A Ketone Ester Drink Lowers Human Ghrelin and Appetite

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2018 Feb;26(2):269-273. doi: 10.1002/oby.22051. Epub 2017 Nov 6.


Objective: The ketones d-β-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) and acetoacetate are elevated during prolonged fasting or during a "ketogenic" diet. Although weight loss on a ketogenic diet may be associated with decreased appetite and altered gut hormone levels, it is unknown whether such changes are caused by elevated blood ketones. This study investigated the effects of an exogenous ketone ester (KE) on appetite.

Methods: Following an overnight fast, subjects with normal weight (n = 15) consumed 1.9 kcal/kg of KE, or isocaloric dextrose (DEXT), in drinks matched for volume, taste, tonicity, and color. Blood samples were analyzed for BHB, glucose, insulin, ghrelin, glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), and peptide tyrosine tyrosine (PYY), and a three-measure visual analogue scale was used to measure hunger, fullness, and desire to eat.

Results: KE consumption increased blood BHB levels from 0.2 to 3.3 mM after 60 minutes. DEXT consumption increased plasma glucose levels between 30 and 60 minutes. Postprandial plasma insulin, ghrelin, GLP-1, and PYY levels were significantly lower 2 to 4 hours after KE consumption, compared with DEXT consumption. Temporally related to the observed suppression of ghrelin, reported hunger and desire to eat were also significantly suppressed 1.5 hours after consumption of KE, compared with consumption of DEXT.

Conclusions: Increased blood ketone levels may directly suppress appetite, as KE drinks lowered plasma ghrelin levels, perceived hunger, and desire to eat.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Appetite / physiology*
  • Beverages / analysis*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Esters / administration & dosage
  • Esters / pharmacology
  • Esters / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Ghrelin / blood*
  • Humans
  • Hunger / physiology*
  • Ketones / administration & dosage
  • Ketones / pharmacology
  • Ketones / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Young Adult


  • Esters
  • Ghrelin
  • Ketones