How BHB (Beta-hydroxybutyrate) Supplements Help with Ketosis

Mar 27, 2019 8:28:05 PM

Written By:
Dr. Fred Pescatore


By Fred Pescatore, MD

The keto diet is having a moment.

When the daily diet contains less than 20 to 30 grams of carbohydrates per day, the body’s metabolism changes, so it starts using ketones for energy.

People lose weight on a ketogenic diet because when their metabolism changes, they burn fat instead of sugar and glucose. Once your body has made that shift, you’re in what’s called “ketosis.” It usually happens within a week of starting the keto diet. For people following this diet, a Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) supplement can benefit the brain and body.

Benefits of Taking a BHB Supplement

BHB is one of the three ketone bodies formed inside the human body and gives the brain energy.* If you’ve decided keto could work for you, consider the health benefits of taking a supplement like BHB to boost your keto diet.*

Cognitive Performance

Studies of patients whose diets were supplemented with ketones have shown that it may improve cognitive performance. BHB seems to produce the most noticeable results with mild cognitive deficit.*

Most scientific studies conducted on the effects of BHB exogenous ketones supplements have only been conducted on animals. So, extracting animal study results and applying those concepts to humans is the best we can do right now.

In a recent animal study, BHB showed benefits for a healthy inflammatory pathway.* This may be one reason it seems to help with memory recall and cognitive performance.*

Mood Stabilization

BHB has also been shown to help with low mood and anxiousness.* Raising neurotrophins contributes to cognitive enhancement, which is just one reason people take the supplement.*

Find out which foods are best for a keto diet. Check out our guide.

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BHB supplements are used by athletes to support endurance.* It acts as a free-radical fighter, using up reactive oxygen species.* Helping to get rid of inflammatory free radicals helps with performance because it supports the body’s ability to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP).*

The process of breaking down BHB into acetoacetyl coenzyme A is complicated, but it helps the body produce ATP which in turn benefits endurance capabilities.* This is the energy needed for optimal cell function.

Warding off Keto Brain Fog

When some people get too deep into ketosis, they may experience brain fog or “keto flu” because they can’t produce enough BHB to feed their brain. BHB taken as a supplement can cross the blood-brain barrier quite effectively and help with this effect.*

Controlling Oxidative Stress and Blood Sugar

We know that BHB can support a healthy blood sugar response to meals because we’ve seen that effect in humans. BHB helps control blood sugar, which then helps to control oxidative stress.* Oxidative stress is the true underlying cause of a lot of issues people face. If you can maintain healthy blood sugar, you can also support healthy triglyceride and cholesterol levels as well as proper inflammatory response.

Multiple studies have shown that eating less can lead to living longer. A BHB supplement can help with hunger and cravings, improving weight management, which has its own set of health benefits.* Keeping blood sugar in check is crucial  when it comes to aging.

Committing to Lifestyle Changes a Ketogenic Diet

The important thing to remember is a diet change should be a lifestyle change and it should be considered permanent, not something you do to lose weight for a special occasion. There’s no yo-yo-diet effect when the diet is a commitment to a lifestyle modification. If you are on a ketogenic diet (or any type of diet) 90% of the time, you’ve modified your lifestyle and made a positive change.

Of course, no one is perfect. There are holidays and special occasions during which a person adhering to a specific diet may have a treat or eat something outside the norm for them. It's important to stress that if you want to eat healthy, the answer to the question, “When can I eat bread again?” is, “Almost never.”

That doesn’t mean you’ll avoid bread for the rest of your life 365 days per year, never eat Rice Krispy treats again or have an ice cream sundae; it just means they are no longer staples in your diet.

Since no human is perfect, we just have to strive to adopt the mindset that making a permanent lifestyle modification involves sticking to a diet 90% of the time. Keto is a diet that can be continued indefinitely.

BHB offers advantages to those following a ketogenic diet and those looking for cognitive support, but it isn’t a substitute for eating a sensible low-carb diet.* Lifestyle changes can positively impact health in a number of ways, and the keto diet and BHB supplements can help.*


*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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Fred Pescatore, MD, is a traditionally trained physician practicing nutritional medicine. To pursue his vision of a more personalized and healthful program, Dr. Pescatore opened Partners in Integrative Medicine. He is the author of several important books, including his newest book, The Hamptons Diet Cookbook, the follow up to his NY Times best seller The Hamptons Diet.  He was the Associate Medical Director at the famed Atkins Center for five years. He is the President of the AHCC Research Association, President of the International and American Association of Clinical Nutritionists and is a member of the National Association of Physician Broadcasters, amongst other organizations. For more information, visit

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.