What is BHB and Should You Be Taking It on Keto?
By: Bulletproof Staff
July 25, 2019
- If you’ve been researching a keto diet or if you’ve been restricting your carbs for a while, chances are you’ve come across beta-hydroxybutyrate, or BHB supplements.
- These powders, pills, and drinks promise to make keto easier and boost your results if you’re already in ketosis. But, does it work?
- You might see a rise in ketones, but supplements come with a number of drawbacks.
- This article explains everything you need to know about BHB, how it works on a keto diet, and whether or not you should add a BHB supplement to your stack.
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If you’ve been researching a keto diet or if you’ve been restricting your carbs for a while, chances are you’ve come across beta-hydroxybutyrate, or BHB supplements. These powders, pills, and drinks promise to make keto easier and boost your results if you’re already in ketosis. But, does it work?
This article explains everything you need to know about BHB, how it works on a keto diet, and whether or not you should add a BHB supplement to your stack.
What are ketones?
Your body can use two main fuel sources: glucose and ketones. Glucose is what you get when you break down sugar and carbs. When you have more glucose than you can use, your body stores the excess in your liver and muscles in the form of glycogen. When those tanks are full, glucose gets stored as fat.
Ketones come into play when glucose and glycogen aren’t available. When you’re low on glucose, your body produces three types of ketone bodies: acetoacetate (AcAc), acetone, and beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) that your brain and body can use for fuel. You feel all the amazing benefits of ketosis when your body is making and using BHB.
You can read all about ketones and ketosis here.
Is it a good idea to raise your ketones?
Most people agree that burning ketones at least most of the time is a much more pleasant and productive experience than burning glucose all the time. When you burn glucose, you feel energetic and alert right after you eat, then you crash and get hungry and distracted when you need to replenish. When you’re burning ketones, your energy is much more steady, and you don’t get the hunger, cravings, and distraction like you get when you burn glucose.
When your ketone levels rise, hunger runs in the background instead of in the limelight. Because you’re able to go hours without thinking about food, you can focus on your work, on your kids, and on anything that matters to you — instead of looking for ways to satisfy your cravings.
So, the short answer is yes, it’s a good thing to have ketones in your bloodstream.
Why you want to increase your BHB
When you first start to shift into ketosis, your body starts pumping out acetoacetate. Acetoacetate molecules will either power cells, or convert to BHB and acetone, the two other types of ketone bodies. As you get deeper into ketosis, your BHB levels will rise, which is when you start feeling unstoppable.
You’ll know when you start making a good amount of BHB because you’ll experience:
- Weight loss
- Reduced cravings and hunger
- Skyrocketing energy
- Focus and brainpower
This is what drew you to keto in the first place.
You may experience a rough period of keto flu while you transition from burning sugar to burning fat. It’s totally normal, it doesn’t last long, and all of the amazing benefits of keto are waiting for you on the other side. Hang in there!
How to raise your ketone levels
A blood ketone level of 0.8 mmol/L is where the magic happens. The only way to know what you’re burning at any given time is to test yourself with urine strips (least accurate but decent), a breath keto meter, or a blood keto meter (most accurate). With experience, you can gauge whether you’re burning glucose or ketones by how you feel. Here are a few ways to raise your ketones.
The most common way to increase your ketones is to restrict your carbs and sugar — aka a ketogenic diet, or keto diet. When you limit carbs, your body will burn through its glucose (blood sugar) and glycogen, which is stored glucose. When that’s all gone, you will start making ketones.
You can make the switch faster by exercising. A good workout will burn through your glucose and glycogen stores so that you shift to burning fat faster than you would if you waited for it to happen.
Exogenous ketones, aka ketone supplements
Some people take BHB in the form of ketone supplements, but there are a number of drawbacks with the ones on the market. About halfway through this article you’ll find the pros and cons of all of the different types of exogenous ketones. Sure, exogenous ketones will raise your ketone levels, but at what cost?
There are three main types of ketone supplements on the market. Here are the main downsides of each:
- Ketone esters. Ketone esters are a BHB molecule bound to an alcohol molecule (1,3 butanediol, not ethanol, so don’t worry about getting tipsy). Ketone esters do raise your ketones, but they’re fairly new to market and we’re still learning what they do, good and bad. Plus, they’re expensive and they taste like industrial antiseptic.
- Ketone salts. Ketone salts are bound to a mineral, which makes them taste a little better than ketone esters. Ketone salts are also new to the supplements market, and the full range of side effects hasn’t been established yet. Some people report digestive trouble, which isn’t fun.
- Raspberry ketones. Raspberry ketones do zippo for your ketone levels. If you see a modest rise in ketones, it’s because the manufacturer included a little fat in the formula.
Brain Octane Oil – the best way to raise your ketone levels
The most efficient way to raise your ketone levels is to incorporate Brain Octane Oil into your low-carb diet. Brain Octane Oil is a medium-chain fat that skips a few metabolic steps and converts directly into ketones that your body can use almost immediately. It’s made of triple-distilled caprylic acid, which is a fat that’s so efficient at producing ketones that it raises ketones four times faster than low-carb dieting or fasting alone. A UCSD study found that caprylic acid, raised ketones more efficiently than any other type of MCT. Brain Octane Oil happens to be 100% caprylic acid.
Your body recognizes Brain Octane Oil as a fat and knows what to do with it, unlike the chemical compounds containing BHB that have hit the market in the last few years.
Your body will create all the BHB you need if you create the right conditions for it. Limit carbs, add Brain Octane Oil, and watch your levels climb. Save your money, skip the risk factor, and let your body do its thing!
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