When you start a ketogenic diet, one of the most common questions is how to measure your ketone levels. Most people on a keto diet do this because they want to see if there are in ketosis.
To get started measuring your ketone levels, there are three types of ketone bodies to know about:
Unlike protein intake, where the daily amount is determined by your lean mass weight, the number of carbs to enter ketosis can be estimated using three methods.
1) Blood Ketone testing
The level of BHB in your bloodstream will tell you how much you have in your fuel tank but it will not measure the metabolic usage of ketones. Blood ketone testing is the most accurate way to measure ketone bodies.
Blood ketone testing can precisely determine the level of ketones in your blood. But the drawback is that they are more expensive. The testing meter costs $40 and the test strips cost $5 each. If you are testing your ketone levels daily, it could cost you $150 per month.
2) Ketone Breath testing
A non-invasive and cheap alternative is to measure ketones is to use breath acetone concentration. Acetone is one of the ketone bodies that results from a break down of acetoacetate. The level of acetone will reflect the metabolic usage of ketones.
The Ketonix Acetone Breathalyzer is available and offers an easy and inexpensive way to test your breath ketones (acetone). Keep in mind that breath ketones do not always exactly correlate with blood ketones and are affected by several factors (alcohol consumption and water intake).
3) Ketone Urine strips
Ketostix, Uriscan, and other urine detection strips are not as accurate as the blood and breath test. This because they only measure the level of acetoacetate. These are the excess ketone bodies that are not utilized by the body and are excreted via urine.
Urine ketone strips can still be useful during the initial phase of the ketogenic diet when you simply want to test the level of carbohydrates in order to enter ketosis.
Some people use them to test if they are sensitive to certain foods that may be keto-friendly but still have a negative effect on their progress.
The good news is they are easy to use and fairly cheap to buy. You’ll only pay about $10 for 50 strips, which adds up to about $6 a month if you test yourself daily. If urine detection strips don’t work for you, use one of the other two methods.
4) Your own observation
Listening to your body’s signals is another way of finding out whether you are in ketosis. When your body is in ketosis, you may smell of acetone. This could be sensed in your breath, sweat or urine. Some people refer to this as ketogenic “fruity” smelling breath. If you detect any of these signs, you are more than likely in ketosis.
Don’t Focus Just on Ketones
Recently, I’ve noticed a growing obsession when it comes to measuring ketones precisely. Although urine detection strips may not be accurate for keto-adapted people, they work for most of those that have just started the ketogenic diet.
By the time most people become keto-adapted (which takes 3-4 weeks) most of them understand what to eat and what to avoid without any real need to measure the precise level of ketone bodies.
In the end, what really matters is not ketones but the effects of low-carb diets: weight loss and improved health.
Dr. Jerry Hizon