There are three types of ketone bodies: acetone, acetoacetate, and beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB). It’s by measuring these ketone bodies that you can test how deep into ketosis you are.
Ketone bodies can be measured through your breath, urine, or blood.
How to Test Ketone Levels Using Ketosis Strips
When you’re in ketosis, you have a bunch of ketone bodies in both your blood and your urine. With Keto Test Strips, you can figure out whether you’re in ketosis in just a few seconds by measuring ketone bodies in your urine.
Basically, you pee on little strips of paper that change color in the presence of ketones.
It’s worth noting that ketone strip test results aren’t the most accurate. They’ll give you a general idea of whether you have low levels or high levels of ketones in your system, but they don’t provide an exact measurement.
Urine strips also become less accurate the longer you’re in ketosis. If you’ve been on a ketogenic diet long-term (say, for a few months), your body will become more efficient at using ketones, and you’ll excrete fewer of them in your urine. As a result, your ketone levels may not register accurately on a urine test strip, even if you are clearly in ketosis.
All that said, ketone test strips are a solid choice during the beginning phases of a keto diet. Key advantages of using a urine test strip include:
- Ease of use: Just pee on the test strip, tap off any excess urine, and wait 45-60 seconds for your test results.
- Affordability: You can purchase a pack of Keto ketone testing strips for less than $15
- Availability: You can test your ketone levels at home, at any time, without any special equipment.
How to Test Ketone Levels With a Blood Meter
Blood ketone testing is an accurate way to measure your ketone levels.
When you’re 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 like the Lifesmart Monitor.
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 $1.30 each, which can add up, depending on how often you want to test your ketone levels.
Before you draw blood, use an alcohol swab to cleanse your finger. Use a fresh lancet every time and the included spring-loaded mechanism to draw a drop of blood. Place your blood onto the test strip and wait 10 seconds for a reading.
Blood ketone levels are measured in mmol/L. If your level is anything above 0.7 mmol/L, you’re in ketosis. Deep ketosis is anything above 1.5 mmol/L. High ketone blood levels are a telltale sign that like you’re fully keto-adapted.
Ketone testing meters can often also test your blood glucose levels, which are measured in mg/dl.
If your ketone meter doubles as a blood glucose meter, you can also track your blood sugar levels (using separate blood glucose strips) to get a more comprehensive view of your metabolic health, and to make sure you don’t have high blood glucose.
Low, stable blood glucose is a good additional sign that you’re in ketosis.
Breath testing is one of the newest ways to measure your ketone levels.
When you’re in ketosis, you release a ketone body called acetone through your breath. As a general rule, the more acetone is in your breath, the deeper you are into ketosis. You can measure breath acetone using breath monitor, such as a KetoScan Mini meter.
A ketone breath meter is more expensive than other ketone testing options, but it’s a one-time investment, and you don’t have to keep buying test strips of any kind — you can measure your ketones as often as you’d like at no extra cost.
Breath testing gives you the best reading of what is happening in your body right in the moment. When there is any breakdown of fat into ketone energy, breath ketones are released. When the need for ketone energy decrease, the excess ketone molecules will be disposed in urine or packaged into a more stable molecule (beta-hydroxybutyrate) which can circulate in blood until ketone energy is needed again. Urine and Blood Ketones are present when ketosis decrease.
One additional note: if you’re drinking alcohol on a keto diet, your breath ketone levels will be inaccurate until you break down the alcohol and it’s out of your system.