Leuven University study finds that ketones are a super fuel for our bodies

According to the result of a study carried out by a team from the Catholic University of Leuven lead by the exercise physiologist Peter Hespel performance in endurance sports can be improved by an average of 15% by those that take ketones. Ketones can be taken in liquid for as a of “magic potion” that is classed as a foodstuff and can be taken perfectly legally by professional athletes. As part of the research professor Hespel organised a kind of mini Tour de France in which half of the participants took ketones and the other half didn’t. 

Peter Hespel describes the results of the research “unprecedented”. In addition to their performance-enhancing qualities, the study also made encouraging findings when it comes to ketones being used in the treatment of illnesses. 

Ketones are sometimes called the body’s fourth fuel after carbohydrates, proteins and fats.    


Ketones are not a new discovery. However, thanks to the study firm figures on the boost that ketones can our bodies give have been published for the first time  

The results of the study appear in the latest edition of the Journal of Physiology. 

Research into the effects of Ketones has been carried out elsewhere, including a study by Oxford University’s Dr Kieran Clarke that was carried out at the behest of the US Army.

However, no study had looked at the recuperation thereafter”. This is important, because the quicker an athlete recuperates from a period of physical exertion, the better he or she can train. Furthermore, they remain fresher and in times builds up a considerable advantage of athletes that done drink ketone drinks.

“It so happens that the recuperation niche is the niche in which it has the greatest effect”, Peter Hespel said

Cycling students "on their knees”

The KUL research team worked with a group of 18 Guinee pigs, half of whom took ketones. “We simulated a Tour de France, but with well-trained student cyclists and not professional cyclists.

They trained for 3 weeks, 6 days a week: an intensive training session in the morning and in the afternoon endurance training of between one and a half and 3 hours, 6 days a week for three weeks”, the exercise physiologist explained.

After three weeks, the members of the sample group were showing levels of fatigue comparable with cyclists as they ride up the Champs Elysées at the end of the Tour de France. However, the symptoms were far less pronounced among the members of sample group that had taken ketones. Those that had taken ketones also recuperated more quickly and performed better. 

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