When your body does not have enough sugar or glucose to supply its fuel needs, it turns to your fat stores — this naturally occurs as we sleep, when we are dieting, or even fasting. The fat travels to your liver where it is processed into something called ketones. These ketones then travel to muscle and other tissues to fuel your body’s metabolism.
Many athletes try to force their bodies into breaking down fats for fuel by exercising in the morning before eating or following a high-fat, low-carb ketogenic diet. But one San Francisco company decided why not skip all that misery and deliver your body ketones on demand.
Venture-backed startup HVMN is set to bring one of the first commercial ketone drinks to market. With a formula originally designed for the US military, the company hopes that athletes who want to enhance their bodies performance will be interested in giving it a go.
A 2.2-ounce bottle of HVMN Ketone gives you 120 calories worth of energy. But look closer at the label and you will see there is no fat, no protein, and no carbohydrates. Ketones, in other words, are a fourth type of fuel for your body. After drinking HVMN Ketone (which supposedly tastes horrible), the ketones in your blood should rise to ketosis level (3-6 mmol/L) within minutes and last for a couple hours.
Kieran Clarke, a professor of physiological biochemistry at the University of Oxford and scientist working with HVMN Ketone, conducted a small study on a group of elite cyclists and compared how they performed on a 30-minute cycling exercise to two other groups who were either given a carb-rich drink or a fat-rich drink. The ketone cyclists rode on average 400 meters or 1/4 mile further — not a huge impact but something that might add up over the course of a couple hours in a race.
But as with everything else in San Francisco, these ketones don’t come cheap. A pack of three bottles will set you back $99. So unless you are willing to pay handsomely for a slight edge in your next race, I can’t see this becoming your everyday workout fuel.