When your body is in ketosis, it creates ketones as a byproduct of breaking down fat for energy.
When you’re newly in ketosis, these excess ketone bodies can spill out of the your body through your breath, urine, or blood. This means you can test your ketone levels in a few different ways.
Here are your options for how to test ketone levels in your body, the pros and cons of each, and the surprising best way to know if you’re in the Keto Zone.
Different Ways to Test Your Ketone Levels: Blood, Breath, and Keto Strips
There are three types of ketone bodies that exit your body in different places:
- Acetone: released through your breath
- Acetoacetate: released in your urine
- Beta-hydroxybutyrate (or BHB): released in your bloodstream
This is how you test your ketones in the following ways.
1. Urine Strips: Cheapest and Best for New Ketogenic Dieters
Urine ketone test strips are the most common method for measure ketone levels. When urine comes into contact with the strips for a few seconds, the strip changes color within 10-15 seconds.
For more keto test strips, a darker color means you’re deeper in ketosis while a lighter pink indicates low ketone production.
Pros: Urine test strips are generally cheap and easy. If you use them 1-2 times per day, the cost ranges about $2-4 per month.
Cons: When your body gets adapted to ketosis (known as keto-adapted), ketones won’t show in your urine as much anymore—even if you’re deep in the Keto Zone. This makes the urine strips an inaccurate option for longer-term Keto Zone dieters.
Ketone level readings can also seem lower if you’ve been drinking a lot of water. This can dilute the keto concentration.
Therefore, urine strips are best for measuring ketosis if you’re new to keto. Get Ketosis Strips here.
2. Breath Meter: Cost Effective and Non-Invasive
The second way to test your ketone levels is with a ketone breath meter. This measures acetone ketones on your breath.
The most common ketone breath analyzer is Ketonix. You blow into the mouth of the small device and it displays a colored light based on how many ketones are detected. The color ranges from blue (little to none ketones) to red (high amount of ketones).
The breathalyzer has a USB attached where you can set it up on your computer.
Pros: If cost is your main concern, the breath meter is your best option. Although it’s kinda pricey upfront, you can re-use it cheaply without having to buy more strips like for the blood or urine measurements.
Cons: It’s not as accurate as blood ketones. Factors like water or alcohol intake can sometimes skew results.
3. Blood Ketone Meter: Most Accurate Option, But Pricey
A keto blood test measures the BHB ketone through your blood. To do this, you use a blood ketone meter, which measures both ketones and blood glucose.
The machine makes a little prick in your finger. You let the blood droplet absorb onto a ketone test strip and insert it into the keto meter to measure your ketone levels.
Commonly used blood ketone meters include Precision Xtra and Keto Mojo.
Pros: This is your best bet if you want the most accurate ketone levels reading.
Cons: It’s costly. The meter itself is affordable, but ketone test strips can cost as much as $4 each. If you’re testing at least once a day, that can get pricey.
There are blood ketone meters that also test blood sugar. They can be very useful too.
The Best Long-Term Way to Monitor Your Ketone Levels: Pay Attention to How You Feel
The truth is: Testing your ketone levels isn’t as important as it’s made out to be.
Sure, in the beginning it’s a good idea to know where you stand. But as you become keto-adapted and follow a ketogenic diet long-term, you won’t need to rely on testing so much.
Remember that the goal is to eventually be able to follow the Keto Zone diet without needing to test your ketone levels.
Pay attention to how you feel when you’re in ketosis versus when you’re not. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to tell the difference without using any measurement devices.