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what are ketones and how to use them to improve performance in endurance sports such as Ketone IQ, Delta G, HVMN Ketone Esters.
How to Fuel

Why are Athletes Fueling with Ketones?

Over the past three years there has been a massive change in how top endurance athletes are fueling multi-hour events fuel their races and long training rides. I'm going to share what they are doing and how you can use it in your workouts.

Spoiler alert: The trend is combining carbs & ketones to super-fuel you.

When you are doing events like the Belgian Waffle Ride, a grueling 135-mile-on-road/off-road race won by two Feed High-Performance Team Athletes. Alexey Vermeulen for the Men, and Mo Wilson for the Women you need to nail your fueling strategy.

The same strategy applies for anytime you are training or racing over 3+ hours.

The first rule is consuming enough carbs per hour for these long events. You can read more about this in our Feed Fueling Formula, but the key takeaway is that you should aim for 80g of carbs per hour.

The new secret of the pros is how they are combining Carbs and Ketone Ester to fuel these long efforts. While this approach is expensive, if you invest 8 hours and have spent months training, the investment will be worth it.

The secret is not just Ketones or Carbs; it is the combination of the two that makes the difference.

Think of having a gas tank filled with carbs (aka glycogen).

During your long event, you are burning fuel from this gas tank. Despite your best efforts to top up your gas tank with Maurten, Gels, Chews, and Waffles, you are always heading towards empty (i.e., when you bonk).

Now think of Ketones as an extra gas tank.

You can now draw fuel from your carb (glycogen) fuel tank and your Ketone Fuel Tank. In general, you will use your Ketone fuel first.

So how does this work?

Hypothetically, let's say you burn 80% Glycogen (aka) carbs for fuel during your three-hour+ workout and 20% fat.

If you add in Ketones at the start, you might be burning 40% Carbs, 40% Ketones (from the Ketones you drank), and 20% fat for the first hour or two.

While this is an illustrative example, you can get the idea that by mixing Ketones and Carbs, you preserve more of the glycogen to fuel the latter half of your event.

The Big Issue to Avoid

You MUST use carbs and ketones together. If you drink Ketones alone, you risk shutting down glycolysis (conversion of carbs to glycogen), and then you will feel terrible.

Anytime I've heard from athletes who say they didn't feel great with Ketones during training/racing, they made the mistake of not combining it with carbs.

Just take a gel or three chews when you drink the Ketones. It's straightforward to avoid this problem.

I'm confused what is the difference between deltaG® and Ketone-IQ®

I get asked this a lot, and both are Ketone drinks, but what's inside is different, and this can be confusing for athletes, so below and I'll explain.

Who is doing this?

I can't go into names due to confidentiality, but I can tell you that the Top 8 World Tour Cycling Teams are ordering 1000s of bottles of deltaG® Ketones at a time. The reason? It works.

I spoke to a well-known gravel/endurance racer the other day who said that in their first long ride with ketones, they had the sensation of not even feeling the pedals for the first 10 hours of a 12-hour ride.

I can't deny that Ketones are expensive. But as I mentioned, if you invest so much time preparing for a big event, investing might make sense.

How to use Ketones in your long events:

  • Always use Ketones with Carbs together.
  • I like to use Maurten CAF 100 Gel when I drink the Ketones to get the added advantage of Caffeine.
  • Take 25g of deltaG 15 minutes before the start of your event.
  • Take another bottle every 2 hours.
  • Don't take more than four bottles per event as a rule of thumb.
  • For recovery, take one more 25g bottle post-event.
  • The longer the event will take you, the more Ketones are likely to help you. So the benefit for us none pros is expected to be even greater.

Just want to try it out? You can get a single bottle or a three pack of deltaG and try it in your next long workout.

P.S. What is the difference between deltaG® and Ketone-IQ®?

DeltaG® is from the company TΔS and is the original Oxford Ketone Ester that most athletes have been using and has a large body of research supporting it. Not to get too scientific, but it is an "ester" of BDO & BHB that effectively increases ketone levels in the blood.

While DeltaG® is more expensive, it has the most research behind it for sports performance and will almost always increase your blood Ketones levels above 2mmol of ketones in your blood.

KetoneIQ is a new drink from HVMN and is only the BDO part, essentially one-half of what is in deltaG®.

What's confusing is that HVMN used to market and have the deltaG® product in their original ketone product, but now they do not use deltaG® and have their formula called Ketone-IQ.

HVMN's new Ketone-IQ has shown that you still get to 1 to 2 mmol of Ketones in your blood after 60 minutes, and the equivalent for most people of having fasted for a day.

Ketone-IQ is also less expensive, and I see it is finding a sweet spot in the market for people who want the metabolic health benefits of increased ketone levels and, in my experience, a boost in mental acuity when you take a sip in the morning.

Avatar Matt Johnson

Matt Johnson / Tuesday, May 10, 2022