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Testing Your Blood Ketones at Home
In order to test your ketones at home you will need a blood ketone meter and a kit that includes a lancet pen and ketone test strips. Most meters will read blood glucose as well as ketones. However, when testing for ketones you need to be using ketone test strips. Glucose test strips will not work when trying to get a reading on your ketone level.
Ketone Test Strips
Your kit will come with a supply of ketone strips, But it won’t be long until they are used up and you need to buy some more. Here are some tips when purchasing tests strips . . .
- Make sure you buy the right strips for the right meter as they are not interchangeable
- Look out for the expiration dates on your strips. Strips that have expired will not give you accurate results.
- Do not buy previously owned strips, such as those on eBay. It might not have been properly stored or might have expired.
- Do not buy strips that have been cleared by the FDA for sale in the United States.
How to Test Your Blood for Ketones
- Load a needle into the lancet pen according to package directions.
- Wash your hands with soap and dry them well.
- Remove a test strip from the packaging and insert it into the meter.
- Place the lancet pen on the side of your fingertip and push the button.
- Gently squeeze your finger to get a drop of blood. You will need a large drop to load the strip properly. After you do it two or three times, you’ll get a sense of how much blood you need. With the Precision meter, you need a bigger drop of blood than when you are testing blood glucose (even using the same meter).
- Touch the end of the test strip to the drop of blood until it fills the little opening and the meter registers.
- Wait for the meter to give you a reading (just a few seconds).
- Record your results.
When to Test for Ketones
- A blood glucose level of more than 250 mg/dl
- Symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain
- Being sick (for example, with a cold or flu)
- Feeling tired
- Feeling thirsty or having a very dry mouth
- Having flushed skin
- Breath that smells “fruity”
- Feeling confused or “in a fog”
- Being pregnant
- A recent diagnosis of diabetes
How to Interpret Your Results
Your results will fall into one of the following three ranges:
- Below 0.6 mmol/L: If your reading is below 0.6 you are in the normal range (i.e you are not in ketosis)
- 0.6 to 1.5 mmol/L: If your number is in this range you have the presence of ketones in your blood. This is where you want to be for fat burning
- Above 1.5 mmol/L: Readings above 1.5 indicate a greater risk for developing ketoacidosis. You should immediately contact your healthcare provider for advice.
Tips for Keto Diet Followers
Blood ketone levels are usually highest first thing in the morning when you have been fasting overnight. Ketone levels will rise over the course of the day. So, if you want to track your ketone levels day to day, you are best off setting definite time of day that you record your levels. This will provide you with the best comparisons.
There are other factors apart from diet which affect your blood ketone levels. These include exercise and consuming fats with medium-chain triglycerides, such as coconut oil or MCT oil. And, of course, eating something (usually high in carbs) that knocks you out of ketosis will cause your ketone level to plummet.
High ketones are not a sign of high glucose levels in the blood. They also are not caused by the breakdown of protein and they are not toxic.
Urine Testing for Ketosis
The easiest and least expensive way to test for ketosis is with keto testing urine strips. This method is not as accurate as blood testing kits. People’s individual responses var. So the level of carb restriction required by one person to get into ketosis may be completely different for another person. At times, we can all also mistakenly eat foods that are higher in carbs than we thought.
Doing quick keto test can conform that we are in the fat burning keto mode and give us the motivation to stay there.
To test your ketone levels you will need ketone urine testing strips. A couple of popular options are Ketostix and Chemstrip. In fact Ketostix have become so popular that the word is often used to refer to any ketone testing strip regardless of the manufacturer.When you purchase your strips be sure to read all of the product insert information carefully.
Steps to Follow
- You can either pass the test end of the strip through your urine as you urinate (be sure to wet it entirely), or collect urine in a clean, dry container and dip the test strip in.
- Shake off excess drops of urine.
- Wait for 15 seconds or whatever time is stated on the brand of test strips you are using.
- Compare the color on your strip to the color array on the side of the bottle.
If the keto strip remains the original color of beige, then there are no ketones in your urine. The closer the color gets to deep purple, the more ketones there are in your urine. But that doesn’t necessarily that you want the deepest purple possible. In fact, for many people the ideal for weight loss is a mid level between beige and dark purple.
Drawbacks of Urine Keto Analysis
Urine ketone testing is extremely unreliable. The major problem is that the level of ketones in the urine does not automatically match up with the level in the blood. Also, the dilution of the urine can make a difference. Another factor is that, as time goes on, those who follow a ketogenic diet are less likely to have ketones show up in their urine. It is thought that the body gets more efficient at recycling ketones over time and does not excrete as much acetone.
Blood tests are far more reliable, but also quite a lot more costly. Another option is to use a breath analyzer.
Tips for Improving the Accuracy of Your Urine Keto Test
- Test the expiration date on your testing kit. If it is expired you will get a false result.
- Always keep your test strips with the lid tightly fastened.
- Exposure to moisture cause a false reading.
You do not want to be either dehydrated or overly hydrated. Dehydration can give you a false positive result, while too many fluids in your system can give you a false negative.
- If you get frustrated with the accuracy of your urine keto testing, opt for a blood ketone test.
Ketone Breath Testing
Breath testing is another method that some people use to either confirm the validity of a urine keto analysis or as a stand alone test. This is, however, the least accurate of the three methods.
Acetone is a ketone body that is produced when the body metabolizes BHB. Acetone is measured through the breath with a device that purchase. The more acetone that you have in your breath, the higher your level of ketosis. A popular breath monitor is the Ketonix meter, which measures how much of the ketone is exhaled on your breath.
How to Use a Ketone Breath Monitor
Plug your breath monitor in a USB port ir, if it comes with a battery pack, insert the batteries. After the monitor has warmed up, blow onto it until it starts to lash. This will tell you that it is measuring your breath acetone levels. If the reading is between 40 and 80 then you are in ketosis.
Ketone breath monitors are quite expensive. However they can be used over and over again. This is also the simplest method as it doesn’t require that you mess around with bodily fluids. You also do not have the ongoing hassle of buying testing strips.
Assessing Your Ketosis Level Without Testing
A fourth way to assess whether you are in ketosis is by observing your bodily reactions. While this is the least accurate of all the methods it will give you a decent indication of whether or not you are in ketosis. If you don’t have any of the testing kits here are the signs to look out for.
- A clear mental state. Consuming carbs can cause you to have dips in your energy levels which can directly affect your mental performance. In a state of ketosis, however, the brain rapidly uses ketones for fuel by using up your fat reserves. On a keto diet, you will be eating lots of healthy, brain boosting fats which will also help to ensure clear mental state.
- Reduced hunger. When your body switches from a glucose based to a ketone based energy system, your body uses fat to break down ketones to be used for energy. Your body has constant supply of stored body fat. As a result, you won’t be craving food to supply that energy.
- Greater energy levels. After about 90 minutes of eating carbs your body will have used up the available energy that has been transported from the mitochondria in your cells. This causes an energy crash. But when you are in ketosis, your body gets its energy from your stored body fat levels. This is an endless supply of energy so you will not experience any energy crashes.
- Higher thirst levels. When you adapt to a keto diet, the body will be using up glycogen. You will also be visiting the bathroom more often. If you don’t add salt or electrolytes to your diet, you will experience increased thirst and drier mucous membranes because of reduced lower hydration levels.
- Contrary to what many people believe, fruity smelling breath is not a good indication that you are in ketosis. It is more likely that fruity smelling breath is a sign of ketoacidosis (DKA). This is a condition that can be very dangerous. It is most commonly seen in people with Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes. Other signs that you are in DKA are that you experience nausea or are vomiting. You should immediately seek medical attention in any of these cases.