A Closer Look at TRU BHB™ - The Best BHB Ketone Supplement for Athletes, Weight Loss, and More
Like bio-diesel and other modern innovations in energy, ketones are commonly referred to as an “alternative” fuel source for the body. Technically, that is true; everything is relative. However, ketones are not “alternative.” They’re rather common; even on a carbohydrate heavy diet, we have low concentrations of circulating ketones at any given time, and certain types of cells are receptive to ketones even when the individual formed by those very cells are not supplementing ketones or eating a high fat, ketogenic diet.
What are Ketones?
They’re not always an alternative fuel source, nor are they always a primary fuel source. Ketones are made inside of our cells from fat through a process known as ketogenesis (keto – ketone; genesis – creation). Simply put, or at least as simple as biochemistry gets, ketogenesis occurs when rates of fat breakdown (beta-oxidation) exceed the cell’s rate of energy (ATP) production (Kreb’s cycle).
In effect, they can be thought of as short-chain fats – easily metabolizable forms of energy. They offer a number of advantages over the so-called “primary” fuel source, glucose. First, let’s understand ketones a little better. Ketones primarily come in three forms: acetone, acetoacetate, and beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB).
Acetone is mainly a “waste” product known for causing “keto breath,” and it is the ketone measured by breath tests. Small amounts are not wasted, however. Acetone can convert to acetate, lactate, and/or pyruvate, which can then go on to produce ATP.
Acetoacetate is more common than acetone, but it is relatively unstable. It forms ATP by first accepting a coenzyme A (CoA) group from Succinyl CoA (a Kreb’s cycle intermediate) then splitting into 2 acetyl-CoA molecules, which can then enter the Kreb’s cycle at step 1. Acetoacetate is utilized preferentially by the heart and some brain cells. Sure sounds “alternative.” (sarcasm). Acetoacetate may also convert to a more stable ketone, BHB.
Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) is the most well-known ketone body, and it is the most abundant of the three. BHB also contributes to ATP production, yet its most interesting functions are more therapeutic.
BHB has been observed to facilitate glucose deposition. This means that it shuttles glucose from the blood into peripheral tissues, such as muscle and liver, reducing blood glucose levels and the potential for glycation without insulin. BHB has anticonvulsant properties, part of the ketogenic diets therapeutic effects for epilepsy, but it also increases BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) – a protein that is inversely related to several neurological disorders, memory, and cognition. Increases in BDNF are due, at least in part, to BHB’s role as a histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor. HDAC inhibition is one of the most researched methods of gene expression and epigenetics. BHB also helps protect the brain during periods of ischemia and trauma while reducing mitochondrial free radical production.
Research on ketones for athletic performance is in its infancy. Still, observations of improved endurance have been reported, and ketogenic diets generally improve body composition while not adversely affecting other domains of physical performance.
Ketones are starting to sound pretty great, aren’t they? They certainly offer some advantages. For one, having a ketone supplement helps with transitioning into a keto diet. By increasing available ketones for tissues early during the adaptation phase, the biochemical/metabolic adaptation processes begin sooner and with stronger impetus. Even later during adaptation, the extra ketones help reduce symptoms of carbohydrate withdrawals by having an abundance of available energy as ketones.
After adaptation, greater concentrations of ketones improve cognition and attention, performance, and a source of clean energy. All supplements are not created equal, however. Here’s what to look out for.
Ask all of the following questions
“Which BHB salt ingredients are in this supplement?”
There are currently 4 kinds available, yet most products contain only 3 – sodium, magnesium, and calcium. The fourth is potassium. It’s true that sodium is not as dangerous as was believed for so long, and this is only more true on a ketogenic diet because keto dieters expel more sodium. It’s not just limited to sodium, though.
Potassium is lost along with the sodium, and we need 2x as much potassium as we do sodium. Not to mention, low potassium causes more sodium retention, so we have a perfect storm forming. Oversupply of sodium while limiting sodium excretion and providing insufficient complementary electrolyte (potassium). If you thought high sodium was a killer, you should know that low potassium DOUBLES mortality risk! The RDA for potassium is 4.7g per day! Ensure that your BHB supplement has at least balanced sodium and potassium levels.
“Do the electrolyte ratios make sense?”
We’ve covered sodium and potassium, but what about calcium and magnesium? Both have critical roles within the body. Some products will contain a ton of calcium to increase BHB content while keeping sodium lower. This okay up to an extent, but if you’re a keto dieter who enjoys dairy, too much calcium can begin to be disruptive. Calcium is important for bones (duh!), neuromuscular function, and blood clotting. You want enough, but not too much!
Magnesium has hundreds of interactions with roles in muscle protein synthesis, DNA/RNA synthesis, ATP production, nervous system function, circadian rhythm, and more. Magnesium can be relaxing. In fact, while many believe muscles cramp due to low sodium, only magnesium has any efficacy at reducing cramping. Unlike calcium, daily magnesium is intake is unlikely to cause adverse effects in large quantities.
Because magnesium can be low while eating a ketogenic diet, coming mostly from nuts/seeds, having a good quantity of magnesium from a BHB supplement makes sense. If calcium intake would otherwise be low, calcium BHB is not a major concern. However, be vigilant that you’re not getting grams (vs. milligrams) of calcium.
“How much am I getting per serving?”
Dosing is a careful balance. Enough BHB, but not too much of any particular mineral is challenging. We can’t say with any confidence how much BHB is “enough.” However, some studies have used upwards of 30g when providing it as energy substrate. While BHB may not always be supplemented for energy substrate purposes, for now we’ll say more is better, as relative to 30g, dosing is still at the lower end.
“Are there only ketones or are there ketone precursors (MCTs/Coconut Oil) as well?”
There’s a difference between “in ketosis” and “ketogenic.” If you’re generating ketones, you’re ketogenic. If you’re in ketosis because you drank some BHB, that’s good for keto-adaptation and obtaining therapeutic effects of ketones, but the ability to make your own is not being enhanced.
Adding a little ketogenic fat, such as MCT, encourages ketogenesis. Even if you’re someone who’s well-adapted and already fully capable of generating ketones, the precursor boost helps sustain ketone release and lets the body self-regulate.
“What additives are there?”
Supplements can be full of extras. In many cases, carbs are added as filler, other excipients, etc., and BHB salts are … salty! They’re difficult to flavor, so many will take the easy way out and mask the taste with sugar or an overload of artificial sweetener if they’re using their noodles even a little bit. Some artificial sweetener is not the end of the world, but they’re not preferred, and we happen to know from experience that BHB supplements can taste GREAT without them. *wink wink*
The Perfect Keto Supplement
At Archetype, we noticed just about all (if not literally ALL) available BHB supplements are COMPLETELY excluding potassium, underdosing, adding unnecessary artificial ingredients, and screwing up their electrolyte profiles among other issues.
That’s why we created TRU BHB™. We’re proud to say it’s the world’s first electrolyte-balanced (potassium!), ketoGENIC, and great-tasting BHB supplement available – no artificial sweeteners required.
We believe in it so much, we’ll give you 30 days to try it, and if you don’t like, get in touch with us and send it on back for a full refund!