In this blog I will talk about my experience with testing your state of ketosis. Since the KETO diet requires pretty strict macro guidelines, you will need to monitor what works and what doesn't (at least initially). The goal of the diet is to be in ketosis, what is the point of all your hard work if you do not achieve ketosis to receive the benefits of the diet.
Available testing methods(in increasing order of accuracy):
- Urine Test Strips
- Breath Testing
- Blood Testing
Urine Test Strips
This is usually the first method that beginners test state of ketosis. The reason being is that this method is the cheapest and works well when FIRST starting on the keto diet. The test consists of placing a test strip in a urine stream and measuring the color against a chart. The darker the color the more ketones that are excreted. In my experience and others this works well at first as you body adapts to the keto diet. Once you have been on keto for a month or so(again in my experience) you become more keto adapted and your body doesn't excrete as much ketones in the urine as you better utilize them. So over time this method becomes less reliable. This method also only checks for acetoacetate only one of 3 ketone bodies. Your hydration status can also affect these results as too much hydration will also dilute the concentrations levels in your urine.
- Fast non-invasive
- Good test when first starting the ketogenic diet
- Less accurate(especially over time)
This method is a bit more accurate than urine test strips but still not as accurate as a blood test. This test consists of buying a breathalyzer that you blow into to measure acetone in your breath. This testing method usually doesn't have the drop off in effectiveness that urine strips do over time, but is still prone to variations.
- More accurate than urine test strips
- After initial purchase there isn't further test costs (initial cost is usually high)
- High initial testing unit costs (ex: Ketonix)
- Less accurate than blood testing
This is the gold standard of ketone testing. This method requires a small device and the need to prick your finder for a drop of blood. This is essentially the same as a testing procedure for blood sugar, you just use test strips designed for ketones. This will test the amount of BHB (Beta-hydroxybutyrate) in the blood, the largest ketone in the body. This is the only method I use now and am pleased with the results. If the idea of pricking your finger frightens you then this method might not be good for you. IN my experience, it is a minor pinch and I do not produce a drop of blood unless I squeeze the tip of the finger and once test is done a quick wipe and no need for band-aid etc, so its not traumatic at all. Ideally you want a reading of 1.5-3.0, this is considered nutritional ketosis and will see optimal results. You do not want to be higher than that as it is not considered healthy. Any reading above .5 and you are in light ketosis.
- Most accurate test available
- Measures the largest ketone in the blood
- Finger pricking required
- Device costs a bit high and test strips costs for each test (see below for my recommendation for best test kit and pricing)
RECOMMENDED TESTING METHOD
If you are starting out, urine strips are fine. If you decide to stick with the diet for more than a month, then blood test will be the way to go.
My recommendation is to use the KETO-MOJO blood testing system. This is the system I currently use and it works best. You can get a tester with 10 test strips for around $50. Additional test strips cost about $1 each, which is the best price I have found. Click here for more information on this testing meter.
In the next blog I will describe the ways I use to track the macros/carbs and when best to test your state of ketosis.