Beta Hydroxybutyrate


Beta hydroxybutyrate (BHB) is the first ketone body produced in a fasting state. It is commonly produced by the body during periods without much food (glucose) in order to provide an alternative energy fuel source [1]. Although it is not technically a “ketone” (owing to the bonding structure), for the purposes of this post it is.

Diets that are low in carbohydrates and high in fatty acids can either prompt the body to produce ketone bodies, such as beta hydroxybutyrate, or allow people to consume them exogenously (outside the body) instead. These exogenous ketone supplements have grown in popularity along with the ketogenic diet and media attention from popular icons such as Tim Ferriss [2] and Dave Asprey [3].

Although supplementation of beta hydroxybutyrate has been described as “jet fuel” [4] and undesirable, modern iterations of exogenous ketones are making it easier for anyone to utilize these ketone bodies for optimal brain performance.

Also Known As

Ketone bodies, Beta-hydroxybutyric acid, 3-hydroxybutyrate

Editors’ Thoughts on Beta Hydroxybutyrate

Making exogenous ketones palatable is one of the most exciting things for me right now. As I prepare to embark on an experiment doing cyclical ketosis with my girlfriend, exogenous ketone bodies like beta hydroxybutyrate will be incredibly important for kickstarting ketosis (for her especially).

The addition of beta hydroxybutyrate will make the ketogenic process easier, though I’m not sure how much.

Mansal Denton, Nootropedia Editor

beta hydroxybutyrate

Benefits of Beta Hydroxybutyrate

There are a host of benefits of beta hydroxybutyrate, but it is primarily known as a fuel source in the absence of glucose. Within 24 – 72 hours without food, the body no longer uses glucose as the main fuel support system, which is when ketones like beta hydroxybutyrate kick into production. Fasting as long as 382 days (with medical supervision) [4] is possible purely because of ketone production.

Evidence suggests that beta hydroxybutyrate can increase the level of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the hippocampus, which is the main memory center of the brain [5]. This is some of the only published literature about the performance enhancing effects of beta hydroxybutyrate, though there are several self-experiments.

Namely, Dr. Peter Attia (popularized by Tim Ferriss’ podcast and Attia’s blog) has concluded there are benefits of reduced oxygen consumption by the brain [6]. These statements have been confirmed to some degree by Dr. Dom D’Agostino when describing under-water oxygen utilization and ketones, but neither are well-researched.

Most of the evidence regarding beta hydroxybutyrate utilizes this exogenous ketone as a way to recovery from memory damage or impairment or as a neuroprotective agent.

In one 2004 study of memory-impaired adults, beta hydroxybutyrate successfully aided in improving memory recall [7]. For Alzheimer’s patients, using beta hydroxybutyrate is particularly helpful as a neuroprotective agent [8].

Many of the long-term and neuroprotective benefits of beta hydroxybutyrate are closely linked to reduced carbohydrate and glucose consumption as well [9][10]. For those who are consuming both exogenous ketones and eating glucose, the benefits are known.

The benefits of beta hydroxybutyrate are not only for people who are currently experiencing nutritional ketosis. Often it is possible for athletes to utilize ketone bodies as a fuel source to limit glycogen depletion [11].

Side Effects of Beta Hydroxybutyrate

There are few known side effects of beta hydroxybutyrate when consumed in the recommended dosage ranges. Because this is a naturally produced compound in the human body (and brain), it is relatively well tolerated. In order to supply the compound via supplementation, many products include sodium, calcium, and potassium salts.

Beta Hydroxybutyrate Dosage

The standard dosage of beta hydroxybutyrate is 10 – 12 grams per serving. Dosage is important when using beta hydroxybutyrate.

One potential side effect of beta hydroxybutyrate is overdosing and death at high ranges. The toxicity range in animals is quite high, but it is best to stay within the recommended range of beta hydroxybutyrate.

It may also be useful for people using nutritional ketosis to incorporate blood glucose and ketone testing into their regimen.

Beta Hydroxybutyrate Nootropic Stacks

For people using a ketogenic diet or using exogenous ketones like beta-hydroxybutyrate, it can be useful to use certain fat soluble nootropics alongside them. Taking a spoon full of ghee, coconut oil, or MCT oil, and combining it with some of the following fat soluble nootropics can be highly effective.

Fan favorites amongst most of the Bulletproof coffee crowd include aniracetam (a smart drug used for creativity and memory), bacopa monnieri (an Ayurvedic herb for memory), CoQ10 (an antioxidant), among many others. These may be good places to start alongside your beta hydroxybutyrate supplementation.

How and Why to Buy Beta Hydroxybutyrate

A normal product of plain beta hydroxybutyrate is not easy to find at a local health food store. You can buy beta hydroxybutyrate online with certain vendors, but it is important to find the right one. There are a host of vendors that are either untrustworthy or have a terrible taste.

We recommend you purchase from Keto OS. We have changed our opinion based on shady MLM (multi-level marketing) tactics of Keto OS. Instead, we've opted to work with Perfect Keto for exogenous ketones. Better quality and less shady. Pick up Perfect Keto here.

This is from Dr. Peter Attia and is a warning for anyone interested in trying the unflavored option:

The ketone esters are, hands-down, the worst tasting compounds I have ever put in my body. The world’s worst scotch tastes like spring water compared to these things…It tasted as I imagine jet fuel would taste. I thought I was going to go blind. I didn’t stop gagging for 10 minutes…” [12]

Selected Community Experiences

I've used KetoCana which definitely gives you a little bit of an energy boost but I think it's pushing it to describe it as a nootropic. Combining it with modafinil helped me function as almost normal when severely sleep deprived though.” [13] – jimbobjonesthethird

It enhances calm, focus and balance for me but I use ketoCaNa prior to working out, yoga etc. it has some nootropic benefit but will depend on many other factors.” [14] – K6katrina

Nootropedia Disclaimer: While we support psychedelic science and support usage of entheogens like ayahuasca (DMT) and psilocybin, it is recommended to avoid using other substances such as BHB alongside them. We do not recommend using them together. 

References (Click to Expand)
  1. //
  2. //
  3. //
  4. //
  5. //
  6. //
  7. //
  8. //
  9. //
  10. //
  11. //
  12. //
  13. //
  14. //


Nootropedia is meant to be a resource for individuals researching drugs and supplements that are good for brain health, otherwise known as nootropics, and thus we are the Nootropics Encyclopedia. Because of our in-depth coverage of this topic, our community has requested that we cover other brain health topics and "lifehacks" so that has become the focus of Nootropedia.