Health Benefits of Ketone Bodies
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Health Benefits of Ketone Bodies

Due to the rise of the ketogenic diet, it is necessary to have a basic understanding of the theory of ketone bodies, their utility, and their applicability in the body. So, what are ketone bodies? What are the benefits of ketone bodies?

Ketone bodies are one of our body’s four sources of energy, the other three being fatty acids from fat, amino acids from protein, and blood sugar from carbohydrate conversion. Ketone bodies contain three main ketone bodies: acetoacetic acid (AcAc), beta-hydroxybutyric acid (BHB), and acetone (Acetone).

If ketone bodies are one of the four sources of energy, why is it rarely heard or discussed? This is because ketone bodies are essentially not found in our daily food; they are produced by our bodies.

Once produced, ketone bodies leave the liver cells and enter the bloodstream, where they circulate to other tissues. Acetone (Acetone) is excreted through the respiratory tract. Acetoacetic acid (AcAc) enters the tricarboxylic acid cycle, which is the source of the other two ketone bodies. beta-Hydroxybutyric acid (BHB) is used as a source of energy for most cells in the body, including brain cells.

The Process of Energy Production by Ketone Bodies

When our body is in a fasting or glucose-deficient state, insulin levels drop. Low insulin levels cause the process of lipolysis to occur, which means that fat cells begin to release free fatty acids from our internal stores. These fatty acids are then sent to the liver and broken down into a molecule called acetyl coenzyme A (Acetyl CoA).

In the liver, acetyl coenzyme goes through a series of steps that eventually produce the ketone body AcAc. and the liver’s BHB dehydrogenase (Dehydrogenase) converts AcAc to BHB. once BHB is produced, specialized transport proteins carry it out of the liver and into our circulatory system where it is used as fuel.

While the primary role of ketone bodies is to serve as an alternative energy source for the body when blood sugar is low, “ketosis” is the body’s conversion to a form that uses ketone bodies as fuel. Presenting mild ketosis is the natural state of the body and the optimal state for human metabolism.

Many studies point out that BHB is the primary supplier of energy to the brain; BHB accounts for approximately 80% of circulating ketone bodies, with AcAc and acetone accounting for the remaining 20% and 1%. Thus, BHB is the most concentrated ketone body in the entire circulation, which is perhaps why we like to measure ketone bodies in terms of blood ketone levels.


Benefits of Ketone Bodies for the Brain and Body

The benefits of ketone bodies utilized in the brain are manifold, and Professor Krebs (for whom the Krebs cycle is named) revealed the ability of ketone bodies to provide fuel in the cycle and found that they function similarly to glucose and non-esterified fatty acids.

Ketone Bodies Provide Higher-quality Brain Energy Than Glucose

Ketone bodies provide more cellular energy per unit of oxygen consumed than glucose, making them a better source of brain energy than glucose due to their higher energy efficiency. In addition, ketone bodies are metabolized faster than glucose; they do not need to enter the Krebs cycle via the glycolytic pathway and are directly involved in the energy supply. Ketone bodies are an ideal energy substitute for the brain compared to glucose, mainly because they provide more energy at a faster rate.

Ketone Bodies Regulate Insulin Levels and Control Body Weight

Ketone bodies regulate leptin and insulin signaling in the hypothalamus, directly affecting ongoing energy supply and glucose metabolism, which is one of the reasons why many people say that a ketogenic diet can lead to weight loss.

Prevents neurological disorders, reduces free radical production and decreases tissue inflammation

Ketone bodies are also a carbon source of glutamate, thus balancing the glutamate/glutamine ratio in the brain, which may help prevent neurological disorders and conditions. Finally, ketone bodies reduce the production of free radicals, thereby minimizing tissue inflammation.

BHB Also Has an Advantage Over Fats in Terms of Brain Energy Supply

It is clear that fatty acids are precursors to BHBs, and it may be an evolutionary advantage that our brains use BHBs rather than fatty acids for energy supply. If fatty acids are used for brain energy supply, the following problems may arise

  • Because fatty acid oxidation requires a large amount of oxygen, resulting in a hypoxic environment for neurons or requiring the body to provide more oxygen to the brain, making the body’s use of oxygen less efficient.
  • Fatty acid oxidation increases the production of oxygen-free radicals from fatty acids, which may damage the brain.
  • Fatty acid oxidation is a “slow” process, which means that the brain does not have enough energy to make quick decisions, such as in life-or-death situations.


Ketone bodies regulate insulin levels and control body weight, prevent neurological disorders, reduce free radical production, and decrease tissue inflammation. In addition to glucose, BHB has an advantage over fat in brain energy supply. Therefore, increasing the level of ketone bodies in the body or how to increase the level of BHB is crucial for our health.