BHB stands for beta hydroxybutyrate, and is a new hype in the ketosis weight loss world since 2014. And in short to answer your question, I will have to say no. Understanding ketosis is the real way to actually know why these salts and esters are not that useful in our body.

Our bodies use ketones via our mitochondria to generate energy. They are an alternative fuel source to glucose.

Ketones are simple compounds because of their small molecular structure and weight. Specifically, they are organic (carbon-based) compounds that contain a central carbon atom double-bonded to an oxygen atom and two carbon-containing substituents, denoted by “R”.

Screen Shot 2017-11-15 at 9.15.19 AM.png

In humans, there are 3 different ketones produced by the mitochondria of the liver. These are also often referred to as ketone bodies.
The three ketones are:

  1. Acetone
  2. Acetoacetic Acid
  3. Beta-Hydroxybutyric Acid (also known Beta Hydroxybuyrate or BHB). Other chemical names include 3-hydroxybutyric acid or 3-hydroxybutyrate.

BHB is not technically a ketone since it contains a reactive OH-group in place of where a double-bonded oxygen normally would be as you can see in the diagram below.

Screen Shot 2017-11-15 at 9.16.53 AM

Yet, BHB still functions like a ketone in the body and converts into energy much like acetoacetate and acetone. This happens via the acetoacetate and acetyl-CoA pathway. Note that acetone conversion to acetyl-CoA is not efficient due to the need to convert acetone to acetoacetate via decarboxylation.

However, BHB still functions like a ketone in the body and can be converted to energy (via acetoacetate and then acetyl-CoA), much like acetoacetate and acetone can (though acetone conversion to acetyl-CoA is not efficient, due to the requirement to convert acetone to acetoacetate via decarboxylation).


Exogenous ketone bodies are just ketone bodies that are ingested through a nutritional supplement. Ketone bodies produced in the liver are more properly referred to as endogenousketone bodies.

Supplements rely on BHB as the source of their exogenous ketone bodies. BHB is converted to acetoacetic acid and then some quantity converted to acetone through a acetoacetate decarboxylase waste pathway, the acetone will be excreted. Some of the acetoacetic acid will enter the energy pathway using beta-ketothialase, which converts acetoacetic acid to two Acetyl-CoA molecules.

The Acetyl-CoA is then able to enter the Krebs cycle and generate ATP. Exogenous ketone body supplements provide users with an instant supply of ketones. Even if you’re not in a state of ketosis before ingestion

Exogenous ketone body supplements provide users with an instant supply of ketones. They raise blood ketones even if you’re not in a state of ketosis before ingestion.


Exogenous ketones of beta-hydroxybutyrate are available in two forms:

  1. Ketone Salts: Naturally-derived compounds that simply mix sodium (and/or potassium, or calcium) with BHB to improve absorption. These are also sometimes called “Ketone Mineral Salts” of “BHB Mineral Salts”.
  2. Ketone Esters: Synthetically-made compounds that link an alcohol to a ketone body, which is metabolized in the liver to a ketone.


Raspberry ketones have become an increasingly popular ingredient used in fat-loss supplements. But, despite their name, they have no relation to ketone bodies. This has created some confusion for people interested in exogenous ketone supplements. Raspberry ketones are in fact phenolic compounds that give raspberries their pleasant smell. They are structurally similar to the stimulant synephrine. Despite the marketing, raspberry ketones also don’t appear to have much effect on fat loss.


Ketone supplement line of thinking is a bit odd. Their case is that if consuming a ketone supplement raises your blood ketone level to the point where you are technically in ketosis, then you must be burning fat with the same effectiveness if you came by your ketosis the old-fashioned way….well not really!

Just because you have alot of fat floating around in your blood does not mean your body is burning it using it for energy. That’s the wrong way to connect the dots.

The scant scientific evidence that currently exists doesn’t support that kind of thinking. Researchers out of the University of Sao Paulo, in Brazil, recently gave a group of rats substantial doses of beta hydroxybutyrate (exogenous ketones) both acutely and for four weeks.(3) Not surprisingly, the researchers concluded that consuming oral ketones increased circulating ketones (ketonemia).

“Big deal, ” says Sports Scientist Yousuf Farook from NYU,  “Consume a bunch of fat and you’ll see free fatty ‎acids in circulation, too. That marker alone doesn’t mean that you’re burning more stored body fat.”

Likewise, the researchers didn’t show a drop in glucose or insulin, and it’s the combined rise in ketones and lowering the other two that defines the clinical markers of being ketogenic—the state in which you are actually using fat as a primary fuel source. There was also no change in bodyweight or reduction in food intake between the rats that consumed the ketones and the control group.

The bottom line, for now: Ketone supplements, such as beta hydroxybutyrate (BHB) salts or esters, don’t appear to stimulate the body’s liberation and burning of stored body fat as fuel on their own. And no, raising blood levels of ketones by consuming a ketone supplement isn’t the same thing as your cells manufacturing ketones to support energy needs.

You still need to start your body’s natural process of ketosis the old fashioned way.

Are you getting enough Vitamins and Minerals? Did you know that vitamins and minerals have the power to make us super human? Look out for my E-Book coming out in early 2018!



  1. I.F. Gaunt, M. Sharratt, J. Colley*, A.B.G. Lansdown, P. Grasso (1970). Acute and short-term toxicity of p-hydroxybenzyl acetone in rats. Food and Cosmetics Toxicology, 8(4), 349-358.
  2. de Oliveira Caminhotto, R., Komino, A. C. M., de Fatima Silva, F., Andreotti, S., Sertié, R. A. L., Reis, G. B., & Lima, F. B. (2017). Oral β-hydroxybutyrate increases ketonemia, decreases visceral adipocyte volume and improves serum lipid profile in Wistar rats. Nutrition & Metabolism, 14(1), 31.


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