MCT Powder: What it is, Benefits vs. MCT Oil, and How to Judge MCT Powder Quality

In this article, we look in-depth at medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) powder products.

You may already be familiar with MCT oil products. MCT powder products are a more recent innovation that have some benefits.

Read on as we explain and uncover:

What is MCT Powder? How is it Made?

MCT powder is a powdered form of medium-chain triglycerides.

The production process is like that in which protein powders are made – a process called spray drying.

However, for MCT, this process is used to convert it from a liquid supplement (MCT oil) to a solid form (MCT Powder). Liquid MCT oil is spray dried and micro-encapsulated with a powder “carrier shell” to give it the appearance and convenience of a powder.


Schematic of the Spray Drying Process

Clarification: MCT powder does not contain beta hydroxybutyrate (BHB) or ketone salts. This contrasts with exogenous ketone products (which we covered before here & here). For example, Keto Kreme by Pruvit does not contain BHB as many people assume.

The Main Difference – What is Used for the Powder?

The powder is generally composed of starch/ starch derivatives and milk proteins. Obviously, these ingredients are not used in the pure MCT oil or caprylic acid oil products. Carbohydrate and protein based support powders can raise insulin levels, so MCT powder formulation needs to be carefully selected to prevent unnecessary insulin spikes. Below is a list of the most common powder ingredients used for MCT powder products:

  • Maltodextrin
  • Glucose Syrup Solids
  • Sodium Caseinate
  • Soluble Corn Fiber
  • Soy Lecithin

The exact amount of carbohydrate and protein in the final MCT powder product varies based on the ratio of powder used. Typically, the powders are between 50% and 80% oil based with the rest made up by the powder carrier.

Why Use MCT Powder vs. MCT Oil?

MCT powder

MCT Powder

The main advantages of converting MCT oil to a powder product include:

  • Incorporation into solid products (for example, adding them to a baking recipe or any other powdered product) and a possibility of controllable “slowed” release of the MCT oil during consumption.
  • MCT powder products tend to be used for a convenient on-the-go option in single serving sachets, and powders are generally easier to transport than liquids.
  • Many people can experience gut distress (diarrhea or “the runs”) issues when consuming MCT oils; anecdotal feedback suggests that MCT powder products are much more tolerable in that regard and thus you can take greater amounts of MCT, and potentially double the blood ketone impact vs. standard MCT oils.
  • It is also viable to stack MCT powder with other ingredients that boost blood ketones (such as BHB mineral salts) to further augment the effect (see graph below). In effect the MCT powder works as a good carrier for BHB mineral salts in the body. See the complete discussion of using BHB mineral salts to raise ketones for context.
  • Powders provide an alternative rich texture with potential for flavoring. Many people use the MCT powders as a “creamer” for coffee or hot drinks. There’s also flavored varieties available depending on the company and product you use.

Effects of Naturally-Derived Ketone Supplements on Blood BHB Levels 1

  • BMS (Beta-hydroxybutyrate Mineral Salt) – sodium/ potassium based (similar to KetoForce)
  • MCT (medium chain triglyceride oil)
  • BMS + MCT (1:1 mixture of beta-hydroxybutyrate mineral salt and MCT oil)

Benefits of MCT Powder Use: The Research

To date, virtually all research on the benefits of MCT supplementation has used MCT oil, and not MCT oil powder.

Anecdotally, researchers like Dominic D’Agostino have commented that you are typically able to increase blood ketones two-fold higher than ordinary MCT oil. This is simply due to the ability to consume more MCTs in the powder form by avoiding the greater GI distress potential of the oil form.

Nonetheless, the benefits of MCT oil powder should be identical to the benefits of MCT oil since the only difference is the delivery method.

The best-researched benefits to MCT intake include improved blood lipids, increased energy expenditure, weight loss, neuroprotection, and potential reduction in risk of cancer.

We will cover the research benefits of MCTs in general in a future in depth article on MCT oil.

What to Look For in MCT Powders

As noted in the product comparison table found further down in this article, MCT powder products come in either premium brand-name iterations or are sold in bulk with a generic label.

While generic MCT powders come with a better price tag, they make some quality tradeoffs to make up for the reduced cost. These quality tradeoffs determine the ketone driving potential of the MCT powder, whether it has positive or negative gut impacts and its allergen-free status (e.g. gluten, dairy).

MCT Oil Powder Properties

How to Understand the Quality of an MCT Powder

The key differences you need to be aware of between MCT powders are the following:

  • Grams of Active Ketone-Producing MCTs: First, the percentage of the MCTs that are ketone producing (i.e. C8 and C10). Second, the total grams of MCT oil vs. other ingredients per gram of product.
  • Quality of Powder Carrier: The different powders used to “carry the oil” have different properties, some adding negatives (e.g. being high glycemic or gut irritants), some adding benefits (e.g. promoting beneficial gut flora growth).
  • Non-Allergen Status: Whether they use GMO, gluten, dairy-based or derived (e.g. sodium caseinate) ingredients.

Grams of Active Ketone-Producing MCTs

The end benefit from consuming MCT powder comes primarily from its active ketone producing benefits. This in turn depends on the total grams per unit and quality of the MCT oil (in terms of ketone producing capacity).

First, consider what the ratio of MCTs to powder (and other ingredients) by weight a product has. This can vary between 80% – 50% oil to powder ratio, thus providing more or less MCTs per gram. An MCT powder with an 80% oil to powder ratio is providing significantly more MCT oil per gram than its 50% counterpart.

This is not information that is typically reported, but if you look at the nutrition facts and compare these between products you can estimate the MCT (fatty acid) to non-MCT ratio.

Second, the quality of the MCT oil itself matters. MCT oils on the market are made from varying combinations of C8 (Caprylic Acid), C10 (Capric Acid) and C12 (Lauric Acid). Only C8 and C10 provide the ketone producing benefits, and C8 is the most effective. So you’re looking for the highest concentration of C8, with C10, but avoiding C12 incorporating products.

For an in depth discussion on why C8, Caprylic Acid, drives more ketones than other oils read this article.

Quality of Powder Carrier: Gut & Ketone Supporting or Negating Properties

There are a wide variety of powder carriers being used for MCT powders already, although unfortunately, these are not always reported in the ingredients.

The first and simplest rule to follow is to avoid high-glycemic powders. While ketones can offset some of the glucose and insulin spiking effects of glycemic ingredients, the overall balance will still produce higher glucose levels with the higher glycemic ingredients used. So it is likely to be counter-productive to the goal of raising ketones and to keto diets or achieving ketosis in general.

In general, when you purchase bulk MCT powder, it’s safe to assume you are getting a powder that uses glycemic maltodextrin and/ or glucose-syrup solids as part of the powder carrier as these reduce the cost of manufacture. Looking at the nutrition facts you can see the carbohydrate content of each product, however, in the U.S. this combines both non-glycemic fiber and glycemic carbs. Look for Carbs – of which sugars for the glycemic part if reported.

To simplify navigating product information: We recommend purchasing products that list the ingredients of their MCT powder to be sure or to track your blood ketones and glucose 30 minutes after consuming a product to be sure.

The second rule is in relation to gut health. Certain carbohydrates and proteins used in powdered MCT products are potential gut irritants. Maltodextrin, for example, can be a gut irritant for some people.

On the other hand, some digestion-resistant starches (such as soluble corn fiber and cyclic dextrin) appear to promote digestive health by influencing growth of specific microbiota in the gut and by altering the morphology of gut tissue2.

Non-Allergenic: Corn Derived, Sodium Caseinate etc.

Many of the basic MCT powder products contain ingredients that some people will want to avoid for allergenic reasons (or if they follow a diet aiming to be low allergen such as Paleo for example).

The two main ingredients that people are likely to be concerned about are Corn-derived ingredients (especially if GMO) and the dairy protein derived, Sodium Caseinate.

Note of warning: In some MCT powders the actual ingredients of the powder are not reported. They just state “MCT Powder” in the ingredients list, without stating the actual powder or other carriers used. So if you are aiming to avoid these types of ingredients, it’s best to either enquire or avoid products that do not state all ingredients separately.

Specialized MCT Powder Products / Latest Product Innovations

While pure MCT powder products are making waves in the supplement industry, there are innovative products now available that combine exogenous ketones (BHB salts) with MCT powder to enhance the effects. An example of this type of combination product is Keto OS.

Another product that differs from others is Bulletproof’s Instamix. This combines grass-fed butter and the Brain Octane caprylic acid oil, resulting in a product that may be higher in caprylic acid content than other MCT powders (unfortunately fatty acid breakdown is not reported).

It will be interesting to see if companies continue to up the ante with MCT powder products by adding possible synergistic ingredients.

Comparison of MCT Powder Products Currently Available

PRODUCT Size (g) MCT Quality MCT per Gram Powder Quality Price Carbs per Gram Price per MCT Gram Other Added Ingredients/ Comments
Keto Kreme
(15 Packets)
336g Typical MCT composition (C8, C10 & C12) < 0.66g* Unknown (probable in part sodium caseinate) £75.00 0.17g >£0.34* Ceylon Cinnamon, Stevia
Ketosports MCT Powder 270g Unknown MCT composition 0.66g Nonfat Dry Milk, Disodium Phosophate £18.69 0.11g (Sugars 0.11g) £0.10 Silicon Dioxide
Quest MCT Powder 454g Unknown MCT composition 0.77g Soluble Corn Fiber, Sodium Caseinate, Sunflower Lecithin £26.97 0g (Fiber 0.11g) £0.08 Silicon Dioxide
Phat Fibre 454g Unknown MCT composition 0.6g Digestion-Resistant Maltodextrin (gut flora benefits) £31.25 0g (Fiber 0.37g) £0.11 None
Bulletproof Instamix 259g Combination of Caprylic Acid Triglyceride (C8) and grass-fed butter fatty acids <0.7g** Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin (gut flora benefits) £31.95 0g (Fiber 0.27g) >£0.18** Sorbitol, Vitamin E TPGS
Generic MCT Powders
(e.g. TheProteinWorks,
Bulk Powders)
500g Unknown MCT composition 0.7g – 0.74g Typically Malto Dextrin and Glucose Syrup (Glycemic impact and potential negative gut impacts) £19.46 – £25.99 0.16g – 0.3g £0.06 – £0.07 Typically unknown additive ingredients. Not dairy free.
Source: Nutritional Information provided by products and/ or Certificates of Analysis where available.
* KetoKreme active MCT % unknown due to coconut shortening powder fatty acid presence.
** Bulletproof Instamix active MCT % unknown due to grass-fed butter fatty acid presence.

The Main Takeaways

MCT powder products are a convenient and effective addition to a ketogenic lifestyle. Based on feedback to us, most people find it easy to integrate them into their life by adding them to their hot beverages.

The benefits of MCTs span a broad range, but more research studies are needed on the effects that come specifically from powdered MCT products (as opposed to MCT oil).

Remember that while generic MCT powder products come with a better price tag than premium products, they cut corners that aren’t appropriate for a keto lifestyle by using glycemic carbohydrates such as glucose syrup for the powder base.

QUESTION: What haven’t we answered about MCT Powder in this article? Let us know in the comments and we’ll reply there.

Exogenous Ketone Supplements: Review of Current Products and Future Developments

Exogenous ketone supplements hold promise for individuals looking to lose weight, improve their health and longevity, and enhance cognitive performance. In this article, we will dive into the history of exogenous ketone supplementation, the different forms of exogenous ketones that are available and what to look out for when choosing a supplement.

The first installment of this two-part series, which can be found here, takes an in-depth look at what exactly exogenous ketones are and how they work. If you haven’t had a chance to read that yet, it is highly recommended you do so before continuing on with this installment.

Before moving on, it’s necessary to clarify that beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) is the predominant ketone found in exogenous ketone supplements. Therefore, “BHB” supplement (i.e. beta-hydroxybutyrate supplements) is just another name for exogenous ketone supplement.

The State of Exogenous Ketone Supplements

Exogenous ketone supplements are somewhat new on the scene, with a select few companies manufacturing them for dietary use. The exogenous ketone products currently available on the market are BHB mineral salts (BHB with sodium and potassium to improve absorption). The term “BHB mineral salts” is synonymous with beta-hydroxybutyrate salts and ketone salts.

There are also combination BHB supplements that include MCT (or other) oils. Exogenous ketone products come in either liquid or powder form.

Timeline of Introduction of Ketone Supplements

Exogenous ketone supplements have been in research & development since the early 2000s, but didn’t start making their way to the general public until late 2014.

Ketoforce by Prototype Nutrition was the first to launch, followed up shortly thereafter by Pruvit’s Keto OS (and Keto OS Charged, a caffeinated version of Keto OS).

Keto OS and Keto OS Charged are combination supplements that combine MCT powder (and other ingredients) with BHB mineral salts. Whether or not this is more effective than pure BHB mineral salts is still up for debate as data doesn’t show a large difference between the two1 (refer to our previous exogenous ketone article for more on this).

KetoCaNa (also made by Prototype Nutrition) made it’s way to the market in 2015. It is a better tasting, powdered form of BHB salt (this time using calcium and sodium as mineral support).

The Patents Behind Ketone Supplements

There are several companies/inventors that own patents behind exogenous ketones (both BHB salts and esters). Currently, however, all products commercially available are derived from the first of these – the University of South Florida (USF) patent. Companies either make use of the patent directly or license it from USF for their products.

Existing patents include:

  • University of South Florida with the named inventors being Patrick Arnold (behind KetoTech and the KetoSports products), Dominic D’Agostino and Shannon Kesl. The main patent is this one.
  • Richard Veech, M.D. who is working on ketone ester production (rather than ketone salts). These are not yet ready for commercial sale.
  • TΔS® (T Delta S) a UK based company working on the future commercial sale of the ketone ester product, ΔG® (DeltaG). TΔS is linked to the University of Oxford in the UK.

Products Often Mistaken for Being Ketone Supplements (But Aren’t..)

Pruvit also released a dietary creamer supplement, called Keto Kreme, made with coconut oil and cinnamon extract. Be aware that Keto Kreme does not contain exogenous ketones like many people mistakenly believe. It is an MCT Powder product similar to Quest Nutrition’s MCT Oil Powder or others on the market.

Forever Green’s Ketopia Weight Management System includes KetonX and KetoPM, two patented products that claim to assist the body in reaching a state of ketosis within hours (but neither contain exogenous ketones). In the future, depending on legal outcome of current licensing litigation, KetonX and KetoPM will have BHB salt patented by the University of South Florida (same ketones used in Keto OS).

What to Look Out for in Exogenous Ketone Supplements

Depending on how your goals and preferences you may favor one supplement over another. There are a number of factors you should consider to help you decide which supplement is objectively the best suited for you.

We explore these in this section, and later on in the article compare the currently available supplements against these criteria.

How Strong is the Blood Ketone Impact?

Ultimately, one of the most objective parameters you can look at is the impact of the products on your blood ketones. Depending on a product’s configuration (what type of ketone salt is it? how pure is it? what other ingredients are added?) a ketone salt may have a differing end impact on blood ketone levels.
We define this as…

  • Power: The products impact on BHB levels in the blood. The stronger the product, the more effective it is as putting the body into ketosis and the longer the effect lasts.

There is very little publicly available data on human consumption of the different ketone salts, and supplement products. Published studies are on mice, and in human based data-sets the specific product is not revealed.

Some limited data is available via self-experiments published on blogs, where we know which ketone salt product was used. The information available currently is only for the KetoSports products (the KetoForce product in particular).

KetoForce Average Blood Beta-Hydroxybutyrate Levels Over Time

KetoForce Average Blood Beta-Hydroxybutyrate Levels

Source: Data set taken from article published by Patrick Arnold on his Blog
Note: Blog currently has had some connection issues.

Although, not confirmed, it is probable that the ketone salt used in Peter Attia’s self-experiment published here is through the BHB salt KetoForce (to confirm). The serving taken in the experiment is just lower than the typical serving size used for KetoForce currently (15.6g instead of 19g). Attia’s data shows a bump of 1.9 mmol/L (2.6 mmol vs. 0.7 mmol) at the 60 minute post ingestion mark with the BHB salt compared to his baseline nutritional ketosis.

(Note: Since we can’t provide data for the different products currently, the next article in this series, yet to be published, will be dedicated to this topic. It will provide the results of our own self-experiments with different ketone salt supplements)

How Many Ketones for the Price?

BHB is the main active ingredient in ketone supplements and it’s impact on per gram dose should be similar across ketone salt products. As such it makes sense to standardize how you look at the cost of the supplement based on how many grams of BHB it contains. This allows you to compare supplements with different serving sizes, and take into account the supplements BHB density and weighting of additional ingredients in its makeup.

This brings us to the next criteria we can look at…

  • Price per BHB gram: The cost for each active gram of BHB contained in the product. Derived by dividing total grams of BHB in a serving by the cost of the serving.

The other reason using this metric makes sense is that it is the most expensive ingredient in the supplements.

Most of the supplement products provide this information directly now, and where they don’t it’s easily calculated based on the nutrition facts labels. We’ve provided this cost comparison in our review.

However, it should be noted that it is slightly reductive to look at the supplements this way. Other ingredients may provide other benefits you are looking for.

Specifically, some supplements contain a mixture of BHB, and another active ingredient, MCT Powder (e.g. Keto OS). So just looking at the BHB doesn’t do a supplement justice – even where we’re only interested in the supplements Ketone Power. The MCT powder provides an additional bump in ketones, and this is something we’ll look at separately in an upcoming article on MCT Powders.

The Product Experience

A variety of factors affect how you experience the product, and how easily you can fit it into your life. Many questions we receive at Ketosource relate to the items below – so we know these are important factors for you.

  • Taste: The palatability of the product. Exogenous ketones naturally have an unpleasant taste, so efforts are made by product manufacturers to compensate this via the mix of additional ingredients used in products. Some products fair better than others in this area.
  • Form (Convenience): Denotes whether the product is available in liquid or powder form. Generally, powder products are easier to transport so keep that in mind if you need something available on-the-go.
  • GI Tolerance: A major limiting factor for ketone supplements to date has been the human guts tolerance of their intake. MCT oil has a relatively low gut tolerance (highest tolerable dose in a case study was 4 tablespoons in one intake2). For this reason, it’s something to consider for ketone supplements, especially for those with more sensitive or chronically damaged guts.
  • Electrolyte Balancing: Exogenous ketones may throw electrolyte balance out of whack, so whether there are added electrolytes is something to consider when purchasing a ketone supplement. This topics deserves deeper discussion, as a variety of ideas have surfaced which differ. The electrolyte balance of a supplement can also become a key determining factor in how you should use the supplement optimally. So we’ll discuss this separately in a future article to give it the attention it deserves.

Other Aspects to Consider…

Products contain more or less additional ingredients that provide side benefits, or may be included for other reasons. This is an area which you should consider based on your goals and relative costs. Current products on the market vary widely in the number and extent of additional ingredients used.

  • Other Ingredients: This category includes any other ingredients aside from electrolytes and ketone bodies found in the product. Examples include: MCT powder and what it’s made from, caffeine, sweeteners, etc.

Of the current products, KetoCaNa and KetoForce are the simplest products, with Kegenix being the most complex in terms of ingredients.

Exogenous Ketone Supplements Review

Product Size (ml) Servings Included BHB grams Price ($US) Price per BHB gram Taste Form GI Tolerance Other Ingredients
Keto OS 2.0
(15 Packets)
Standard or Charged
350 15 Product: 99g
Serving: 6.6g
$85.00 $0.86* Reasonable Powder Reasonable, some people observe gut disturbance Calcium, Sodium, Caffeine, MCT Powder, Stevia
Keto OS 2.0
(30 Packets)
Standard or Charged
692 30 Product: 198g
Serving: 6.6g
$160.00 $0.81* Reasonable Powder Reasonable, some people observe gut disturbance Calcium, Sodium, MCT Powder, Stevia
KetoCaNa 318 16 Product: 187g
Serving: 11.7g
$59.99 $0.32 Reasonable Powder Good, few people observe GI disturbance Calcium, Sodium, Stevia
KetoForce 480 16 Product: 187g
Serving: 11.7g
$59.99 $0.32 Unpleasant Liquid Reasonable, some people observe GI disturbance Sodium, Potassium
Kegenix 1230 30 Product: 390g
Serving: 13g
$149.00 $0.38 Reasonable Powder Reasonable, some people observe GI disturbance Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Erythritol, Protein Blend, Natural Flavors, Malic Acid, Citric Acid, Disodium Phosphate, Rebaudioside A, Maltodextrin, Silicon Dioxide, L-leucine, L-lysine, L-isoleucine
Kegenix Prime 1277 30 Product: 390g
Serving: 13g
$147.99 $0.38 Reasonable Powder Reasonable Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Sodium, Medium Chain Triglyceride, L-lysine, L-leucine, Alpha GPC, Acetyl L-Carnitine HCL, Tyrosine, Phenylalanine, Taurine, EGCG, Natural Caffeine, Green Tea Extract, Yerba Mate, Fungal Lipase, Erythritol, Citric acid, natural flavors, guar gum, Stevia blend, silica, sunflower lecithin, beta carotene
InstaKetones 549 30 Product: 351g
Serving: 11.7g
$69.99 $0.20 Reasonable Powder Reasonable, some people observe gut disturbance Amino Acid Blend (L-Taurine, L-Tyrosine, L-Leucine), Calcium, Sodium, Citric Acid, Orange Extract, Lou Han Guo (Monk Fruit)
KGX Boost**
(1 Fluid Oz/ 30ml)
N/A N/A Product: N/A
Serving: 1ml
N/A N/A Reasonable Liquid Spray N/A Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Erythritol, MCT, Green Tea, Vitamin and mineral supplements
Source: Last updated July 2017. All data derived from product Nutrition Facts labels and standard calculations.
All prices reflective of current US pricing and availability.
*Doesn’t account for MCT Powder active ingredient that also contributes to Ketone Power.
**Information currently not available – will be updated shortly.

The Future of Ketone Supplements

In the near future, a broader range and variety of ketone salt based products are likely to come to market. There are indications that some of these may arrive before the end of 2016, and will be of improved taste, convenience and GI tolerability.

The outlook for the other, more powerful form of exogenous ketone, the ester, is still highly volatile and subject to change.

Ketone esters (also known as ketone mono-ester supplements) have been used in research for some time but their use in the general population has been extremely limited.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that ketone ester supplements are extremely hard to palate. That being said, it is viable/ likely ketone esters will reach consumers in the coming years as was discussed in part one of this series. Unfortunately, they are extremely costly to manufacture at this point, which is the barrier that needs to be overcome in order to make them as widely available as the ketone salts.

For a more in-depth comparison of ketone esters and ketone salts refer to the previous exogenous ketone article.

Of the two entities bringing ketone esters to market, that led by the researcher, Richard Veech, and the other by the company TΔS in the UK, TΔS is likely to be the first with the announced product ΔG. TΔS is aiming to commercialize the ΔG product inside 2016, so they’re adamant about finding potential investors to help accelerate that process (it is a costly endeavor to bring new ingredients to market due to the regulatory approval process amongst other costs).

Consideration: Is it OK for Everyone to Take Ketone Supplements?

Some individuals may want to take caution before supplementing with ketones as there are potential downsides. Particularly those with gastrointestinal disorders/ issues as some ketone supplements can cause diarrhea, upset stomach, and flatulence.

Type-1 and type-2 Diabetics should consult a physician before initiating usage of exogenous ketones as ketones can significantly alter blood sugar levels. However, exogenous ketones may actually be therapeutic for type-2 diabetics; this is an ongoing area of research that could change treatment for these individuals.

Summary Takeaways

It is very early days with respect to ketone supplements, as patents that have not yet resulted in commercial supplement products will eventually bring more and different supplements to market.

Nonetheless, we’re already seeing a variety of ketone supplement options based on University of South Florida patent.

Which supplement you decide to use will depend on your personal goals (supporting keto adaptation when starting a ketogenic diet, fat loss, endurance, resistance training, general performance or health and longevity) and budget. In future articles, will look at best practices in how to use ketone supplements to achieve these different goals.

QUESTION(S): Do you take an exogenous ketone supplement? If so, what’s your goal and what results have you noticed? Let us know in the comments.


Exogenous Ketones - beta hydroxybutyurate supplements

Exogenous Ketones: What They Are, Benefits of Use and How They Work

Exogenous ketones have become a popular nutritional supplement since their introduction in 2014.

Like with any new supplement, though, there tends to be a lot of misinformation that you have to sift your way through to find the reliable data. So, this article does the hard work for you and gets right to what the true benefits and drawbacks of exogenous ketones are.

We also cover what forms of ketones to consider, how they function in the body, and their role in future research.

What Are Ketones?

Our bodies use ketones via our mitochondria to generate energy. They are an alternative fuel source to glucose.

Ketones are simple compounds because of their small molecular structure and weight. Specifically, they are organic (carbon-based) compounds that contain a central carbon atom double-bonded to an oxygen atom and two carbon-containing substituents, denoted by “R” (see chemical structure below).

generic ketone

Generic Ketone Structure

In humans, there are 3 different ketones produced by the mitochondria of the liver. These are also often referred to as ketone bodies.
The three ketones are:

  1. Acetone
  2. Acetoacetic Acid
  3. Beta-Hydroxybutyric Acid (also known Beta Hydroxybuyrate or BHB). Other chemical names include 3-hydroxybutyric acid or 3-hydroxybutyrate.

BHB is not technically a ketone since it contains a reactive OH-group in place of where a double-bonded oxygen normally would be as you can see in the diagram below.

Yet, BHB still functions like a ketone in the body and converts into energy much like acetoacetate and acetone. This happens via the acetoacetate and acetyl-CoA pathway. Note that acetone conversion to acetyl-CoA is not efficient due to the need to convert acetone to acetoacetate via decarboxylation.

However, BHB still functions like a ketone in the body and can be converted to energy (via acetoacetate and then acetyl-CoA), much like acetoacetate and acetone can (though acetone conversion to acetyl-CoA is not efficient, due to the requirement to convert acetone to acetoacetate via decarboxylation).

Ketone Bodies

Structures of Ketone Bodies

Exogenous Ketone Bodies Explained

Exogenous ketone bodies are just ketone bodies that are ingested through a nutritional supplement. Ketone bodies produced in the liver are more properly referred to as endogenous ketone bodies.

Exogenous = Originates from a source external from the body.
Endogenous = Originates from a source internal to the body.

Most supplements rely on BHB as the source of their exogenous ketone bodies. BHB is converted to acetoacetic acid and then some quantity converted to acetone through a acetoacetate decarboxylase waste pathway, the acetone will be excreted. Some of the acetoacetic acid will enter the energy pathway using beta-ketothialase, which converts acetoacetic acid to two Acetyl-CoA molecules.

The Acetyl-CoA is then able to enter the Krebs cycle and generate ATP. Exogenous ketone body supplements provide users with an instant supply of ketones. Even if you’re not in a state of ketosis before ingestion (such as when eating a higher-carb diet).

Important note: Research is in its early stages and we need more data to understand the long-term effects of combining high blood ketone levels with high or moderate carbohydrate based diets.

Exogenous ketone body supplements provide users with an instant supply of ketones. They raise blood ketones even if you’re not in a state of ketosis before ingestion (such as when not on a low carb diet).

We don’t yet fully understand what the long term effects of combining a non ketogenic diet with exogenous ketone supplements are. Research is in its early stages and more data is needed.

A common question is why BHB is the go-to ketone body for exogenous ketone supplements. The likely reason is a combination of its efficient conversion into energy and its ease of formulation. In other words, that it is easier to formulate BHB into a nutritional supplement. And the body efficiently converts BHB to acetoacetic acid, which effectively raises blood ketone levels.

Are “Raspberry Ketones” the Same as “Ketone Bodies”?

Raspberry ketones have become an increasingly popular ingredient used in fat-loss supplements. But, despite their name, they have no relation to ketone bodies. This has created some confusion for people interested in exogenous ketone supplements.

Raspberry ketones are in fact phenolic compounds that give raspberries their pleasant smell. They are structurally similar to the stimulant synephrine. Despite the marketing, raspberry ketones also don’t appear to have much effect on fat loss.1

Takeaway: Ignore information and products related to raspberry ketones. These have nothing to do with exogenous ketones and beta-hydroxybutyrate.

Ketone Salts vs. Ketone Esters

Exogenous ketones of beta-hydroxybutyrate are available in two forms:

  1. Ketone Salts: Naturally-derived compounds that simply mix sodium (and/or potassium, or calcium) with BHB to improve absorption. Commercially available supplements are all made from ketone salts currently (includes KetoForce, KetoCaNa and Keto OS). These are also sometimes called “Ketone Mineral Salts” of “BHB Mineral Salts”.
  2. Ketone Esters: Synthetically-made compounds that link an alcohol to a ketone body, which is metabolized in the liver to a ketone. Ketone esters are used primarily in research (at the moment) for testing their efficacy in elevating ketone body levels (below is a generic structure of a BHB ester). They also are reportedly very unpleasant tasting, according to those who have experimented with them.
Structure of a BHB Ester

Structure of a BHB Ester

Currently, the commercially available supplements for personal use are all made from the ketone salts. Ketone esters are only used in research at this time.

The ketone esters raise blood levels of beta-hydroxybutyrate to higher levels than the ketone salts. There is also strong evidence that ketone esters are more effective than ketone salts as far as their physiological benefits go. It is not clear why this happens, but could be because of a difference in the absorption rate in the GI tract.

However, esters tend to be a little tougher to tolerate (due to gut distress after ingestion) and don’t have the most pleasant taste (as mentioned earlier).

Figure 1 2 below shows a comparison of the effects of various ketone supplements on body weight changes, in rats, over 4 weeks. Ketone esters were the most effective at reducing weight gain over the 4-week period. However, the point must be made that by week 4 BHB salts and BHB salts + MCT oil had matched the total body weight loss of the ketone esters. This may suggest that ketone esters have a greater initial impact, then plateaus as the body weight stabilizes to a new equilibrium):

Effect of Exogenous Ketone Supplements on Body Weight

Figure 1: Effect of Exogenous Ketone Supplements on Body Weight

The supplements included:

  • BMS (Beta-hydroxybutyrate Mineral Salt) – sodium/ potassium based (similar to KetoForce)
  • MCT (medium chain triglyceride oil)
  • BMS + MCT (1:1 mixture of beta-hydroxybutyrate mineral salt and MCT oil)
  • KE (Ketone Ester – 1,3 butanediol acetoacetate diester)
  • BD (1,3-butanediol)

Benefits of Exogenous Ketone Use

Exogenous ketone supplements may provide a multitude of benefits.

These include athletic performance enhancement, more efficient weight loss, cancer prevention, cognitive improvement and anti-inflammatory properties.

Weight Loss Goals

  • Appetite suppression: As shown above in figure 1, a 4-week trial done on rats showed that exogenous ketones were effective at reducing weight gain. It is likely that this reduction in weight gain was the result of the exogenous ketones reducing the overall food intake.
  • The fate of excess ketones: In the event someone has an excessive amount of ketones in the blood, the body (specifically the kidneys) will work as quickly as possible to filter out ketones via urine rather than converting them to adipose tissue. 3 This is not to say that you can’t gain fat if you consume an exorbitant amount of exogenous ketones, but that they are less prone to be converted to fat than other nutrients.
  • More tolerable than MCT oil: MCT oil has been known to cause gastrointestinal distress in users, especially when taken in higher amounts. Exogenous ketones in the form of ketone salts, in comparison, are generally well-tolerated. Thus they enable one to avoid adverse GI events while providing the body with similar types of benefits (see Ref. 2). Figure 1 shows that MCT oil can be effective in reducing body weight. A combination of MCT oil and exogenous ketones may aid weight loss and allow a lower loading of ketone supplements, without the GI distress seen with MCT oil.

Performance Goals

  • Athletic enhancement: Exogenous ketone supplementation has a promising outlook for enhancing athletic performance for a variety of reasons. Firstly, ingested ketone bodies induce an acute ketosis that lasts for several hours and mimics the physiology of starvation.Secondly, exogenous ketones present a way to elevate ketone levels without having depleted muscle glycogen stores (low muscle glycogen is well known to impair sustained physical performance). 4 This being said, at this time there is little direct data that shows performance enhancements after ingesting exogenous ketones. A very well formulated study by Volek et al. 5 has shown that fat adapted athletes have much higher glycogen stores than was previously anticipated and the athletes can replenish glycogen stores as efficiently as athletes on a carbohydrate based diet.  The hypothetical premise behind their use is sound nevertheless.
  • Improved cognition: Elevated plasma ketone concentrations divert the brain to utilize ketone bodies for synthesis of phospholipids, which drives growth and myelination. Normally, glucose would be the preferred substrate, which is much less efficient.6

Health & Longevity

  • Anti-carcinogenic properties: Data seems to suggest that exogenous ketones are an effective anti-carcinogen. The reason behind this is that cancer cells are unable to use ketone bodies effectively, unlike most healthy tissues in the body. In fact, dietary ketone supplementation has been shown to increase survival rates of mice with systematic cancer by as much as 70%.7
  • Neuroprotection: As humans age, the brain becomes more susceptible to neurodegeneration and subsequent conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Exogenous ketone supplementation appears to ameliorate the typical decline in cognitive function that comes with aging. The likely mechanism for this neuroprotective property is that ketone bodies reduce the inflammation and hyperexcitability that is normally exhibited as glucose metabolism declines in the brain.8, 9
  • Anti-Inflammatory properties: There is evidence that ketone bodies play a crucial role in reducing inflammation by inhibiting a specific class of proteins called inflammasones.10
  • Gene regulation profile change. There is evidence that gene sets can be up regulated or down regulated. Still early days but an example of this is a change in mitochondrial 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA synthase (mHS) in rats on a ketogenic diet.

Mechanisms: How Exogenous Ketones Work

Exogenous ketones have a variety of physiological effects shortly after ingestion:

  • For starters, ingesting ketones (especially ketone esters) is an efficient way to elevate BHB in the blood by upwards of 2 mMol for nearly 8 hours (see Ref. 2). Ketone salts don’t appear to elevate BHB in the blood as efficiently (or significantly) as ketone esters do, though.
  • Exogenous ketone supplementation causes blood glucose to decrease significantly, likely due to the acute increase in insulin sensitivity. Therefore, exogenous ketones may present a potential therapy for type-2 diabetics via regulation of blood glucose.
  • Exogenous ketones also improve oxygen utilization, especially in the central nervous system (CNS).11 This effect decreases the likelihood of oxygen reaching potentially toxic levels in the CNS, which in turn has a number of other positive health ramifications (such as those discussed in the previous section).

Possible Downsides to Ketone Supplementation

As with almost any nutritional supplement, side effects and downsides are possible after consuming exogenous ketones. That being said, they tend to be rather benign and will most likely improve as exogenous ketone supplementation becomes more prominent. The most common side effects to be aware of when using exogenous ketones include:

  • Electrolyte Imbalance – The physiological reasoning behind electrolytes becoming depleted during a state of ketosis is due to lack of water retention and frequent urination. When supplementing with exogenous ketones, the acute state of ketosis will likely increase the frequency of urination, but it won’t deplete glycogen stores. Therefore, it may be useful to drink an electrolyte solution if you are urinating a lot after taking exogenous ketones, but it’s dependent upon how you feel.
  • Halitosis (bad breath) If you’re on a ketogenic diet you are probably aware that as the body starts to metabolize fat, ketones can cause poor breath. There is very little one can do about this, it’s just the nature of the beast. Unfortunately, this can also arise when using exogenous ketones, but it’s not as lasting as when on a ketogenic diet. Chewing gum or mints is about the best option if it becomes a noticeable issue. This maybe caused by over consumption of the ketone supplement, tailoring the quantity consumed may prevent excess BHB being converted to acetone, which is likely excreted by the lungs.
  • Possible GI distress (flatulence) at exceptionally high doses –  In the studies referenced in this article, exogenous ketones taken in large doses occasionally resulted in GI distress, especially flatulence. However, the cause of this is hypothesized to be due to the fact that ketones were mixed in a milky fluid that wasn’t very palatable. If you’re taking a nominal dose of exogenous ketones the likelihood of GI distress is rather low. Moreover, if some GI distress is prevalent, it should improve as you become accustomed to taking ketones.
  • Hypoglycemia: why not to be concerned – Taking exogenous ketones can drive blood glucose levels quite low, but you are not likely to feel the typical symptoms of hypoglycemia. This is because when ketone levels are high enough, they dominate as fuel in the brain; hence, you will feel just fine despite having low blood glucose. A highly-cited study by George Cahill, found elevated ketone levels could protect fasted participants when they were administered insulin to induce hypoglycemia.

Future Applications & Research

Most current research on exogenous ketones focuses on the health and longevity applications of their use. Much of Dominic D’Agostino’s current work is on the cancer prevention aspect of exogenous ketones.

Another area that is targeted, is the psychological benefits of exogenous ketones, especially with how they can help protect brain tissue from degradation. As mentioned earlier, this has implications for the prevention of conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and epileptic seizures.

Hopefully, in the not-too-distant future research will also focus more on the athletic performance benefits of exogenous ketones, specifically with regards to resistance training and cardiovascular exercise. The data on each of these applications is very limited at this time.

Further Reading & Recommended Resources

There are a limited group of individuals we recommend you follow to keep up with current findings on exogenous ketones. See the links below:

  • Dominic D’Agostino, Ph.D has does research focusing on cancer prevention with exogenous ketones. Dominic’s research and his lab at the University of Southern Florida has led the way in the area of exogenous ketones in the U.S. We interviewed Dominic here.
  • Peter Attia, M.D. is a surgeon who studied at Stanford Medical School and did his residency at Johns Hopkins University. He has a passion for helping others lose weight, increase their longevity, and improve their performance (physically and mentally). He has experimented heavily with ketosis, exogenous ketones and ketogenic diets.
  • Dr. Richard Veech is the senior investigator at the Laboratory of Metabolic Control in Rockville, MD, USA. His research focuses heavily on the role of ketone bodies in regards to preventing metabolic diseases, such as type-2 diabetes.
  • Patrick Arnold is an organic chemist who is notorious for being the creator of several performance-enhancing steroids. He is arguably one of the strongest influencers on the advancement of sports supplementation. Currently he is focused on developing products under the KetoSports brand, which includes two exogenous ketone products – KetoForce and KetoCaNa.
  • Kieran Clarke is a researcher at Oxford University in the UK, and has authored research around their use in athletic performance most notably.

Quality Interviews and Blog Posts

  • Super Human Radio Interview: Interview discussing “Best Practices For Using Ketone Salts For Dieting, Performance And Therapeutic Purposes” featuring Dr. Dominic D’Agostino and Patrick Arnold
  • The Eating Academy: Blog post from Dr. Peter Attia on “My Experience with Exogenous Ketones”
  • Quantified Body Podcast: 2 hour long interview discussing the safety, effectiveness and status of ketone mineral salts featuring Dr. Dominic D’Agostino.
  • Dominic D’Agostino has two in-depth interviews on The Tim Ferriss Show (Part 1, Part 2). Discussion includes exogenous ketones for mitigating the onset of neurodegenerative diseases, using ketones in place of fasting for chemo-protection, benefits of ketone supplementation when consuming carbohydrates, the risks and potential toxicities of ketones.
  • KetoVangelist: Dr. Dominic D’Agostino discusses his work with exogenous ketones


Exogenous ketones will likely be a popular topic of research in the coming years. Importantly, this will aim to validate their various uses (physical performance, weight loss, neuroprotective effects etc.). While there is good research on many of these, more data is needed to provide conclusive evidence.

Exogenous ketones certainly appear to have strong health and longevity properties at this point, especially for reducing the risk of cancer and possibly preventing/reversing type-2 diabetes. We recommend reading more from the resources listed above as they are the foremost authorities on research on exogenous ketones.

Next read Part II in our exogenous ketone series, on exogenous ketone supplements to understand the current ketone supplements available.

QUESTION(S): What questions do you have about exogenous ketones that haven’t been answered in this article? Let us know in the comments.

Caprylic Acid (C8): Impact on Blood Ketone Levels and Evaluating Current C8 Products

This article outlines the benefits of caprylic acid (C8) vs medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil and coconut oil. C8 products are refined forms of coconut and/ or palm oil that contain only caprylic acid triglycerides.

The promised benefits of C8 products are many. They include increased blood ketone levels and associated reduction in blood glucose levels, increased energy, reduced body-fat, antimicrobial activity and even reduced risk of certain metabolic diseases.

Read on to learn more about:

Caprylic Acid Overview

Fatty acids come in two forms: saturated and unsaturated.

Caprylic acid is a saturated fatty acid. Chemical classification of saturated fatty acids takes into account how many carbon atoms are in the hydrocarbon chain:

  • Less than 6 carbons denotes short-chain fatty acids (SCTs)
  • 6-12 carbons denotes medium-chain fatty acids (MCTs);
  • more than 12 carbons denotes long-chain fatty acids (LCTs);
  • and more than 22 carbons denotes very long-chain fatty acids.

Caprylic acid (C8) has 8 carbons and is falls into the MCT category. For this reason it is also often referred to as C8 MCT. You find C8 MCT in food products like coconut, palm and butter.

C8 MCT has fewer carbons (8 carbons) compared to capric acid (C10) and lauric acid (C12). This is noteworthy because it is likely behind its better ketone-producing profile than these longer carbon MCTs.

C8 MCT products are sourced from palm and coconut oils by removing the other fatty acids from them. The result is an oil composed of only caprylic acid.

Typical Fatty Acid Composition of Foods Containing MCTs

Note: Values in chart are averages for food type. Different farming leads to different fatty acid make-up of the above. E.g. Grass-fed cows tend to produce butter with higher MCT content.

It’s worth noting that the lowest carbon MCT, Caproic acid (C6), may be more effective at raising ketone levels than C8. This may be due to its lower carbon number. The current evidence to this is research showing that it induces higher ketone levels in animals than the other MCT oils.

Currently C6 MCT oil products are not available. C6 is generally excluded from MCT oil, because it is such a small component in palm and coconut oil products. Unlike C8, high quantities are not found in coconut and palm oils. Instead C6 is found in greatest quantities in various animal fats.1

What is & What Isn’t Caprylic Acid? Clearing Up Naming Confusion

Several different names are commonly used to refer to Caprylic Acid (C8). This creates a lot of confusion, as they are not identical.

Caprylic acid’s hydrocarbon chain contains 8 carbon atoms, so it is often referred to as C8 or octanoic acid. Octo, of course, referring to the number 8.

The name caprylic triglyceride or caprylic acid triglycerides are also sometimes used. These are in fact slightly different molecules compared to caprylic acid, which is a free fatty acid. With these triglycerides a glycerol molecule is bonded with three caprylic fatty acids.

The C8 found in MCT oil products is derived from triglycerides so it is common to see the term caprylic triglyceride.

Functionally, caprylic acid and caprylic acid triglyceride are the same. The pancreas secretes an enzyme – called lipase – that breaks down these triglycerides into its component three fatty acids and a glycerol molecule. Once the triglyceride oil is broken down by lipase it becomes simple Caprylic Acid and is converted into ketones in the same way as the stand alone Caprylic Acid.

Caprylic Acid Benefits & Supporting Literature

Research has shown that caprylic acid (C8) ingestion increases ketone body production significantly.2,3

Even a modest increase of 1mMol in plasma caprylic acid levels was shown to increase ketone body production five fold. Intuitively this is just what keto dieters would want since ketones are their primary source of energy.

Moreover, despite the presence of moderate amounts of blood glucose (such as when you’ve been eating carbohydrates or higher amounts of protein), caprylic acid is still readily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and rapidly oxidized.4

 This means the C8 is converted into ketones regardless of whether you are in ketosis and following a ketogenic diet or not. However, the scientific research is still at an early stage, it is not clear yet what long-term effect elevated ketone levels when combined with a carbohydrate rich diet has on human physiology.

Other research has demonstrated that caprylic acid does indeed have strong antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal activities,5 and has also been shown to improve blood lipid profiles of hypertensive rats, though data in humans remains limited.6

However, there is little evidence supporting the postulation that caprylic acid is superior to a mixture of medium-chain fatty acids in reducing body-fat. Research on the performance-enhancing benefits of caprylic acid is also limited at this time, so hopefully, this will be explored in future studies.

Caprylic Acid (C8) Products

Caprylic Acid (C8) vs. MCT Oil Products

Something to consider is that most MCT oil products are generally a mixture of caprylic acid and capric / decanoic acid (C10) and sometimes lauric acid (C12). The exact ratio of each varies by product and typically contains between 50 to 75% caprylic acid).

MCT oil has accumulated a healthy amount of research in peer-reviewed literature over the past few decades, and it is safe to assume that many of its benefits are derived from caprylic acid (since caprylic acid generally constitutes the majority / 50% of the mixture). That being said, MCT products are not identical to pure caprylic acid products so be careful not to confuse the two.

Typical Fatty Acid Composition of Oil Products (MCT, Coconut, Palm, C8)

C8 Fatty Acid in Oil Products

Note: Values in chart are averages for product type. Coconut oils and palm oils differ in fatty acid makeup according to location sourced from and farming, while MCT oil products differ based on refinement process used and quality goals of product manufacturers.

C8 products are essentially a refined version of MCT oils that have had the capric acid (C10) and lauric acid (C12) removed out, leaving only caprylic acid as the fatty acid component.

This is thought to improve GI tolerability, a significant inconvenience associated with MCT oil (i.e. GI distress, indigestion, and diarrhea can result for the less experienced or if doses over a tablespoon are taken). Caprylic acid has a shorter hydrocarbon chain than capric and lauric acids, and thus seems to pass through the GI tract quicker and so is rapidly shuttled out to the liver for enzyme metabolism. This may help to reduce the GI distress issue experienced with MCT oils.

Caprylic Acid (C8) vs. Capric Acid (C10) Ketone Production

Recent research from Cunnane et al. 7 shows how much more effective caprylic (C8) acid is compared to capric acid (C10) in its ability to raise plasma ketone levels.

The following graph is a clear representation of the difference between caprylic acid (C8), capric acid (C10), coconut oil (CO) and MCT oil (C8/C10) on the total plasma ketone levels over an 8-hour period. C8 increases ketones by approximately 3 times more than C10.

Plasma Ketone Increases from C8, C10 and Coconut Oil Compared

Plasma Ketone

This research would suggest that caprylic acid is the main contributor to elevated plasma ketone levels in MCT oil (C8/C10). C10 shows little improvement compared to coconut oil and the control sample.

The low plasma ketone levels seen in the coconut oil sample also supports this. The very low caprylic acid levels present in coconut oil have little impact on ketone levels compared to the control sample. This also confirms anecdotal evidence that coconut oil fails to give the feeling of ketosis like MCT oil or caprylic acid.

It is also worth noting that all samples taken on an empty stomach ( i.e. taken without food) had a marked improvement in plasma ketone levels when compared to the samples taken with breakfast (i.e. with a meal).

How & When to Use Caprylic Acid

To maximize the potential benefits of using Caprylic Acid follow these guidelines:

  • Since caprylic acid is readily digested by the liver and used for energy it would be ideal to take it before training (roughly 30-45 minutes pre-workout) without a meal (especially for those on keto diets). If taken with a meal, give yourself at least an hour before training. The same advice goes for other energy boosting goals, e.g. mental or work related.
  • C8 can be taken with meals that are higher in carbs and/or protein to reduce blood glucose spikes. Mechanistically this appears to be because insulin levels rise after ingestion of caprylic acid, due to increases in ketone body production, which increases glucose clearance. Although this can vary significantly from person to person.
  • It can also be utilized at pretty much any other time of the day to fulfill your fat intake needs, however, C8 is a very “pricey” source of dietary fat.
  • For antimicrobial use follow the directions on the product label and apply to the treatment area.

Caprylic Acid Dosage: How Much Should You Use?

Generally, one to two tablespoons (15 – 30mL) of pure caprylic acid oil at a time is sufficient.8 Some individuals will go up to three tablespoons at a time, but the added benefits of such a high dose at one time are questionable; it would be ideal to spread several modest doses over the day as opposed to “loading” at one time.

Caprylic Acid (C8) Products Currently Available

Product Size (ml) Price (£) Price per 15ml Dose Purity Other Comments
Bulletproof Brain Octane
(in UK known as “Upgraded Octane”)
475 £16.95 £0.54 N/A* Sourced from Coconut Oil
945 £32.95 £0.52
58 (in 60 Softgels) £19.99 £5.13
Ketosource Pure C8 MCT 500 £15.49 £0.46 99.8% Sourced from Palm and Coconut Oil, Certificate of Analysis made available (download here)
1000 £29.66 £0.44
KetoSports Keto8 355 £19.97 £0.84 N/A* Sourced from Palm Kernel Oil
MiCkey T Eight
(Currently not available in UK)
945 £33.55 £0.53 99.01% Sourced from Palm and Coconut Oil
(Currently not available in UK)
945 £40.00** £0.63 99% Sourced from Coconut Oil
KetoMCT Oil
(Currently not available in UK)
945 £33.59** £0.53 97.79% Sourced from Coconut and Palm Oil
LevelUp Clean MCT
(Currently not available in UK)
945 £33.59** £0.53 N/A* Sourced from Coconut and Palm Oil
C8 Keto MCT Oil
(Currently not available in UK)
945 £31.77** £0.50 99.6% Sourced from Sustainable Palm Oil
Dr. Mercola’s Pure Power Ketone Energy 473 £32.75 £1.04 95% Sourced from Coconut Oil and Palm Oil
* Purity information is not made publicly available by all companies.
** Prices estimated based on typical US to UK conversion pricing and incorporation of UK VAT.
Notes: Current UK prices are updated monthly and are the recommended retail price (RRP) set by the product owners. Amazon prices are typically higher than the RRP due to Amazon commissions being incorporated into pricing.

Concerns Over Use of Palm Oil in MCT Products

You read a lot about concerns with use of Palm Oil in MCT or C8 Products. We’ll write a comprehensive article on this top shortly as it’s such a common question and there’s a lot of confusion and misinformation attached to the topic.

The quick takeaways however are:

  • Functionally speaking, the source from which MCT products derive their fatty acids is not an issue. Whether C8 MCTs or other MCTs come from coconut oil or palm oil makes no difference. It’s the same fatty acids.
  • There are environmental and sustainability concerns of products that rely on palm oil that is not sustainably farmed/ produced. Palm oil production has led to the deforestation of many previously tropical areas and accounts for upwards of 10% of CO2 emissions in the world. In addition, there are concerns over the burning and killing of Orangutans, which have been falling in number as they live in the trees which are burnt down in Indonesia one of the world’s largest suppliers of palm oil. You can check with product owners if palm oil used is sustainable by asking them about Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification.

The Main Takeaways

Caprylic acid (C8) is a substrate that shows promising potential for individuals following a keto diet.

When compared to generic MCT oil, pure caprylic acid oil products are better bang for your buck, since capric acid (C10) and lauric acid (C12) seem to increase ketone body far less than caprylic acid. Therefore, lower ketone production would suggest that capric and lauric acid don’t appear to be as readily metabolised for energy as caprylic acid.

However, more research is needed to confirm whether or not many of the metabolic health benefits derived from MCT oil (such as reduction of abdominal fat and performance enhancement benefits) are mediated mostly or solely by caprylic acid rather than the other fatty acids.


Paleo Keto Shopping List for the UK (includes Wholefoods and Organics)

Just a few years ago in the UK, it was difficult to find the pastured and other foods to eat a clean paleo and organics diet. A paleo ketogenic diet would’ve been a real burden, thankfully that’s not the case today.

100% Grass Fed & Pasture Raised Meats

Finding pasture raised meat in the UK is relatively easy, as there are many farms that provide this high quality product. Animals that have been pasture raised have a better omega 3 to 6 ratio, and their fats contain much higher amounts of the crucial fat-soluble vitamins.

Grass fed meat is ecological as it helps to fertilize the soil instead of depleting it. No pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilizers are used on the fields, the animals eat their natural diet, and there is no routine administration of antibiotics or other chemicals.

The cheapest and most convenient way to buy grass fed meat is to use farm delivery services. There are several farms to choose from, all of the following provide 100% grass fed & pasture raised meat.

  • Green Pasture Farms provides several cuts of pasture raised beef, lamb, pork, chicken and even water buffalo. You need to register to place an order, they do provide single one-off delivery, as well as a subscription service, where you get a specific delivery weekly, fortnightly, or monthly. If you choose this option you get a 5% discount on orders. You can cancel this service anytime.
  • Primal Meats offers pasture raised beef, lamb, mutton and hogget, chicken, pork, goose and wild game. Again you need to register to place an order, they offer a wide variety of cuts, as well as burgers and sausages and even bone broth.
  • Abel & Cole supplies a wide range of grass fed, free range meat & fish boxes, beef, lamb, pork, poultry, venison and game as well as  mince, sausages and burgers.
  • Pasture for Life has a collection of local farms that provide pasture raised beef and some of them provide pasture raised lamb. Some have mail order services, others only sell locally.
  • Eversfield Farm offers pasture raised beef, lamb, pork, chicken and wild game. Register to place an order.
  • Riverford offers pasture raised beef, lamb, pork and chicken. You can place an order on the site.

Quality Organ Meats

Pasture raised organ meats and offal have a much healthier nutritional profile, compared to conventional varieties. They contain more vitamins, especially the fat soluble ones, and minerals too while also having a good fit for the ketogenic diet.

  • Green Pasture Farms provides liver, heart and kidneys coming from beef, lamb, pork and chicken. They are incredibly cheap compared to the muscle meats, you can order here.
  • Abel & Cole supplies free range, chicken, duck and lamb livers. Purchase online here.
  • Eversfield Farm sells organic grass fed ox, lamb and organic free range pig and chicken organ meats. Purchase here.
Name Carbohydrates
/ 100g
/ 100g
Beef Bone Marrow 0 5
Beef Tripe 0 12
Beef Kidney 0 27
Beef Heart 0 28
Beef Liver 5 20

Organic Fruits and Vegetables

Organic Fruits and Vegetables generally have higher levels of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. They are also free of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. This makes them a healthier choice than conventional varieties.

Most fruits and some vegetables aren’t keto friendly since they contain too many carbs, check the first section for fruits and vegetables that have low amounts of carbohydrates.

All of the major supermarkets in the UK offer an organic range, but usually, the choices are limited and the prices are significantly higher than conventional products.

Farm delivery services offer a variety of fresh organic fruit & vegetable boxes, they are a lot cheaper than buying organic produce in the major supermarkets, you can also select and order vegetables separately and it will still be cheaper.

  • Abel & Cole offers many different fruit and vegetable boxes, you can check them out and order here.
  • Riverford provides a wide range of fruits and vegetables which you can choose separately yourself or pick one of the boxes already made. Check them out and purchase here.

Quality Eggs and Dairy

Eggs from pasture raised organic hens have a better omega 3 to 6 ratio, contain higher levels of the essential micronutrients, and the animals aren’t treated with routine antibiotics or hormones.

Dairy products from pasture raised animals contain more fat soluble vitamins, omega 3 fats, CLA and other micronutrients than conventional dairy.


In the major supermarkets, your best option is organic eggs, the hens have a big outdoor space, and they are fed organic grains. Second best is free range, the hens have less space than organic ones.

  • Riverford provides great quality pasture raised organic eggs, you can order here.
  • Woodwards Farm also offers pasture raised eggs, the hens are eating mainly grass, native plants and weeds, order here.
  • Oxado is a webshop that offers pasture raised organic eggs, from Daylesford farm.


  • Riverford sells pasture raised unsalted butter which you can order here.
  • Red23 sells pasture raised unpasteurised butter, cream and cheeses order here.
  • John’s Jersey’s sells pasture raised unpasteurised cream and sometimes cheeses order here.
  • Graham’s Family the Dairy sells grass fed butter, cream and various cheeses. For each product, you can check which supermarket are they available in here.
  • Kerrygold sells butter and cheeses that are 90% grass fed. They are available in Tesco’s, order here, Sainsbury’s order here and Asda, order here.

Organic Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are great nutrient dense choices to eat as a snack, or on the go. They have a lot of important micronutrients, but they tend to be high in omega 6 fats, so overconsumption can lead to inflammatory issues.

  • Naturally good food offers an incredibly wide range of organic nuts and seeds, you will probably find everything you need, you can view the products and place an order here.
  • has organic nuts and seeds from various sources, you can find the products you like and order here.

Final Takeaways

Are there paleo or organic ketogenic foods you haven’t found here? Have you found some other convenient way for getting high quality ketogenic products? Let me know in the comments below!

Keto Shopping List for the UK (Foods Listed from Most to Least Ketogenic)

Following a ketogenic diet in the UK is just as easy as in the U.S. but the brands and variety of ketogenic-compliant foods do differ.

Below you will find a complete shopping list of every food you may need on a ketogenic diet, and where you can easily buy them in the UK.

The foods are listed from the most to least ketogenic to help you optimize ketosis based on their carb and protein content. Foods that contain higher amounts of carbohydrates will rank lower, as well as foods high in protein. Both carbs and proteins can prevent you from entering ketosis. With an excess protein intake, protein is also converted to glucose and, therefore, can negatively impact ketosis.

If you are also following paleo, Weston A. Price or organic principles with your keto diet see this complete paleo keto shopping list instead.

Where to Go to Buy Your Shopping List Items

Most items are available in one of the UK’s supermarkets, so which supermarket you choose will be based on your price preference and budget and whether you have one conveniently nearby. All of them, except Aldi, also have online shopping and home delivery services.

From least expensive to most expensive the supermarkets are:

(Source: Price audit by Guardian Money 2014)

Basic Ketogenic Diet Shopping List

In general, basic food products don’t differ significantly between brands and produce. However, there are differences, so where products have a range we have provided this for carbohydrates and protein, and thus how ketogenic the product is.

The following are covered:

The more you stick to the food groups higher up the page the easier it will be to get into ketosis. It is the same principle within each list. Favor foods at the top of the tables for the highest ketogenic foods.

Meat and Seafood

The fatty cuts of meat are your friend, as well as oily fish. Lean meats and seafood are fine, as long as you add a lot of fat to them. They are very rich in protein, so be careful not to eat too much at a single meal, as excess protein can turn to glucose and interrupt ketosis.

Name Carbohydrates / 100 g Protein / 100 g Brands / Products Available in UK
Oysters 1 5 Counter Live Oysters
Prawns 0 14 Tesco Cooked And Peeled Prawns, Tesco Cooked And Peeled King Prawns
Pork Belly 0 16 Tesco British Pork Belly
Chicken Thighs 0 17 Tesco British Chicken Thighs
Chicken Drumsticks 0 17 Tesco British Chicken Drumsticks
Pork Loin Joint 0 17 Tesco Pork Loin Joint
Lamb Mince 20% fat 0 17 Tesco Lamb Mince 20% Fat
Lamb Leg 0 17 Tesco Lamb Diced Leg
Beef Mince 20% Fat 0 18 Tesco Beef Mince 20% Fat
Lamb Shanks 0 18 Counter Tesco British Lamb Shanks
Beef Heart 0 18 Tesco Sliced Beef Heart
Chicken Wings 0 18 Tesco Everyday Value British Chicken Wings
Smoked Haddock 0 18 Tesco Boneless Smoked Haddock
Cod Fillet 0 18 Tesco 5 Cod Fillets
Lamb Chops 0 19 Tesco Lamb Chops
Ribeye Steak 0 19 Tesco Ribeye Steak
Pork Chops 0 19 Tesco Pork Chops
Lamb Liver 0 20 Tesco British Lamb Liver
Lamb Leg Steak 0 20 Tesco Lamb Leg Steaks
Rump Steak 0 20 Tesco Rump Steak
Roast Beef 0 20 Tesco Large Beef Roasting Joint
Ox Tail 0 20 Tesco Ox Tail
Beef Steak Mince 0 20 Tesco Beef Steak Mince
Whole Chicken 0 20 Tesco British Whole Medium Chicken, Tesco British Large Whole Chicken
Turkey Drumstick 0 20 Tesco Everyday Value Turkey Drumstick
Pork Loin Steak 0 20 Tesco Pork Loin Steaks
Sea Bass Fillet 0 20 Tesco Boneless Sea Bass Fillets
Scallops 2 17 Tesco Raw Scallops
Smoked Mackerel 0 21 Tesco Smoked Mackerel
Sirloin Steak 0 22 Tesco Sirloin Steak
Turkey Breast 0 22 Tesco Turkey Breast Quick Cook Steaks, Tesco Mini Turkey Breast Fillets, Tesco Turkey Breast Stir Fry
Chicken Breast 0 24 Tesco British Chicken Breast Portions
Salmon Fillet 0 24 Tesco 2 Boneless Salmon Fillet, Tesco Half Salmon Side, Tesco Smoked Salmon
Guinea Fowl 0 25 Gressingham Whole Guinea Fowl
Duck Leg 0 25 Gresingham Duck Legs
Tuna Steak 0 25 Tesco Tuna Steaks
Duck Breast 1 27 Tesco Duck Breast Fillets

Eggs and Dairy

Eggs and dairy products are very versatile, easy to prepare and provide a cheaper alternative to meat and fish. Both dairy and egg protein are quite insulinogenic and can knock you out of ketosis easily. Make sure not to eat too much at any given meal and balance them out with plenty of fats.

Name Carbohydrates
/ 100 g
Protein/ 100 g Brands/ Products Available in UK
Butter 0 1 Tesco English Butter, Kerrygold (grass fed) Butter
Double Cream 1,5 1,5 Tesco Double Cream
Soft Cheese 3 6 Tesco Soft Cheese, Philadelphia Original
Whole Eggs 0 13 Tesco Everyday Value Eggs, Tesco Free Range Eggs,
Tesco Organic Eggs
Soft Goat’s Cheese 0 18 Counter Goat’s Cheese
Mozzarella Cheese 2 22 Tesco Everyday Value Mozzarella Cheese
Cheddar Cheese 0 23 Tesco British Medium Cheddar, Tesco British Mature Cheddar
Hard Swiss Cheese 0 28 Tesco Swiss Gruyere
Hard Parmesan Cheese 0 28 Tesco Parmigiano Reggiano

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are great options to eat on the go, as they require no preparation. You have to watch out for the carbohydrate content as some varieties contain a high amount.

Name Carbohydrates
/ 100 g
/ 100 g
Brands/ Products Available in UK
Macadamia Nuts 8 8 Tesco Roasted and Salted Macadamia Nuts
Flaxseeds 2 18 Tesco Wholefood Brown Linseeds, Tesco Wholefood Golden Linseeds
Brazil Nuts 5 14 Tesco Wholefood Brazil Nuts
Sesame Seeds 1 22 Tesco Wholefood Sesame Seeds
Pumpkin Seeds 5 30 Tesco Wholefood Pumpkin Seeds
Almonds 10 24 Tesco Roasted and Salted Almonds, Tesco Whole Almonds
Peanuts 10 26 Tesco Everyday Value Roasted Salted Peanut, Tesco Jumbo Roasted &Salted Peanuts
Pistachios 12 26 Tesco Roasted and Salted Pistachio NutsTesco Pistachio Nuts
Sunflower Seeds 17 24 Tesco Sunflower Seeds
Cashew Nuts 24 20 Tesco Everyday Value Roasted And Salted Cashew Nuts, Tesco Cashew Nuts

Fruits and Vegetables

Berries and most above-ground vegetables are low in carbs. They contain negligible amounts mostly in the form of dietary fiber. Starchy root vegetables, as well as sweet fruits, have too many carbohydrates to consider them.

Name Carbohydrates
/ 100g
/ 100g
Brands/ Products Available in UK
Celery 1 1 Tesco Celery
Lettuce 1 2 Tesco Iceberg Lettuce
Romaine Lettuce 1 2 Tesco Romaine Lettuce Hearts Twin Pack
Cucumber 1 2 Tesco Whole Cucumber
Kale 1 3 Tesco Kale
Avocado 2 2 Tesco Ready To Eat Large Avocado, Tesco Ready To Eat Avocado Twin Pack
Spinach 2 3 Tesco Spinach
Asparagus 2 3 Tesco Asparagus Bundles
Cranberries 3 0 Tesco Cranberries
Tomatoes 3 1 Tesco Salad Tomatoes
Broccoli 2 4 Tesco Broccoli Loose
Cabbage 2 4 Tesco Sweetheart Cabbage, Tesco Savoy Cabbage
Cauliflower 3 4 Tesco Cauliflower
Brussel Sprouts 4 4 Tesco Brussel Sprouts
Raspberries 5 1 Tesco Raspberries
Strawberries 6 1 Tesco Strawberries
Bell Peppers 6 1 Tesco Red Peppers
Blueberries 9 1 Tesco Blueberries

Fats and Oils

Fats and Oils should be used for cooking or to add extra fat calories to a meal lacking in it, such as lean meats or salads.

Name Brands / Products Available in UK
Ghee East End Pure Butter Ghee
Coconut Oil Ktc Coconut Oil, Groovy Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
Olive Oil Tesco Olive Oil, Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Napolina Olive Oil
Sesame Oil Tesco Toasted Sesame Oil

Ketogenic Snacks

While keto products are only just starting to become available in the UK, there are a wide variety of low carb products. Low carb products don’t necessarily always fit our goal of getting into ketosis – so you have to take a critical look at snacks marked just “Low Carb”.

  • Keto Bars are the only ketogenic snack bars currently on the market with very low carbohydrate content and low protein. They are sold from UK here when stock is available. Otherwise, they can be shipped internationally from the main site in the US here.
  • The UK Atkins site offers 3 types of low carb bars. The nutritional value and ingredient list of each bar can be checked here. They do contain carbohydrates in the form of polyols.
    • Advantage Bars come in 9 flavours, they are available at Asda and Boots stores, or can be ordered online here.
    • Day Break Bars come in 4 flavours, they are available at Tesco, Asda and Boots stores, or can be ordered online here.
    • Endulge Bars come in 4 flavors, they are available at Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Boots, Superdrug, Wilko and Holland & Barrett stores, or can be ordered here.
  • LowCarb MEGASTORE offers a wide range of products. The nutritional value is listed for each product. It is an online store and everything can be ordered on the site, however, you have to register to place an order.

You can search for products with specific net carb content. Most products have sugar alcohols (polyols) in place of sugars. Since sugar alcohols do contain some calories and carbs make sure to count them into your daily totals if you are on a low carb diet plan.

Ketogenic Drinks

Low carb shakes, hot and cold drinks are widely available in the UK. They can be part of a ketogenic diet, but all of them contain some carbohydrates mostly in the form of sugar alcohols.

  • Keto Bars offer ketogenic shakes with very low carbohydrate content. They come in 3 different flavours and can be ordered on their site. They can be ordered on their site, however, international shipping can be expensive at about 20 US dollars per order. Ordering in bulk is definitely worth it. The nutritional value and ingredient list can be checked here
  • The UK Atkins site has a range of drink products available. They include different types of ready to drink shakes and yogurts, and 2 flavours of shake mixes to purchase online in their shop or in stores. Nutritional values and lists of ingredients of each drink can be checked here.
  • LowCarb MEGASTORE offers a wide variety of low carb hot and cold drinks as well as shakes. The nutritional value is listed for each product. It is an online store and everything can be ordered on the site, however, you have to register to place an order.
    They have a Drinks & Shakes category, some products are ketogenic friendly, others aren’t. The ingredients and nutritional values are listed, make sure to check the carbohydrate content.

Final Takeaways

If you are really serious about getting into and staying in ketosis, stay to the top end of the food lists above and you should be okay.

It’s always safer to verify with a Freestyle Optium blood glucose and ketone meter, although most people don’t do this due to the inconvenience and cost.

Are there ketogenic items you are looking for but haven’t found here? Or have you found other basic ketogenic products not here? Let me know in the comments below!