August 23, 2020

Can Ketone Supplements Rev Up Your Workouts?

The effects of supplements for athletes

Keto supplements for workouts

Whether you want to beat the competition or outdo your own personal best, you may find yourself always looking for an advantage as an athlete. To that end, you may have heard buzz about ketone supplements and how they can boost your workouts by helping your body use fatty acids for fuel.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

But do they work as advertised? And are they healthy?

Registered dietitian Ariana Fiorita, RDN, LD, IFNCP discusses the pros and cons of ketone supplements and whether they can deliver what you need as an athlete.

How does ketosis work?

The first thing to understand, she says, is what it means when the body is in a state of ketosis.

The body typically burns carbohydrates to fuel muscles when you’re active. But if you don’t provide the carbs, the body will turn to fat.

“The term ketosis refers to a process when you restrict the human body of carbohydrates to the point where it begins to break down fatty acids for fuel,” Fiorita says. “Ketones are the byproduct of this breakdown.”

Ketosis occurs naturally after prolonged exercise, during starvation, when you’re fasting or when you’re following a diet that is very low in carbohydrates, such as the keto diet.


But reaching ketosis is difficult for some people.

Your body needs time to adjust to a low-carbohydrate diet. And you likely won’t feel or perform at your best during that process. That’s why some athletes look to supplements.

“People use ketone supplements in a situation when they would like to reach a state of ketosis more quickly or stay in a state of ketosis more efficiently,” says Fiorita.

How do you know whether ketone supplements are right for you?

“Ketone supplementation may help you get into ketosis, but it’s not providing your body with any form of nutrition or added metabolic health benefits,” says Fiorita.

She adds that you may think more clearly and notice appetite suppression when taking ketone supplements, but they don’t actually help your body burn fat.

To help understand if they’re beneficial for you as an athlete, Fiorita suggests that you ask yourself two questions:

  1. What type of athlete am I? “Endurance athletes (marathoners or triathletes) may benefit from a state of ketosis,” she says. “However, a strength and power athlete (sprinters, football players) will typically experience a decrease in performance due to the difference in energy systems being used.” In other words, your body typically functions better when it’s burning carbohydrates, especially for shorter periods of activity.
  2. Is my enhanced athletic performance worth certain trade-offs? For some, Fiorita says, the answer is yes. Ketone supplements can help an athlete consuming carbohydrates last longer during an activity without having to re-fuel. And it may help the already fat-adapted (ketogenic) athlete tap into their fat reserves for fuel, she says. But you need to understand that these supplements don’t really offer health benefits. They may actually even cause your body to store fat and increase insulin instead of burning your body fat for fuel, she says.

Consider a ketogenic diet

Despite the time involved and the sluggishness you may experience as your body adjusts to a ketogenic (low-carb, high-fat) diet, it may benefit you in the long run.

Fiorita says that following an entirely food-based ketogenic diet without supplementation is often beneficial to athletic performance, particularly for ultra-endurance athletes.

These diets work because our bodies can store significantly more fat than carbohydrates for use as a steady source of fuel for long-lasting sports, she says. Without additional supplementation, the human body will utilize its own fat reserves instead of relying on an outside source.

“Ultimately, the key is to team with a medical professional who is well trained in ketogenic diets in order to ensure that you are meeting your health and performance goals safely and effectively,” Fiorita concludes.

Related Articles

smoothie with acheta protein powder in scoop
January 24, 2024
What Is Acheta Protein? What To Know About Eating Crickets

This edible insect powder can be a good source of protein, fiber and other nutrients

close up of green coffee beans
December 14, 2023
Should You Go Green? What To Know About Green Coffee Bean Extract

There’s no evidence to prove this supplement can help with weight loss, and it may come with risks

burdock root
August 10, 2023
Why Burdock Root Is Better as a Food Than as a Supplement

Getting your nutrition from your food is a safer route

milk thistle
July 13, 2023
Is Milk Thistle Your Next Go-To Supplement?

Milk thistle research is limited, but shows promise for liver health, diabetes and more

spoonful of fiber added to a glass of water
June 28, 2023
How Do I Choose the Best Fiber Supplement?

In a world of confusing choices, your healthcare provider can be your best resource

woman eating yogurt with other sources of calcium floating in back
March 20, 2023
Are You Taking Too Many Calcium Supplements?

You want to get enough but avoid hypercalcemia — and protect your heart

Plate with cordyceps.
March 9, 2023
Cordyceps Is a Killer Fungi With Potential Health Benefits

With anti-fatigue, anti-aging and anti-cancer claims, this fungi still needs more studies

Older person experiencing heart palpitations, with hands on thier chest.
December 20, 2022
How Supplements Affect Heart Palpitations

Don’t self-medicate with vitamin supplements without consulting a doctor first

Trending Topics

White bowls full of pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate and various kinds of nuts
25 Magnesium-Rich Foods You Should Be Eating

A healthy diet can easily meet your body’s important demands for magnesium

Woman feeling for heart rate in neck on run outside, smartwatch and earbuds
Heart Rate Zones Explained

A super high heart rate means you’re burning more than fat

Spoonful of farro salad with tomato
What To Eat If You’ve Been Diagnosed With Prediabetes

Type 2 diabetes isn’t inevitable with these dietary changes