Mitochondrial Primer 5: Beta-hydroxybutyrate, The King of KetonesOctober 22, 2018
When you burn fat (the stuff that's in your belly and cellulite and second chin) you produce two ketones primarily. Ketones are what we make from fat burning as we break down stored energy and ship it around the body. The primary one is called beta-hydroxybutyrate, or BHB. The other is called acetoacetate (ACAC). ACAC is what you measure in your urine to show ketones but can be changed to BHB, and thereby not show up in urine. Hence, measuring urine for ketones is iffy and can have false negatives. BHB takes a blood test and is more reliable.
Now, what I find interesting is the enzyme that switches ACAC to BHB and thence into the electron transport chain is actually in the wall of mitochondria. Ketones are such an important part of normal metabolism that mitochondria have all the normal enzymes to incorporate ketones into our energy flow. Did you get that? Our body has all the tools to burn ketones, all the time. It is built in. Through all of human history, ketones were our main fuel source to fall back on in lean times.
What happened in our rich, 21st-century environment? We never, ever run on ketones. There are no lean times. We always run on carbs. We store up wheat and corn in giant silos, formulate them into delicious foods and provide them to ourselves three times a day in exquisitely flavored recipes. And our body has a default switch that has us burning and running on carbs preferentially. It's the universal signal to turn on fat making, storage.
This is the key to weight gain and weight loss. Our natural tank of carbs is only 1500 calories. That's it. Anything over that and we signal our hormones that we have too many carbs. That means it must be September or October when carbs ripen - at the end of the growing season. Our blood sugar rises. We turn on insulin. Insulin switches everything into storage mode. We make triglycerides in our liver and ship those extra fats all over our body in little lipid bundles called LDLs. LDLs then deliver that newly manufactured fat to storage warehouses called your butt, your chin, your muffin top.
Think this through teleologically. We had to be designed like this to survive in a world where carbs show up suddenly, just before the starvation season. We would then evolve a hormone to store those calories when they showed up in abundance. (That's where insulin comes in.) And we would be favored to have sweet flavor in the middle of our tongue so that we seek carbs avidly, whenever we find them. But most of the year, we should be running on ketones. Normally. When you are surviving through winter, you are meant to be burning your fat stores. That's ketones. When you eat green vegetables (present from April till August), your colon turns spinach into ketones. Gorillas, eating 15 pounds of green leaves a day turn those into 70% ketones. Now there is a whole raft of websites touting the increased performance of athletes on ketogenic diets, how to induce ketogenesis etc.
But most importantly, we are proving that inducing ketosis turns on stem cells. It's so important to run on ketones, Bredesen is insisting we all do it every day for 12 hours and every month for 5 days. Gundry has jumped on board. The tide is changing. Ketones, otherwise known as Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), are your main, proper food source. BHB rules. It's the boss! And teaching your body, encouraging your body, forcing your body, manipulating, managing, teasing.....whatever you want to call it.....but do it. Get your body to run on ketones. That means, no grains, no sugar and lots and lots and lots of green vegetables.
WWW. What will work for me. I'm wrapping my head around this technology. I've done the Fast Mimicking Diet 8 times and found that it jump starts me into ketosis in three days. I'm going to try taking some Beta-hydroxybutyrate supplement the next time and see if it eases me into ketosis with a little less stress. What I do believe is that this is the pathway forward. Our bodies are aching for us to break our addictive habit of carbs. It just wasn't meant to be so. The only time we were meant to gorge on carbs was at the end of the growing season when getting ready for winter. Brings a whole new meaning to Halloween candy. Doesn't it? So, we ended up at the Pancake House for breakfast. I ordered the Eggs Benedict with spinach on the side. Didn't eat the English muffin. Double spinach please, no potatoes.
- The human primary fuel is? Answer: Beta-hydroxybutyrate. The ketone you make from burning fat, your colon digesting green vegetables, the ketone you make from digesting coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil......
- Exposed to carbs, your body will switch to what fuel? Answer: Glucose. Instantly. The microsecond you put out insulin. Three french fries will do it.
- Running on insulin instantly is incredibly important. Why? Answer: Because through most of human history, carbs were rare, and present just before the lean, starvation system. Remember, pears and apples ripen in October; right now. So sugar is on our tongues as our preferred taste so we gorge, turn on insulin, store calories and then...survive through winter.
- How big is your carb fuel tank? Answer. 1500 calories, called glycogen. Fill up that tank with.......one plate of pasta, rice, flour.
- And what happens to green vegetables? Answer. Your colon bacteria break them down into beta-hydroxybutyrate. The King (or Queen) of Ketones. BHB rules. You'll have BHB anytime you fast 12 hours or more. You will have a blood level of 3 and more if you do the fast mimicking diet for 3+ days. The Fast Mimicking Diet: best way yet to get you in ketosis.