How to Test Ketone Levels
If you’re following a ketogenic diet, you’re sure to have experienced the rush of knowing if you are in ketosis or not.
For many, this is an exciting time of exploration, and testing your ketones is a surefire way to know if you made it into the fat-burning club or not.
Before we go into the ways you can test ketone levels, let’s first take a look at some of the ways you can tell - or feel - you are in ketosis:
- Weird breath - the short-term keto breath is real and is our friend acetone at play
- Sudden weight loss - usually water weight, but it can be staggering
- Appetite suppression - the desire to eat becomes smaller and smaller
- Increased focus and energy - you feel more alert and attentive
- Short-term fatigue - similarly, you can feel exhausted in spurts
- Insomnia - some people experience short-term insomnia
In most cases, these symptoms are very brief, and may go hand-in-hand with keto flu; this is just a normal, transitional time as your metabolism changes from burning glucose to ketones.
If you recall what it was like learning how to drive, it took you a few times to get your foot on the gas pedal smoothly. But once you got it, oh the places you could go! Ketosis is very much the same, and the more time you spend there, the more familiar it becomes.
Over time, your body will become fat-adapted. This means it will stop looking for sugar and carbs for energy and instead, look for fat. This process, unlike ketosis, can take a few weeks to refine really.
So you can be in ketosis, but not be fat-adapted.
Many people experience a euphoric surge when they finally transition over. But as these symptoms are hard to put the finger on, many people prefer to use more definite ways to test their ketone levels.
There are three ways to test ketone levels:
Urine Ketone Levels
The first and most affordable option is to use urine strips to check ketone levels. These strips go into the flow of urine and can detect if ketones are present.
The strip will change color and will become darker if more ketones are present. However, this can be an unreliable way to measure ketone levels over the long-term.
In some cases, urine strips can expire (especially when left out in a damp bathroom), and they do not definitively say if you are in ketosis or not.
Also, your body becomes fat-adapted, which means it refines the process of using ketones. Therefore, you have less to pee out.
So if you had ketones, and didn’t change your regimen, and now you have no ketones, you may be adapted (or you may have old urine strips).
Pros: Can buy them at the pharmacy. Cheap. Easy to use.
Cons: Not very reliable. Seem to stop working if fat-adapted. Need a lot.
Either way, many people coming into ketosis start with the urine strips, which costs around 10 cents per test, and then eventually move to the breath or blood tests for more accurate results.
Breath Testing Ketone Levels
Next up, we have the breath testing kits to measure ketone levels. These are interesting as they can be reliable, depending on the brand, and appear to be an area where medical application developers are putting the most time and effort into their research.
It’s believed that in a few years, there could be a breathalyzer on the market that can 100% tell you ketone levels in the body.
For now, breath testing meters are about 90% reliable, which makes them a lot more accurate than the humble urine strip.
Breath ketone meters measure the ketone by-product acetone on the breath and is a good indicator of ketone activity.
They range in price from about $60-$100 or more and are an ideal workaround for people who don’t want to prick their finger for blood.
Pros: More definitive results. Pretty accurate.
Cons: Can be expensive.
Some brands include:
- Ketonix breath ketone meter
- Fora 6 blood ketone meter
Blood Testing Ketone Levels
If you want to know for sure precisely what your ketone levels are, look no further than a blood ketone meter.
These kits can cost around $40-$80 and usually double up as a sugar level meter, making them an excellent choice for people who want to track their sugar and ketone levels in one device.
Blood testing is currently the most accurate way to track your ketone levels as it is the only way to diagnose the blood.
Pros: Gives you the most accurate answer.
Cons: Requires a blood sample. Can be expensive to use long-term.
BLOOD KETONE KITS INCLUDE:
- Keto Mojo blood ketone meter
- Fora 6 Bluetooth Blood Ketone Meter and Glucose Monitor
- Precision Xtra blood ketone meter and glucose monitor
Whatever method you choose, make sure you purchase your devices from a reputable store and make sure the seals are intact.
No one way is better than any other way when it comes to keto; it’s whatever works best for you.
Finally, we want to move the conversation on to the last part of the call.
This is when you track the ketone bodies and notice a severe influx.