All drugs and performance enhancing substances always start of as innocent and legal. That is how EPO and cortisone use started on the Tour. Same can be said about Ketones. The drug is not on the Prohibited List by UCI but many riders are voicing their strong opinions about it. Ketones are said to have been around for years with their use exploding in the last 3 years. The question is does Ketones actually improve performance. A Leuven, Belgium based scientist did an experiment with mice, one injected with Ketones, other half the control group left as normal. The control group ran average 6km per day with the Ketone group averaging 13km. That hardly answers the question though. The physiology of humans and nice can’t be compared. More tests on actual riders needed to be done.
Although there generally is secrecy regarding it’s use among the various teams, some of them have started to admit using them. Jumbo Visma confirmed use of Ketones saying that they are more like dietary supplements such as vitamins. Here lies my first question. If the drug improves performance it therefore gives an edge over your competition , who aren’t using it. So is it not unreasonable to assume that it may be an unfair advantage? The fact that UCI haven’t put it on the Prohibited List just means that they haven’t analyzed it enough.
Here is the science behind Ketones. They are produced naturally in the liver during low eating periods making them a survival chemical. By taking Ketones you save energy reserves for the gruelling intense climbs. So the name of the game is preserving carbs. For every drug there are potential harmful side effects. A study shows that Ketones are acidic on the pH scale. This means they may in the long term make blood more acidic , reducing a rider’s speed. There may be risk of cancer , coming from the fact that it’s use comes with muscle wasting. The body needs more protein and cell regeneration to replace the muscle tissue wasting away from intense effort. Right now, the only thing holding back the wide spread use is the price which is going for a dear 99 dollars a bottle. It could also have a bleak future in weight loss, fueling anorexia and other eating disorders.