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Why special operations soldiers are experimenting with exogenous ketones

Michael Brandt is the Founder-CEO of HVMN, a company that makes exogenous ketones. In this clip from our interview on the Singletrack Podcast, he talks about the history of the Department of Defense's research on exogenous ketones.

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Abbreviated Transcript:


You mentioned that the Department of Defense has been really interested in this fuel source. What is the backstory of how this came to be, how the research community became interested in it, and how it's slowly coming to market for consumers like myself?


The DOD is interested in a variety of factors to make American soldiers more effective in the field, and the shift is really focused on treating our troops like athletes - their conditioning, their nutrition - that stuff is super important. And at the end of the day, it's people. Special operators are people, and you can put a price tag on what it takes to train a Navy seal, a Green Beret, the absolute tip of the spear. And it's a seven figure price tag. And if you can protect that person...if they're able to recover faster, go on longer missions, or be able to be more effective on those missions - that's huge.

In the early two thousands, DARPA had a program called "Operation Metabolic Dominance", where they established a proof of concept that, hey, you can make, you could make an exogenous ketone. What was interesting in the early 2000s with Operation Metabolic Dominance was the ability to create a ketone exogenously outside of the body that that could be eaten, digested, and turned into blood ketones. But it was super expensive.

It was $20,000 - $30,000 per dose, and they left it on the shelf. Then in 2017, my co-founder and launched the world's first ketone ester drink and in 2019, we got a $6 million contract from the Department of Defense Special Operations Command with multiple different subtasks. We've continued innovating on the component molecule itself, we've made a lot of improvements in cost and taste and gut tolerance. So it's been a run ride, a fun process and we're now at a spot where it's ready for the world.

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