What Is A Ketone?

You can think of ketones, especially beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), as tiny power generators that your body produces when it needs energy and doesn't have carbs or sugar to use. When we say "ketones," we're really focusing on BHB, as the others are less important for our discussion.

This is how it works: Imagine your body as a city, your cells as buildings, and the mitochondria (the energy factories inside your cells) as power plants. Now, the city needs electricity to keep things running smoothly, right? And it usually gets this from glucose, which we can think of as the city's main power supply.

However, mitochondria, the power plants, can be a bit fussy about what they use for fuel. If you give them glucose, they'll say, "Nuh-uh, we don't want that," and they'll split it into smaller parts before they use it for energy. This splitting process isn't perfect, though. It creates a kind of pollution in the form of harmful free oxygen species, also known as oxidative stress. This pollution can damage the city, leading to things like cancer and aging.

Now, this is where ketones (BHB, in particular) come into play. They're like clean, renewable energy for the city. When BHB shows up, the mitochondria say, "Yes, we love this stuff!" and use it straight away without creating any nasty pollution. This means no damage to the city! But wait a minute, you may say, doesn't the brain need glucose to function? Well, that's a common misconception. In fact, if you give the brain a choice between glucose and BHB, the brain will use up all the BHB first. It's the brain's favorite! Your body naturally makes BHB when you don't eat carbohydrates or you're fasting, converting your body fat into this clean energy source. However, keeping up a low-carb diet or fasting can be tough in today's world, so there's also the option of drinking BHB from an outside source.

Think of it like having an extra power generator when the city needs it. And don't worry about whether your body is actually using it, you can use a device similar to a glucose monitor to check your blood BHB levels. So, whether you're burning your own fat or drinking BHB, you'll be supplying your body with a cleaner, more preferred energy source. And the best part? No crashes or damage, just a happier, healthier you!