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Verdict: 
A superfuel that seems to work, but probably only accessible to or worthy of the super-wealthy and super-talented
Weight: 
195g
Contact: 

HVMN Ketone is a drink that enables you to be ketone and carbohydrate loaded when you ride, a situation that is proven to boost performance, and is used by top-level athletes globally. Ketones are rumoured to be used widely in the pro peloton, including in 2018's Tour de France.

  • Pros: Performance and recovery boost, easy usage (off the bike)
  • Cons: Huge price, taste won't appeal to all, bottle not user-friendly for refuelling on the bike

As a basic bit of science, ketones are the body's backup fuel, and are a naturally produced and highly-efficient energy source that the body creates when low on carbs, for example with a low-carb 'ketogenic' diet, when fasted/starved, or during prolonged periods of exertion. Ketones are naturally produced by the liver when you're in a ketogenic state. It is possible to create this state naturally by following a ketogenic diet, such as restricting all carbs, but it is a long, difficult and probably fairly miserable process. However, with HVMN you can skip all this and just drink the product.

> Buy this online here

Drinking ketones rather than producing them naturally gives you all the benefits of ketosis, that is, the ability to burn fat and ketones, an energy source known to be fantastic for endurance. Ketones give a huge store of available fuel – in contrast to carbohydrate, where we can only store so much in our body at a given time (hence the need for all the cake at the café!).

I tested the HVMN Ketone Ester on two occasions, once on an 85-minute mountain time trial, up Mont Ventoux no less, and once on an epic six-hour solo training session through my local area.

I was provided with a small blood testing kit alongside the three vials of HVMN. The testing kit was similar to those used by medics or diatetics. The kit enabled me to measure both glucose and ketone levels before and after taking the drink (which I did on my first test, but wasn't able to on the second), and the values for ketone did notably increase in the reading after taking the drink, from 0.3mmol/L to 3.3mmol/L, suggesting the drink works in terms of boosting ketones in the blood, which is a good start.

Taking the drink is as simple as swigging it down, and it's advised to do this around 30 minutes before a session. Be warned, it tastes pretty grim – a bit like nail varnish remover smells. Get it down in one swig and follow it up with something strong tasting and it's okay. You might like it, of course.

The short and the long of it

For the time trial, I took the drink in the hour prior and didn't refuel with it. For the long session, I put a second vial of the liquid in my second bidon along with my usual carb drink, and started drinking it after around 80-90 minutes of the ride, as HVMN advises for endurance sessions.

This need to refuel during a ride gives rise to one of the minor gripes I have, in that HVMN doesn't seem to have considered the portability of the packaging. For effective use over long sessions, you need to refuel, and yet the drink comes in a heavy plastic bottle, not one that you'd put in your jersey pocket. It would be better to have it in a portable container, maybe a small plastic bottle, or even a gel. Hence why I mixed mine in with my usual drink, in my bidon (which the company advises won't impact its effect).

> How to eat right for long rides and sportives

For the time trial, among the adrenaline, caffeine and gels that were coursing through my veins, it's hard to isolate what impact the Ketone had on me. I rode well, near-on a PB for that distance, and didn't feel myself fading over time. The pain certainly crept in, but the lull in energy that can occur with massive efforts like this didn't play too much of a part. However, I was racing, and with a number on your back and, in my case, three gels (one before and two during) in my pocket, the levels to which you can push yourself always seem that much greater than if alone in training.

I think it was in the solo endurance ride that I really felt the benefit, though. I didn't go out there and suddenly take a KOM on every climb or experience a gain of 200 watts on my threshold, I just felt strong and energised all the way through. I was riding strong after five hours as opposed to fading away. I fuelled as I normally would for a hard session of that length – maybe 60-70g carbohydrate per hour – but I had that ketone saving all of that sugar for use towards the end of the ride.

Recovery

One thing I did find particularly noticeable with both tests was my recovery the next day. Both test situations were tough, and ones where I'd definitely expect to know about it the next day. However, that lethargy and achiness was notably absent. The day after each ride, I got back on the bike, just for around 90 minutes of steady easy riding – and I felt pretty sprightly, like I might after a day off – as opposed to how I 'should' have felt.

So, the product seems to work, and the increase in ketones suggested by the blood reading that I took seemed to correlate to a performance boost. However, it does comes at some cost – around £25 per portion.

What else could you get that's going to give you equivalent gains? The only things on the market even vaguely comparable are the 'superfuel' drinks made by SIS (Beta Fuel), and Maurten's drink mix which I tested last year and found to be a potent fuel source; that, although pricey, is peanuts in comparison to HVMN.

Conclusion

It certainly seems that the product works, and benefits both performance and recovery, with performance gains most evident on longer, endurance rides – that's not to say there were none on a shorter effort, but they were less easy to identify. However, at £25 per serving, Ketone is super-expensive. Unless I had a once-in-a-lifetime race, say at a national level TT or equivalent, I couldn't ever see myself buying it. I'd probably save myself £24.50 and just have another bowl of porridge. Sure, the effects aren't going to be the same, but for your average Joe like me, I don't think I could justify putting such a 'superfuel' into a not-so-super engine.

Verdict

A superfuel that seems to work, but probably only accessible to or worthy of the super-wealthy and super-talented

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: HVMN Ketone

Size tested: 3 x 195ml

Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

From HVMN: "This is KETONE ESTER. This world-record breaking superfuel enhances physical and cognitive performance and resilience.

No caffeine, no sugar, no salt, no fat - just 25 g of ketone ester.

Add the fourth macronutrient into your fueling and nutrition. Use before, during, and/or after activity."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

From HVMN:

Nutrition Facts

1 Servings per container

Serving size: 1 Bottle (65ml)

Amount Per Serving

Calories120

% Daily Value

Total Fat 0 g0%

Sodium 0 g0%

Total Carbohydrate 0 g0%

Protein 0 g0%

Daily value not established.

Percent daily values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Ingredients: Water, D-betahydroxybutyrate Ester (∆G® Ketone Ester). Contains less than 2% of Stevia Leaf Extract, Natural Flavors, Malic Acid, Potassium Sorbate & Potassium Benzoate (for freshness).

Instructions

For improved performance

HVMN Ketone is most effective for endurance exercise lasting an hour or more

Drink one serving 30 minutes before exercise with usual pre-workout fuel (carbs, caffeine, etc.)

For extended endurance exercise (2+ hours), consume an additional serving every 1.5 - 2 hours with usual carbs

For recovery

Drink one serving 30 minutes after exercise with normal post-workout nutrition (protein, carbs, etc.)

Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10

As far as I can tell, the Ketone had a notable impact on my ride performance during a 90-minute time trial and a six-hour endurance ride. I'd say the impact was more noticeable on the long endurance ride, as the time trial was also fuelled with a lot of caffeine and sugar.

Rate the product for value:
 
5/10

At £76 for three bottles (i.e. over £25 per dose) this is a serious investment, and something that you would not purchase lightly. It does seem to work, though, and there's science behind it.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

It does seem to work. As far as I can tell, it had a notable impact on my ride performance during a 90-minute time trial and a 6-hour endurance ride.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The product seems noticeably beneficial over longer rides, preventing a sense of fatigue and muscular breakdown, and this also played out in the recovery process. For a shorter ride, it was less easy to isolate the benefit.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The price is a huge dislike, and the way in which you need to refuel after a few hours if on a longer ride isn't so easy, particularly given the bottles it's supplied in.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

There is nothing to compare it to really! However, if you're looking for a super-fuel, the Maurten drink mix is the closest to it that we have reviewed, which is substantially cheaper.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Maybe, if I ever competed at a national level (which is highly unlikely!).

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Only those competing at a very high level.

Use this box to explain your overall score

It does seem to have a notable impact on performance and recovery, and delivers a boost that is unlike that provided by any gels, drinks, bars, or warm-up creams I've used. This makes it something I'd like to score highly, but the price is prohibitive, and the packaging could do with some redesigning to ease refuelling.

Overall rating: 6/10

About the tester

Age: 31  Height: 6ft 1in  Weight: 61kg

I usually ride: Giant TCR / Cannondale Supersix  My best bike is: Giant TCR

I've been riding for: 5-10 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding

14 comments

Avatar
madcarew [931 posts] 1 week ago
9 likes

Hi Jim.

I'm one of those people who hate seeing sciencey jargon being used to tout the latest piece of rubbish. I guess this is only an 'opinion' piece, but it'd be nice if you got basic stuff right. The first would be your 'basic science'. You're wrong, in even a generous interpretation, on pretty much every part of your description of ketones and their role in energy production.

 The second basic thing would be to back up your claim that exercising in a ketone and carb loaded state is "proven to improve performance". I've spent some years wading through the literature on this stuff, and your claim that this is 'proven' is a long way from the result of any studies I'm aware of. Ketones are an important energy source in our day to day lives, but that is about the sum total of it.

Taking ketones and then testing your blood shortly after will show an elevated level of ketones. That much is basic science, The same is true of sugar, and amines, aspirin and arsenic.  Whether or not it is still there 20 mins later as your body once again achieves homeostasis, and whether or not they are available to your body for use is completely different, and really, the holy grail of sports nutrition. The blood tests your suppliers gave you do nothing other than demonstrate the obvious. They may be the kind of test supplied to medics or diatetics (I think you meant dieticians, diatetics is the branch of study, not an occupation), but the testing protocol you used is meaningless in evaluating the effect of taking ketones.  

Please, feel free to say you 'feel' this product helps your performance, but if you're just going to repeat the manufacturers claims, please make it clear you are writing a piece of advertising copy, and don't sink to repeating unfounded myths as some kind of objective appraisal.

Thanks.

Avatar
Stratman [162 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes
madcarew wrote:

Hi Jim.

I'm one of those people who hate seeing sciencey jargon being used to tout the latest piece of rubbish. I guess this is only an 'opinion' piece, but it'd be nice if you got basic stuff right. The first would be your 'basic science'. You're wrong, in even a generous interpretation, on pretty much every part of your description of ketones and their role in energy production.

 The second basic thing would be to back up your claim that exercising in a ketone and carb loaded state is "proven to improve performance". I've spent some years wading through the literature on this stuff, and your claim that this is 'proven' is a long way from the result of any studies I'm aware of. Ketones are an important energy source in our day to day lives, but that is about the sum total of it.

Taking ketones and then testing your blood shortly after will show an elevated level of ketones. That much is basic science, The same is true of sugar, and amines, aspirin and arsenic.  Whether or not it is still there 20 mins later as your body once again achieves homeostasis, and whether or not they are available to your body for use is completely different, and really, the holy grail of sports nutrition. The blood tests your suppliers gave you do nothing other than demonstrate the obvious. They may be the kind of test supplied to medics or diatetics (I think you meant dieticians, diatetics is the branch of study, not an occupation), but the testing protocol you used is meaningless in evaluating the effect of taking ketones.  

Please, feel free to say you 'feel' this product helps your performance, but if you're just going to repeat the manufacturers claims, please make it clear you are writing a piece of advertising copy, and don't sink to repeating unfounded myths as some kind of objective appraisal.

Thanks.

 

I happened to look at the the underlying product for a project at work.  It was rigorously tested, albeit with elite athletes, and indeed found to boost performance as described.  We didn’t take it owing to it’s high unit cost, making it difficult to see how it could ever reach a mass market.

 

Avatar
captain_slog [469 posts] 1 week ago
2 likes

£130 a litre and it doesn't even taste nice?

I'll wait for the strawberry-flavoured version, thanks.

Avatar
madcarew [931 posts] 1 week ago
2 likes
Stratman wrote:
madcarew wrote:

Hi Jim.

I'm one of those people who hate seeing sciencey jargon being used to tout the latest piece of rubbish. I guess this is only an 'opinion' piece, but it'd be nice if you got basic stuff right. The first would be your 'basic science'. You're wrong, in even a generous interpretation, on pretty much every part of your description of ketones and their role in energy production.

 ......

Please, feel free to say you 'feel' this product helps your performance, but if you're just going to repeat the manufacturers claims, please make it clear you are writing a piece of advertising copy, and don't sink to repeating unfounded myths as some kind of objective appraisal.

Thanks.

 

I happened to look at the the underlying product for a project at work.  It was rigorously tested, albeit with elite athletes, and indeed found to boost performance as described.  We didn’t take it owing to it’s high unit cost, making it difficult to see how it could ever reach a mass market.

 

I'd be interested in the non-industry sponsored good depth trials that show the 'proven' performance boost. I've had a look and the only one I can find that shows an improvement in performance is one from Oxford University who are, (not so )co-incidentally, developing the drink. No causative link is shown for the purported results. While it's fair to say that it appears that ketone ester ingestion may help toward performance improvement, the literature is summed up by Pinckaers and others: 

Therefore, at present there are no data available to suggest that ingestion of ketone bodies during exercise improves athletes’ performance under conditions where evidence-based nutritional strategies are applied appropriately.

Most sports drinks have been rigorously tested to show an improvement in performance, but none of them do when compared to iso-caloric nutrition schemes.

Avatar
mylesrants [439 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes

Remember the week beetroot juice was magical

Avatar
OnTheRopes [203 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes
mylesrants wrote:

Remember the week beetroot juice was magical

Is it no so anymore then?

Avatar
Anthony.C [269 posts] 1 week ago
2 likes

I just read a report in the journal 'Sports Medicine' from 2016 on what is currently known about the effects of ketone bodies on exercise performance, particularly of cyclists, and this was the conclusion,

'based upon the few available data and our current understanding of ketone body metabolism during exercise in a sports specific setting, we conclude there is currently no evidence to support the use of ketone bodies as an ergogenic aid under conditions where optimal evidence based nutritional strategies are applied'.

Avatar
LRTom [3 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes
Anthony.C wrote:

we conclude there is currently no evidence to support the use of ketone bodies as an ergogenic aid under conditions where optimal evidence based nutritional strategies are applied'.

 

Does this mean if optimal nutrition strategies were NOT applied then it would have an affect?

Avatar
Drinfinity [135 posts] 1 week ago
1 like

Probably no coincidence that the bottle looks like perfume packaging. You know what makes perfume expensive? The profit.

 

These magic ketone beans are retailing at £75 for 75g . You could spend £56 on 500g of magic ketone beans  if you buy it in paper bag.

Avatar
MNgraveur [106 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes
mylesrants wrote:

Remember the week beetroot juice was magical

 

Rainbow pee is still magical to me.

Avatar
Organon [175 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes

Road.cc reviewing perfume now?

Avatar
madcarew [931 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes
LRTom wrote:
Anthony.C wrote:

we conclude there is currently no evidence to support the use of ketone bodies as an ergogenic aid under conditions where optimal evidence based nutritional strategies are applied'.

 

Does this mean if optimal nutrition strategies were NOT applied then it would have an affect?

It means that it may have a role in an optimal nutrition strategy, but that is yet to be demonstrated. 

Quite simply if you take some from of available calories during exercise it is (generally) better for performance than taking none. It is (almost) immaterial the form of those calories so long as they provide substrates for the electon transfer chain (the energy 'burning' mechanism of our cells.)

 

Avatar
check12 [250 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes

It’s reassuringly expensive. 

Avatar
Peowpeowpeowlasers [630 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes
OnTheRopes wrote:
mylesrants wrote:

Remember the week beetroot juice was magical

Is it no so anymore then?

 

No, people drank too much and got fat, so they started drinking grapefruit juice to lose the weight.