When a human body runs out of carbohydrate, ketones are produced by the liver from fat, as an alternative fuel to glucose, which the brain needs to survive.
Professor Kieran Clarke has been with the Department since 1991, working on the effects of diet on energy metabolism in human heart, brain and skeletal muscle. Professor Clarke’s work has led to the development of a fourth food group, a novel ketone ester, called ΔG®, that improves endurance performance and could be used for the management of human metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
The Tour de France, a competition considered to be one of the hardest athletic challenges, is set to start in a few weeks. A Tour de France rider will burn enough calories during a six-hour mountain stage to fuel an average person's activity for two to four days. In light of this, Oxford Sparks invited Professor Clarke to take part in their latest Big Questions podcast asking the question: Why are athletes using ketones?