How To Test Ketone Levels With A Blood Meter
Blood ketone testing is the most accurate way to measure your ketone levels.
When youre in ketosis, you have a lot of ketones traveling through your bloodstream, on their way to provide energy to cells all across your body. You can measure them with a ketone blood test to get a very accurate look at how deep into ketosis you are.
In order to test your blood ketone levels, you need a ketone blood meter and blood test strips. The meter is a small plastic device that fits in the palm of your hand you can find one at most drug stores, or you can order the device online.
This testing method is similar to how people with diabetes test their blood glucose levels for high blood sugar. You prick your finger, squeeze a drop of blood out, tap it on a testing strip, and put it in a ketone blood meter. The blood meter then detects your blood ketone levels.
Measuring ketone levels in your bloodstream provides the most reliable test results.
That said, if the idea of sticking yourself with a needle makes you queasy, this might not be the best ketone test for you. Also, the strips run about $1-2 each, which can add up, depending on how often you want to test your ketone levels.
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Materials needed: Keto-Diastix strip, a watch with a second hand, 42×2 gauze pads supplied by St. Jude, scissors, and non-sterile gloves.
The Three Types Of Ketone Testing: Blood Breath And Urine
Each method of ketone testing measures something different: blood tests measure -hydroxybutyrate levels, breath tests measure acetone levels and urine tests measure acetoacetate levels. -hydroxybutyrate, acetoacetate and acetone are all ketones produced during fat metabolism. If you are burning fat, you are making ketones, so all three can be a gauge of ketosis.
When I am running on ketones, all three are present in my blood. Some acetoacetate molecules get excreted in urine, so I can measure their concentration as a proxy for ketone levels in the blood. Acetone is actually small enough to pass from the blood into the lungs, so small quantities are present in exhaled breath.3
Because each method is different and no linear relationship exists between the different ketone measurements, direct comparisons between two methods is not possible. However, I ran each method through the same protocol at essentially the same point in time, so I will have compatible data and user experience to consider across each method.
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Hydration Levels: How Does Hydration Impact My Ketone Readings
As the urine testing strips measure the ketones you urinate, hydration plays a big part in what you are urinating.
If you are over hydrated, or more hydrated than you were last time you measured, the results will show up differently: it will show up lighter, reading lower levels of ketones.
If youre dehydrated, or less hydrated than you were last time you measured, the results will show up differently: it will show up darker, reading lower higher levels of ketones.
Which is the right reading, which is the wrong reading, and how do you know whats normal?
The only way you can know what reading to focus on is to know what your natural state of hydration is, then be aware if anything compromises your hydration.
Here is how you find your natural hydration:The key to staying in optimal hydration is to drink small amounts of water throughout the day, up to 3.54 litres.
Here are the amounts and the times we recommend in our plans to ensure you stay at the optimal hydration level.
Here are some of the common things that impact your hydration:
You can also look at your urine if its dark, smelly or chalky that often means dehydration. If its clear with no colour, that often means you have high levels of hydration however, a healthy hydration level will show up as clear but with a slight colour to it.
If Your Urine Has Moderate Or Large Ketones Present Call Your Doctor Or Nurse Right Away
Follow the directions for testing exactly and time the test accurately. Read the directions before doing the test. Protect the test strips from damage that might change the results.
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How To Test Ketone Levels Using Ketosis Strips And Other Tools
If youre on a ketogenic diet, youve probably learned that your main goal is to get into ketosis a metabolic state where your bodys burning fatty acids for fuel instead of carbohydrates.
You get into ketosis by cutting way back on your carb intake. In the absence of carbs, your body turns to fat as its main energy source.
Being in ketosis comes with a wide variety of benefits, from easier weight loss to more energy.
But how do you know whether youre in ketosis?
After youve been on a keto diet for a while, youll be able to feel when youre in ketosis. But if youre just starting out, you may want to test ketone levels markers that tell you how deep into ketosis you are.
Ketone testing is optional, and plenty of people follow a keto diet without ever testing their ketone levels. However, if youre new to keto and you want to be certain that youre getting into ketosis , you have a few different options for ketone testing.
This article covers the three main ways you can test your ketone levels: urine testing, blood testing, and breath testing.
How Do They Work
Ketone urine-testing strips have an absorptive pad on one end. The pad contains a chemical reagent that changes color in the presence of acids such as ketones in urine 3. The color depth change varies depending on the concentration of ketones. Light pink means ketones are present but in small amounts. Dark purple means youre in full-blown ketosis.
Most of the time, these tests detect acetone, and occasionally acetoacetic. The presence of both is a sure sign you are in ketosis. Beta-hydroxybutyrate, which is the most biologically active of the ketones, is largely present in blood and, unfortunately, kertone strips wont detect it.
The way you use keto test strips is like this: you pee directly on the strip or you immerse it in a urine sample. Then, you wait 15 seconds to a minute for the pad to change color. Compare the color to the color on the chart you received with the test kit, and voila, you know how many ketones are in your urine.
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Testing Ketones In Breath
There are several different devices on the market that test for the breath ketone, acetone. They vary widely in design and price. I tested three: Ketonix, Keto Stat and LEVL.
The Ketonix requires some setup before use. It must be charged for about 12 hours and requires that you download an app onto your smart phone and pair it with the device before you can begin taking measurements.
Note that the Ketonix includes a rechargeable battery so that the device can be used when you are away from an electric outlet convenient for camping, etc. I experimented with it, and although it is a little tricky to get the battery aligned with the device so that you can carefully connect the two, once completed, it worked well.
Once set up, a deep exhale from the bottom of your lungs into the device is all that it takes to get a measurement. This is not the same as a deep breath! The instructions emphasize using your muscles to force all the air out of your lungs.
During testing, I occasionally needed to close the app and reopen it to get it to reset and work correctly. On one occasion, I needed to unplug the device and plug it back in to reset it.
Can you test any time with a Ketonix? Not really. The manufacturer suggests waiting until alcohol is completely out of your system before testing. In my experience, even just a glass of wine could really skew the test toward much higher readings, suggesting the sensor struggles to distinguish alcohol from acetone.
Why Does The Body Produce Ketones In Ketosis
Ketones are molecules which are water-soluble and are created by the liver when your body is indeed in ketosis. This is because your body isnt getting enough glucose . There are three main types of ketones acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate, and acetone.
When the body switches to ketosis, a metabolic state, it is doing so because it has detected a change in your diet. It thinks, falsely, that it is going to starve, so it switches to this alternative way of getting fuel for the body to function correctly. You could call it panic mode, but you are of course tricking your body in many ways.
When you are on what could be classed as a normal diet, your body uses glucose for fuel, i.e. the carbs and sugars you eat in your diet. These are burnt for fuel and they give your organs the food they need, as well as giving you energy to go about your day.
When you suddenly limit the amount of carbs you are consuming, there isnt enough glucose to go around, so your body thinks hang on a minute, and switches to producing ketones in the liver instead.
The primary reason for this is because your brain cant process fat for energy, it simply doesnt work in that way. Your brain requires ketones for fuel otherwise its not going to function. So again, your body is in panic, survival mode.
When you body produces more ketones, many of these are excreted in your urine, hence why you can use a test strip to find out if your body has a high amount of ketones with in it.
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Do You Need Ketosis Strips To Succeed On Keto
When youre just starting out on the Ketogenic diet, you simply cant escape the word ketones.
The conflicting advice youll run across concerning the importance of measuring ketone levels can also be highly confusing so were here to simplify things today.
Well investigate whether monitoring your ketone levels is necessary if you want to enjoy the full and wide-ranging benefits of Keto.
More specifically, well laser in on ketosis strips so you can see whether analyzing your urine using these simple strips is an effective method of monitoring those ketone levels.
So what are ketones in plain English, then?
What If Strips Arent Showing Ketosis
Assuming youve decided to press ahead and measure the ketone levels in your urine, what should you do if you get a negative ketone reading?
Firstly, dont become disheartened. Following the Keto diet can bring about a shower of positive health benefits that do not hinge on being in ketosis.
You should also remember that urine strips are the least accurate of all ways to measure ketones.
In terms of taking action to move yourself toward ketosis, drill down on your macros since too many carbs or too much protein can affect ketosis.
Also, remember all the benefits that made you want to try Keto in the first place. If you are finding that shifting to Keto is bringing you a range of positive benefits, stop using the strips and reap the rewards rather than obsessing over numbers.
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How Do You Use Them
Using ketone strips couldnt be easier.
Pee in a container then dip the strip into the urine or hold the stick in the urine stream to bring about the chemical reaction necessary for monitoring levels.
After 15 seconds you compare the color on the strip to the color-coded chart on the package to determine whether your body is producing ketones.
What Is The Ideal Ketosis Level For Optimal Weight Loss
Nutritional ketosis wont promote weight loss directly, but it can decrease hunger, increase energy levels, and enhance mental clarity.
Altogether these unique benefits of ketosis can help us feel more satisfied and energized from fewer calories, resulting in more weight loss.
Though you can experience this from light ketosis, the current research suggests that the deep ketosis range will bring out these benefits to a greater degree.
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Measuring Ketosis Using Urine
If you want to know if youre in ketosis, urine strips are a cheap and convenient way of finding out.
They were originally developed for people with type 1 diabetes to determine if theyre at immediate risk for diabetic ketoacidosis, a potentially life-threatening condition .
You can purchase urine strip kits over-the-counter at your local pharmacy and supermarket, as well as online. Theyre relatively inexpensive and can contain from 50 to several hundred strips.
The strips typically expire within three to six months after opening, so keep in mind how often you intend to use them .
If you want to check your urine ketones day-to-day, stick with a specific time, like in the morning or several hours after your last meal of the day, for best comparison (
The process of using keto strips looks like this:
- Wash your hands, then take a urine sample in a small container.
- Immerse the absorptive end of the strip into the sample for a few seconds, then remove.
- Wait for the amount of time outlined on the package for the strip to change color.
- Compare the strip with the color chart on the packaging.
- Dispose of the urine and strip in an appropriate manner before washing your hands.
The color corresponds to the concentration of ketones in your urine, which can range from no ketones to high concentrations. The darker the color, the higher your ketone levels.
Heres how a blood ketone meter works:
A preferable blood level of ketones for dietary ketosis is 0.5 3 mmol/L .
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