A Ketone Ester Drink Lowers Human Ghrelin and Appetite


Well-known member
May 24, 2021
Ghrelin is a hormone produced mainly in the stomach with the primary function of stimulating an individual’s appetite. It actually has multiple functions, but it is for its effects on appetite that it is often referred to as the “hunger hormone”.

The ketogenic diet is famously known to have an appetite suppressing effect. However, the exact mechanisms of how the ketogenic diet has an appetite suppressing effect is a complicated one and multiple pathways are involved. Owing to the central role of ghrelin in appetite control, previous research implementing a ketogenic diet has shown that the diet does indeed lower ghrelin levels thereby highlighting at least one pathway the ketogenic diet results in appetite suppression.

The researchers in this study set out to determine what effect exogenous ketones (a ketone ester drink in this case) might have on the production ghrelin and thereby potentially further elucidating the appetite suppressing effects of the ketogenic diet itself. In an attempt to separate out potential confounders from the ketogenic diet, the examiners had participants consume a beta-hydroxybutyrate boosting ketone ester drink independent of any “other dietary and adaptive changes that accompany a ketogenic diet.” Though plasma glucose, insulin, glucagon‐like peptide 1 (GLP‐1) and peptide tyrosine tyrosine (PYY) assays were performed, the researchers primarily sought to determine whether ketone ester drinks suppressed appetite via changes in plasma ghrelin levels.

The participants in the study were healthy individuals of normal weight and ranging from 21-42 years of age (10 males & 5 females). The participants consumed identical dinners and then fasted until the following morning where fasted blood samples were collected before consuming either a ketone ester drink or taste-matched dextrose drink (DEXT) using a "bitter additive” (Glaceau; Coca‐Cola Great Britain, London, UK). There was then at least a 72 hour period before participants returned in the same manner to consume the alternate drink (ketone ester or dextrose drink). Subsequently, at regular intervals, additional blood samples were taken for the next four hours. Circulating Beta-hydroxybutyrate in the blood was measured using a Precison Xtra handled ketone monitoring device. In addition, the “participants completed a validated three‐measure visual analogue scale (VAS) to assess “hunger,” “desire to eat,” and “fullness”.”

The results after consuming the ketone ester drinks and dextrose drinks showed:
  • BHB levels rapidly increased to 3.3 ± 0.2 mM after 1 hour and gradually fell over the remaining 3 hours
  • DEXT administration had no effect on BHB levels
  • The perception of hunger and desire to eat fell by a similar extent after both drinks, but KE lowered both parameters by ∼50% for 1.5 to 4 hours compared with DEXT drinks
  • Perceived fullness was the same following both DEXT and KE drinks
  • Increasing ketonemia was significantly correlated to decreased hunger, desire to eat, and increased fullness

The authors of this study made the following conclusions:
  • Exogenous ketosis following KE (ketone ester) drinks reduced two measures of appetite, hunger and desire to eat, compared with DEXT (dextrose) drinks.
  • This occurred in conjunction with decreased levels of the hunger hormone, ghrelin.
  • Therefore, KE drinks offer a unique opportunity to isolate and exploit the effects of ketosis on appetite without other dietary interventions.
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