Ketogenicinfo » Fat Adaptation » Keto BHB: What Are Exogenous Ketones used for?

Keto BHB: What Are Exogenous Ketones used for?

This Keto BHB (exogenous ketone) review will be different. It will be impartial and fair. I am not for or against BHBs and am not trying to sell anything. Additionally, this review will not advocate one brand over the other. I will focus mostly on science but also user-based, personal experience, and anecdotal evidence.

Just to alleviate any confusion. Here are a few alternative names that are also used to describe exogenous ketones.

  • BHB or Keto BHB
  • goBHB
  • Ketones or ketone supplements
  • Ketone pills
  • beta-hydroxybutyrate capsules
  • Ketone salts
  • Ketone esters

What are the benefits of Keto BHB?

Raising BHB (beta-hydroxybutyrate) levels in the blood through exogenous ketones can have numerous health benefits in conjunction with low carbohydrate, ketogenic diet such as. Exogenous just means you are ingesting them usually in the form of pills or powder.

*NAD (Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) supplementation has been in the news lately as a potential therapy to actually reverse aging. It appears that BHB utilization preserves NAD in the body.

“The relative sparing of NAD+ by utilizing BHB vis à vis glucose may, therefore, have important consequences for metabolic diseases and diabetes.”

β-Hydroxybutyrate: A Signaling Metabolite

It can typically take up to 24 hours to get into ketosis the traditional way, but with exogenous BHB ketones you can technically get into ketosis within 10-20 minutes.

Keto BHB Pills

How do you increase beta-hydroxybutyrate levels?

BHB typically comes from either the breakdown of that fat you have stored in your body or the fat that you have ingested. For example, orally consumed MCT oil can be converted to BHB directly by the liver.

Why not use your own fat for BHB generation?

We should, and breaking down our fat either stored and/or ingested should be our primary source for BHB production. Over 80% of the human body’s stored energy resides in the fatty acids contained in adipose tissue (stored fat).

Here comes exogenous ketones:

Science figured out how to make BHB in a lab. The first exogenous ketones were ketone salts. For better absorption, they bound the BHB to mineral salts in the form of calcium, sodium, or magnesium.

The newer, more potent form of exogenous ketones are ketone esters. This is the scientific explanation of how ketone esters are made in case you’re interested:

“by transesterifying ethyl (R)-3-hydroxybutyrate with (R)-1,3-butanediol by using a solid-supported lipase.”

Novel ketone diet enhances physical and cognitive performance

Ketone esters are more bio-available than ketone salts and will raise the BHB levels in your blood more, but are also more expensive. Ketone salts, on the other hand, are cheaper and have a tendency to upset the stomach in some people.

This study shows that ketone esters increase blood BHB levels >50% higher than ketone salts.

What is BHB?

Also referred to as Keto BHB. BHB stands for beta-hydroxybutyrate, which is a ketone body used to fuel the body and brain when the supply of glucose is too low for the body’s energy needs. A ketone body consists of three molecules: BHB, acetoacetate, and acetone.

BHB is considered to be more dynamic and has a higher percentage in the blood when you’re in deep ketosis. BHB can also easily cross the blood-brain barrier and energize the brain.

It (BHB) serves as an alternative source of ATP (Adenosine triphosphate). ATP provides energy to drive many processes in living cells and is a molecular unit of currency for intracellular energy transfer.

Is Keto BHB safe?

Absolutely, humans have been using BHB as fuel since the dawn of mankind. The body breaks down fatty acids and the liver converts the fat into ketones during periods of prolonged exercise, fasting, or absence of dietary carbohydrates.

What is the state of ketosis?

When our body has ketones present in the blood we are considered to be in ketosis. This article will focus on the specific ketone BHB. To learn more about ketosis in general I recommend this article: The State of Ketosis.

BHB is a signaling molecule in addition to an energy substrate

“BHB, a fasting fuel, and fasting signal is emerging as a poster child of the endogenous metabolite that transmits signals from the environment to affect cellular function and human health.”

β-Hydroxybutyrate: A Signaling Metabolite

When looking for keto BHB products, look for purity. It might taste nasty, but you don’t need the artificial sweeteners and fillers.

A company called Compound Solutions actually patented a form of BHB called goBHB. The formula consists of a 2:1:1 ratio of Calcium: Sodium: Magnesium. I haven’t seen any science that shows goBHB is more effective than any other. The only claim is that it tastes better.

Exogenous ketones: Do they work?

It depends on why you are taking them. For health benefits, appetite control, and maybe some energy during extended fasts or during cardiovascular exercises, then yes, if you can afford them, I do see a benefit in taking exogenous ketones.

Exogenous ketones are not an essential keto diet supplement.

In fact, as far as keto supplements go, the health benefits of BHB pales in comparison to keto diet superfoods and the most potent antioxidants.

I see the biggest benefit of BHB however when you’re first starting out on keto. I just briefly mention exogenous ketones in my keto diet beginners’ guide and completely left it out of my simple keto diet explanation article because I didn’t want to over-complicate keto.

Initially, during the keto-adaptation phase, the body has probably rarely used ketones as energy and isn’t efficient at it. Jump starting the keto burning process by taking keto BHB pills or drinks can force the body to start using ketones.

One of the benefits of BHB would jump-start the speed keto process.

Another benefit of BHB would be to prevent or reduce the effects of the keto flu.

One of the downsides of the keto diet is the keto flu, specifically the drained feeling you get when your body feels lethargic and weak. The calcium, sodium, and magnesium salts that BHB is attached to can also prevent cramping.

During the early fat adaption phase of keto, your mitochondria aren’t getting enough fuel. Increasing keto BHBs in the blood can add fuel to the fire per se. It can also help you extend a fast a little bit longer by curbing your appetite and giving you energy.

It could also be used as a keto bodybuilding supplement. Keto BHB seems to have a glycogen sparing effect and prevents muscle loss during caloric restriction.

Does BHB help with weight loss?

Any real keto BHB review would be remiss if it didn’t mention the bad news. No, exogenous ketones really don’t help with weight loss. Since your body senses, it has plenty of ketones to use as energy, it won’t break down your own fat and convert that into energy.

In fact, endogenous ketones inhibit ketone production*

Exogenous Keto BHB pills or powder do increase blood ketone levels but don’t encourage the creation of ketone bodies in the liver.

“Our results demonstrate that during fasting, circulating ketone bodies exert an inhibitory influence on the rate of ketogenesis.”

Inhibition of ketogenesis by ketone bodies in fasting humans*

How do you test for ketones?

I would not recommend the pee strips. When you test your urine ketone levels, you’re just measuring acetoacetate (AcAc), not BHB. Additionally, the ketone levels that show up on the pee strips are only excess ketones that your kidney has filtered out, it doesn’t represent what is in your blood where it can actually be utilized.


Keto Mojo blood ketone tester

I recommend a test that measures the BHB levels in your blood. The keto Mojo brand tester can measure both ketone levels and blood sugar levels. I find the test useful to let me know what does and does not take me out of ketosis.


I know this keto BHB review has focused primarily on the benefits of BHB, but I can’t in good conscious recommend exogenous ketones consumption on a continual, long term basis.

I don’t think they are dangerous or harmful, and by all means, if you have the money go ahead and experiment with them.

However, taking apple cider vinegar and MCT oil to support your ketogenic diet is much cheaper and does basically the same thing by increasing blood BHB levels.

Robert Bryant
Robert Bryant

I have always had mixed feelings about exogenous ketones. Science shows that they do have value, but I don’t want people to think you can lose weight and become healthy by just taking a pill or drink.

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