One of the questions we most often get from the Keto Diet Living community is How can I tell if my body is in ketosis? Or How can I check my ketones?
If you have just started keto or have been on your keto journey for months, you probably know that when your body changes from relying on carbohydrates for energy to metabolizing fats, it produces molecules called ketone bodies.
Following a low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet will reduce insulin and increase the breakdown of both consumed fat and fat stores on your body. When this occurs, your liver begins creating vast quantities of ketones to supply energy to the cells throughout your body and brain.
How Long Does It Take To Get Into Ketosis?
How Do I Know If I’m In A State Of Ketosis?
If you are unfamiliar with the symptoms or how to test for ketones, it can be difficult to know whether you’re “in ketosis” or not.
Rest assured there are some telltale signs and symptoms to tell if your carb cutting efforts have been sufficient enough to result in ketosis.
First, let’s take a look at some signs you may see that don’t require testing for ketones with the various blood, breath, and urine testing methods available.
Bad Breath From Keto
Is your breath smelling fruity or metallic tasting? If so this may be a good sign that you’re in ketosis.
This change in breath is pretty common on the keto diet especially when starting out and is caused by elevated ketone levels specifically acetone which is a ketone waste product that exits the body in your breath and urine.
The bad breath usually goes away after a while, and you can deal with the issue by drinking lots of water, chewing sugar-free gum, using mouthwash or brushing your teeth several times each day.
The good news is this excretion of acetone makes it pretty simple to test for ketones both in the urine and breath which we will discuss later on so make sure to keep reading to find out how.
Weight Loss From Ketosis
When you first start keto, you may see quick weight loss the first few weeks which is usually mostly water weight.
If you continue to restrict carbohydrates after the initial drop in water weight, you should continue to lose body fat and notice this both on the scale and in the way your clothes fit which is a good indication that your body is in ketosis.
There are a variety of other less obvious factors that may indicate you are in ketosis like overcoming the keto flu, improved brain function, stable energy levels and increased performance, but I don’t like to put too much weight in “you might be” scenarios. I suggest testing for ketones, so you know for sure if you are in ketosis.
As you transition away from a traditional high carb based diet testing your ketone levels is a great way to observe how your body is reacting to the keto lifestyle.
So, let’s take a closer look at the available methods for testing your ketone levels so you can get a more accurate assessment, of ketone levels in your blood, breath or urine.
Blood Ketone Testing Is The Best Way
The most precise and trustworthy method of measuring ketosis is to monitor the amount of ketone body beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) in your blood with a blood ketone meter.
The optimal range for blood ketones is from 1.5 – 3.0 mmol/L and is considered the range that offers the most health benefits if maintained long term.
How To Test For Ketones In The Blood
There are several home blood ketone meters available for purchase on the internet and in stores. The meters themselves are pretty affordable, but the ketone test strips are expensive and can be as much as a few dollars a piece depending on which brand you choose. My personal favorite is the Keto Mojo meter and ketone strips which are really affordable in comparison at $1 a strip.
Because of the high cost, we recommend you only test once per week or every few weeks to ensure you are in ketosis.
The good news is these meters are very easy to use and although they require you to prick your finger with a lancet needle to produce a drop of blood its virtually painless and only requires a tiny sample size.
Take it from a 38 year Type 1 diabetic testing your ketones once a week or bi-weekly is nothing compared to testing your glucose ten times a day. 🙂
Like people with diabetes test their blood glucose levels you do the same by pricking your finger and squeezing out a small sample of blood and applying it to the blood meter stick, and the meter gives you a ketone level reading of exactly how much beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) is in your blood within seconds.
Because your blood isn’t affected or diluted the same way ketones in the urine can be by everything from hydration to medications blood measuring of ketones is extremely precise and considered the most reliable way to measure ketone levels.
Test Ketone levels Using A Breathalyzer
Although slightly less accurate than blood meters and more accurate than urine tests ketone breathalyzers are used to measure acetone in your breath which is the by-product of your body breaking down the ketone body acetoacetate AcAc.
These function similarly to what police officers use to do roadside DUI breath tests, but analyze acetone instead of alcohol.
The best part is you can test yourself as many times as you like since they don’t require test strips as a blood ketone meter does and although they can be pricey, you may save some money over time.
Being able to test whenever you want is excellent because you can see how different foods and exercise may affect your ketone levels.
Some of the breathalyzers like the Ketonix also come with USB connections and software to track your levels over time which can be an outstanding tool for dialing in your food, exercise, and routine.
The Ketonix does take some getting used to and is not as fast or as accurate as checking with blood as it takes some time to warm up and the software can be an issue for some. If you are interested in learning more about the Ketonix you can check it out on Amazon at Ketonix Breath Meter.
Test For Ketones With Urine Strips
Urine test sticks are inexpensive and are an easy way to check the ketone bodies, acetoacetate in your urine and ultimately how your diet is going initially.
These ketones will spill over into your urine, and the change of color on the urine strip will indicate your level of ketones.
We only suggest using these when you are first starting off with keto because they are so cheap and can be a good early indicator of whether you are in ketosis.
That being said they can often give a false or inaccurate reading based on several factors like your overall electrolyte and hydration levels and medications you may be taking.
Because, urine test strips, test the amount of acetoacetate that spills into your urine they become less reliable as your body becomes “keto-adapted” because your body is using acetoacetate more efficiently and so there is less in your urine to read.
Because of the urine strips inability to accurately track the used up acetoacetate is another reason why blood testing is the most accurate and reliable method of measurement for ketones.
So What Is The Best Method To Test For Ketones?
Over time you should be able to tell by how your body feels and recognizing the signs that you may be in ketosis, but if you want to know for sure and if you want to track how foods or exercise affect your state of ketosis then you should consider using blood testing.
If you have the budget to afford to measure ketones by blood, we think that is the best way to track ketone levels, but a ketone breathalyzer comes in a close second based on the long-term savings and relative closeness in regards to accuracy.
Only use urine strips if you’re just starting out or you simply can’t afford blood or breath meters.
Rcommended Products To Test For Ketones
BEST OPTION – Keto Mojo Ketone Meter and Strips
The ketone meter from Keto Mojo is by far the best deal available for meter and strips. The quality of the product is as good as it gets for testing ketones quickly and accurately. Everything you need is included in the Keto Mojo kit and at the lowest price available anywhere. You can also get ketone strips for as little as $1 each which is the absolute best deal you will find on strips anywhere.