Influence of Exogenous β-Hydroxybutyrate on Walking Economy and Rating of Perceived Exertion

J Diet Suppl. 2019;16(4):463-469. doi: 10.1080/19390211.2018.1471562. Epub 2018 Jun 28.


This study investigates the effect of a supplementary ketone, β-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), on walking economy and ratings of perceived exertion in apparently healthy individuals. In a repeated-measures, crossover design, ten non-aerobically trained participants (three males; seven females) performed two stages of a duration-modified Bruce treadmill protocol. Participants blindly consumed either 1 ounce of an exogenous BHB solution (KETO) or a noncaloric placebo (CON) 30 minutes prior to exercise testing. Blood ketone and glucose concentrations were measured prior to supplementation (baseline), immediately before exercise, and after exercise. Oxygen consumption (VO2), respiratory exchange ratio (RER), energy expenditure (EE), and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) were recorded during the last two minutes of each stage. Blood BHB concentrations were significantly elevated at the pre-exercise and postexercise time points as compared to the CON condition (p < .001), and blood glucose was significantly elevated postexercise in both conditions as compared to baseline levels (p < .001). No significant between-trial differences (p > .05) were found for VO2, RER, EE, or RPE. The intervention of this study did not produce evidence of an ergogenic benefit from BHB supplementation in a healthy subject pool.

Keywords: fatty acid metabolism; ketones.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • 3-Hydroxybutyric Acid / administration & dosage*
  • 3-Hydroxybutyric Acid / blood
  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption / drug effects
  • Perception
  • Physical Exertion / drug effects*
  • Physical Exertion / physiology*
  • Placebos
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Walking / physiology*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Placebos
  • 3-Hydroxybutyric Acid