This article is specifically about using Exogenous Ketones (BHB) and how they can help with your weight loss.
Exogenous ketones have many benefits like increasing energy, suppressing appetite and improving physical and mental performance, and you can read more on the benefits of Exogenous Ketones here.
A Quick History of Exogenous Ketones
If you are in the keto space, you will know the name Dr Dominic D’Agostino. Many people who follow keto today have Dr Dominic D’Agostino, and the work that he has done in this industry to thank. I am one of them. In 2016 I listened to a podcast Dr Dominic D’Agostino did with Tim Ferris. It was a lengthy podcast, but it totally blew my mind.
Dr Dominic D’Agostino is a leading researcher in the ketogenic diet, ketones and ketone supplements. He and his team have been researching ketones for over ten years. The research, funded by the US Military, was to enhance the physical performance of Special Military Operators like the Navy Seals. His lab continues to leverage the research done for the Navy to further studies for diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson.
Ketone supplementation has only been around since about 2015. Commercially, in anyway. When exogenous ketones became commercially available, the initial school of thought was if you are drinking exogenous ketones, your body won’t make its own ketones. Why would the body produce ketones if you are drinking ketones, right?
As I mentioned above, I find ketones extremely fascinating, and so I continue to absorb every podcast, Youtube video and article of Dr Dominic D’Agostino.
This particular podcast he did in 2016 on Dr Pompa’s show was an eye-opener. Here I realized the benefits of exogenous ketones for weight loss.
Do exogenous ketones turn off lipolysis?
Lipolysis is the breakdown of fats and other lipids by hydrolysis to release fatty acids. In plain and simple language, it’s when the body is breaking down body fat for energy. The weight loss effect of the ketogenic diet is why the diet has become so popular in the last couple of years.
For us to answer the question of whether drinking exogenous ketones stops the body’s own process of burning fat, we have to understand how ketosis works. You can read more about it here, but I’ll explain very briefly.
When we stop eating (carbs), the body will start breaking down body fat, aka fatty acids, and convert it into ketones. Ketones become the new energy source in the place of carbs. Just like carbs is an energy source, ketones are an energy source.
So, now you are following keto, but you are still eating three or two meals per day. The moment you eat a meal, the body releases insulin, which in turn turns off the process of ketone production. Here is the caveat.
Unfortunately, if you are new to keto, a few things count against you and prove to be a challenge.
- Your body is not used to breaking down body fat, or it is not yet efficient at the process.
- Your body still craves sugar.
- Your mind and habits will take weeks to catch up with your decision.
How Exogenous Ketones Can Help You Lose Weight
Below I will highlight four distinct and beneficial areas why exogenous ketones (aka BHB) should form part of your weight loss journey.
- BHB helps the body become better at burning fat.
- BHB reduces glucose withdrawal symptoms.
- BHB suppresses appetite and reduces cravings.
- BHB helps with the psychological and emotional dependence we have on food.
Let’s break down each of these statements.
BHB helps your body become better at burning fat.
When you are new to keto, your body is not yet efficient at using body fat as an energy source. You must understand that using ketones as an energy source is an intricate process. Breaking down fatty acids, converting them into ketones and using them as an energy source is “unfamiliar” to your body, and it takes time for this process to become efficient at using fat as energy.
Drinking ketones speed up the process:
- There is an up-regulation of the enzymes that transport these ketones. In other words, the enzymes responsible for the transportation of ketones increase over time, making you more efficient in burning fat to produce these enzymes.
- Due to this upregulation (increase) of these enzymes, your liver’s ability to produce ketones increases.
- Over time you have enhanced mitochondrial biogenesis and sufficiency. This means that the cell’s mitochondria increase in mass and become more efficient in glucose uptake into the muscle cells. Simply put, the body becomes better at removing glucose from your blood and using it.
Note: When we follow a Ketogenic Diet, our ketone levels increase due to ketosis (read more on this here). Our bodies regulate ketones; the body will release small amounts of insulin to regulate the rise in ketones, lowering blood glucose. The glucose-lowering effect of ketones is another reason why patients with type-2 diabetes can benefit significantly from drinking BHB.
BHB reduces glucose withdrawal symptoms.
Keto flu is something many people experience as they start off on keto. Keto flu is caused by an electrolyte imbalance but also due to glucose withdrawal.
Before starting keto, your body and brain have mostly been reliant on glucose. Now, all of a sudden, there is no glucose available. This “glucose withdrawal” sends a stress response to your Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS). Your SNS activates an adrenaline response, and cortisol is released. This stress response causes adverse symptoms, very much like getting the flu. Many people experience horrible headaches at the start of their keto diet, and it is one of the main reasons people quit keto within the first week.
BHB suppresses appetite and reduces cravings.
Talk to anyone who has been doing keto for a couple of months; they will tell you that they can easily go without eating. That’s because ketones have a satiating effect. This is great if you’re a couple of weeks in, but what about the first few weeks? You’ll need willpower against your cravings.
Eating a calorie-rich and high-carbohydrate diet causes cravings. This is due to a rollercoaster of blood sugar spikes and crashes. Feelings of hunger and cravings is the body’s way of regulating blood sugar crashes.
BHB helps with the psychological and emotional dependence we have on food.
Sadly, most of us have an unhealthy connection with food. When we are happy and celebrating, we celebrate with food. When we are sad and emotional, we gravitate towards food. Food is central to the human experience.
This emotional connection can be so intense for some that it becomes an Achilles Heel. The mere thought of being on a diet and restricting yourself is hard. Thankfully, keto recipes are really yummy, and you don’t have to eat a low-calorie diet with Provitas and rice cakes on the menu. Although you may not feel restricted, and you can enjoy the delicious recipes on your keto meal plan, years of emotional programming may still be an uphill battle.
Weight loss is counterintuitive, and this is exactly why BHB can be a lifesaver. On a physiological level, the body doesn’t want to continue to lose weight. On an emotional level, we’ve comforted ourselves with food. Instead of forcing yourself with sheer willpower, understand the powerful benefits of exogenous ketones and let it help you as you start your keto journey.