A Pre-Workout Supplement of Ketone Salts, Caffeine, and Amino Acids Improves High-Intensity Exercise Performance in Keto-Naïve and Keto-Adapted Individuals

J Am Coll Nutr. 2020 May-Jun;39(4):290-300. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2020.1752846. Epub 2020 Apr 24.


Background: Acute ingestion of ketone supplements alters metabolism and potentially exercise performance. No studies to date have evaluated the impact of co-ingestion of ketone salts with caffeine and amino acids on high intensity exercise performance, and no data exists in Keto-Adapted individuals.Methods: We tested the performance and metabolic effects of a pre-workout supplement containing beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) salts, caffeine, and amino acids (KCA) in recreationally-active adults habitually consuming a mixed diet (Keto-Naïve; n = 12) or a ketogenic diet (Keto-Adapted; n = 12). In a randomized and balanced manner, subjects consumed either the KCA consisting of ∼7 g BHB (72% R-BHB and 28% S-BHB) with ∼100 mg of caffeine, and amino acids (leucine and taurine) or Water (control condition) 15 minutes prior to performing a staged cycle ergometer time to exhaustion test followed immediately by a 30 second Wingate test.Results: Circulating total BHB concentrations increased rapidly after KCA ingestion in KN (154 to 732 μM) and KA (848 to 1,973 μM) subjects and stayed elevated throughout recovery in both groups. Plasma S-BHB increased >20-fold 15 minutes after KCA ingestion in both groups and remained elevated throughout recovery. Compared to Water, KCA ingestion increased time to exhaustion 8.3% in Keto-Naïve and 9.8% in Keto-Adapted subjects (P < 0.001). There was no difference in power output during the Wingate test between trials. Peak lactate immediately after exercise was higher after KCA (∼14.9 vs 12.7 mM).Conclusion: These results indicate that pre-exercise ingestion of a moderate dose of R- and S-BHB salts combined with caffeine, leucine and taurine improves high-intensity exercise performance to a similar extent in both Keto-Adapted and Keto-Naïve individuals.

Keywords: Beta-hydroxybutyrate; caffeine; exercise; ketones; metabolism; performance.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • 3-Hydroxybutyric Acid / administration & dosage*
  • 3-Hydroxybutyric Acid / blood
  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amino Acids / administration & dosage*
  • Bicycling / physiology*
  • Caffeine / administration & dosage*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Diet, Ketogenic
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Eating / physiology
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Endurance / drug effects
  • Salts / pharmacology
  • Sports Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Young Adult


  • Amino Acids
  • Salts
  • Lactic Acid
  • Caffeine
  • 3-Hydroxybutyric Acid