If you’ve been reading about keto and ketones, you’ve probably come across the words “ketone salts” and “ketone esters.” They both have the word ketone, so you might think they are essentially the same.
However, these exogenous ketones have different functions and purposes. This article will break down what each compound is and why ketone esters are more beneficial than ketone salts.
Ketone Salts vs. Esters: The Similarities
Ketones are simple compounds made up of hydrogen, oxygen and carbon. While you can take ketone exogenously (i.e., in the form of a food or beverage created outside the body), ketones are also found naturally in the body. The liver produces ketones when there isn’t glucose for the body to burn. But they’re always present in the blood at varying levels.
The body produces three ketone bodies: acetoacetate (AcAc), 3-beta-hydroxybutyrate (3HB) and acetone. These are known as endogenous ketones (meaning produced within the body).
Ketone salts and esters are two types of exogenous ketones (originating from outside the body) that can be used to elevate the level of ketones in the body. They are both nutritional aids that can help you achieve a state of nutritional ketosis more quickly than is possible with diet alone.
What Are Ketone Salts?
While both ketone salts and esters are exogenous ketones, they are made from different substances that impact how they are produced.
Ketone salts, as the name implies, come in a powder form that you can either add to food or take in a capsule. They are made from beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) bonded to electrolytes like calcium, magnesium, potassium or sodium.
Ketone Salts Pros
Some people find it difficult to follow the ketogenic diet because of its strictness. Ketone salts provide an alternative way of getting into ketosis without following the strict dietary requirements of the ketogenic diet.
They are widely available online or where vitamins are sold.
Ketone Salts Cons
As you probably guessed, reaching ketosis with ketone salts requires consuming a lot of salt. To give you an idea, the ones we surveyed ranged from 125mg to 1800mg a serving. That translates to 6 – 78% of the recommended daily value of sodium. And that’s only for a single serving.
So if you’re already struggling with high blood pressure, or are at risk for heart disease or a stroke, the amount of salt in ketone salts may outweigh the benefits that the ketones offer.
Optimize your Physical and Mental Potential with Ketone Hydration
What Are Ketone Esters?
Instead of binding to a salt, esters bind to an alcohol compound. But don’t worry – the alcohol is present at the molecular level and doesn’t increase the alcohol content of the beverage.
Ketone esters are far denser than ketone salts since more ketones can bind to alcohol than salt. They come in liquid form that’s manufactured in a lab.
Ketone Ester Pros
Ketone esters are more effective than ketone salts. One study that compared the two found that ketone esters raised the amounts of d-BHB by significantly higher levels than ketone salts did.
In addition, research suggests that ketone esters may be beneficial for brain health.
The FDA also classifies ketone esters as “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS), while ketone salts do not have that certification.
Ketone Esters Cons
Not all ketone esters are created equal.
While ketone salts are bonded with sodium, magnesium, and calcium, most esters on the market are bonded with 1,3-butanediol. Studies find that a 20 percent concentration of 1,3-BD was as effective as a 24-hour fast in raising BHB levels, but unfortunately, this concentration has some negative side effects. These included dehydration, acid buildup, and blockage of the veins in the liver.
Fortunately, esters don’t have to be bound to 1,3-BD. It is possible to find ketone esters that are formulated with glycerol, which has been studied and determined to be safe for the general public. Unlike butanediol, which is used to make solvent products such as paint thinner and floor stripper, glycerol is a natural energy source that the body uses as fuel.
Where to Buy Ketone Esters
Ketones are beneficial for weight loss, cognitive function and athletic performance. You can raise the level of ketones in your body through exercise, fasting, or a diet low in carbs. But luckily, that’s not the only way to get the benefits of ketones.
Both ketone salts and esters can help you gain the benefits of ketosis without going through the complicated process of getting there. However, ketone esters are, all in all, a more powerful and effective solution.