Ketogenic Approaches for the Metabolic and Insulin Resistant Horse

Equine metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance are becoming an epidemic of sorts, with increasing numbers of horses affected on some level with each year. For most of these horses, despite nutritional advances, farrier care, medications, and other restrictions, there is a general failure to thrive and improve clinically.  Most of these EMS and IR horses are destined for a life of confinement to a dry lot, an overweight body condition, and foot pain.

Is there a solution?  Is it possible to alter the horse's body's metabolism to impact body weight, fat deposits, and improve glucose and insulin function?

The Ketogenic Approach for the EMS and IR horse is a REAL option!

A ketogenic diet or approach is one that involves training or enticing the body to produce ketones naturally as a result of dietary or supplemental regimens.  Ketones are naturally produced during times of starvation or fasting, and the ketone bodies produced by the liver are used as an energy source.  Interestingly, ketones and insulin have an inverse relationship, meaning that as ketone levels are increased, insulin tends to drop or decrease. This is due to a shift in metabolism and utilization of the ketones for energy rather than sugar.

Traditionally, a true ketogenic diet involves a high fat regimen with adequate protein and very restricted carbohydrates. This is not feasible in the horse as their main source of food is forage or pasture, which does naturally contain carbohydrates.  Despite this, it is possible to encourage ketone formation in the horse by restricting grain intake and also supplementing specific oils and isolated ketone bodies (beta hydroxybutyrate) to encourage ketone production.

In our clinical research, while monitoring EMS and normal horses, most will produce ketones on a level of 0.1-0.5 mmol pre- and post prandial.  As the diet is altered, and specific oils are put into the regimen, ketone levels will often increase by as much as 0.5 mmol from the previous level.  If isolated ketone bodies (BHB) are added, ketone levels post prandial are often above 1.2 mmol. This is ideal and coincides with levels desired for people pursing a ketogenic approach for overall health and diabetes management.

Nouvelle Research, Inc. is proud to announce the addition of 4 new products to our offerings to assist with management of EMS and IR in the horse:

  1. Cur-OST EQ Keto Oil (blend of MCT, Coconut, and Flax Oil)
  2. Cur-OST EQ Cell Repair (antioxidant blend for cellular repair)
  3. Cur-OST EQ P450 (herbal blend to balance insulin and glucose)
  4. Cur-OST EQ Keto BHB (isolated beta-hydroxybutyrate Mg)

While EMS and insulin resistance in the horse is a complex condition, we have offered a 4 part article series to outline the problems and reveal new strategies for better management in the horse.

  1. EMS in the Horse Part One
  2. EMS in the Horse Part Two
  3. EMS in the Horse Part Three
  4. EMS in the Horse Part Four

Every horse is unique and different and thus, no one approach will work for all patients.  Our research on the ketogenic approach in the horse is unique and provides a different means of management, with the goal of shifting the horse's metabolism to a healthier balance.

If your horse is struggling with ongoing signs and symptoms of EMS and Insulin Resistance, maybe a new approach in metabolism is the answer to propel him in the right direction!

To inquire further, please contact Dr. Tom Schell via email at

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