I’ve got something wild for you today as we’re diving headfirst into a mind-bending study that could revolutionize the way we think about muscle growth.

Buckle up my fitness freaky friend because this one’s a rollercoaster!

⚛️ Ketone Alchemy and the Muscle Mystery

We all know that protein is the golden ticket to muscle growth, but what if I told you there’s another player in town? Brace yourselves for a journey into the bizarre world of ketone monoesters and their potential to kickstart post-meal muscle protein synthesis (MPS). This study takes us on a trip through the unknown.

Deciphering the Study

In a tale straight out of the weird and wild, 36 healthy young men found themselves in a randomized, double-blind experiment (1). They were divided into three groups, each with its own peculiar concoction:

The KET Group: These brave souls ingested a ketone monoester known as (R)-3-hydroxybutyl (R)-3-hydroxybutyrate.

The PRO Group: They ventured into the protein territory with a dose of 10 grams of whey protein.

The KET+PRO Group: For the daring souls, a fusion of both the ketone monoester and whey protein.

Blood samples and muscle biopsies were taken, and the madness began.

Hold onto your hats, because this is where it gets downright gonzo.

Both the KET and KET+PRO groups experienced a surreal surge in blood β-hydroxybutyrate (βHB) concentration during the post-meal period, leaving the PRO group in the dust. It’s as if ketone bodies had unlocked a hidden dimension of metabolism.

But wait, there’s more! Insert infomercial cheesy music here____.

The KET+PRO group outshone the PRO group when it came to plasma leucine and essential amino acid concentrations, the very building blocks of muscle growth. In other words, combining ketone monoesters with protein appears to be a potent concoction for muscle development.

Now, to be fair, they used a small dose (10 grams) of whey protein and it may have been different with a higher dose as other studies have shown from the like of Dr Stu Phillips and others, but there has not been much work when combined with ketone esters.

💪 Muscle Synthesis Madness

Now, let’s talk muscle synthesis. All three groups—KET, PRO, and KET+PRO—danced to the rhythm of post-meal MPS rates. This means that both ketone monoesters and whey protein are potent catalysts for muscle protein synthesis – at least in this study.

The most electrifying part? There were no significant differences between the groups. It’s a carnival of muscle madness!

Enter the Uber Nerd

To make sure I am on the straight and narrow here, I hit up the one and only DC – Dr David Church – who you may remember from a podcast episode HERE. ​

He studies protein synthesis and lives and breathes amino acid metabolism. Plus he answers all my crazy emails too, hahah.

Here is his take in super nerd fashion

“The most interesting thing to me in that study was the increased leucine and EAA availability allowing substrate for MPS for longer.

And while it didn’t increase FSR at the 10 gram dose it may have been more beneficial at a slightly larger whey protein dose.

As for the FSR the big take home there was that at those small doses it does appear that energy itself seems to be important in those contrived fasted states we do these studies in.

All the groups essentially increased to the same extent (aka the CI were nearly identical for the delta increase in FSR). This makes sense as protein synthesis is very energetically costly.” -DC

In short, it moved the needle a bit, but building new muscle take energy plus amino acids. It is very difficult to add slabs of muscle when calories are low. Maybe providing ketones as an efficient energy source during time of low calories (e.g. cutting) is a “new” method?

🤯 Key Takeaways

So, what can you glean from this mind-bending study?

Ketone Sorcery: Ketone bodies might hold the key to unlocking the mysteries of post-meal metabolism and muscle growth – shown here at lower levels of protein feedings (10 grams).

Protein Power: Protein, especially the enigmatic whey variety, remains a heavyweight contender in the muscle-building arena.

Combine for Mind-Expanding Results?

Mixing ketone monoesters and protein could be the rocket fuel you need to skyrocket your muscle synthesis?


Again, this is just one acute study, but it is super interesting. If I crawl out on a hypothetical limb, we could hypothesis that ketones during a longer fasting period of up to 24 hours – as I recommend in the Flex Diet Cert, may be beneficial for muscle.

It’s a wild ride in the realm of muscle growth, my friend.

Stay tuned for more mind-altering revelations in this ever-evolving odyssey.

That’s all for this edition of Muscle Chronicles.

Until our next trip down the rabbit hole, keep pushing the boundaries and embracing the madness!

Much love,
Dr Mike

PS – I do have a conflict of interest as I help the science nerds at Tecton who make a ketone ester supplement and I am an ambassador for them.

📖 Reference

1) Hannaian SJ, Lov J, Hawley SE, Dargegen M, Malenda D, Gritsas A, Gouspillou G, Morais JA, Churchward-Venne TA. Acute ingestion of a ketone monoester, whey protein, or their co-ingestion in the overnight postabsorptive state elicit a similar stimulation of myofibrillar protein synthesis rates in young males: a double-blind randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2024 Jan 11:S0002-9165(24)00004-2 Epub ahead of print. PMID: 38215886.