A Silicon Valley startup is now selling what it believes is the fourth type of fuel for humans, casting carbohydrates, proteins and fats aside.
HVMN, pronounced as “human,” launched its newest product on Nov. 6: a 2.2-ounce vial of ketone ester called “Ketone.” For $33, it supposedly improves athletic performance and concentration to make you more “super”.
According to Business Insider, HVMN CEO and cofounder Geoff Woo calls ketones “the fourth macronutrient.” He told the outlet:
“It’s not a fat, it’s not a protein, it’s not a carb, but your body gets fuel from it.”
Ketones, however, actually come from fat. They are organic compounds produced as the body burns fat when carbohydrates are inadequate to yield energy. This process is called ketosis.
Faster than fasting, the body produces ketones through the so-called “ketogenic diet,” which basically consists of high-fat and low-carb meals.
For his part, Woo fasts at least 18 hours a day and runs an intermittent fasting group with 8,000 members. He told The Atlantic:
“I would say almost standard eating is an eating disorder, in the sense that when you get invited out for happy hour or a lunch meeting, we don’t do that because we’re hungry. We do that because it’s a cultural norm … Romans centered their meals around one large meal a day, typically around lunch. A lot of East Asian cultures had two large meals a day.”
HVMN exclusively partnered with the University of Oxford in developing Ketone. Kieran Clarke, a professor of physiological biochemistry at the university who helped with intellectual property, said that the performance boost coming from the product is “unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.”
“A single ketone drink allowed highly trained cyclists to add up to 400 meters of distance in a 30-minute time trial,” Clarke specifically noted in a press release.
The cyclists, after drinking an earlier ketone-ester drink, reportedly covered up to 20,600 meters. Those who did not drink biked up to 20,200 meters.
But not everyone is keen on what’s brewing at HVMN. Ben Sit, a registered dietician and president of Evolved Sport and Nutrition, told BuzzFeed News:
“I have not yet found one ketone ester supplement that has been able to successfully put someone into the state of ketosis, no matter what dosage they take.”
Ketone, “generally recognized as safe” by the FDA, is currently available to preorder. It goes on public sale next month, and in case you’re curious, Woo describes its flavor as a blend of nail-polish remover and alcohol.