THREE WAYS TO TEST KETONE LEVELS AND THE PROS AND CONS OF EACH
Testing your ketone levels is a foolproof way to gauge how successful your ketogenic diet is. If you're ready to take the guesswork out of keto and gain a reliable insight into your personal physiology, then read on to learn about why you should be monitoring your ketone levels and how you can do just that!
WHAT ARE KETONES?
Ketones are produced by the liver when glucose is in short supply. They're a by-product of fat metabolism, which is triggered when carbohydrate intake is low and so the body uses fat for fuel. The presence of ketone bodies is the best indicator that you're in ketosis - which is what the Keto Diet is all about!
In this article we will be exploring how ketone levels can be monitored and tested. If you'd like to learn more about the Keto Diet itself you can check out the articles below:
WHY SHOULD I MEASURE MY KETONE LEVELS?
Measuring your ketone levels is the most accurate way to asses your physiological state at any given time and determine if you are in ketosis or not.
By measuring ketone levels you can see if you're on the right track or need to make any tweaks to get where you want to be. You can also monitor your dietary habits in synergy with your ketone levels, to identify any obstacles to your progress - and act upon them!
You don't need to monitor your ketone levels but there's some really simple and easy ways to test your ketones if you want to have an objective measure of your progress instead of just guessing!
Knowing your ketone levels can also be a good motivator as ketosis is the primary goal of any ketogenic diet - so knowing you're on track will encourage you to keep up the good work.
THE THREE TYPES OF KETONES
When in ketosis, your body will produce three different types of ketone bodies. This is important because each of the ketone testing methods measures a different ketone body. Let’s take a look at the 3 types of ketone bodies:
- Acetoacetate - This is the simplest beta-keto acid which is produced and deposited into urine in the early stages of ketosis (but rarely in the later stages).
- Acetone – Acetoacetate (👆) is converted to Beta-hydroxybutyrate (👇) or Acetone 👉 this is the least abundant ketone body and rather than being used as a source of fuel it is expelled via the lungs as a waste product. For this reason, Acetone is sometimes called the “exhaust” ketone.
- Beta-Hydroxybutyrate (BHB) – this is the most abundant ketone body and is found in the blood, which transports it around the body to be used as a source of fuel. BHB is transported to the brain, muscles and organs and makes up 70% of available ketone energy.
HOW CAN I MEASURE KETONES?
When we are in ketosis, ketone bodies can be found in our blood, breath and urine - which allows us to measure them in a relatively non-invasive way. So, the three main methods of ketone testing will use biological samples from your breath, urine or blood.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each method of testing and it's an entirely personal choice as to which one you prefer. The best ketone testing method for you will depend on your budget, the accuracy you're aiming for and also your personal preference as to how invasive each test is.
Let's take a look at three ketone testing methods and discuss the pros and cons of each, so that you can decide for yourself which will be best for you!
1. URINE TESTING STRIPS
Urine testing strips measure ketone bodies found in - you guessed it - urine.
Ketone urine test strips were created for those with Diabetes, to identify Ketoacidosis which can be fatal in Diabetics (not to be confused with Ketosis). For this reason, they are designed to identify excess ketones present in urine, which isn’t really interchangeable with identifying normal and safe nutritional Ketosis.
With the rising popularity of the Ketogenic diet outside of treating medical conditions, many businesses have adapted urine testing strips in an effort to make them more appropriate for identifying normal ketosis. However, there remains to be more benefits than drawbacks when it comes to using test strips.
✅ Less invasive than blood testing
✅ Cheap to buy
❌ Urine test strips work on a ‘the darker the colour, the more ketone bodies are present’ basis, which relies on a subjective measure that isn’t too accurate
❌ Strips are sensitive to air and humidity, which can further affect results and also means they only last around 30 days once opened
❌ Results are not in real time, but demonstrate ketone levels at the time of your last urination
❌ Hydration can affect the result – leading to further inaccuracies
ACE TRACK BREATH TEST
Perhaps the least invasive of the ketone testing methods is the ketone breath test, such as Ace Track Monitor. This measures levels of acetone, which is a byproduct of fat metabolism and happens to be small enough to be exhaled in breath.
A breath test can be taken pretty much anywhere and is great for portability and convenience, but so many variables come into play that cause fluctuating measurements and inaccurate readings.
✅ Least invasive method for testing ketone levels
❌ Accuracy is poor: readings can be affected by a whole spectrum of factors such as alcohol and food intake, breath mints and chewing gum, mouth temperature and even respiratory rate
❌ Calibrating a breath test meter requires some skill and it can be tricky to avoid sensor failure
❌ Measures a by-product of Acetoacetate, which is not a useful measure of ketone bodies being used by the body for fuel
❌ Requires a well practised breathing test and regular device calibration to ensure accurate readings
KETO MOJO BLOOD KETONE METER
Last but not least, the gold standard of Keto testing methods is the blood prick test - which analyses ketone body levels in your blood. A blood-ketone meter like this one from Keto Mojo uses a tiny droplet of blood from a finger prick test to accurately monitor ketone levels.
Testing ketones present in your blood measures Beta-Hydroxybutyrate (BHB), the most predominant ketone which is produced in the liver during fat metabolism. Therefore, it is the most important ketone to measure and accurately assess ketosis.
✅ Real time results provide an insight into your ketosis progress at any given time
✅ Testing device can be integrated with an app to monitor ketone levels and dietary patterns in synergy
✅ No need for estimates, subjective analysis or calibration
✅ Most accurate of all testing methods
❌ More invasive than urine or breath tests
When testing ketone levels for the purpose of assessing nutritional ketosis progress, using a blood testing kit provides the most accurate, reliable and relevant analysis of ketone bodies. This is co-founders' Amy & Jeff's preferred method for ketone testing and we believe it is a great way to understand both your glucose blood levels and Ketones which provides a more accurate analysis as to whether you are in Ketosis.
All information provided on our website and within our articles is simply information, opinion, anecdotal thoughts and experiences to provide you with the tools to thrive.
It is not intended to treat or diagnose symptoms and is definitely not intended to be misconstrued for medical advice. We always advise you seek the advice of a trained professional when implementing any changes to your lifestyle and dietary habits.
We do however recommend seeking the services of a trained professional who questions the conventional wisdom to enable you to become the best version of yourself.
- Point of Care Blood Test for Ketones
- Monitoring Urinary Markers of Ketosis
- Measuring Breath Acetone for Monitoring Fat Metabolism
- Diagnosis and Treatment of Diabetic Ketoacidosis
- Breath Ketone Testing