Which Ketone Supplement Works Best: Ketone Salts vs. Ketone Esters With Dr. Dominic D’Agostino.

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Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

A few months ago, I recorded a highly controversial ketosis interview with Dr. Richard Veech, in which Dr. Veech claimed that the form of ketones most people take to get into ketosis (ketone salts) are actually quite dangerous.

Dr. Veech's solution was something called “ketone esters“, which are extremely expensive, but, according to him, a far more natural, safe and healthy way to quickly get the body into ketosis – for anything from managing medical conditions, to improving cognition, to increasing endurance and beyond.

In the video below, I actually experimented with these spendy ketone esters myself and, as you can see, the results were astounding…

After shooting this video, I took another bottle of ketone esters to a Tough Mudder event and recorded a crazy video on Snapchat during which I elevated both blood glucose by drinking 75 grams of pure glucose and elevated blood ketones by drinking a bottle of the ketone esters, and the results were equally as astounding, resulting in one of the fastest races of my life.

But the question remains: are these fancy, expensive ketone esters actually far better than ketone salts? Are ketone salts, which is what most people use, actually going to result in long term health issues?

In today's podcast, I bring on ketosis expert Dr. Dominic D’Agostino to get his opinion. Dominic is an Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine. He is also a Visiting Senior Research Scientist at the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC). His laboratory develops and tests nutritional strategies and metabolic-based supplements for neurological disorders, cancer inflammation and performance enhancement in extreme environments. His research is supported by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), Department of Defense (DoD), private organizations and foundations.

He's also no stranger to this podcast, having been a previous guest in the episode “A Deep Dive Into Ketosis: How Navy Seals, Extreme Athletes & Busy Executives Can Enhance Physical and Mental Performance With The Secret Weapon of Ketone Fuel“.

During today's discussion, you'll discover:

-The difference between a ketone salt and a ketone ester…[9:25]

-Three unique compounds you can “mix” with ketones to enhance deliverability, and the important difference between BCAAs and EAA's…[23:55]

Why is it that some people, including Dr. Veech, believe ketone esters to be dangerous and MCT oil to block BHB absorption…[41:05 & 62:40]

-What Dominic has found by testing both ketone salts and ketone esters in his lab…[44:30]

-If there is actually any evidence of people experiencing medical issues with the use of ketone salts or esters…[47:50]

-The safety of using ephedrine for fat loss, and Dom's own experience with ephedrine…[60:05]

-Whether you can combine glucose with ketones to enhance performance…[65:40]

-Why the esters so much more expensive than the salts, and whether there are ways to make either that actually are cost effective…[72:15]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

-My article and review of common ketone salt supplements such as Pruvit and KetoCaNa called “How To Get Into Ketosis

The ketone esters I experimented with from Dr. Veech

-The Metabolic Therapeutics Conference

NatureAminos amino acids supplement

Brain Octane

The HMB/ATP stack that Ben takes (and the study that discusses this approach)

Is It Possible To Be Extremely Active and Eat A Low Carbohydrate Diet? (my interview with Peter Attia)

Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback for Dominic or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!

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63 thoughts on “Which Ketone Supplement Works Best: Ketone Salts vs. Ketone Esters With Dr. Dominic D’Agostino.

  1. Awesome post. I’m just now learning about ketones after a friend of mine gave me samples of Pruvit products. If I’m not on a keto diet, can drinking ketones have negative effects?

  2. piyush says:

    Hi Ben,
    I want to know how much you used to consume ketone ester in a day and how long you used?

  3. sarah says:


    With mixing ketones and glucose could this be done by taking something like Bulletproof XCT and taking glucose or does it need to be an exogeneous ketone product?


    1. sarah says:

      And would this be benifical for something like a 300m sprint followed shortly by a 1.5 mile run?


    2. XCT Oil will get you halfway but what you really need is to use the exogenous ketones.

  4. globletricksworld says:

    Bosses will not be actually on a timer. Battle different gamers.

  5. game hacks says:

    + Spirit Orbs can make the sport extra accessible.

  6. Michael says:


    Can you share the study demonstrating the synergy between MCT and BHB? I am having trouble locating that. Thanks!

  7. CJ says:


    You talked about using a Ketone product and drinking glucose before a competition and it lead to high level results. Would using Keto1 and a hammer gel before a competition bring a similar result? If so how would you time the taking of the mentioned items?


    1. Yep, that would achieve very similar results, about 30 minutes prior.

      1. MattB says:


        L-Glusose or D-Glucose?

        1. You know I can't actually remember. It was a Gatorade gel.

  8. Danilo says:

    Brawl Stars gameplay isn’t the like Clash Royale.

  9. Kathy Marsh says:

    I have such a had time with dehydration in Keto, I take electrolytes, and pink himalayan salt. If I supplement with ketones, I am even more dehydrated. I even consume eletrolytes before. Help

    1. Sometimes it comes down to good clean clear water!!!
      Check this out: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2012/08/is-all-w…

  10. P One says:

    Does anyone have an opinion on KETO-DRIVE by Zhou Nutrition? They never answer the phone and it is hard to get anything out of the company. The single scoop serving contains 2333 IU vitamin A (why that?) 0.9 grams of calcium 0.9 grams of sodium and 0.1 grams of magnesium, in addition to 11.7 grams of the beta-hydroxybutyrate salts.

  11. Henry says:

    Hi Ben, I loved this podcast. I am interested in what Ketone products you would recommend for someone who wants to trial ketones as a fuel during endurance events (and for training leading up to it). Any thoughts? I saw that the ketoneaid site had sold out. You talk about a lot of stuff in this episode but I cant remember hearing specific product related ideas for Ketones. Grateful for your thougths,


    1. The Keto/OS one above would be perfect to start.

  12. Janine says:

    I have done genetic testing and based on genetics it’s recommended that I follow a low fat diet. However, I feel really good following a more ketogenic diet (not sure if I’ve ever been in ketosis of not). Do I go with the genetics or with how I feel best? Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

    1. If it were me, I would go with genetics UNLESS you are trying to do something "UNNATURAL" like an Ironman triathlon, or hacking cognitive performance or something like that, in which case you sometimes need to go beyond genes. I go over this quite a bit in private consults with people and I'd be happy to help you via a personal one-on-one consult. Just go to https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/coaching. and then choose a 20 or 60 minute consult, whichever you'd prefer. I can schedule ASAP after you get that.

  13. Micalla williden says:

    Hi Ben, I thought I heard you talk about taurine, but couldn’t find it when I went back, just the discussion about HMB. Can you give me an idea of where in the podcast it is? Thanks so much :-)

    1. We did talk about it. Relisten to the episode perhaps? ;) or wait for the transcript…

  14. John Colter says:

    Ben and Dom – Question RE HMB.

    I’ve used HMB before (but not stacked with ATP) and experienced undesirable side effects. When taking HMB for more and a day or two, I get this irresistible urge to simultaneously stretch and contract my muscles (like a cat when they get up). It interferes with sleep. If I am not careful modulating the urges, I will contract my muscles so forcefully I will pull or tear them. I do not experience this with straight Leucine or BCAs or Essential Aminos.

    Anyone else experience this? Ben or Dom, any idea why I react to HMB this way?

    1. Never ever experienced this. i would need to see the rest of your diet and health history to make an educated decision honestly. I'd be happy to help you via a personal one-on-one consult. Just go to https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/coaching. and then choose a 20 or 60 minute consult, whichever you'd prefer. I can schedule ASAP after you get that.

  15. Luka says:

    What do you guys think about proteins in urine?
    Is it possible to have proteins in urine, while on keto, from the muscle catabolism? Or they may be active because of too much protein in the diet? Talking about DIabetes Type 1 endurance athlete…

    1. Luka says:

      An update: a) Having carbs throughout the day, 200g CH (morning urine tests negative for everything except SG, that’s ok), b) Keto diet principles (keto and protein in urine). Activity is easy going in both cases.

      The problem here is that blood glucose regulation is great in b) situation, while not even close in a), which negatively affects other things in life.

  16. Bonnie Sanders says:

    I think I heard you mention a company named something like, From the root on this podcast. You purchased Sou Vious (not sure on spelling) from them. Could you please give me the link to their website? And is the Ben10 code still good for 15% discount from them? Thank you! Great podcast as always.

    1. “Straight From The Root”.

      Code ‘BEN’ for 15% off

  17. Alex says:

    Hi Ben,

    So which products are considered Ketone Esters? Are they available to buy now? KetoCana and Keto/OS are both salts, correct?


      1. JEff says:

        Above link does not work

  18. Michelle Silbernagel says:

    Fantastic podcast. What were the BCAAs that Dom recommended/mentioned that he uses?

    Also, Ben, interesting that you follow up this podcast with your most current one (which I haven’t listened to yet) on Thyroid issues.

    I have a history of Thyroid issues — diagnosed with Hashimoto’s but my antibodies are currently fine even though my TSH is too high (was 29! now 7 – so slowly improving).

    I’ve dabbled with intermittent fasting and have contemplated going Keto (because I have M.S. and though doing well, am thinking long term). Just worried that ketosis would be harmful to the Thyroid — being that I’m struggling.

    Wondering if nutritional ketosis might be a better route? Using a Ketone supplement? Thoughts?

    1. Check Dom shownotes for BCAA's…and Yes, high levels of physical activity combined with strict ketosis seems to cause TSH and free T3 issues in some. Tough to say. Anyways, I'd be happy to help you via a personal one-on-one consult. Just go to https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/coaching. and then choose a 20 or 60 minute consult, whichever you'd prefer. I can schedule ASAP after you get that.

  19. Thomas Shepard says:

    for Isabelle Nadeau, #6 comment. Tim Ferriss says to start with small quantity like 1/2 tsp and work up to larger amount.

  20. Thomas Shepard says:

    1. I was very surprised Dom did not mention Kegenix, a product he is associated.

    2. Why do you think one packet of Kegenix has 12 carbs?

  21. RK says:

    Supplementing taurine to help ketosis was that 2 grams 3-4x a day (total 6-8 grams) or 2 grams over 3-4 doses per day (total 2 grams).

  22. Isabelle Nadeau says:

    Question: I use Now MCT oil sometimes but if I take to much like more than 2tsp I get a terrible stomach ache. Is there a way to help with that?


    1. Steve says:

      Hi Ben, thanks for the podcast.

      I’ve been using Bulletproof Brain Octane and XCT oil for the last five years, with occasional periods of using cheaper brands like Viva Labs and Now. Having MCT oil has proven effective for mental and physical performance. Do you think salts or esters are worth looking into if the oil works just fine? What’s the difference?


    2. shemp says:

      This completely solves that problem. I am certain Dom or another keto exoert talked about using this in another podcast:


    3. Here's a response from Dominic: I would suggest Quest MCT oil powder since tolerance to MCT is almost double in terms of dosing. It can take several months to build up fat metabolizing enzymes in the liver to optimize the benefits of MCTs

    4. Brian Frumberg says:

      Don recommends MCT powder if the oil is tough on your stomach. He discusses in his first podcast with Tim Ferris.

  23. Dave says:

    I haven’t had a chance to listen but I’ve got a question for both of you that probably isn’t covered. I had my gallbladder removed about eight months ago. Before I had it removed I had a lot of GI distress from bulletproof coffee first thing in the morning. I recently started using the Quest powdered ketones in my morning coffee, and I’ve had the same kind of distress. I don’t normally have trouble digesting fat and I’ve been on ketogenic diets before the gall was removed and since, but the morning ketones seem to cause me trouble. Is maybe the liver still sluggish in the morning and it isn’t up to releasing bile first thing?

    1. Hey Dave, here's a response from Dom: When it comes to giving medical or nutrition advice I am very hesitant. I'm a PhD, not MD …or even RD. So, with that said… here goes,but this is not to be taken as advice ???? It really depends on the person. my advice would be to increases slowly to adjust tolerance. pancreas can make lipase and compensate for lack of gall bladder in many people

  24. Scott says:

    Can you recommend a “how to get started” with the ketogenic diet? Or, is it simply change your macros to approx 80% good fats and you’ll go into ketosis? Lots of great details here but these articles tend to lack practical step by step guides (unless I missed it). Thank you!

  25. Stefan says:

    This was one of the most interesting, informative and fun podcasts about the keto subject I’ve heard all hear.

    You talked about many things and I wasn’t able to make notes, so I need to listen to the episode again.

    I’ve been going the HMB + ATP stack too since the beginning of this year.

    I don’t see any changes in lean mass (yet). That being said, I an definitely stronger, more powerful and energetic. I also don’t do heavy weights much, but rather high volumes. I usually end my training cycle with one week going as heavy as I can.

  26. vasra says:

    Dr D’Agostino mentioned Parrillo Performance CapTri as their star performer in their ketone studies of MCT oils. https://www.parrilloperformance.com/product/captr…

  27. Robert says:

    Please read the article again. You say first the esters are more expensive and, per Veech, safer. Then in italics it’s the salts that are safer and more expensive.

    1. Oops! Typos have been fixed! Everything should be good now.

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