Ketone Diester Ingestion Impairs Time-Trial Performance in Professional Cyclists

Front Physiol. 2017 Oct 23;8:806. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2017.00806. eCollection 2017.


We investigated the effect of pre- "race" ingestion of a 1,3-butanediol acetoacetate diester on blood ketone concentration, substrate metabolism and performance of a cycling time trial (TT) in professional cyclists. In a randomized cross-over design, 10 elite male cyclists completed a ~31 km laboratory-based TT on a cycling ergometer programmed to simulate the 2017 World Road Cycling Championships course. Cyclists consumed a standardized meal [2 g/kg body mass (BM) carbohydrate (CHO)] the evening prior to a trial day and a CHO breakfast (2 g/kg BM CHO) with 200 mg caffeine on the morning of a trial day. Cyclists were randomized to consume either the ketone diester (2 × 250 mg/kg) or a placebo drink, followed immediately by 200 mL diet cola, given ~ 30 min before and immediately prior to commencing a 20 min incremental warm-up. Blood samples were collected prior to and during the warm-up, pre- and post- TT and at regular intervals after the TT. Urine samples were collected pre- and post- warm-up, immediately post TT and 60 min post TT. Pre-exercise ingestion of the diester resulted in a 2 ± 1% impairment in TT performance that was associated with gut discomfort and higher perception of effort. Serum β-hydroxybutyrate, serum acetoacetate, and urine ketone concentrations increased from rest following ketone ingestion and were higher than placebo throughout the trial. Ketone ingestion induces hyperketonemia in elite professional cyclists when in a carbohydrate fed state, and impairs performance of a cycling TT lasting ~50 min.

Keywords: cycling; ketone ester; ketones; performance; time-trial.