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A drink developed for soldiers to generate energy from ketones rather than carbs or fat allowed highly trained cyclists to add up to 400 meters of distance to their workouts, an Oxford-led study has reported in journal Cell Metabolism.

The supplement, which will be commercially available within the year, works by temporarily switching the primary source of cellular energy from glucose or fat to ketones - molecules derived from fat that are known to be elevated in people consuming a low-carb, Atkins-like, diet.

'It’s really interesting: with a single drink of nutritional ketone you can do the same exercise with completely different metabolism,' said Dr Pete Cox, a clinician at the University of Oxford and first author on the paper. 'Given the findings of this study, that challenge our fundamental understanding of human physiology, it will be tempting for many to focus on pursuing the endurance and sport-related avenues, but it would be a great shame if the metabolic basis of this work was not further explored.'

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