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BHB Salts Beta Hydroxybutyrate

Quick Summary Points

  • BHB salts or Beta-Hydroxybutyrate is a unique molecule that is produced in the body when free fatty acids are broken down in the liver
  • BHB salts is one of the most abundant molecules to help to produce energy in the absence of glucose
  • Physiological changes from consuming BHB salts include an improvement in insulin sensitivity and an increase in ketone production
  • Benefits of BHB salts include increased fat loss whilst maintaining or improving lean muscle composition. Improved cognitive function and improved athletic performance.
  • When BHB & MCT oil are consumed together an even greater state of ketosis may be achieved.
  • BHB salts may provide additional long term health benefits, studies are currently underway
  • BHB salts have a beneficial high absorption rate and act as a diuretic

Beta-hydroxybutyrate is a unique ketogenic ingredient that offers number of benefits especially when it comes to energy supplements and fat burning. Within the supplement, health and sports nutrition industry, this ingredient is receiving strong interest. Without further ado, we’ll take a look into what this ketogenic ingredient does and what it has to offer. 

What is BHB Salts (Beta-Hydroxybutyrate)

Beta-hydroxybutyrate or commonly known as BHB  is a ketogenic molecule that is produced when free fatty acids are broken down in the liver.  The main functionality of BHB is that it helps the body produce energy in the absence of glucose. But what are “BHB Salts”? BHB salt is a compound that consists of sodium, potassium and the ketone body beta-hydroxybutyrate. These molecules together provide pure energy to fuel the human brain and other tissues of the body. 

What Does BHB Salts Do? 

The body produces three types of ketone bodies that are used in the absence of glucose. These include acetoacetate, acetone and beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB).  Amongst the three, BHB is the most abundant and is most commonly used as the alternative fuel source to glucose because of its ability to cross barriers where other molecules can’t. The main role of BHB helps to provide the energy to the brain and body and can assist with mental and physical performance. 

Benefits of BHB Salts in Supplements

There are multiple benefits when it comes to supplementing with BHB salts. The fundamental benefit of BHB salts is that they have the ability to raise the level of ketones in your blood, which means that you are getting extra energy, improved cognitive function & accalerated fat burning. This, in  particular would be a great addition no matter what exercise or training you do.

By supplementing with BHB, athletes can improve metabolic efficiency. This means your body is using better fuel that burns more efficiently over longer periods of time and decreases the amount of fuel you need while performing. This often occurs when glucose is absent and as a result ketones become the essential source. It has also been researched that athletes have shown improved performance when ketone levels are high. Many studies have been conducted on BHB which have shown that it has helped improve various areas including improved stamina and physical performance, efficient weight loss, cancer prevention, cognitive improvement and anti-inflammatory properties.  

BHB & Mixed Salts 

When you consume a supplement that contains BHB salts, it gets absorbed into the blood where it dissociates into free sodium and potassium ions. As BHB is a water-based solution, consuming the product will result in adding more ketones into your blood. This allows your body to have better energy production. But studies have shown that BHB is said to be most stable when bound to minerals like sodium, calcium or magnesium. It provides the additional benefits through the extra electrolytes and nutrients that are required to make the ketones.

It gives the option for inducing a state of ketosis and elevating blood ketone level. Let’s take a look to see what happens to BHB when bound to other minerals.

  • BHB + Sodium – By allowing more sodium into your body, the movement of ions sodium across the cell membrane can help facilitate muscle contraction and nerve impulses.
  • BHB + Calcium – Certain companies choose to avoid high sodium loads and instead use the calcium content from BHB ketone salts instead. By using BHB + Calcium the absorption is slowed down which may not be ideal for those who are looking to optimise brain uptake of ketones.
  • BHB + Magnesium – Magnesium is a crucial ingredient for everyone. For trainers and athletes magnesium gets lost due to increased sweating and urination so having the magnesium there can reduce the risk of magnesium deficiency

As stated above BHB can be bound to other minerals and  can target different areas. You may be able to find that some supplement companies will include all three in the formulation to cover all areas to induce ketosis. These compounds ideally work together in your body when carbohydrate intake is absent. 

BHB & Cognitive Function

As mentioned earlier, BHB salts have shown to improve cognitive function. With the ketogenic diet becoming a more popular method of improving cognition, this can benefit not only for the people on the diet but with the utilisation of supplements BHB salts research have shown promising results. 

BHB & MCT Oils 

By combining the BHB and MCT (Medium Chain Triglycerides) oils together, blood ketone levels  increase and can stay in the body for longer.  The combination of ingredients have been proven effective in terms of weight loss and lowers the chance of gastrointestinal distress that may sometimes occur when consuming MCT oil alone. As the modern diet relies on high carbs, many people find it challenging to make the transition. This is where BHB and MCT come into play. You may find that many companies are starting to add MCT oil in BHB supplements or seeing the two ingredients stacked together. 

BHB & Weight Loss 

For most people their goal is all about losing weight and staying lean. With this in mind, people choose to restrict carbs or start fasting in order to burn fat and get lean. But now there is the option of  supplementing with BHB as it can help to suppress your appetite to assist with losing weight and burn body fat. More importantly, ketones have the ability to act as a diuretic, so you will be losing salt. This means that by adding BHB salts back into your body you are replenishing what your body has lost. 

BHB Side Effects

As with most supplements, there is the possibility of experiencing side effects although the chances are still low. The most common side effect to look out for is the imbalance in electrolyte levels, flatulence and minor gastrointestinal distress. Gastrointestinal distress may occur if you are consuming at a higher amount of BHB because your body is not used to processing all the ketones in your body. It is suggested to start off with a small amount to asses tolerance before consumption. 

BHB Is it Safe? 

As far as all the research goes, BHB salts are deemed safe.  It does not contain any banned substances and is produced in your liver. So taking this supplement in conjunction with your diet should not have any adverse effects.

Manufacturers & Suppliers of BHB Salts

For those individuals who are new to the scene and don’t know where to start we'd recommend one buy BHB salts from major United States or Western European sourced ingredient wholesalers. For end consumers & to make this process easy be sure to look out for the trademark goBHB™ on the label of your BHB supplement . This has been quality tested and patented under strict conditions to ensure the best quality outcome.

Final Verdict 

Overall, BHB salts are a game changer for dieters, performance athletes & the overall population as education increases on low carb diets & ketogenic eating. For trainers & athletes out there who are looking to increase ketone levels and improve performance whilst optimising body composition levels look no further than BHB salts. More studies are sure to come in the near future to confirm what we already know to be true & that is BHB salts when combined with a low carb or keto diet aid in fat burning, cognitive function & athletic performance. 

Bistrian BR, Blackburn GL, Flatt JP, Sizer J, Scrimshaw NS, Sherman M. Nitrogen metabolism and insulin requirements in obese diabetic adults on a proteinsparing modified fast. Diabetes 1976; 25: 494–504.
Foster et al (2003), A Randomized Trial of a Low-Carbohydrate Diet for Obesity. New England Journal of Medicine, 348: 2082-2090

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