What is BHB (Beta-Hydroxybutyrate) and Why You Should Take It?

Many of us do not know about the efficient fuel for our body, we only know of glucose consumed from crabs as a body fuel, when the most efficient and clean fuel for human body is ketone bodies from fat.

Yes, ketone bodies especially BHB is one of the most efficient and clean energy source for your body. You probably haven’t heard about it, but that’s going to change. In this article we are telling you everything about BHB and why your body needs it the most.

What is BHB?

Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) is among the three ketone bodies our body generates when it’s burning fat as fuel instead of carbs. BHB is also commonly known as 3-hydroxybutanoic acid (3HB) or simply 3-hydroxybutyric acid. It is the most abundant form of ketone bodies or energy molecules naturally generated in our bodies. It makes up for about 78% of total ketone bodies present in our blood stream. The other two ketone bodies viz. Acetoacetate and Acetone makes up for 20% and 2% of total ketone bodies in our blood, respectively.

BHB is basically the main ketone used by our body as a energy source since, it is very abundantly present in blood stream and also because it is very stable unlike acetone, which is mostly lost due to perspiration and respiration processes.

Now the question is how BHB is naturally produced in our bodies?

Well, liver actually converts the fat into ketone bodies by a process called “ketosis” to be used as a energy source in the absence of glucose.

That’s why whenever someone consumes low calories or low carbs, keep fasts, do daily strenuous exercise or follow a ketogenic diet, the body shifts the energy source from carbs to fats, as it’s more efficient and clean source of energy than glucose.

However, since the whole process of ketosis takes quite some time until the ketones are generated that’s why it is very important to supplement BHB from external sources and know more about its types.

The Types Of BHB

There are two types of BHB, since it can be made and used in the following two forms:

  1. Endogenous 
  2. Exogenous

As the name “endo” stands for “within” in Greek language, it clearly states the basic fact about it. Endogenous BHB is made “within” the human body by liver as a result of break down of fatty acids. It is produced by a process ketogenesis when a person fasts or live on a low-carb diet. So the best of way to increase the production of endogenous BHB is to reach a state of nutritional ketosis by reducing the intake of carbohydrates.

Exogenous BHB is not produced in the body, instead it can be taken as supplement to kickstart the nutritional state of ketosis faster than it’s naturally achieved by body. The exogenous ketones usually come in many different forms like salts, esters, oils, etc.

What are BHB Salts or Exogenous BHB?

As mentioned above, exogenous BHB can be obtained in the form of supplements and BHB salts are the most popular kind of exogenous ketones. BHB salts are prepared especially in lab to help people obtain a state of nutritional ketosis without any negative symptoms. It not only helps the body enter into ketosis but it also proves to be useful in sustaining this state.

These salts are a mix of exogenous BHB and mineral salts like sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium plus amino acids like creatine and lysine. This whole mixture of mineral salts and BHB ketones provides the best possible health benefits by buffering the intensity of fatty acids and resourcing the clean and fast energy for brain. Unlike ketone esters, BHB salts don’t taste bad and don’t cause gastrointestinal issues, since they get easily broken down during digestion and get released into bloodstream to provide energy. So pretty much the ketone levels in blood increase instantly and body gets to enjoy the perks of BHB right away.

5 Reasons Why Taking BHB Salts Is Beneficial

There are many reasons why you should take BHB salts, in a nutshell the 5 most basic benefits of taking BHB salts are as follows:

  1. They raise the ketone levels in bloodstream really fast, that’s how a ketosis state is achieved quickly and this accelerated production of ketones saves you from negative symptoms like keto flu.
  2. When you switch to a ketogenic diet, initially you might have faced some negative symptoms like brain fog, nausea, sore muscles, flu and cravings. All these symptoms can be avoided by taking BHB salts, since by consuming them you can enter ketosis immediately.
  3. BHB salts help normalize your blood sugar levels by keeping glucose low for almost 12 hours after taking them; this is a great benefit for people who are suffering from diabetes or metabolic syndrome.
  4. Those who are seeking fat burning benefits might want to consume it the most, since BHB salts have the capability to accelerate fat loss during workouts, since ketones burn fat for fuel.
  5. BHB salts are proved to be highly useful for obtaining long lasting energy, clearing brain fog and boosting physical performance, especially in athletes. 

Top 3 Researches Showing BHB Is A Rockstar Fuel

BHB provides clean and instant energy to body, especially when consumed in the form of supplements. The following top 3 researches clearly provide an evidence of BHB being a rockstar fuel for brain:

Research # 1

Mental clarity is the key to success in the highly evolving world of creative entrepreneurship. BHB has known to provide good fuel for brain that leads to accelerated mental capabilities and prevents brain fog. It has the capability to easily cross the blood-brain barrier i.e. from peripheral circulation towards the central nervous system, that’s how it is an absolute rockstar for providing quick and clean energy to not only the body but also the brain.

Related Study: Joel K Elmquist, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, United States

Research # 2

BHB is not only the primary energy source for brain but it also has metabolic influences on brain. Exogenous ketones or BHB is capable of triggering the release of brain chemicals known as neurotrophins which have the main supporting role for neuron function and synapse formation. In fact, the neurotrophin called “brain-derived neurotrophic factor” also gets triggered by BHB, which is a functioning protein in the brain for alleviation of depression and anxiety symptoms as well as cognitive function enhancement.

Related Study: The ketogenic diet: metabolic influences on brain excitability and epilepsy

Research # 3

A study was conducted on rats in 2017, which clearly proved that BHB has anti-inflammatory effects on the brain cells. Since, neuro-inflammation has been shown to have a major role in the development of depression and mental stress, BHB can be the rockstar to save you from such effects as it is able to inhibit NLRP3 inflammasome that causes stress-induced inflammation.

Related Study: Beta-hydroxybutyrate, an endogenic NLRP3 inflammasome inhibitor

Hence, proved according to these top 3 studies that BHB is a rockstar fuel for brain due to its combination of great benefits for brain health like release or neurotrophins, anti-inflammatory properties and energy provision for brain cells. This combination of benefits might as well benefit in various mental illnesses and conditions.

Our Take Away

BHB is a far more efficient source of energy for body and brain than glucose. Not only it works as a fuel and provides energy but it also helps in many mental illnesses, reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety and improve the cognitive functions. Thus, if you are to burn fat fast, stay energetic, improve cognitive capabilities and extend your lifespan then BHB is your best shot.

You can accelerate the production of BHB by fasting, curbing carbs consumption in your diet, following a ketogenic diet plan or taking supplements of exogenous ketones or using MCT oil.