You’re following the Keto diet but how do you know if you are in Nutritional Ketosis? This post talks about how to test your Ketone levels to make sure you are following the diet properly.
You probably landed on this page because you are following a Keto diet and want to know ways that you can test your ketones to make sure that you are actually in Nutritional Ketosis.
If you don’t know what the Keto diet is or how to start it, I recommend you read my easy guide on How To Start the Keto Diet. If you are familiar with Keto, you can keep reading.
Before I go on, I want to make one thing clear. Following a Ketogenic Diet and being in Nutritional Ketosis are two different things. You can eat Keto foods and not be in Ketosis. That is why it’s imperative to know how to test your Ketone levels and actively do it throughout your Keto journey.
When it comes to testing for Ketone levels, there are three main ways to do it; Checking urine via Urine Strips, checking your blood via a Blood Meter and checking your breath via a Breath Analyzer.
I have tried all three of the methods to testing ketone levels, and I will go into detail about all three of them and tell you the pro’s and cons of each so you can make the best decision for yourself.
Testing your ketone levels is the only way to know 100% whether you are in Ketosis. Yes, there are other signs that you can pick up from how you feel, but I am not going to get into that in today’s post because if you are new to Keto, you won’t be able to pick up on those signs at first.
How to Test Your Ketone Levels
1. Urine Strips–
Urine strips are the most popular way for people who follow the Ketogenic diet test. The reason is that they are cheap, easy to use, and you can find them in most stores.
They are usually found in the diabetic section of the store or you can get them on Amazon, Perfect Keto Website or Walmart.com.
How do Keto Urine Strips Work?
Not to state the obvious, but you pee on them. Duh! ????After peeing on the strip, it changes color depending on how deep into ketosis you are. Urine strips pick up Acetoacetate in your urine and tell you how much of it you have in your body based on the color of the strip.
- Light beige is no ketones
- Light pink is light ketones
- Medium pink is medium ketones
- Purple is deep ketosis
However, many things can skew these results. For example, if you are dehydrated your strip may show up darker. The opposite is true if you drink too much water, your strips will be lighter. Certain medications also alter the result of urine strips.
Unfortunately for that reason, urine test strips are not the most accurate way to test your ketones. After you’ve been following the ketogenic diet for a while, your body starts utilizing acetoacetate more efficiently, and it stops showing up in your urine.
For beginners who aren’t sure if they are going to commit to a Keto lifestyle, urine strips are a great start. However, I recommend you switch to blood testing if you continue the diet and make it a lifestyle choice.
So let’s recap with the pro’s and con’s of Urine Strips
Pro’s of using Urine Strips to check your Ketone Levels
- They are cheap
- They are easy to use
- You can find them anywhere
Con’s of using Urine Strips to check your Ketones Levels
- You have to keep buying the strips
- Your reading is inconsistent
- It’s hard to tell what level of Ketosis you are in by just a color
- They stop working after you’ve been following the Keto diet for a while
2. Blood Meter–
The second way to test your ketone levels is by checking your blood using a Ketone Blood Meter. This is done by using a special meter with a specific ketone test strip. Some good options for meters are the following:
To test your blood ketones, you would place a test strip into the meter, prick your finger with the lancet and fill the test area with enough blood for it to start measuring your blood Ketones.
Blood testing is the most accurate way to test for Nutritional Ketosis. The blood meter picks up ketones in your bloodstream, and if the number is 0.5 mmol/L and above, then your body is in Nutritional Ketosis.
My saying is this, “The Blood Don’t Lie.” In the medical world, blood tests are everything. It’s how doctors check for diseases and medical conditions because it’s reliable. So, if you are serious about the Ketogenic Diet, you should invest in a blood meter.
The Abbott Precision is around $40 but test strips are hard to find and can range from $1-$4 a strip!! ????
If you are going to test your blood, I don’t recommend you do it every day because that will get expensive fast. 1-2 times a week will be adequate to measure your ketones and ensure that you are still in Nutritional Ketosis.
Tips a few side notes about testing your blood ketones:
- Test your ketone levels at the same time every day.
If you are going to test your ketones, the best time to check them is either in the morning or before bed. In the morning, your Ketones may be lower, however, if you are in Ketosis, you should have some ketones, and if you don’t, you need to lower your carb intake.
2. Don’t test your ketones right after you eat
Different foods will affect your ketone levels, and unless you are testing your ketones to see how specific foods affect your ketosis, you shouldn’t check right after you eat because your results will be dependent on what you just ate and not your overall ketosis level.
Wait at least 3 hours after eating to check your ketones. However, if you are curious if a specific “keto” product is keto for your body, check your ketones before you eat that food and one hour after you eat it. If your ketones drop or if you test blood sugar and it rises, you will know that food isn’t keto for you.
3. Testing after a workout may lower your Ketone levels
You might think that your ketone levels would go up after your workout since you just burned a bunch of calories, and since working out helps you get into Ketosis faster. However, that is not the case. Exercise causes your body to break down glycogen, which can lower your ketones.
However, it varies from person to person. There are different factors at play like are you working out in a fasted state? Did you drink “ketones” before your workout? How fat adapted are you?
If you drink ketones in the form of Exogenous Ketone drinks, your test strips may show that you have ketones in your blood, but that doesn’t exactly mean that you are in Nutritional Ketosis. Drinking Ketones and Nutritional Ketosis are not the same things.
The Pro’s and Con’s of using a blood meter to test your ketones
Pro’s of using a blood meter to test your ketone levels
- It’s most accurate
- It’s reliable
- Easy to understand the results
- Consistent measurements (for the most part)
- Awesome way to test specific foods that you are eating
- The instant gratification that you are following the Keto diet correctly
Con’s of using a blood meter to test your ketone levels
- Meter can be expensive
- Test strips are expensive
- You have to “prick” yourself
- Need to order online, re-order test strips
- Readings will vary depending on the time of day you test
The last way to measure your Ketones is by using a Ketone Breath Analyzer. This is the least popular way mainly because the meter is pricey and there aren’t a lot of them on the market. When I bought mine, there was only one brand available, which is the Ketonix.
If you are wondering what the heck a Ketone Breath Analyzer even is, think of a breath analyzer that you would get if you got pulled over for drinking. (let’s hope that never happens to you though). It works the same way, you blow into the device and it gives you a reading of your “breath ketones”.
Sounds delightful, doesn’t it? Since it’s using your breath, the Ketone Breath Meter is picking up levels of Acetone which are caused by nutritional ketosis.
If you have been following the Ketogenic diet for a bit, you probably are familiar with “keto breath.” It can be compared to the smell of nail polish remover, and it’s a common thing that happens when you are doing Keto.
So, the breath meter picks up levels of acetone in your breath and rates it on a scale of colors. The more acetone in your breath, the higher your ketone levels are.
Here are the ranges:
Using the Ketonix, you would simply blow into it and wait until the meter registers your acetone levels and flashes a specific color.
Alternatively, you can plug it into your computer via USB and use the software that comes with it that shows you your Ketone levels on your screen.
Personally, I stopped using the Ketone Breath Analyzer a long time ago because I got super frustrated with the blowing inconsistent results.
Now, mind you, I bought this meter right when it came out so the newer models probably work much better, but still, I chose to check my blood instead.
One thing to note is that these meters are not cheap. The basic one is $140 and, the Bluetooth one is $240. They last a long time though, or that’s what is claimed. The instructions on mine said it lasts up to 1000 uses. I probably used it less than 100 times.
Pro’s of using a Ketone Breath Analyzer to test your Ketone Levels
- You don’t have to prick yourself or pee on anything
- Once you buy the meter, you don’t need any more equipment for
- It lasts a long time
- Pretty convenient
- Simple to use
Con’s of using a Ketone Breath Analyzer to test your Ketone Levels
- The meter is pretty expensive
- Blowing into it can get annoying fast
- Results can be really inconsistent
- It has to be charged
- Software/ tech issues
- Online only
In conclusion, I hope this post helped you learn how to test your ketone levels and the different options that you have.
Now, as far as choosing which one to go with, ask yourself a few questions:
- Is Keto simply a diet for me to lose weight fast and then I’ll try to “maintain” it?
- What is my budget?
- Can I prick myself without passing out?
- Is it important for me to know that I am following the Ketogenic Diet correctly and am actually in Ketosis?
Answering those questions will help you decide which option to go with. If you are a beginner, I recommend that you start with Perfect Keto Urine Strips for about a month or so. After that, decided if you are going to be serious about Keto and if the answer is yes then get a Keto Mojo Blood Meter.
However, if you are the kind of person that can’t stand blood but want something more reliable than urine strips, invest in Breath Ketone Analyzer.
Whichever one you choose, testing your Ketones is imperative to your success with this diet.
Later I will talk about how you can tell you’re in Ketosis without testing so if you are interested in that information, make sure you are subscribed to my email list so you can get that post straight to your inbox, but for now, get to testing!!