It is the latest Silicon Valley trend – a chemically engineered drink that allows the body to achieve the fat-burning benefits of fasting without having to cut back on food.
Now, San Francisco start up HVMN, pronounced ‘human’, is planning on marketing its product in Britain next year.
The new drink, HVMN Ketone Ester, produces the same effects in the body as days of fasting, a process called ketosis, while allowing consumers to eat whatever they want.
The first product of its kind, it launched in the US earlier this year and costs $33 (£25) for a 65ml bottle.
The company’s CEO, Geoff Woo, told the Telegraph he hopes to make it accessible to British customers in 2018 following its success in the US.
The ketone drink works by replicating the chemical process of ketosis, which causes the body to burn its own fat for fuel, usually only achieved by fasting.
The product has been brought to a mass market by 28-year-old Mr Woo, a Silicon Valley-based Stanford graduate and the co-founder of HVMN.
But Mr Woo said the product aims to achieve more than simply burning fat, claiming that after a year of taking ketone ester he is “more focused and productive”.
Mr Woo described the taste as “a combination of a liquor shot with nail polish remover” but is convinced that both ketones and fasting will be a regular lifestyle staple in the near future.
Describing the rising interest in performance enhancement products, he said: “If you look at the Google trends for specific words like fasting and ketones, they have been growing exponentially”.
Mr Woo added that UK interest in the product is “growing phenomenally” and the company hopes to expand to British customers who cannot currently order the product online.
Like many in the tech valley Mr Woo is also a dedicated faster – combining the effects of the ketone drink with regular fasts in the belief that he is fine-tuning his body to reach its optimum state.
He fasts for at least 18 hours a day, in the belief that the lifestyle is linked with increased longevity, as well as improved metabolic health, mental clarity and focus.
HVMN has even introduced a weekly fasting day for staff who share a meal at the end of the fast. The trend has seen a wide uptake among a number of tech workers in Silicon Valley who hope it will improve their productivity.
In the year since Mr Woo began an online support group to stay motivated during fasts, the virtual community has grown to a 12,000-strong following.
Mr Woo believes that that over-eating was “killing us in a lot of ways” and fasting will soon be incorporated into normal lifestyles.
He told the Telegraph: “This is pontificating but I think fasting will be considered like exercises [in the future] – it will be considered part of life.”
Athletes and sports teams in the US have already expressed an interest in ketone ester because of research which suggests it makes muscles more efficient and less prone to fatigue.
HVMN’s lead researcher is former British rowing world champion Brianna Stubbs, who joined a study on the effects of ketone esters in competitive rowers while a student athlete at Oxford, and went on to carry out her own research into ketone drinks.
The company’s Ketone Ester drink has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and classified as a food.
However, some scientists have been sceptical about the benefits of the product, unsure that the benefits shown in studies on rats and other animals will translate to better health in humans.
Miguel Toribio-Mateas, chair of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy, said: “While it may be tempting to see ketone esters as some kind of miracle energy source for the body that allows you to work out for longer whilst giving you a focused mind and better memory, most of the scientific evidence supporting the use of ketone esters is mostly animal research.
“When it comes to physical and mental performance, translating animal research into meaningful results in humans can be a stretch. I would advise anyone interested in any of these methods to work with a nutrition practitioner who is clinically trained and has experience in guiding individuals through these ways of eating.”
Others have suggested that the drink may simply act as an expensive placebo to make consumers improve their mental and physical performance.
Nutritionist Martin MacDonald, founder of Mac-Nutrition Uni, said the use of ketone ester supplements was “certainly interesting”, but added that “at present the research is rather underwhelming”.
“Both dietary strategies to induce ketosis and the supplementation of ketones receive a lot of attention due to their unique biochemical pathways,” he said.
“However, when we look at things that people actually care about, like body fat levels or performance, they just do not seem to translate to any meaningful difference to the consumer”.
Mr Woo has not shied away from his critics, saying: “I think those are important criticisms. It’s a valid question that we should ask every company and every product so that we continue to have efficacy.
“I think that we’ll continue running control trials and continue to do research to make sure that the products that we sell and manufacture are not placebos.
But he added: “[The drinks] go through a rigorous system. It’s a food stuff according to the FDA and there have been safety tests on animals and humans”.
Article Source : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/12/31/silicon-valleys-chemical-drinks-diet-may-soon-arrive-britain/