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What is Beta-Hydroxybutyrate (BHB)?

If you've been following a ketogenic diet or even just considering trying keto, you've probably heard of the term "BHB".

So you might be wondering...

What is Beta-Hydroxybutyrate (also known as BHB)? And probably more importantly, what does BHB do?

What Is Beta-Hydroxybutyrate (BHB)?

what is bhb

You may hear beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) be referred to as exogenous ketones or BHB salts. These are all interchangeable names for the same thing. BHB is a dietary supplement ingredient that is made up of stable mineral salts and is a naturally occurring metabolite formed during fat digestion and metabolism, known as a ketone body.

The purpose of the ketogenic diet is to enable your body to enter ketosis, so that it produces ketones. Your body will then burn ketones (fat) for fuel instead of glucose (carbohydrates).

Much like glucose is the energy molecule derived from carbohydrates and sugars, and amino acids are derived from proteins, ketones are energy molecules derived from fat.

BHB is an energy-dense molecule that naturally fuels your brain, heart, and muscles during periods of low carbohydrate intake.

BHB raw material is typically supplied as a stable mineral salt, such as BHB sodium, BHB calcium, or BHB magnesium, and is self-affirmed Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS).

What is Beta-Hydroxybutyrate Used For?

Exogenous ketones are generally used to help the body produce ketones to use as energy, and to reach ketosis faster.

BHB has many clinical as well as lifestyle applications, from energy production to quick mineral replenishment, but you're probably curious about BHB for the ketogenic diet.

The Power of Exogenous Ketones (BHB) on the Ketogenic Diet

Keto can be tough to start.

The first few days are the hardest. Your body is still adjusting, you may experience the “keto flu”, and you’re not in ketosis yet, which is where the magic of boundless energy and mental clarity happens.

That’s why we formulated KetoLogic BHB Exogenous Ketones -- to help you get into ketosis faster, and to help mitigate the frustrating elements about starting the ketogenic diet.

  1. Electrolyte replenishment: The minerals in BHB (exogenous ketones) support electrolyte replenishment, which can help you stave off the keto flu, sleep better, and feel better.
  2. Fuel your body and brain: BHB can help fuel your workouts, fight snack cravings, and give you an energy boost. Bye-bye mid-afternoon slump!
  3. Get into ketosis faster. BHB may help your body enter the state of ketosis more quickly, which is the desired state for those on the ketogenic diet.
  4. Burn fat while maintaining muscle. The best benefit of the ketogenic diet and why most people decide to start it!
  5. Act as a "carb blocker" to normalize blood sugar levels. If you "cheat on keto", you can avoid carb crash with Keto BHB as it can reduce spikes in blood insulin, which is incredibly problematic for your hormonal response.
You might be wondering whether you can get the above benefits from eating a ketogenic diet, and the answer is yes! It's just going to move a bit slower because the ketogenic diet relies on fat-derived energy, which typically involves consuming plenty of quality fats or MCT oils (medium-chain triglycerides).

MCTs are excellent for the ketogenic diet as they are converted to ketones immediately, bypassing the digestive system. But for keto beginners or those who are controlling for calories, starting slow with MCTs is a good bet, because they can initially lead to digestive discomfort.

Whether you're taking MCTs or not, BHB supplementation can be a good idea. It rapidly raises blood ketone levels without digestive issues because it bypasses digestion. BHB sodium has been used in the clinic for decades where it has been shown to:

  • Fuel brain and muscle
  • Increase blood, muscle, and brain ketone levels
  • Decrease and normalize blood glucose
  • Increase muscle protein synthesis
  • Decrease fatty acids in the blood
  • Reduce physical and hormonal effects of low blood sugar
  • Decrease respiratory exchange ratio - VO2 Max.
Exogenous ketones are not required by the ketogenic diet, but many people choose to supplement them.

Should I Take BHB on Keto?

BHB supplementation is most common among ultra-low-carb, ketogenic and paleo dieters.

Blood levels of BHB increase during low-carb dieting and are routinely measured in these dieting populations.

A boost in blood ketones indicates that the body is preferentially using ketone bodies for fuel, and benefiting from lowered blood insulin and blood glucose while burning stored body fat.

Supplementing with exogenous ketones is thought to decrease side effects when transitioning from a standard high-carb diet to low-carb/ketogenic diets (a.k.a. the keto flu).

Target consumers of BHB include individuals looking to supplement ketogenic diets, boost physical performance, avoid sugar highs and lows, improve mental performance, and enhance fat loss while maintaining muscle mass. Looking towards the future, BHB is a natural fuel alternative to carbohydrate-based (sugar-based) fuels, such as keto energy drinks, sports drinks, and snacks.

How To Use BHB Exogenous Ketones

Most beta-hydroxybutyrate comes in a powdered form as it can be too strong to put enough in a soft gel pill form.

BHB powder can be mixed into drinks like water and coffee depending on the flavor. KetoLogic's Keto BHB comes in delicious fruity flavors that mix well into water (sparkling or still) and smoothies. You can:

  • Shake a scoop of your favorite flavor into 10oz of still water for a refreshing sports drink alternative
  • Mix it into sparkling water to kick your soda craving
  • Mix into water and pop into a popsicle mold (hello, summer!)
Some BHB products taste terrible (it's the "salts") so you may prefer to take them with minimal water to "get it over with".

The BHB formulation is a proprietary blend of BHB sodium, calcium, and magnesium, balanced with potassium. Provided as a dry powder for reconstitution, the resulting drink is intended to fuel exercise as well as mental performance, such as avoiding afternoon brain fog.

How Does BHB Work?

BHB, as a naturally occurring energy substrate, is the transport (stable) form of ketone bodies.

BHB mineral salts, such as BHB sodium, calcium, and magnesium are hydrolyzed to free BHB and free metal ions upon ingestion. BHB then travels through the blood and is actively transported into the brain and muscle.

Once in the cell, BHB is converted into acetoacetate, then to acetyl CoA, to enter the citric acid cycle and generate ATP. ATP is the molecular unit of currency of intracellular energy transport. BHB also has a plethora of other effects, typically opposing the effects of glucose. Additional actions are potential HDAC inhibition and inflammation inhibition.

what is bhb beta-hydroxybutyrate

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