What is Beta-Hydroxybutyrate you may ask? BHB is a molecule that is considered a ketone body. It is one of the main molecules that helps your body produce energy in the absence of glucose. This molecule is essential if you’re using your own fat for fuel, or taking BHB as a supplement to increase energy production — essentially to be in nutritional ketosis.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BHB SUPPLEMENTATION?
Rapidly get you into ketosis
Forces your body to start using a sustained energy source
Helps you to skip the “Keto flu” when your body is transitioning from using glucose as an energy source to fats.
Could support weight loss when following a Keto diet/lifestyle
WHERE DOES BHB COME FROM?
ENDOGENOUS BETA-HYDROXYBUTYRATE (your body makes it)
Beta-hydroxybutyrate can be made in the body. Endogenous means your body makes it. Think EN = in.
In this scenario, when your body is done using up a certain substrate to create energy (acetyl-CoA) after eating carbohydrates, it will start to find creative ways to get the job done. If you didn’t do this, you’d be dead after fasting for a very short period of time. The liver will start making BHB from long chain and medium chain fatty acids that are liberated from your fat tissue. You are turning fat into fuel.
EXOGENOUS BETA-HYDROXYBUTYRATE (you put it into your body)
Sometimes waiting for your body to make the switch from carbohydrate metabolism to beta-hydroxybutyrate metabolism (aka ketosis), can be an uncomfortable and lengthy process. It can take days, up to two weeks! Another way to get BHB into your system so your body is using “clean” energy is by taking it supplementally. This is an exogenous BHB. Exogenous means you get it from outside of your body. Think EX = exit = outside.
Exogenous BHB is usually attached to some type of other compound (sodium, potassium, calcium, or magnesium) so that your body can process, then cleave the bond between the salt and the BHB. BHB + bound to a salt = BHB salts, which is what most people in the ketosis community call exogenous ketones.
WHAT DOES BETA HYDROXYBUTYRATE DO?
Beta-hydroxybutyrate floats around in your blood and can cross different important barriers to be able to be turned into energy at all times. Essentially, BHB = ATP = energy. One of the most important areas where this happens is in the brain. The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is usually a very tightly regulated interface, but since BHB is such a rock star and so hydrophilic, your brain knows to let it in so it can bring energy to the party at any time. This is one of the main reasons why increased BHB levels lead to heightened mental acuity.
HOW TO CHECK YOUR BETA HYDROXYBUTYRATE LEVELS?
Since beta-hydroxybutyrate is transported through the blood, the best way to check your true BHB levels is through a blood test. The good news is that you can just use a simple finger prick and an at home method that is very similar to how diabetics check their glucose. The bad news is that it can be pretty expensive at over $3 per strip.
To be in nutritional ketosis, you’re going to want to see your levels of BHB at about 0.5 – 3.0 mmol as a reading from your blood test. An easy and cost-effective way to get an idea of whether you’re in nutritional ketosis, or via taking exogenous ketones supplements, is to pee on a ketone stick which you can buy for cheap off Amazon.
IS BETA HYDROXYBUTYRATE SAFE?
Yes. Both producing BHB in your liver as well as supplementing with beta-hydroxybutyrate are very safe. Levels of 0.5 – 3.0 mmol measured in a blood test are completely normal. Higher amounts measure via peeing on a ketone strip are also normal – expect 5 -15 mmol.
SIDE EFFECTS OF BETA HYDROXYBUTYRATE
Some general side effects of your body producing beta hydroxybutyrate is essentially the lull in time it takes to switch from carbohydrate metabolism to fat metabolism, which can take 3-4 days, or up to two weeks in some cases. This can lead to mood swings, fatigue, and general low energy. If you want to skip that step, we recommend taking exogenous BHBs.
Some of the side effects of taking too much supplemental BHB is slight gastrointestinal distress. Basically, your body isn’t used to processing all of these ketones. If this is a problem, just take half the amount you take until your tolerance builds up.
WHEN TO TAKE BETA-HYDROXYBUTYRATE?
Now that you’re an expert BHB’er and you’d like to learn more about exogenous ketone supplements, make sure to try our Ketogo Sampler Pack.