone esters and ketone salts, ketosis can be accomplished promptly and in very little time. 

Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) is a chemical created by ketones that produces energy by certain cells of the body when sugar levels are low.

Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), a catalyst protein that acts as a central integrator of nutrient signaling pathways.

Ketones For Recovery

Ketone esters are mostly used for an ergogenic effect during workouts, but early records show that they may be particularly effective for recovery. Three research studies found benefits in body recovery when ingested with carbs and protein after an exercise session. The studies show:

  • Increase sugar uptake, blood insulin secretion, and glycogen resynthesis in recovery.
  • Improved mTORC1 signaling, which controls protein synthesis, in recovery after a workout when ingested with carbs and protein. 
  • Prevention of overtraining symptoms as well as helping professional athletes enhance performance throughout 3 full weeks when used during athletic recovery.

The results show that when ketone esters are combined with sugar, they improve insulin secretion, sugar uptake, and glycogen synthesis when ingested with protein. The sugar also activates mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) targets and improves leucine-mediated protein synthesis.

In conditions where your recuperation period needs to be fast (e.g. ultramarathon with very little breaks between segments or army usage cases with optimal endurance and outcome with little-to-no rest), ketone esters, as well as glucose administration, might offer a better possibility to ensure that glycogen is actually renewed in a shorter amount of your time before using up energy during your next physical activity. Without ketone esters, glycogen would be restored to baseline levels in 24 hours. For a far better nutritional technique for healing, ketone esters with glucose as well as protein would undoubtedly be a much better choice. Glycogen would still be replenished normally.

Existing data states a single dosage of ketone ester taken after physical exercise and just before bed is sufficient to create the ergogenic effects during body recovery. Each study showed a >4mH blood BHB (beta-hydroxybutyrate), after taking ketone esters. 

More studies will help us identify the least amount of dosage of exogenous ketones necessary to hit the optimal levels of BHB for these results. If there is a minimum point, what drop off point would result when BHB gradually decreases back to normal? 

Anti-Catabolic Applications and Weight Cutting

Exogenous ketones introduce a brand new level to sports that use weight classes. In these sports, it's all about losing weight in 1 day while staying ready for the competition.

Athletes and teams are analyzing ketone esters to help keep this journey less complicated. In one study, taking in 1.9 kcal/kg of ketone esters after an overnight rapid fast suppressed hunger by means of ghrelin, the "appetite hormone." Lowering appetite is key in this type of sport. 

Ketone body systems can subdue the costs of protein breakdown to accommodate gluconeogenesis (creation of glucose coming from non-carbohydrate precursors like healthy proteins) in a state of hunger. One research study showed that ketone bodies play a crucial role as effective anti-catabolic agents where the decline of healthy protein synthesizing processes via BHB overrides synthesis restriction.

Additionally, ketones may boost protein formation by means of mTOR. One piece of research revealed that ketone esters switch on leucine-mediated protein formation and also mTOR downstream targets in participants who undertook rigorous glycogen-depleting workouts followed by a 5 hour healing time frame in which they took in a protein/carbohydrate blend and ketone ester mixture of 0.5 g every kilogram of physical body weight. Ketone ester consumption for recuperation may give the extra substrate that raises oxidative ATP generation and also consequently decreases AMPK activation to enable healthy protein synthesis.


Cognitive and Sleep Applications

Reading the effect of ketones on the brain is immensely interesting. Given that ketones go across the blood-brain barrier and our brains metabolize BHB, we can assume downstream metabolism in the neurons of the brain is changed from a more common metabolism of glucose. Work on this is currently being done with the military.

One of the even more intriguing cases is actually the use of ketones as an anxiolytic due it’s anti-anxiety effects. Amongst others, Dr. Rhonda Patrick has spoken about using ketones before her podcasts or presentations.

Along with anxiety control, ketones are gaining momentum as an aid to sleep. Some sports figures have tried ketone ester drinks as a component of their rehabilitation process. Many unscientific reports and social networking sites discuss how taking ketones prior to rest seems to improve HRV, which is seen to improve sleep scores.

Other mechanisms include modulation of GABAergic (a chemical that modifies the effects of GABA in the body or brain), glutamatergic (a chemical that directly modulates the excitatory amino acid system in the body or brain), and also adenosinergic (a chemical which functions to directly modulate the adenosine system in the body or brain) by ketone bodies. In a test on mice for Alzheimer's disease, ketone esters reduced anxiety and improved overall cognition.

Ketone Stacks

The best way currently shown for stacking ketones is to blend ketone esters with carbohydrates prior to endurance racing. Experiments are being done with coffee stacking and sodium bicarbonate stacking, and some initial results show some decreases in bicarbonate levels after workouts and taking in ketone ester. 

Additionally, there could be benefits to come when stacking ketone esters with ergogenics or nootropics (nicotine). Even plant-based tests are being done. There is much more to learn about how the brain can benefit, including recovering and healing brain injury. Some outer tests may work well in conjunction with ketones, such as hyperbaric oxygen therapy and omega 3s.

Future Research Areas

As you can see, analysis is still in the early stages, but most people are joining in on the research to help gauge the effects in treatments for diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer's, cancers, and cardiovascular disease. Overall, it appears the research is breaking into these categories:




  • Determining the ideal level of exogenous ketones as well as best mixes of nutrients/supplements for functionality augmentation, both physically and also cognitively.
  • Effects of exogenous ketones on healing and its functioning, including protein and also glycogen resynthesis, sleeping, growth hormone, IGF-1, and other markers


Keto-Endurance and Overall Well-being

  • Tests in anti-aging and understanding how they boost healthy aging, as well as understanding how they aid with reducing inflammation and antioxidative action. 


Keto-Diseases Intervention


  • Glycemic control in diabetes and how it can help in diabetic remission.
  • How it can assist with reducing or preventing neurodegenerative disease.
  • Tests on the energy-substrate flux along with exogenous ketones in individuals with cardiac arrest.
  • Learning how exogenous ketones can aid with radiation treatment for cancers.

Stay tuned for the results. This is proving to be an exciting field of study.

Achieving ketosis requires an adequate protein intake and ramping up physical activity. Add our low-carb Grass-Fed Seabuck Protein on your pre- or post- workout drink for a protein boost. It’s undenatured and comes from grass-fed cows, which means every scoop is keto-friendly, and jam-packed with healthy protein to help support the liver’s processes in producing ketones.