Doctor weighs in on the effectiveness and safety of ketogenic supplements

The keto diet is low in carbs and high in fats, and research shows it may help with issues such as weight loss and preventing mental decline as you age.

As this diet has gained fans, more keto-friendly products are hitting the market, including supplements.

"What these products do is they increase the amount of ketone in the bloodstream. what's not known is whether this is exceptionally useful for something else, like for extra weight loss," said Dr. Eric Westman of Duke University Medical Center.

These supplements claim to provide the benefits of a keto diet, even when you aren't eating the required foods. One brand promises to eliminate fatigue. Another says it will fuel performance. Others claim they'll reduce your appetite. Westman says the jury is still out on their effectiveness.

"We don't know if the supplements are good to use for people who only want to lose 10, 20 pounds. Those studies haven't been done yet, but the early research showing that it can reduce hunger and actually lower the blood sugar a little bit is pretty exciting in that direction," said Westman.

Many of the keto supplements contain ingredients such as beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), caffeine, MCT powder, malic acid, or ascorbic acid. Could it be possible to take too much?

"There's less concern about the safeness or long term tolerability but that's an unanswered question, as well," Westman said. More research still needs to be done on these special supplements, but Westman says it's exciting to see the possibilities.

"I'm very interested in these ketone supplement products because there's a great need. the epidemic of diabetes and obesity today is overwhelming and any new product like this would be great if the science supports it," Westman said.

People who are considering using weight-loss supplements should talk with their healthcare provider to discuss these products' potential benefits and risks. This is especially important for those who have medical conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and liver or heart disease.
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