Ketone supplement may help control glucose

University of British Columbia Okanagan

Ketone monoester drinks, a new food supplement, may help control blood sugar, according to new research from the University of British Columbia Okanagan in Kelowna, British Columbia, and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

For the study, researchers led by said Jonathan Little, PhD, lead author of the study and associate professor at the university, asked 15 people to consume a ketone drink after fasting overnight. After 30 minutes, they were then asked to drink a fluid containing 75 grams of sugar while blood samples were taken.

"There has been a lot of excitement and interest in ketone drinks and supplements, which have really only been on the market and available to consumers for the last couple of years," said Little in a statement. "Because they're so new, there's very little research on how they can influence metabolism and we're among the first to look at their use in non-athletes."

Little said that Type 2 diabetes is a disease whereby the body is unable to control the level of sugar in the blood because defects in the functioning of a hormone called insulin. Ketone supplements are proving fertile ground for research into Type 2 diabetes because, according to Little, ketones are the natural fuel source of the body when it's in ketosis, the metabolic byproduct of consuming a low carbohydrate, ketogenic diet.

"It turns out that the ketone drink seemed to launch participants into a sort of pseudo-ketogenic state where they were better able to control their blood sugar levels with no changes to their insulin," said Little in a statement. "It demonstrates that these supplements may have real potential as a valuable tool for those with Type 2 diabetes."

Little said ketone supplements are not a magic bullet in managing the disease, and more research is needed.

"There are a number of problems that we still have to work out, including the fact that we still don't know what the long-term effects of consuming ketones are," he said. “But for those that aren't able to follow a strict and challenging ketogenic diet or for those that are looking for a new way to control blood sugars, this may be another strategy in helping to manage Type 2 diabetes.”