Exogenous ketone salts do not improve cognitive responses after a high-intensity exercise protocol in healthy college-aged males

Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2018 Jul;43(7):711-717. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2017-0724. Epub 2018 Feb 16.


This study examined the effects of a d-β-hydroxybutyrate (βHB) containing beverage on cognitive and performance measures during a bout of repeated Wingates. Fifteen healthy, college-aged males (mean ± SD; age: 23.1 ± 2.4 years, height: 165.4 ± 2.0 cm, mass: 81.4 ± 9.2 kg) volunteered for the present study. Trial 1 consisted of baseline measures and familiarization for the protocol. During trials 2 and 3, subjects reported to the laboratory, after a 10-h fast, and ingested 11.38 g of βHB or a placebo (PLA) beverage 30 min before exercise. Participants then completed a cognitive challenge (CC), consisting of a 5-min FitLight response task while cycling. At the cessation of the test, participants then completed four 15-s repeated Wingates with 4 min of rest between, followed by another 5-min CC response task. Blood ketones, glucose, and lactate were measured pre-CC and post-Wingates. βHB levels were significantly higher compared with PLA (0.53 vs. 0.21 mmol/L), respectively. A significant order effect was observed across trials 2 and 3 for total FitLight misses and hits, regardless of treatment. Further, there were no significant differences among Wingate power output between treatments, although fatigue index was higher in the βHB group compared with PLA (32.3 vs. 29.4 W/s), respectively. In conclusion, βHB did not improve high-intensity cycling or cognitive performance measures; however, these findings might be partially explained by the absolute dosing protocol used for βHB in the present study as opposed to a relative (g/kg) dosing protocol used in previous research.

Keywords: agent ergogène; central nervous system; cétose; ergogenic aid; ketosis; système nerveux central; β-hydroxybutyrate.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • 3-Hydroxybutyric Acid / administration & dosage*
  • 3-Hydroxybutyric Acid / blood
  • Adult
  • Beverages
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Cardiorespiratory Fitness
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / blood
  • Male
  • Physical Endurance / drug effects
  • Young Adult


  • Blood Glucose
  • Lactic Acid
  • 3-Hydroxybutyric Acid