What's the big deal about ketones?

As more and more pro teams go public about their use of ketones, Tom Thewlis examines the potential gains available to pros and amateurs willing to invest in the costly, controversial supplement

Cyclist drinks ketone drink
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Cycling is so full of mind-boggling jargon that it almost threatens to spoil the fun sometimes. If it isn’t the intricacies of power measurement, it’s the physiology of fuelling or the PhD-level physics behind wind-cheating aerodynamics. The latest buzzword to get us grappling with its significance is ketones, described by some as a groundbreaking legal performance-enhancing supplement. More and more WorldTour teams are announcing partnerships with providers of the mysterious drinks, which are becoming hard to ignore. But what exactly are ketones and do they really live up to all the hype?

This much is clear: ketones have become ubiquitous among the pros, as I found out for myself at Paris-Nice in March. On several stages, as riders crossed the finish line, they grabbed coats, Haribo and, in some cases, ketones from waiting soigneurs before making their way back to their team buses.

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Tom Thewlis

Tom has been writing for Cycling Weekly since 2022 and his news stories, rider interviews and features appear both online and in the magazine. 

Since joining the team, he has reported from some of professional cycling's biggest races and events including the Tour de France and the World Championships in Glasgow. He has also covered races elsewhere across the world. 

As well as on the ground reporting, Tom writes race reports from the men's and women's WorldTour and helps with coverage of UK domestic cycling.