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J J   13 Feb 2020

What is BHB and How it Helps With Ketosis


Keto, ketones, and ketosis

If you’ve been looking up ways to lose weight, chances are you’ve heard or read about the ketogenic diet. It’s known to be that one diet where you suppress the amount of carbs you eat and rely on fats to do the rest of the work. 


While it may sound unsafe and counterintuitive, especially since some still insist fatty food is always bad for you, this diet actually relies on how our body relies on a natural metabolic process called ketosis. Ketosis is when the body uses ketones instead of carbs when you are super low on carbs and coincidentally, the body produces ketones from stored fat. 


Since the ketogenic diet relies on ketones produced from body fat, supplement companies started producing ketone supplements. 


What are BHB supplements? How do they help with weight loss? What BHB supplements should you take?

What is BHB?

When talking about the ketogenic diet and supplementation, it wouldn’t take long before someone brings up BHBs. 


BHB is an organic compound and one of the three major ketone groups the body produces, alongside Acetone and Acetoacetate. [1]


What makes BHB unique is how it’s the most abundant form of ketone the body produces during ketosis. How about the other two? Acetone is the least produced and is often exhaled, acetoacetate is just part of the overall metabolic process and not the “final product.” 


BHB is produced after acetoacetate, as specific enzymes break down acetoacetate to form produce. BHB is then the exact ketone used as fuel for the body. 


The best and most efficient way to produce BHB in large amounts is by inducing ketosis. As mentioned earlier, you can only be in a state of ketosis through limited consumption of carbohydrates and fasting. 

How do you know if you’re in ketosis? 

You can tell you’re in ketosis when your breath smells fruity or has an acetone smell. You can also opt to buy a ketone blood tester to see if your blood ketone levels are above a certain point. 


What if you just can’t activate ketosis? What if all the strict dieting you do just doesn’t lead your body to produce ketones. This is where BHB supplements come in handy. BHB is helpful for those days where you just can’t get into ketosis no matter what you do.

Benefits of BHB Supplementation

BHB supplements can help you get back into ketosis and therefore burn more fat. However, weight loss isn’t the only benefit you can expect with taking BHB supplements. Here are other ways BHB supplements can benefit you:

  • Since BHB is the predominant ketone group, supplementing with BHB will naturally add to the clean energy boost that ketosis provides. 
  • BHB is converted into ATP, which is the currency of energy by the human body. More ATP results in better and more efficient cellular processes. [2]
  • There’s also an antioxidant benefit to taking ketones like BHB. 
  • BHB can promote a youthful look by reducing cellular oxidation which causes ageing. [3]
  • Enhances brain function such as focus and memory by directly supplying energy needed by the brain.
  • Reduced cravings and hunger.

Should you take BHB supplements on a ketogenic diet?

The whole point of the ketogenic diet is to train your body to rely on ketones as a main source of energy as opposed to glucose through ketosis. 


The problem with ketosis is, it takes a lot of effort and disciplined eating (and even exercise) to get you into that state. More often than not, people on a ketogenic diet are perfectly fine not being in ketosis so long as they do have significant weight loss. 


If you’re the type who likes to maximize the ketogenic diet to its full potential and actually set being in ketosis for prolonged periods as your goal, taking BHB supplements should be a great way to achieve that goal faster.

The Three Types of BHB supplements

The good thing about BHB is it can be produced exogenously or outside the body through rather synthetic means. Below are the common forms of BHB found in the market today.

  • MCT Oils. While technically not a BHB supplement, MCTs (short for medium chain triglycerides) can help improve BHB levels by indirectly promoting fat metabolism. MCTs can naturally be found in virgin coconut oil, but there are also specific supplements that have concentrated MCTs.
    1. Many ketogenic dieters are probably familiar with MCT oils, especially since coconut oil is often lauded as the perfect fat for this type of diet. However, MCT oils are quite calorie-dense and could unnecessarily add to your calorie count if all you want is a quick ketosis boost. [4]


  • Ketone Esters. Ketone esters are made up of a raw ketone molecule which could be BHB or Acetoacetate, bound to a ketosis starter like glycerol. While these are super effective, they can also be quite expensive and may not be ideal if you have long-term sustainability in mind.


  • Ketone Salts. These salts are made up of a mineral (usually sodium, potassium or magnesium) and BHB. Ketone salts work because the body separates the ketone molecule from the salt, thus boosting blood ketone levels. This form also has the advantage of having electrolytes, and those on a ketogenic diet know very well the importance of adequate electrolyte levels. [6]
    1. This is a cost-effective option for those who want a short ketosis boost. 


Under ketone salts, we have the three main BHB forms: Magnesium BHB, Calcium BHB, and Sodium BHB. 


Of the three, most would opt to get either Magnesium or Calcium BHB because these two offer minerals that are often deficient in those who are trying to lose weight. 


There’s also the fact that sodium BHB consumption can lead to excessive sodium intake. Too much sodium has been linked to excessive urination, persistent thirst, swelling, headaches, and even a contributing factor to heart disease and high blood pressure.

We conclude that sodium reduction results in decreased CVD risk in the general population, and some susceptible subgroups may especially benefit from preventive efforts.” [7]


The ketogenic diet relies on ketosis, a metabolic process that produces ketones as a substitute for glucose. Ketones are produced by breaking down fat, but sometimes it takes a lot of effort to activate ketosis. 


BHB supplements like Magnesium BHB, Calcium BHB, and Sodium BHB can help support weight loss efforts by helping dieters get into a state of ketosis. Other than weight loss, BHB supplements can also provide benefits for brain function, antioxidation, appetite control, and more energy throughout the day.



  1. Simeone TA, Simeone KA, Rho JM. Ketone Bodies as Anti-Seizure Agents. Neurochem Res. 2017;42(7):2011–2018. doi:10.1007/s11064-017-2253-5
  2. Cooper GM. The Cell: A Molecular Approach. 2nd edition. Sunderland (MA): Sinauer Associates; 2000. Metabolic Energy. Available from:
  3. Pinto A, Bonucci A, Maggi E, Corsi M, Businaro R. Anti-Oxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Ketogenic Diet: New Perspectives for Neuroprotection in Alzheimer’s Disease. Antioxidants (Basel). 2018;7(5):63. Published 2018 Apr 28. doi:10.3390/antiox7050063
  4. Liu YM, Wang HS. Medium-chain triglyceride ketogenic diet, an effective treatment for drug-resistant epilepsy and a comparison with other ketogenic diets. Biomed J. 2013;36(1):9-15.
  5. Kovács Z, D’Agostino DP, Diamond D, Kindy MS, Rogers C, Ari C. Therapeutic Potential of Exogenous Ketone Supplement Induced Ketosis in the Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders: Review of Current Literature. Front Psychiatry. 2019;10:363. Published 2019 May 23. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00363
  6. Harvey CJDC, Schofield GM, Williden M. The use of nutritional supplements to induce ketosis and reduce symptoms associated with keto-induction: a narrative review. PeerJ. 2018;6:e4488. Published 2018 Mar 16. doi:10.7717/peerj.4488
  7. Morrison AC, Ness RB. Sodium intake and cardiovascular disease. Annu Rev Public Health. 2011;32:71-90.
CYOS blog content is for informational and educational purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice, diagnosis or treatment recommendations. Always consult with your doctor or medical professional before using any dietary supplements or if you suspect you have any medical concerns or issues.




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