Keto BHB

Is the keto diet popularity waning any soon? Precisely, No! In fact, the interest in the ketogenic diet is poised to grow exponentially in the coming years. 


As more and more dieters jump the keto bandwagon, the keto supplement marketplace is shaping into a goldmine for manufacturers. Manufacturers have taken the opportunity, spewing out numerous keto supplements to meet the growing demand. Leading the way of the fat-fueled supplements is the keto beta-hydroxybutyrate or keto BHB. 


Whether you are getting started or have been in keto for a while, you’ve quite possibly heard about keto BHB. In this article, I’ll dissect keto BHB to lay bare all the details you need to know. The goal is to help you determine whether or not keto BHB adds value to your keto journey.Let’s get started! 

What are ketones?

Time and again, we have defined what ketones are. But for the avoidance of doubt, and to help you understand BHB supplementation, let’s turn this stone once more. 


In a nutshell, ketone bodies are the energy molecules produced by the body when it’s running on a keto diet. Remember, your body depends on two main sources of energy: ketones and glucose. The glucose of metabolized from carbs and sugars. 


Generally, the body we’ll first turn to glucose for energy. When the glucose levels are high than needed, the excess is stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver. Then, when these areas are full, the rest is stored as fat. 


On the other hand, when there isn’t enough glucose, your body turns to ketone for energy. Here is the crux. The body metabolizes fatty acids to produce three types of ketones: Acetone, Acetoacetate (AcAc), and beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB). BHB is the main ketone, making up more than threequarters (78%) of the total blood ketones. Besides, Acetoacetate makes up 20%, and Acetate is the least abundant at 2%. [1]

What is BHB?

Interestingly, BHB is not only the most abundant ketone but its also very stable. As a result, it is the main ketone body used by the body for energy. 

With that in mind, its good to mention that, chemically, BHB isn’t a ketone. However, BHB shows the true colors of a ketone when it comes to its metabolic functions. Because of this, researches decided to categorize it as a ketone. 


Diving deeper, you’ll find that BHB comes in two forms: Exogenous BHB and Endogenous BHB


The endogenous BHB is naturally produced in the body during ketosis. What happens is that the body breaks down fatty cells into acetoacetate (AcAc). Then, the acetoacetate (AcAc) ketone is further broken down into BHB ketones. 


One thing you need to know is that during strenuous exercise or overnight fast, your body is only able to produce small amounts of endogenous BHB. This justifies the production of exogenous BHB. 


Exogenous BHB is a synthetically produced ketone body, which comes in the form of BHB salt or BHB esters. BHB salts are bound to main minerals like calcium, sodium, potassium, and magnesium. The idea is to boost the acidity of BHB salt and buffer its absorption into your body. On the other hand, BHB ester is produced via fermentation and is bound to an ester, not a salt. [2]

BHB Supplementation: How does it help on a ketogenic diet

By now, you already know everything about BHB. One fact that strikes me most is that our bodies produce ketones in small amounts. I’ve also mentioned, in most of my articles, that to reap meaningful benefits from the keto diet, your body must reach and remain in ketosis. This is where BHB supplementation comes into play. 
Remember, BHB is the main ketone used to fuel the body and brain when the amount of glucose isn’t enough. When you take BHB supplements, you raise the blood ketone levels and help the body to reach ketosis. In other words, BHB supplements deliver ketones by replicating what happens when you are on the ketogenic diet. [3
For reference, most BHB supplements contain approximately 8g to 12g of ketones per servings. 
Taking exogenous ketones is good if you want to reach ketosis without necessarily following the ketogenic diet. Besides, you can take BHB supplementation along with the keto diet to reach ketosis faster. Most importantly, its thought that BHB supplements lessen the displeasing symptoms that come when the body is transitioning to ketosis. 
Other benefits of BHB supplements:
- Boost salt intake 
- Muscle building 
- Lowering appetite 
- Treating keto flu 
- Improving brain health

Do you need a BHB supplement to be in keto?

BHB supplements help you curb potential appetites; there is no doubt about that. However, some of its benefits such as weight loss are largely unknown. For this reason, the exogenous ketones they deliver cannot be recommended for weight loss. Some studies have even shown that ketone supplements may hinder weight loss. 


So, how can BHB supplements hinder weight loss? 


First, let’s think about how ketogenic diet aid weight loss. The keto diet reduces the intake of carbs forcing the body to produce endogenous ketones from fatty cells. When stored fat is used to fuels the body and brain, weight is lost. 


When you take BHB supplements, you deliver exogenous ketones into the blood. However, when the level of these ketones becomes too high, the acidity of the blood becomes precariously high too. To respond, the body sparks a feedback mechanism to prevent the production of endogenous ketones. [4]. Consequently, this reduces the effectiveness of the ketogenic diet. 


Secondly, a single serving BHB supplement contains less than the required amount of calories (less than 100 calories). For this reason, to keep your body in the metabolic state (ketosis), you’ll have to take multiple servings each day. 


Even worse, the effects of exogenous ketones can only be sustained for several hours. Because of this, you have to take numerous doses throughout the day (about three servings per) to achieve the benefits of ketosis. [5]. What compounds the problems associated with BHB supplements is that they are costly: a single serving of exogenous ketones can cost an upwards of $3.


As you have seen, keto BHB supplements are not ketogenic: they inhibit your body from making its ketones. Besides, having to take several doses of synthetically produced ketones to accelerate ketosis is not a good idea. 

Remember, there are plenty of side effects that come with exogenous ketones. For example, diarrhea, nausea, and stomach discomfort, not to mention the cost of these supplements. 


Now, considering that BHB supplements will only deliver the same effects as the ketogenic diet, it doesn’t make sense to use them. In my opinion, you can survive without BHB supplements and still reap the benefits of a ketogenic diet.


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