BHB: Using Exogenous Ketones for Fat Burning & Energy

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BHB, BHB: Using Exogenous Ketones for Fat Burning & Energy

BHB, BHB: Using Exogenous Ketones for Fat Burning & EnergyBHB: Using Exogenous Ketones for Fat Burning & Energy

There is so much talk about the benefits of a ketogenic diet and its ability to improve fat burning, brain health, energy and anti-aging.  The main units of energy on a ketogenic diet are ketone bodies, of which beta hydroxybutyrate (BHB) is the main player!  This article will go over the health benefits of BHB and exogenous ketones. Additionally, this article will cover strategies on using exogenous ketones in your daily life.

From a technical standpoint, BHB is not a ketone body, but it acts in a similar fashion as ketone bodies from a therapeutic perspective.  The chemistry of BHB is that of a carboxylic acid as the carbonyl group (C=O) is bound to an -OH group instead of 2 carbon atoms.

From a chemistry perspective, ketones are carbonyl carbons (C=O) that are bonded with 2 carbon atoms.  One carbon has 4 available bonding spots.  In a ketone, one spot is double bonded to oxygen and there are 2 single bonds to carbon.

This is just chemistry talk however, as BHB acts from a physiological perspective as a ketone.  The other 2 ketones we find produced in the body include acetone and acetoacetic acid.

BHB, BHB: Using Exogenous Ketones for Fat Burning & Energy

How Does the Body Make BHB?

BHB and other ketones are made in the body as a byproduct of fat metabolism.  BHB is a measure of how the body is using fat as fuel.

When blood sugar lowers due to a low carbohydrate diet or fasting periods, the liver begins to produce BHB from medium and long chain fatty acids that come in from our diet or from our stored fat tissue (1).  You can measure BHB in the blood to find out how much your body is producing.

When the body makes BHB it is called endogenous ketone production.  Endomeans from within and genous means formation.

When you take supplemental BHB it is called exogenous ketone production.  Exomeans from outside-in.

BHB, BHB: Using Exogenous Ketones for Fat Burning & Energy

What Does BHB Do For Our Body?

The body can use 2 major forms of energy, glucose and ketones.  When blood glucose goes down, the body turns to ketones such as BHB as a form of energy the body uses to fuel the muscles, organs and brain (2).

Ketones are very clean energy sources as they produce far less metabolic waste and free radicals than glucose metabolism. Additionally, ketones such as BHB produce far more energy per compound than glucose.

Scientists used to think that the brain could only use glucose as energy and as glucose dropped, brain function would decrease. However, the latest science has made it clear that ketones such as BHB are able to cross through the tight blood brain barrier and bring energy to the neurological tissue (3).

Ketones can make up about 65% of the brain’s energy demands during times of starvation or extended fasts or individuals in deep ketosis.

Although there are 2 other major ketones (acetone and acetoacetic acid), BHB is the one that is able to cross through a wide variety of barriers in the body to get into the cells and be used as energy. Much of the other ketones are lost in the urine and breath.

BHB, BHB: Using Exogenous Ketones for Fat Burning & Energy

How Does BHB Make Energy in the Body?

The outer surface of every cell of the body is a lipid or fat bilayer.  Glucose is carried into cells by the hormone insulin and its interaction with the insulin receptor on the cell surface.

Ketones on the other hand do not depend upon a hormone carrier and are able to fuse into the cell and goes into the mitochondria, which is the energy furnace of the cell.  The mitochondria are the main parts of the cell that take chemical compounds and produce electrical energy to drive cellular function.

Within the mitochondria, BHB cleaves the carboxyl acid and becomes another ketone called acetoacetate.  Acetoacetate then adds a CoA group and forms acetoacetyl-CoA. This then becomes acetone and then acetyl-CoA.

Acetyl-CoA goes into the Krebs cycle where it is used to produce ATP to fuel the cells.  ATP is the major component of all energy production.  So when we use BHB to produce ATP, it is very metabolically clean, cost us very little cellular energy and produces a rampant amount of free energy to be used!

BHB, BHB: Using Exogenous Ketones for Fat Burning & Energy

What is Supplemental BHB?

New technology has enabled us to manufacture BHB to mimic those created in the body in a safe and effective supplemental form. The BHB works best when it is attached to a mineral compound such as sodium, potassium, calcium or magnesium to form a ketone salt.

When you consume this, it is in a form the body recognizes and it cleaves the bond between the mineral salt and the BHB. The mineral is used by the body in a similar fashion as when we eat it in food and the BHB goes directly into the blood stream where it can interact and move into cells to be used as energy.

BHB, BHB: Using Exogenous Ketones for Fat Burning & Energy

Benefits of Supplemental BHB

Taking supplemental ketones (exogenous ketones) will help the body to get into physiological ketosis within minutes.  It will also help the body to adapt to using ketones as an energy source much more quickly than doing it by diet alone.

This allows the body to use ketones as an energy source immediately and without the challenging side effects associated with keto-adaptation.  This would include the “keto-flu,” brain fog, keto breath and more.

BHB, BHB: Using Exogenous Ketones for Fat Burning & Energy

Best Times to Take Supplemental Ketones

Most people do very well taking supplemental BHB on a daily basis to improve their energy and support higher level memory and overall brain function.

Here are some additional times to take BHB for best benefits:

Post Carb Meals:  After a higher carbohydrate meal in order to reduce the negative effects of blood sugar imbalances and get back into a state of ketosis.

Pre-Workout:  Before a workout for more energy and better overall strength and performance.

Fasting:  Take on an empty stomach to suppress hunger during times of intermittent fasting or prolonged fasts

Cravings:  Take during stressful times to suppress cravings and emotional eating binges

Morning:  In the morning for an energy and mental boost to start your day

BHB, BHB: Using Exogenous Ketones for Fat Burning & Energy

Testing BHB in the Blood:

Testing BHB levels in the blood is simple but can get pricey if you are doing it many times a day.  The Precision Xtra blood glucose and ketone meter is a good buy at $28-$30.   The expensive part is the ketone test strips here which can cost $4 each.   If you are looking at testing yourself every day it is going to cost you $120 a month and the $30 meter.  Here is a starter kit you can get on Amazon.

Most people will enter into a light nutritional ketosis (between 0.5-1.0 mmol/L on the meter) within two or three days.  It typically takes two to three weeks to get into a stable and optimal ketosis of 1.5-3.0 mmol/L (4).

This test is slightly invasive as you have to prick your blood and wipe it onto the strip.  But it is a test you can do from home anytime you like.

What is the Safety of BHB?

BHB is safe when the body produces it under normal circumstances and when it is used as a supplement (5).  The only individuals who have risk with BHB would be uncontrolled diabetics as they risk going into a state of ketoacidosis.

Our bodies have adapted since the beginning of mankind to be able to produce BHB and use it as an efficient fuel source when food was scarce which has allowed humanity to survive food shortages and other circumstances where access to dietary carbohydrates are limited.

There are whole populations in the Northern latitudes that spend most of their lives in a perpetual state of ketosis due to the lack of vegetation available to them.  They live off of fatty fish, whale blubber and other fatty animal foods native to those regions.

BHB, BHB: Using Exogenous Ketones for Fat Burning & Energy

When Is BHB Unsafe?

Uncontrolled diabetics may face some risks in using exogenous ketones. This is because when the body is unable to produce insulin (type I diabetics and extreme type II diabetics), it is unable to get sugar or glucose into the cells.  Therefore, the body will start producing ketones.  If these individuals do not use an insulin injection, they can overtime build up unsafe levels of ketones (6).

The unsafe levels of ketones are exponentially higher than what someone could do through diet and supplementation.  For example, nutritional ketosis will range from 1.5 – 5 mmol/L.  It is actually quite hard to get to 5 mmol/L through diet and supplementation.

Ketoacidosis ranges from 20-25+ mmol/L.  That is 4-5 times more ketones than what most could do through super strict diet and supplementation.  This form of ketoacidosis will NOT HAPPEN as long as you have a normal functioning pancreas and can produce any level of insulin.

Even in these rare population groups that can get into ketoacidosis (uncontrolled diabetics), BHB can actually be helpful for these individuals if they are using their medical insulin as it will help the body become more efficient at using ketones as fuel.

Not much is known about how ketones impact pregnancy and so we recommend against pregnant women from going on a strict ketogenic diet or using supplemental BHB.

BHB, BHB: Using Exogenous Ketones for Fat Burning & Energy

Possible Side Effects of Ketone Usage

The major side effects are all involved with the stress that comes with switching from a sugar burner to a fat burner who is keto adapted.  During this period, people have challenges with low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and the bodies inefficient usage of ketones.

The body takes time to adapt to the new stress of hypoglycemia and must create new enzymes to produce ketones faster and use them in the cells of the body.  This lag time means that you may experience low energy, brain fog, bad breath, etc. This can typically last for 3-4 days and up to 2 weeks or so.

The best way to skip this challenging phase is to use supplemental exogenous ketones.  The side effect of taking too much exogenous ketones is that they can cause digestive distress if taking too many too quickly.

If you notice digestive distress, take less. I would recommend going with a ¼ scoop for a few days and see how you do.  If you do well, then go up to ½ scoop and eventually progress up to ¾ scoop and 1 full scoop.

BHB, BHB: Using Exogenous Ketones for Fat Burning & Energy

The Best Form of Supplemental BHB

There are many companies who produce exogenous ketones and they can differ based on raw ingredients used as well as fillers and sweeteners.  Many forms are using a sugar alcohols such as erythritol as a main sweetener.

The problem with erythritol is that it can disturb the gut microbiome and contribute to digestive problems.  When people react poorly to exogenous ketone supplements, this is the first place I consider.

This is why we use stevia, which is much more tolerable to the microbiome, as our sweetening agent.  Stevia has significantly more natural anti-oxidants and other health benefits than erythritol.

Additionally, for best results, BHB should be combined with MCT powder to help with slowing down the absorption rate.  This will slow down the initial rush of ketones but increase the amount of time that BHB stays in the blood stream.

This slow and steady production is much more in rhythm with the body’s natural production and will be much better tolerated.

BHB, BHB: Using Exogenous Ketones for Fat Burning & Energy

What I Used and Recommend

Exogenous ketones have a wide range of benefits that can enhance your fat-burning lifestyle. I personally have used them in the past as a strategy to heighten my mental performance and give my workouts an extra boost.

However, I actually prefer using a C8 only MCT oil which turns into ketones quickly and has natural gut and immune supportive benefits to it.   Keto Brain is a pure 8 carbon chain caprylic acid.  It is free of lauric acid and capric acid.  This formulation turns very quickly into ketones in the body.

This means that it is instant fuel for the brain.  It helps to keep ketones up and allows the body to easily switch over from burning sugar to ketones as its primary fuel source.

Keto Brain is extracted from coconut oil in a time consuming process.  No metal catalysts are used in the manufacturing process, and every batch of our Keto Brain is tested for heavy metals and other toxins to ensure it is 100% pure.

Keto Brain works directly in cells to give you an extra boost to maximize your performance.  Tired of constantly craving sugar or caffeine?  Want a thermogenic immune boost with your energy?  Try Keto Brain and I am sure you will see a significant improvement!

BHB, BHB: Using Exogenous Ketones for Fat Burning & Energy

Source for this Article Include

1. Dhilln KK, Gupta S. Biochemistry, Ketogenesis. [Updated 2018 Mar 31]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2018 Jan-. PMID: 29630231
2. Puchalska P, Crawford PA. Multi-dimensional Roles of Ketone Bodies in Fuel Metabolism, Signaling, and Therapeutics. Cell Metab. 2017;25(2):262-284. PMID: 28178565
3. Lei E, Vacy K, Boon WC. Fatty acids and their therapeutic potential in neurological disorders. Neurochem Int. 2016;95:75-84. PMID: 26939763
4. Mitchell GA, Kassovska-bratinova S, Boukaftane Y, et al. Medical aspects of ketone body metabolism. Clin Invest Med. 1995;18(3):193-216. PMID: 7554586
5. Stubs BJ, Cox PJ, Evans RD, et al. On the Metabolism of Exogenous Ketones in Humans. Front Physiol. 2017;8:848. PMID: 29163194
6. EL-Mohandes N, Huecker MR. Diabetic Ketoacidosis, Pediatric. [Updated 2018 Jan 17]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2018 Jan-. PMID: 29262031

BHB, BHB: Using Exogenous Ketones for Fat Burning & Energy

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  1. Hi Dr. Jockers,

    Would this be helpful for someone with Hypothyroidism and HPA Axis dysfunction? I started a Keto/IF lifestyle after watching your videos early July and though I feel so much better inflammation wise, I am not seeming to be super fat adaptive as of yet. Would KetoEdge stress out my body with these things going on? I’d love to try it but want to make sure first.

    Thanks so much,

  2. Hi Dr. Jockers! How do you determine what the best dosage amount is? I have a product on my desk that has a proprietary blend of Magnesium, Calcium, and Sodium (all from goBHB) and the total amount is 800mg for 2 capsules (1 serving size). However, I’ve seen a bunch of products in powder form that have around 15 grams per serving which is significantly more than 800mg in the 2 capsules.



    1. Hey Chris, that 11.7 grams is the amount per serving that is shown to raise blood ketone levels up around 1.0 mmol. So if you are looking at an 800 mg dosage, that isn’t going to make much difference in terms of blood ketone levels.

      15 grams will probably boost blood ketone levels up 1.5 mmol over what they were before taking them.

  3. Hi. Thanks for all the information you provide. I’m in Canada and was wondering where I could purchase the Ketoedge. My recent blood test shows my Hs-C Reactive Protein at 38.21. The range is 0.00-5.00. Some info on the internet indicate that is inflammation in the heart arteries. I try to do Keto and some IF. What I’m I doing wrong. Appreciate your help. Have a wonderful day. Yvonne

  4. Hi Dr Jockers
    For someone working on removing cancerous tumours, I heard eating meat and dairy should be avoided, eating a plant based diet instead. I did a colon cleanse and fast for 7 days, excess weight just dropped off. I avoid carbs & sugar too

  5. Great article – so i’m currently on a biologic treatment for Atopic Dermatisis (Dupixent) which keep my leukocyte levels at bay – was wondering if KetoEdge would help with this so i can eventually wean myself off dupixent?

    1. Yes absolutely the Keto Edge can be very helpful for your health but be sure to talk with your physician if you are looking to change any of your medication doses.

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