Today we’re going to break down one of the top buzzwords in the ketogenic diet community: beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB). This article is all about what is beta-hydroxybutyrate, effects of BHB, and why you would want to use BHB for energy.
Are you ready for a basic metabolism overview? On a high-carbohydrate diet, our body break down carbs into glucose, and that point then breaks down further and enters mitochondria to make ATP, which is the energy system of your cells. To put in simple words, you use carbohydrates for energy.
Once you are on a ketogenic diet, you are breaking down fats into energy sources called ketone bodies, and this is how you deliver your body with energy, in place of carbohydrates. At the end of the day, your body is going to either use carbs for fuel or fat for fuel.
Why is utilizing fats for energy desirable? Think about energy production in your body much like macro energy intake on a planetary level. Coal is gross, dirty, and pollutes the environment. However, you still need to get energy somehow.
Solar power is pretty much limitless, clean, and free. This is your body while it’s in ketosis.
WHAT IS BETA HYDROXYBUTYRATE?
Beta-hydroxybutyrate is a molecule that is considered a “ketone body.” It is one of the primary particles that support your body to produce energy in the absence of blood glucose.
This molecule is vital if you are using your fat for fuel, or taking BHB as an exogenous ketone supplement to increase the energy production level and it is fundamentally to be in nutritional ketosis.
Biochemically speaking, beta-hydroxybutyrate is NOT a legitimate ketone body. Ketone or ketones bodies are technically molecules with carbonyl carbons which are bonded to two extra carbon atoms. One carbon has four available bonds. Once that carbon is double bonded to oxygen and also has two single bonds to carbon, we have a ketone body. On the off chance, you have a carbon atom that is double bonded to an oxygen (carbonyl group), which is also bound to an -OH group instead of two different carbon atoms, that would be a carboxylic acid, but that does not matter in this situation.
Nonetheless, for all purposes of the ketogenic diet, beta-hydroxybutyrate should be considered one of the three ketone bodies. Your body uses BHB primarily for energy in the state of ketosis and it performs the main function of other ketone bodies.
WHERE DOES BHB COME FROM?
Beta-hydroxybutyrate can be made in the body. In biochemistry, when something is endogenous, it means that it originates from within. Think that the prefix -en = in. In this context, endogenous ketones are made within your own body.
Once your body is done utilizing up a specific substrate to create energy (acetyl-CoA) after eating carbohydrates, it will start to search creative ways to get the job done right. This is the switch control to ketosis. If you didn’t do this, you would be dead after fasting for a brief period.
Under normal conditions, the liver will start making beta-hydroxybutyrate from a medium chain and long chain fatty acids that are liberated from your fat tissue. You are turning fat into fuel — great work. This is the reason why individuals can fast for weeks at a time and still function as normal humans. You can also get beta-hydroxybutyrate and many other ketones through your diet.
A great way to force your body back into ketosis after a cheat meal (hey, no shame… it happens to all of us) is to take exogenous ketones. The surge of usable BHB kicks your body back into it’s ketogenic cycle.
Some side effects of your body producing beta-hydroxybutyrate is the lull in time it takes to shift from carbohydrate metabolism to fat metabolism, which can take 2 to 4 days. This can lead to low energy, fatigue, and mood swings. If you want to avoid that step, we recommend taking exogenous BHBs to switch your body over effortlessly.
Some of the significant side effects of taking too many supplemental beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) is slight gastrointestinal distress. Your body is not used to handling all of these ketones. If this is an issue, just stair step the amount you take until tolerance. For instance, 1/4 scoop for a few days, 1/2 scoop for a few days, then 3/4, then a full scoop.
After your body adjusts, it should have no issue utilizing all the new ketone bodies you’re supplying it. You’re fueled, feeling better, and burning fat!