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Keto Diet Pills: What Research Says

Keto Diet Pills: What Research Says
Dr. Constance Odom, MD Picture of Dr. Constance Odom, MD

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Written by our editorial team.

Last Edited 5 min read

Over the last several years, the “keto diet” has gained an immense following among those hoping to lose weight fast. A ketogenic diet is one that focuses on eliminating carbohydrates and increasing the intake of fats and protein. The goal is to put the body into a state known as ketosis. When the body achieves ketosis, it mimics the metabolic changes associated with starvation. In turn, this forces the liver to create chemicals known as ketone bodies that burn fat as the body’s primary source of energy. This can lead to immense weight loss when done properly. Unfortunately, however, keeping the body in the state of ketosis is difficult. A specific ratio of fats and carbs and proteins must be maintained at all times for the liver to sustain the production of these chemicals. To simplify the process, many individuals following a keto diet have turned to “keto diet pills” to sustain ketosis. 

What Are Keto Diet Pills?

Keto diet pills are over-the-counter exogenous ketogenic supplements that are available in liquid, tablet, or powder forms. While there is a wide variety of these diet pills on the market, nearly all of them contain beta-hydroxybutyrate as an active ingredient, either in the form of ketone esters or ketone salts. They are intended for use by those who follow a keto diet but want to speed up the process of reaching ketosis or maintain it once it has been achieved naturally. 

Do Keto Diet Pills Work?

There is a clear divide in the medical community when it comes to the effectiveness of keto diet pills for weight loss. This is because a research study conducted in 2014 showed that taking supplements did increase the number of ketones found within the body. Others argue that the presence of these exogenous ketones does not necessarily mean that those who take them will be able to achieve ketosis or maintain it over time, purely because of the use of the supplements. A study in 2018 focused on this concept and proved to be inconclusive, although research and testing of these supplements on humans have been limited. 

Despite this, many people have reported success with the keto diet. Some studies indicate that people lose weight faster on a keto diet than they do on a calorie-restricted diet. In some cases, people on keto diets have reported losing as much as 2-7 pounds during their first week of a keto diet. Beyond that, weight loss slows and can range widely depending on a person’s starting body mass index (BMI) and level of activity. Most studies show that those who exercise and follow a keto diet can maintain an average weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week.

While this sounds extremely promising for those in need of shedding a few pounds, the biggest problem is maintaining the diet. Maintaining ketosis once it is achieved is extremely difficult on a long-term basis as it is a delicate balance between the amount of fat, carbs, and proteins consumed each day. Keto diet pills are thought to help with this stage of the diet. Essentially, fans of keto diet pills believe that they can alleviate some of the difficulties of the keto diet by providing the ketones on a regular basis-- even when the delicate balance of fats and carbs is disrupted. 

Are There Any Side Effects?

Many people assume that taking over-the-counter supplements or medications is completely safe. While they may be safer than prescription medications, it is crucial that the information listed on the label of any medication is followed closely. This is because there is always a potential for certain interactions, allergic reactions, or warnings related to medical conditions. Some of the potential side effects of following a keto diet and taking keto diet pills include

  • Leg cramps

  • Constipation

  • Decreased energy

  • Flu-like symptoms (known as the “keto flu”)

  • Altered metabolism

  • Nausea/vomiting

  • Increased heart rate

  • Kidney stones

  • Nutritional deficiencies

  • Digestive problems

Most of these symptoms are attributed to the keto diet in general rather than the diet pills exclusively; however, the supplements may increase or exaggerate these side effects. Another big concern that some experts have when it comes to adding keto diet pills in combination with a keto diet is the effect it has on the metabolism and overall functionality of the body. Some doctors have expressed concerns that the body may become dependent upon these supplements to create ketone chemicals. In turn, it may signal to the liver to produce fewer natural ketone chemicals in the body. This may be a cause for concern for those who take them for an extended period of time as the long-term effects of keto pills have not been studied.

Are Keto Diet Pills Right for You?

While studies and research on the true effectiveness of keto diet pills are still being explored, it is important to understand that the keto diet and thus, the keto pills are not right for everyone. Ideally, keto diet pills should be used by healthy adults who are looking to change their diet for weight loss purposes. The keto diet and diet pills alone may not offer the results that you are seeking; however, a combination of diet and exercise are recommended for optimal weight loss by healthcare providers. Even if you are healthy and do not have any pre-existing illnesses or conditions, it is still wise to speak to a doctor before you make a major change to your diet. In general, those who should avoid keto diets and keto diet pills, include:

  • People with a history of eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia

  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding

  • Individuals who have had their gallbladders removed

  • Children and teenagers

  • Those with health conditions like hypothyroidism, adrenal fatigue syndrome, gut dysbiosis, and others. 

Be sure to speak to the doctor before starting a keto diet or taking any supplements to ensure that there are no significant drug interactions with existing medications or other medical concerns.

Quality of Keto Supplements

Whenever you consider purchasing an over-the-counter supplement of any kind, you should carefully examine the label. In many cases, vitamins and supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that the ingredients used and claims made on the labels are not always accurate. This is particularly true when you order keto diet pills online or obtain them from an unfamiliar source. To ensure that you are taking supplements that contain exactly what is listed on the label, look for ones that have an FDA seal of approval or purchase them from a reputable retailer. 

Alternatives to Keto Diet Pills

When you are struggling with being overweight or obese, it can be tempting to try every fad that comes your way. With immense health complications resulting from excess weight, paired with a poor self-image, it is crucial to obtain and maintain a healthy BMI for overall health. Although research on the efficacy of keto diet pills is limited, those who are healthy and following the keto diet may find success in using these supplements to help them stay on track. Otherwise, there may be simpler solutions for losing weight and keeping the weight off. 

While a reduced-calorie diet and regular exercise may take longer to produce results than a keto diet, it is much easier to maintain in the long run. This is because it offers some flexibility and freedom. Likewise, a reduced-calorie diet still allows you to eat a wide range of fruits, vegetables, carbohydrates, and meats. Since nutritional deficiencies are common among those who follow a keto diet, this is also a method that appeals to a wider range of individuals. 


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This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your physician about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Nu Image Medical may not offer the medications or services mentioned in this article.