“We’ve had launches on the order of 30 products from about 12-15 companies,” CEO Matt Titlow told NutraIngredients-USA. “The popularity of goBHB has been extremely explosive.”
Earlier this year, Compound Solutions became sole distributor of goBHB, a branded form of beta-hydroxybutyrate and goMCT, a branded form of medium chain triglyceride. Both are classified as exogenous ketone bodies, which are the class of metabolic substrates formed in the liver during ketosis, or the ‘burning’ of fat. Ketogenic diets feature ultra low levels of carbohydrates, seeking to condition the body to burn fat its primary fuel source.
Ketone bodies in performance
Endurance athletes must burn fat, too, as glycogen stores in the muscles are depleted during an event. Digestion of carbohydrates in the stomach and intestines is compromised as more blood is shunted to muscles under load, and in any case a competing athlete can’t take in enough carbs during an event to match the energy expenditure. In older marathon running parlance, the period when muscle glycogen levels were depleted and the body shifted primarily to burning fat stores was referred to as ‘hitting the wall.’
More recent research indicates that exogenous BHB supplementation can boost endurance, which has spurred the interest on the sports performance side. But Titlow said the successful launch of goBHB has been spurred by research into the ingredient’s effects not only in sports applications, but also in weight management and in supporting cognition.
“In the world of weight management, it has been a category dominated by a lot of marketing spend, a failure, and then it’s off to the next thing,” Titlow said. “BHB can act as a satiety ingredient. It really does satiate you and you can feel it.”
Titlow said the science behind BHB has been building for a number years. The company references studies dating back to the late 80s and stretching to recently published research to support the ingredient’s varied effects. It’s the ingredient’s ability to support ketogenic diets that is the biggest driver in the current uptake, Titlow said. Among the research that supports the ingredient’s weight management potential is a 2016 study in Nutrition & Metabolism in which the authors concluded: “Ketone supplementation could be used as an alternative method for inducing ketosis in patients uninterested in attempting the [ketogenic diet] or those who have previously had difficulty implementing the KD because of palatability issues, gall bladder removal, liver abnormalities, or intolerance to fat.”
“If you are talking about a fat burner you are often times talking about caffeine. If you include caffeine in a product [to boost metabolism], you are maybe burning another 40 or 50 calories a day. You lose weight by not eating the muffin. You don’t really lose weight by trying to ‘burn’the muffin,” Titlow said.
Fat can be good
Titlow said that even with the wealth of promising data, there is a dearth of research on the effects of BHB in humans. There is more human data to support the use of MCT to support ketosis. In both cases, however, Titlow said he believes the ingredients have benefited from the modern, more balanced view of nutrition in which fats are no longer viewed as the enemy.
“There is limited data on BHB in humans and we have plans to be the leader in pushing the development of BHB human data. This is a global phenomenon; we are launching shortly with several brands in Australia as well. It took a couple of decades for this fat myth to be busted but now we see that more and more people understand that fat can be good,” he said.