When you switch from a high carbohydrate – low fat diet to a high fat – low carbohydrate diet, your body goes from burning carbs for fuel to burning fats for fuel. When the body switches to burning fats for fuel instead of carbs, this process is known as ketosis.
Ketosis, is a metabolic state in which the liver breaks down the body’s fat to produce ketones. These ketones become the bodies primary source of fuel.
There are really only three main ways to measure your ketone levels in your body. All of them have advantages and disadvantages.
- Urine Sticks – also known as Ketone Strips / Ketostix / Keto Strips
- Breath Ketone Meters
- Blood Ketone Meters
How To Read Ketone Strips
Urine / ketone strips are by far the cheapest and easiest way to measure ketosis. If you are a beginner then this is the best way to start measuring your ketone levels. There’s no point using a blood meter at this point as it more expensive and you’ll want to learn the basics about measuring first.
You can learn how to read keto strips very easily. You basically hold the stick in your urine stream for a few seconds or you can pee into a clean glass or plastic container and dip the stick in for a few seconds and the within 10 – 15 seconds you should start to notice a color change if you are in ketosis.
Indicators start from light pink being low ketone levels right up to dark purple which means you have high ketone levels. The colors vary from brand to brand but, they are all similar and each brand gives you the color code on the side of the ketone strip tube so all you need to do is hold the used keto stick up to the color code and match it up.
Best Time To Test Ketones In Urine
The opinion here is varied. Some people say it doesn’t matter where as others say it does. My view from experience is that the best time would be when you haven’t drunk that much fluid. What I mean is, the more fluid that you drink, the more the urine will be watered down and the more the result may not show correctly.
My partner experiences this when testing for UTI’s as she is prone to them but, most of the time the test sticks show up negative but, she drinks a heck of a lot of water. When she tests first thing in the morning before really having any fluid, she gets a much better reading which shows positive.
So, although it doesn’t necessarily have to be when you have not had much in the way of fluids but, bare in mind that the more fluids that you have drunk, the more the results could be watered down and not give an accurate reading.
That’s not to say that you will get a completely false readings and results vary from person to person so, my advice is to try at different times of the day, during different fluid levels etc and see what works best for you.
How Do Ketone Strips Work
Keto test strips work in a very simple way. It’s a simple chemical reaction that measure just one of the 3 different ketone structure types which are created in the body when fats are being metabolized and used for energy. In the standard western diet which mainly consists of high carb foods, the body feeds pretty much solely on glucose and anything that is not used is converted into glycogen or fat.
The fat is then rarely converted back to produce energy as the body has an abundant supply of glucose from all those carbs that have been eaten so, ketone sticks would always show a negative result as there would be no ketones present due to the high glucose.
What Colour Should Ketostix Be When In Ketosis
The color code varies from manufacture to manufacturer but, in most cases the measurement on the far left is a beige / brown color then the next five colors tend to be in the red spectrum where light pink means low levels of ketones right up to dark purple being high level of ketones. The table below show a rough guide to the measurements.
|State of Ketosis||Ketone Level (mmol/L)||Ketone Level (mg/dL)|
|Very light||0.1 – 0.5||1 – 5|
|Light||0.6 – 1.56||6 – 15|
|Medium||1.6 – 3.0||16 – 30|
|Strong||3.1 +||31 +|
So, What Colour Should Ketostix Be?
So, here’s the thing. Most people will think that they have to get dark purple and be right at the top of the range for ketones. Well, if you want to, you could strive for this temporarily but, if you think about it, you would still have ketone levels which are much higher than the average person even at the lighter end of the spectrum.
There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to optimal ketone levels. It’s different for each person. Listen to your body. See what works for you. Me personally, I always aim for the middle and it’s served me well. Trying to be in the dark purple area all the time will make you miserable. Shoot for the middle and you will see that it will vary daily.
Sometimes it will be darker, sometimes it will be lighter but, whichever it is, you will still be in ketosis and burning fat for fuel so, don’t stress yourself out about it. I don’t even test with the strips anymore as I’ve got so used to knowing my body, I just go with it.
I probably stray more out of ketosis than I used to but, that’s not a bad thing either. The keto diet is a lifestyle change. If you get too caught up in the scientific and technical side, you will run the risk of getting overwhelmed and giving up.
You can get them from Amazon by clicking below.
For more information and to buy Keto Test Strips, click here.
How Accurate Are Ketone Strips
Out of the three main measuring techniques, keto strips are the least accurate. Ketone strips measure the ketones which are excreted by the body so, its only measuring the excess ketones which the body couldn’t use. So, even if the ketone sticks say that you are in mild ketosis you could actually be in more ketosis because it doesn’t take into account the levels in your blood.
This is why blood ketone measurers are much more accurate. They measure pretty much in the same way as a diabetic measures their blood levels.
Using Breath Meters To Measure Ketone Levels
These devices are becoming more popular because they are simple to use. These basically measure the acetate on a persons breath which gives a pretty good indication of the ketone levels present..
They are more expensive than urine strips and range from around $20 up to $300. Personally, I wouldn’t touch the $20 ones because basically they are shit! They are about as much use as a chocolate teapot! To get a really good one you will have to go nearer the $300 mark.
The one I have is no longer available but, the one below has good reviews but, I haven’t tried it personally. Although the upfront cost is fairly high, it is more cost effective in the long run as blood ketone strips have to be purchased regularly for blood meters so, the breath meters can be used again and again without further cost.
Research has shown that there is a pretty good correlation between the breath meters and blood meters but, once you start getting into much deeper states of ketosis, the blood meters win out. So, although breath meters are much more accurate in ketone readings than urine sticks, blood meters are much more accurate that breath meters when it comes to deeper states of ketosis.
So if you have a bit more money to spend you could try a breath meter.
For more information and to buy The Ketonix Breath Tester, click here.
Using Blood Meters To Measure Ketone Levels
Blood meters are the most accurate way to measure ketone levels. It will show the exact measurement for ketone levels n your blood at the time of testing. While this is super accurate, it can get quite expensive buying the blood strips as they are one use only.
There are plenty of these machines on the market and all have their pro’s and con’s. Most manufacturers will tie you in by making sure their meters only use their test strips.
Also, bare in mind that you will have to prick your finger every time you want to test so that you draw blood because, like it says on the packet, it’s a blood meter so, it needs blood. Starting to sound like a vampire :-).
The best one that I have found is the one below. It’s a reasonably priced unit and the replacement strips are too.
For more information and to buy The Keto Mojo Glucose Tester, click here.
Other Ways To Tell If You Are In Ketosis
Of course, there are other ways to tell if you are in ketosis for example –
- Digestive Issues
- Sleeping Problems
- Energy Issues During Exercise
These are all symptom of Keto Flu. If you read the post that I wrote about keto flu, you will see what to expect and ways to alleviate the symptoms. Also, if you are struggling to get into ketosis or want to go deeper then you could try the keto diet macro calculator to calculate your exact macros.
So, there are a few different ways to measure your ketone levels, from the cheap to more expensive. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages. At the end of the day, the choice is yours.
I’ve tried all three of the above. I started with the urine sticks and asked the same question “What Colour Should Ketostix Be When In Ketosis”? Inevitably though, I then progressed to the breath meter and then to the blood meter. Nowadays I don’t really use any of them because I know that I’m in ketosis so, i’m not really bothered about how deep.
Hope this has helped.
Happy Keto’ing boys and girls!