BHB supplements are trending. They are arguably the number 1 searched for weight loss pill in the United States. They are positioned to help you lose weight if you are on the keto diet. BHB supplements are commonly known as “Keto Diet Pills” Do they actually work though?
What are BHB Supplements?
BHB supplements are becoming increasingly popular with people who are trying to lose weight. They have strong ties to the Keto Diet. Some people use them to complement the efforts they are making to remain in “keto.”Others use BHB supplements to try and obtain keto fat-burning benefits without the need to follow a keto diet plan.
This article will help you gain a better understanding of what BHB supplements are and how they work.
What is the Keto Diet?
The ketogenic diet, or keto diet for short, is a diet that’s low in carbohydrates (carbs), provides moderate protein, and is high in fat. Eating less carbs and more fat would appear to be both counterproductive and unhealthy, but the keto diet is associated with several health benefits. Weight loss is one of them. The keto diet is also believed to be good for the heart.
However, following a keto diet plan may lead to nutritional deficiencies. It also has the potential to cause a number of side effects, including fatigue, headaches, and kidney stones. Like a lot of diets, the keto diet is controversial and many people say it is a fad.
The diet aims to produce a metabolic state known as ketosis. It achieves this by robbing the body of its sugar reserves. This resulting energy deficiency forces the body to break down fat and use it for energy.
When the body metabolizes fat in this way, it produces byproducts called ketones. The body uses these as fuel.
The process is not instant. It generally takes a few days of correct eating before the body enters ketosis and, when the process begins, it’s necessary to continue following the same strict dietary guidelines to maintain ketosis.
What are Ketones?
Ketones are chemicals the liver produces when it breaks down fats in the blood.
There are three types of ketones:
However, acetone is not as abundant as the other two ketone “bodies.”
During ketosis, the ketones stand-in for glucose (blood sugar) and become the fuel that provides the muscles and major organs with energy.
Many experts believe the ketone bodies are the driving force behind the weight loss many keto dieters experience.
The ketones in supplements are synthetic. Ketones of this nature are known as exogenous ketones. When used in this context, the word exogenous means “to originate from the outside.”
Supplement manufacturers only use exogenous beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB). The other types lack chemical stability if you try to use them as supplement ingredients.
How Do Exogenous Ketones Help Weight Loss?
Some people believe supplements that provide exogenous ketones can raise ketone levels in the blood without any dietary changes. Bearing in mind how difficult it can be to maintain ketosis, the idea of swapping the diet for a pill can be very attractive.
Unfortunately, the body’s response to exogenous ketones may not be as favorable as many people hope. Research presents conflicting data and expert opinion varies considerably.
However, let’s cast aside the doubts for now and take a closer look at the different types of exogenous ketones and the things they may be able to do.
Although ketone supplements always contain BBB, it can be present in one of two different forms:
- Ketone Salts: These are BBB ketones bound to a mineral salt. The type of salt can vary but is typically calcium, magnesium, potassium, or sodium. Ketone salts are generally available in powder form.
- Ketone Esters: This type of BBB ketone is linked to an ester. They are liquids researchers use and not as easy to obtain as ketone salts.
Research shows both forms can increase the amount of ketones circulating in the blood. However, when you buy a supplement that contains exogenous ketones, it will probably provide them as ketone salts.
In some studies, exogenous ketone salts have successfully raised blood ketone levels by more than 300 percent.
An elevation like this can be useful for people who want a quick transition into ketosis without having to follow the keto diet. [source]
Many people believe BBB supplements may offer similar benefits to the keto diet.
Supplements that provide exogenous BBB salts can also help prevent the keto flu and other unpleasant side effects that may occur while the body is adjusting to the keto diet.
Exogenous Ketones and Appetite
Some studies suggest supplements that provide exogenous BBB ketones may reduce appetite.
Further research is necesarry but anything that helps people to avoid the temptation of hunger has the potential to ease the weight loss process. When hunger is gone, it makes it easier to survive on smaller portions of food.
The researchers in charge of one study recruited 15 volunteers. Some of them were given a drink that provided ketone esters. The rest got a sugary drink instead. Both groups were given the drinks after an overnight fast.
The participants who got the ketone esters experienced 50 percent less hunger than the members of the other group. The researchers attribute this to the ketone drink’s ability to reduce ghrelin (hunger hormone).
It’s important not to lose sight of the fact that the study participants got ketone esters, not salts, but it seems highly likely ketone salts will work in a similar way.
However, it’s possible ketone supplements may not be effective for people who are following a normal eating schedule instead of doing a fast.
BHB Supplements: The Flip-Side
Although BHB supplements have been shown to elevate ketone levels in the blood and reduce appetite, there are still some gray areas regarding the value of using exogenous ketones for weight loss. Hopefully, future research will provide a respectable amount of supportive data.
It’s also possible that using BHB supplements may hinder weight loss instead of increase it.
The keto diet aims to switch the body’s fuel source from carbs to ketones. To support weight loss, the body needs to produce ketones by torching its stores of fat.
The problem is, BBB supplements may cause your circulating ketone levels to become too high. This can make your blood overly acidic.
The human body is a wonderful machine though. It can rectify and remedy a variety of different problems. Fighting off infections, healing wounds, entering a state of fight or flight to help get us out of danger. It can do all these things and more. Dealing with an excess of ketones is also part of its basic programming.
When the body senses ketone levels are too high, it cuts back on ketone production. So, by consuming exogenous ketones, you may cause your body to stop burning fat and producing its own ketones.
Needless to say, if this does happen, taking BHB supplements may be more of a hindrance than a help. [source]
Before you go pumping yourself full of exogenous ketones you need to bear in mind they are a source of energy. Like carbs and protein, ketones provide four calories per gram.
A typical BHB supplement is likely to provide around 100 calories per serving. That’s hardly earth-shattering but it’s still extra calories going into your mouth.
BHB Supplement Side Effects
Although exogenous ketone supplements are generally considered safe to use, the long-term effects of using them remain unknown.
Ketone supplements also have the potential to cause some people to experience mild side effects.
The most common side effects include:
- Stomach ache
If you use ketone supplements, you may also need to be cautious about taking mineral supplements. If the ketone salts push you over an acceptable level for certain minerals, there may be additional side effects to endure.
Although ketosis may assist weight loss and provide additional health benefits, it can also cause bad breath. People in the firing line often say it has an unpleasant, fruity smell.
During the early stages of ketosis, many people have to endure flu-like symptoms. The condition is known as keto flu and it does not last long.
Some people believe taking BHB supplements may reduce the severity and/or duration of keto flu but we’re still pretty much treading on unknown ground.
What are BHB Supplements In Summary
BHB supplements provide exogenous (synthetic) ketones. Although researchers often use liquid ketones, called esters, supplements usually provide BHB salts.
BHB salts are exogenous ketones bound to mineral salts. These synthetic ketones are similar to the ones the body produces in response to keto dieting. Natural ketones are produced when the body starts to breakdown its stores of fat.
Some studies show supplements that provide exogenous ketones can elevate circulating ketone levels. This gives BHB supplements the potential to help people reach ketosis faster. BHB supplements may also help dieters escape or reduce the symptoms of keto flu.
However, although there are arguments to be made for using BHB supplements as an alternative to the keto diet, the value of such a move is highly debatable. If circulating ketone levels become too high, it may cause the body to burn less fat.
The bottom line is the value of using BHB supplements for weight loss requires further study. Preliminary data looks good, though. It’s also possible this type of supplement may work better for some people than it does for others. So, if you do decide to try losing weight with exogenous ketones, it’s possible you may lose a little more weight than you could via diet and exercise alone.