A Guide To Test Your Ketone Levels

Do you want to get the complete benefits of the keto diet? Then, it is important to do one thing. Yes, you should know whether your body has moved to the ketosis state. Of course, the ketone diet suggests a certain percentage of carb, protein, and fat per day. However, some people get to keto state by reducing the carb consumption only to a certain limit. But, for some, they will have to reduce more carb and take more fat. You can know whether your body has moved to ketosis in many ways. Let us consider that the result shows that your body has not moved to this state. What should you do? You will have to make changes to your diet pattern. For instance, you might be consuming too less protein. Even, you might eat too much protein. Only your ketone levels will help you identify it.

How to test ketone levels in your body?

You can do the test in the following ways:

There are three different testing methods. The reason is that there are three varied forms of ketones in your body. The forms are beta-hydroxybutyate, acetoacetate and acetate. Each one of them does different things. They function in different forms as well. They are also present in your body in three different places. Yes, they are blood, urine, and breath. The good thing here is that you can do all these tests right at your home. Also, you need not have any fancy high-tech gadget to test.

At least when your body is getting used to ketogenic diet testing is important. It will help you know how your body reacts to different variables. The variables include the amount of food you take, the type of food, and the exercise. Further, a specific level cannot be called as the ideal ketone level. The reason is that it differs from one person to another. It also differs based on the specific goals of individuals. You can know your ideal level when you start getting the intended benefits from the diet.

Pros and cons of different testing methods:

Method Type of ketone body Measured Pros Cons
Urine Strips Acetoacetate Quick and easy

Strips are affordable

You can get messy with urine

It will give accurate result only sometimes

You cannot get precise measurement

Breathe Meter Acetone Reusable device

It does not use bodily fluids.

Indirect measurement

Inaccurate measurement

Takes longer time to get the reading as compared to other two

Inconsistent reading

Blood Meter Beta-Hydroxybutyrate Highly accurate and precise measurement

Most dependable and effective to know ketone levels

Strips are expensive

Drawing blood can be a little painful

Types of ketone bodies:

The different testing methods test shows the different ketone bodies. Now, you know that there are three such bodies. Here is an image to show the difference:

How to interpret ketone results?

If you use any of the three methods, you should know how to interpret the results. All three methods are pretty easy to use. They come with instructions on what your results indicate.

How accurate is the ketone meter or stick?

As compared to urine testing, your blood ketone meter will give you accurate results. The reason is that your urine test will show pink color even if you are in deep ketosis. So, for more accurate results, it is better to rely on testing your blood. Yes, you are true, it will cost you more as compared to the other two. Even, it will be painful as you will have to draw blood every time.

With these things known, you might be interested in understanding other testing methods. The good news is that you can use your symptoms as well to guess. Some symptoms you experience will tell whether your body is in ketosis:

Do You feel mentally clear? Do you know that your brain uses a considerable amount of energy? Yes, when you eat carbs, you will experience energy swings. It means that there will be swings in the mental performance as well. But, when you are in ketosis, your brain will rapidly use the ketones for fuel. So, you will experience a mental clarity than ever before.

Do you have a better Hunger control? Let us consider that your body begins to use ketones. The body will have a constant supply of energy. It means that it will not crave for food. Do you feel that there is a sharp drop in the hunger pangs? It is a good sign that you are in ketosis. Do you realize that 14 hours have passed after you last ate, but still you are energetic? It is a sure sign that you are in ketosis.

Are you experiencing sustained energy levels? Nearly 90-120 minutes after your carb consumption, you will feel a drop in the energy levels. But, when you are in ketosis it will never happen. The reason is that your body has started relying on the unlimited fat source.

Is there an increased thirst and dry tissues? When you are in ketosis, there will be an increase in urination. The reason is that your body has started using the excess glycogen. If you do not add any electrolyte or salt, you will feel thirsty. Even, you might experience dry tissues for a short period. If these things happen, they are signs of ketosis.

Do you have a fruity smell in your breath? It can be an indication that you are in ketosis. However, it is not accurate. The reason is that it is a closer reflection of ketoacidosis. However, most days when you wake up, you will experience a unique mouthfeel. It is an indication that you are in ketosis.

Conclusion:

Testing your ketone levels is important. But, you should not feel obsessed with the levels. You can rely on the symptoms mentioned above. If you experience any of these symptoms you can just get your blood tested once. It is not essential to test frequently by spending hugely on meters. Follow the diet chart and you are sure to get there.

The Weird History of the Keto Diet

It’s doable, but unnecessary for the average human.

Kourtney Kardashian recently blogged about trying a diet that dates back to the 1920s, when it was first used to treat pediatric epilepsy: the ketosis (aka keto or ketogenic) diet.

Kourtney said she jumped on board to alleviate high levels of mercury and lead within her body — more on that below — but many people use the diet for weight loss or other health issues. Interest in the eating approach began to pick up in 2016 and soared in January 2018, according to Google Trends. “People are recognizing the value of eating whole foods,” says registered dietitian Amy Goss, PhD, assistant professor of nutrition sciences at University of Alabama At Birmingham’s Nutrition Obesity Research Center, of the diet’s newfound popularity.

Here’s what you need to know about the diet everyone’s been talking about:

WTF IS KETOSIS?

Ketosis is a metabolic state in which fat becomes the body’s primary fuel source instead of usual its go-to: blood sugar (aka glucose) which is derived from carbs you eat. Typically, eating carbs triggers the release of the hormone insulin, which helps cells use glucose for energy.

When you follow a high-fat, moderate protein, low-carb diet, glucose levels remain steady, and insulin doesn’t surge. Instead, dietary or body fat is broken down into organic compounds known as ketones. “Ketones are a good source of fuel,” Goss says. “Your brain loves them, your muscles can metabolize them, and your body can’t really store them as fat.”

An at-home urine test can confirm whether it’s working, since ketosis is marked by the presence of ketones in the blood and urine. “The strip changes color when you’re burning fat as fuel,” Goss says. “It’s a surefire way to tell whether your body is metabolizing fat, which provides positive reinforcement without stepping on a scale.”

WHAT TO EAT ON A KETOGENIC DIET

The easiest way trigger ketosis is to consume no more than 20 to 50 grams of carbs a day from whole foods like vegetables that barely affect your blood sugar. “I think of it as a whole-foods diet that cuts out processed stuff and grains,” Goss says, comparing the dietary components to Whole 30, although it doesn’t necessarily lead to ketosis.

About 90 percent of calories should come from fat, with the remaining 10 percent split between carbs and protein, says Dr. Mackenzie Cervenka, M.D., associate professor of neurology and medical director of the Johns Hopkins Hospital Adult Epilepsy Diet Center, and ketosis researcher.

While veggies and some cheese contain trace amounts of carbs, most are permissible, as are oil, eggs, seafood, poultry, and meats, which contain virtually no carbs, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.

However, a medium-size apple contains 25 grams of carbs, while a bagel has 48 grams, and a cup of brown rice has 52 grams; these foods, and other sources of starch and sugar — including most fruits — are prohibited on the keto diet since they raise your blood sugar.

Nonetheless, since cutting back on carbs can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, it’s smart to consult a doctor about adding supplements to your diet before jumping in, Dr. Cervenka says.

Technically, the diet permits most liquors and dry wines (most reds, some rosé, and whites like Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio), which are low in sugar and carbs. Although alcohol is digested differently from carbs, so it doesn’t interfere with ketosis, booze doesn’t exactly help if weight loss is the goal since alcohol is caloric, and is processed in the liver, which can’t simultaneously oxidize fat, Goss says.

There are many different ways to trigger ketosis, including Kim Kardashian’s go-to approach: The Atkins Diet, a multi-phase, low-carb eating plan. “Atkins can be ketogenic, especially in the early phases,” says registered dietitian Jeff Volek, PhD, a professor at The Ohio State University and author of The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living, “but it often includes enough carbs or protein in latter phases that is not associated with elevated ketones.”

Certain supplements also may help the body create ketones. An example is medium chain triglycerides oil (like the stuff found in Bulletproof Coffee some fitluencers swear by for breakfast) which is absorbed differently from other fats: It goes straight to the liver, where it forces the body to produce ketones, Goss says. “If you add it without changing the rest of your diet, and your insulin levels are still high, I don’t know if you’d benefit,” she adds.

WHAT THE KETO DIET IS USED FOR

Weight loss: Typical dieters who cut back on calories to lose weight shed body fat and muscle mass indiscriminately, but the keto diet selectively reduces body fat while preserving muscle mass, according to Goss. For this, researchers credit ketogenesis’ fat-burning effects. Meanwhile, the diet itself, which includes foods rich in fat, protein, and fiber, and levels blood-sugar spikes that make you hungry, keeps dieters feeling satisfied. “It naturally helps people self-regulate their food intake without restricting food portions,” Goss says.

Meanwhile, Goss says her patients often report higher energy levels. “Ketone energy can’t be stored, so people are compelled to use it and may end up more active,” she says.

Beware, though, that initial weight loss often results from the loss of fluids, not fat, she says. That’s because, on a low-carb diet, the body produces less insulin, and insulin make the body retain water. Meaning: As soon as a keto dieter falters, and insulin levels soar, lost pounds easily can return.

Those who stick with the diet report mental clarity and improvements in concentration, according to Dr. Cervenka. (Remember: Ketones are A+ brain fuel.)

Detoxification: While Goss says there’s no research-backed reason why Kourtney’s doctor prescribed a keto diet to eliminate excess mercury and lead in her system, she has an untested theory: Research suggests certain toxins can sometimes be stored in body fat, which is mobilized by the keto diet. And yet? “I can’t say there’s a scientific basis for that recommendation,” Goss says. (After all, most detoxes are bullsh*t.)

Seizures: The ketogenic diet was first used to treat pediatric epilepsy without medication, since ketosis helps neurons function properly, both by suppressing the hyper excitability and inhibition that leads to seizures, according to Dr. Cervenka.

Diabetes: Type 1 diabetics need insulin shots to clear sugar from their blood streams, but ketosis does the same thing through dietary tweaks. Type 2 diabetics, on the other hand, are basically carb intolerant, according to Goss. Since the keto diet calls for very few carbs, research shows it can be a cure-all that helps patients wean off medication with a doctor’s supervision, she says.

Cancer: In addition to chemotherapy or radiation, dietary changes that promote ketosis are also being studied for improving cancer outcomes, according to Goss. That’s because, unlike healthy cells, which can use ketones for fuel, certain cancer cells require glucose to replicate and need insulin to absorb it, she says, citing promising research. Because ketosis lowers insulin levels, it can starve cancer cells, effectively stalling their growth.

Alzheimer’s: “Alzheimer’s may originate from insulin resistance in the brain,” Goss says, citing emerging research that supports the theory. “Compared to glucose, ketones are excellent fuel for the brain, and might aid in prevention or treatment.”

Polycystic ovary syndrome: Research suggests the low-carb diet, which helps balance hormone levels, may alleviate symptoms of this endocrine disorder, such as irregular periods and excess hair growth. Benefits may be tied to weight loss resulting from ketogensis.

Heart health: People think high-fat intake is detrimental to heart-disease risk, but that’s not necessarily the case on the keto diet,” Goss says. “Cholesterol levels improve with fewer markers of inflammation.”

Endurance: Ultra-marathoners who burn through carb-rich meals in a snap often train in ketosis to help their bodies move more readily between carb- and fat-burning modes during competitions, Goss says: “They manipulate the way their muscles use fuel so they can get more without replenishing.”

THE DOWNSIDES OF THE KETO DIET

No diet is perfect — and this one isn’t all avocado, salmon, and sunshine, either. Short-term side effects are common, according to Goss, who says they can include:

Keto flu”: Depending on a person’s baseline diet and its carbohydrate content, the drop in insulin that results from changing things up can trigger flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, and headaches for the first few days, Goss says, citing dehydration from initial fluid loss as a likely cause. Symptoms typically go away on their own, but drinking water, a high-sodium broth, or a sugar-free electrolyte drink can help.

Bad breath: Ketosis can produce an organic compound called acetone that’s eliminated by the lungs, which can make your breath smell sweet, or metallic or like poop, depending on who’s sniffing.

Digestive issues: Constipation and bloating are common complaints among keto dieters: “TMI, it felt like I had a softball in my butt all the time,” one Redditor wrote after six months on the diet. Since you retain less water on the keto diet, dehydration could be to blame, as well as lack of fiber. However, eating high-fiber foods like veggies and drinking plenty of water can help, Dr. Cervenka says.

Kidney stress: One rare but potential side effect of forgoing carbs: High concentration ketones can make your blood acidic, according to Dr. Cervenka, who says this can lead to kidney stones. (The average keto dieter need not worry, she says.)

THE BOTTOM LINE

Cutting out foods like pizza, fries, cupcakes, and bread are only the half of it: The keto diet eliminates nutritious options like fruit, yogurt, whole grains like rice and quinoa, and hummus — HUMMUS! — just because they interfere with ketosis. “It’s a perfectly healthy way to eat,” Goss says of the keto diet. “But I wouldn’t recommend it for people without an underlying metabolic condition. For the average person, it’s not necessary to be that restrictive. A diet that emphases whole foods is the best, healthiest approach.”

8 Bizarre Side Effects You Might Experience On The Ketogenic Diet

What the heck is happening to your body?

Ketogenic diet side effects

When you set out to lose weight, you expect to give up a few of your favorite foods. Donuts? So long. Ice cream? Goodbye. Forgoing grains, fruits, and any sugars, real and artificial, is a whole new level of self-restraint, though.

But it’s par for the course for the ketogenic diet, a high-fat, low-carb eating plan attracting a lot of attention these days. “The keto diet is a calorie-reduced diet plan that focuses on eating most of your calories from fat, a moderate amount of protein, and only 20 or so grams of carbs per day—that’s about the amount in one apple,” says Julie Upton, R.D., a registered dietitian and co-founder of Appetite for Health.

Translation: You’ll basically avoid any food that’s high in carbs. Besides the obvious ones like pasta and dessert, this means you should also skip all fruits (except berries), low-fat dairy, snack/protein bars, alcohol, and sugary condiments and sauces.

As a result, the keto diet can cause some serious changes in your body, both positive and negative. From fatigue to muscle cramps, we talked to R.D.s to figure out what to expect.

RAPID WEIGHT LOSS

Basically, the keto diet works by changing your body’s primary fuel source. “When you eat foods containing carbs, your body stores the excess carbs in your muscles as glycogen to use as energy, along with some extra fluid,” explains Victoria Lindsay, R.D., a registered dietitian in Washington, DC.

Then, when you greatly restrict your carb intake, your body dips into your muscles’ glycogen stores for energy. When those are used up, you lose the fluid that was stored along with the glycogen as well. That leads to pretty rapid fat loss at first—even though it’s mostly “water weight,” Lindsay says.

Find out what happened when one woman tried the keto diet:

… AND MUSCLE LOSS

As you continue to eat this way, your body will enter into ketosis, when you start burning stored fats as fuel, leading to further weight loss. But while you’re losing fat tissue, you will usually lose some muscle tissue as well. “This is because carbohydrate plays a major role in muscle synthesis,” Lindsay says. “While protein gets all the credit for building and repairing muscles, numerous studies have shown that adding in carbohydrate along with protein after a workout results in more muscle growth and better recovery.”

What’s more: If you aren’t eating enough calories, your body will respond by breaking down muscle tissue—not good! “Muscle tissue helps keep our metabolisms revved and our bodies strong and healthy,” Lindsay explains.

RELATED: 5 SIGNS YOU’RE LOSING MUSCLE INSTEAD OF FAT

LOW ENERGY LEVELS

Feeling lethargic? It’s not all in your head. “As your body adjusts to this switch in fuel sources, it won’t be as efficient at tapping into its energy sources, causing fatigue,” explains Mike Roussell, Ph.D., professor of nutrition at Penn State University and author of The MetaShred Diet.

Another source of initial fatigue is calorie restriction, so when you’re starting a very low-carb diet, make sure you’re eating enough calories at first, he recommends. “It just takes some time for your body to adapt to this new physiological ‘normal.’”

RELATED: 5 SIGNS YOUR EXHAUSTION IS A SYMPTOM OF A MUCH BIGGER PROBLEM

FLU SYMPTOMS

Another unfortunate cost of rapid weight loss: The dreaded “keto flu,” which often crops up in the first few weeks. You may experience headaches, have trouble focusing, feel nauseous, have trouble sleeping, and more.

Pro tip: Eat a relatively low-carb diet for a couple weeks before fully committing to keto, Upton suggests, which can help your body prepare for ketosis. Either way, the “keto flu” should only last a few days.

CONSTIPATION

Another side effect of a keto diet is digestive distress—think bloating, gas, and constipation. The culprit: You may not get enough fiber in your diet when you’re avoiding foods like fruits, (starchy) veggies, whole grains, and legumes, Lindsay says.

To combat these issues, try to stay active (do low-intensity workouts if your energy is flagging) and make sure you’re drinking plenty of fluids. Roussell also recommends taking a fiber supplement and eating more high-fiber veggies.

RELATED:  WHY DO HIGH-PROTEIN DIETS MAKE YOU SO CONSTIPATED?

INCREASED CRAVINGS

“Some people might experience some initial carbohydrate cravings due to a blood sugar response from a lack of carbs,” Lindsay says. “Others may find themselves wanting to eat something they aren’t allowed to have simply because it’s so-called ‘forbidden.’”

The good news: These cravings tend to go away or improve after a few weeks, although it does depend on the person, Lindsay adds. Even better news: Some people may not experience hunger pangs or cravings at all, since large amounts of proteins and fats tend to be very satiating.

BAD BREATH

When your body creates ketones, it excretes them in a variety of ways, Roussell says. One way is through the lungs. The most readily excreted ketone is acetone, which has a “fruity” taste and is the main culprit of bad breath on a very low-carb diet.

Sugar-free breath mints and flavored water (and of course, your toothbrush!) are your BFFs in this case.

RELATED: 5 BODY ODORS YOU SHOULD NEVER IGNORE

LEG CRAMPS

The hormone insulin stimulates your kidneys to retain sodium, so when you go on a very low-carb diet your insulin levels will be very low, Roussell explains. Insulin is thus no longer stimulating your kidneys to retain sodium, which can lead to leg cramps. You’re also not eating much fruit (if any), which contains potassium and other nutrients which can help to mitigate cramps.

Your body should eventually adjust to the lower sodium levels, but you can also ask your doctor about taking supplements to help mitigate these issues, he says.