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blog What is Beta-Hydroxybutyrate (BHB)?

What is Beta-Hydroxybutyrate (BHB)?

As interest continues to grow in ketogenic diets, a number of keto supplements have surfaced in the past few years. Leading the charge of fat-fueled supps is a little compound known as beta-hydroxybutyrate or BHB for short.

Chances are you’ve heard a great deal about BHB, as well as the potential benefits it offers, but you may not be entirely sure what BHB is, where it comes from, or why it’s included in a supplement specifically tailored to ketogenic dieters.

This article will answer all those questions and a whole lot more.

So, let’s get started!

What is Beta-Hydroxybutyrate (BHB)?

When eating an ultra-low carbohydrate diet, the body switches from burning glucose to fat. As the liver breaks down fatty acids, it generates ketone bodies that serve as fuel for the brain, heart, and muscles in times when carbohydrates are in short supply.

In addition to eating low carb, the body also switches to running on ketones during periods of fasting, such as overnight while we sleep. Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) is the most abundant of the three ketone bodies created by the liver, accounting 78% of the total ketones in the blood. [2]

Acetoacetate (AcAc) is second most prevalent ketone body, accounting for ~20% of total ketones in the blood. And last, but not least, is acetone, which accounts for a mere 2% of blood ketones. Interestingly, both BHB and acetone are derived from acetoacetate, but it’s BHB that’s primarily used for energy production while AcAc is typically excreted via sweat and respiring (breathing).

Three Benefits of BHB

Supports Cognitive Function
While the brain only accounts for 2% of the body’s weight, it accounts for ~20% of the body’s energy needs on a daily basis. Typically the brain relies on glucose for fuel; however, during periods of low carbohydrate dieting, glucose is in short demand, which can lead to brain fog and difficulty concentrating. BHB supplies fast-acting fuel for the brain and is capable of supplying the brain with roughly 70% of its energy needs.[5] Furthermore, BHB also exerts broad neuroprotective benefits including a reduction in free radicals, decreased neuroinflammation, and improved cognition in patients with dementia.

Aids Gene Expression
DNA is the biological “instruction manual” that dictates how we grow, function, and reproduce. If DNA expression becomes limited or compromised, your cells’ ability to synthesize proteins is impaired leading to a host of health complications. BHB improves gene expression by inhibiting histone deacetylase (HDAC), an enzyme that cleaves the acetyl group from histone proteins on DNA rendering DNA less available to transcription factors. [3]

Inhibiting HDAC improves the body’s accessibility to genes (such as FOXO and MLT1) setting off a cascade of biological activity which has been noted to lead to improvements in metabolic health, longevity, and resiliency. [3]

Combats Oxidative Stress & Inflammation
In addition to their ability to support energy production and gene expression, BHB has also been noted in certain models to support the body’s resistance to oxidative stress through the upregulation of FOXO.

FOXO proteins impact a wide range of mechanisms in the body including metabolism, apoptosis, and defense against oxidative stress. Together, these affect an organism’s longevity and lifespan. BHB also inhibits NLRP3, an inflammasome that stimulates the release of inflammatory molecules including IL-1β, IL-18, and TNF-α. Preliminary studies note that BHB is capable of reducing levels of these inflammatory biomarkers. [4]

Exogenous Ketones

Until now, we’ve been discussing ketones that are naturally produced by the body, otherwise known as endogenous ketone bodies. Ketones can also be supplemented in the form of BHB salts. BHB salts bind a molecule of BHB to a mineral such as sodium, calcium, or magnesium. When these are ingested, the body liberates the BHB to be used for energy while the minerals support a myriad of other functions in the body, such as hydration, muscle function, and blood clotting.

Now, you’re probably wondering, why would you need to supplement with BHB salts if you’re already following a ketogenic diet. Well, if a person is used to eating a very high carb diet and suddenly transitions to an ultra-low-carb, ketogenic diet, it can take the body some time to get used to producing sufficient amounts of ketones to power it for its myriad of activities. While the body is “getting its act together”, flu-like symptoms can set in (lethargy, brain fog, cramping, etc). This condition in known as the keto flu.

Individuals transitioning to the keto lifestyle can supplement with exogenous ketones (in the form of BHB salts) to help ease the transition by supplying the body with readily accessible fuel. This may reduce fatigue and accelerate the body’s transition to burning fat for fuel. [6]

Where Can I Find BHB Salts?

Nutrex Research Lipo-6 Black Keto is an advanced weight loss formula powered by goBHB®, a patented form of exogenous ketone salts that support a healthy metabolism, increased energy, and fat burning.

Click Here to learn more about Lipo-6 Black Keto and how it complements your weight loss goals.


Laffel, L. (1999). Ketone bodies: a review of physiology, pathophysiology and application of monitoring to diabetes. Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews, 15(6), 412–426.
Sena, S. F. (2010). Beta-hydroxybutyrate : New Test for Ketoacidosis. Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.
Newman JC, Verdin E. Ketone bodies as signaling metabolites. Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2013;25(1):42–52. doi:10.1016/j.tem.2013.09.002
Goldberg EL, Asher JL, Molony RD, et al. β-Hydroxybutyrate Deactivates Neutrophil NLRP3 Inflammasome to Relieve Gout Flares. Cell Rep. 2017;18(9):2077–2087. doi:10.1016/j.celrep.2017.02.004
White H, Venkatesh B. Clinical review: ketones and brain injury. Crit Care. 2011;15(2):219. Published 2011 Apr 6. doi:10.1186/cc10020
Cox, P. J., Kirk, T., Ashmore, T., Willerton, K., Evans, R., Smith, A., Clarke, K. (2016). Nutritional Ketosis Alters Fuel Preference and Thereby Endurance Performance in Athletes. Cell Metabolism, 24(2), 256–268.