How does Ketone-IQ® compare to other Ketone Supplements (Ketone Esters and Ketone Salts)?

Updated by Chrissy Rojas

There are 4 types of Ketone Supplements, ranked in order of increasing effectiveness:

  1. D-Betahydroxybutyric Acid (D-BHB)
    The main ketone our body produces and uses for energy during Endogenous Ketosis is D-Betahydroxybutyric Acid (also called D-BHB).
    It’s also possible to ingest D-BHB directly as an Ketone Supplement, but taken on its own it’s extremely acidic and difficult to tolerate except in very small amounts.
    Thus, the other Ketone Supplements are designed to deliver BHB (or BHB Precursors) in a safe, ingestible way.
  2. Ketone Salts
    Ketone salts are comprised of one molecule of ketone (D-BHB) bound with one molecule of salt, typically sodium, magnesium, or calcium.
    It is not possible to use ketone salts to elevate blood ketone levels significantly (i.e. > 1mmol/L) without stomach upset. Because of the molecular structure of ketone salts, having 1 ketone molecule bound to 1 salt, you end up ingesting a significant salt load which causes GI and other issues (even at relatively low doses). This categorically limits the use cases and benefit of Ketone Salts.
    When you take a Ketone Salt, the BHB is released to your system immediately, causing a sudden spike/dissipation of blood BHB. Again, the level is not very high due to the quantity limitation of the Salt.
    In addition, Ketone Salts are also often cheaply produced, without the expense to separate the active form D-BHB from the inactive form L-BHB (they are blended 50/50 in chemical production). So if your Ketone Salt doesn’t specifically say D-BHB, you’re only getting half the potency you paid for.
  3. Ketone Esters
    Another way of supplementing ketones is to create molecules called esters (you may already know this term from the common textile name “polyester” - a chain of molecules bound together).
    In the case of Ketone Esters, these molecules are designed to chain together BHBs, BHB precursors, and other keto-related molecules, like MCTs. They can be one ester chain long (a “monoester”), two ester chains long (a “diester”), etc.
    H.V.M.N. was the first to ever sell a Ketone Ester to the commercial market, with H.V.M.N. Ketone V1 in 2017.
    Our H.V.M.N Ketone V1 contained one of the most commonly discussed Ketone Esters - the D-BHB-R-1,3-Butanediol Monoester, which as you may imagine from the name is one D-BHB chained together to one R-1,3-Butanediol (the latter - which we’ll talk about more in the next section). This is often called Ketone Monoester (KME).
    Today, there are many forms of Ketone Esters on the market, containing different building blocks and consisting of different chain lengths.
    There are several fundamental drawbacks of Ketone Esters:
    1. KME is 50% D-BHB and 50% R-1,3-BDO. The D-BHB is released to your system immediately, inducing Ketone levels in excess of 2.5 mmol/L (Figures 2B, 3B, 6B here). According to this Cell Metabolism paper, “When no exercise was performed, plasma D-BHB concentrations increased to >5 mM.” Ketone levels this high can create GI distress and a spike in blood acidity, leading to cardiorespiratory stress and performance drawbacks.
    2. Ketone Esters must hydrolyze into their component parts to be bioavailable. And because they may not completely hydrolyze in your gastrointestinal tract (meaning the ester bonds don’t completely break apart), the excess will go to waste and be excreted.
    3. The chemical processes to produce Ketone Esters are small-scale and resource-intensive, resulting in molecules that are ~3x more expensive per gram of ketone compared to Ketone Diol (discussed next). The GRAS document for KME even states “The high cost and sharp, bitter taste of products containing D-β-hydroxybutyrate ester will deter the general population from using these products for general energy purposes.
    4. Ketone Esters are very poor tasting, and their use is often limited by taste. The GRAS document for KME states “Some of the individuals vomited immediately following consumption….the taste of D-β-hydroxybutyrate ester, which is bitter and sharp, was likely also a contributing factor to the reported nausea and vomiting.”
  4. Ketone Diol (Ketone-IQ®)
    In January 2022, H.V.M.N. released Ketone-IQ® — a pure Ketone Diol, R-1,3-Butanediol (R-1,3-BDO), which is the state of the art of ketone delivery.
    The Ketones in Ketone-IQ are pure R-1,3-BDO, compared to the KME Ketone Ester, which is 50% R-1,3-BDO and 50% D-BHB, or compared to the C6-Diester and Acetoacetate Diesters, which are 33% R-1,3-BDO and 66% C6 or Acetoacetate, respectively.
    Through our work on our $6MM contract with the United States Department of Defense Special Operations Command (US DOD SOCOM) investigating Ketone Supplements, we identified that the Diol has a more ideal pharmacokinetic curve for physically and cognitively demanding tasks. Pharmacokinetic curve refers to the speed, magnitude, and duration of blood ketone level elevation that is optimal for performance (for simplicity, we can call it the “ketone curve”).
    We identified that the optimal ketone curve stays between 1.0 - 2.5mmol/L (supported on the low end here, the high end here, and holistically here). R-1,3-Butanediol is the most effective ketone supplement to achieve and maintain this optimal ketone range because:
    1. No Large Spike. Because R-1,3-BDO is a D-BHB precursor and not straight D-BHB (as with the D-BHB from a Ketone Ester), this means means it doesn’t cause an immediate, severe spike in ketones above 2.5 mmol/L, which can be detrimental to performance.
    2. Naturally long-lasting. R-1,3-BDO is the closest molecular precursor to D-BHB, which is converted directly into D-BHB rapidly and with near 100% efficiency. This conversion process takes place has a throughput that helps maintain significant ketone levels for several hours.
    Together, this means that Ketone-IQ® has a optimal ketone curve - it quickly brings your blood ketones above 1.0 mmol/L within 30-60min, but without any harmful initial spike above 2.5mmol/L, and then keeps them elevated above 1.0mmol/L for longer than a Ketone Salt or a Ketone Ester (which are metabolized more rapidly) in a process that your body naturally regulates to stabilize energy levels.
    On top of the core active ingredient chirally pure R-1,3-butanediol, H.V.M.N. has invested significant R&D into formulating the Ketone-IQ with non-active ingredients to modify the flavor and give it a more pleasant taste.
    And while it still doesn’t taste like a glass of lemonade, the formulation for Ketone-IQ® is non-GMO, with no artificial flavors or sweeteners — a clean source of fuel for your body.
    Because of the scale we have reached with Ketone-IQ®, we deliver Ketones at 1/3rd the cost per gram of any Ketone Ester on the market - making Ketone-IQ® the most effective and cost-efficient Ketone Supplement on the market.

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