In this post I explain the three main options available for measuring ketones at home. I discuss the pros and cons of each of these when it comes to measuring ketone levels. Want to know which will be the best for you? Then you’re in the right place.
Let’s get straight into it!
(If you’d prefer to watch this on video, here it is!)
There are a few different ways of measuring whether you’re in ketosis or not:
- Urinary Ketone Sticks (Ketostix)
- Blood Ketone Monitors
- Breath Ketone Monitors
All have their strengths and weaknesses, and by the end of this post you’re going to have a really good understanding of which will be the best one for you. As a bonus, I’m going to add in a fourth way at the end, as well.
Let’s start with a very popular method!
Urine Ketone Sticks
- Cheap – Especially when we compare them to blood ketone monitors.
- Easily available – You can get them in most pharmacies and, of course, online.
- Non-invasive – You don’t have to get a blood sample or anything like that. You just test your pee.
- Reliability – After a few weeks of being in ketosis, you stop producing ketones within your urine, or at least the number goes down, so this method starts becoming ineffective. For some people, it remains effective, for others it doesn’t. It’s up to you to do the tests, but if you’re starting to get negative results, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not in ketosis.
- Doesn’t tell you how deep the ketosis is – Whilst it provides a graded scale for measuring ketones, it doesn’t necessarily correspond with the number of ketones in your blood, because the result can depend on your hydration levels. This means you can’t really use it for monitoring the height or intensity of the nutritional ketosis; it only shows you whether you’re in ketosis or not.
In summary, it’s a really cheap, easy way of getting started with monitoring, but just be aware it may not last.
If you want to learn more about why sometimes you don’t get ketones in your urine while on a ketogenic low carb diet, then check this out. You can read my article about it here – no ketones in urine – or you can just watch this video.
Blood Ketone Monitor
- Accuracy – This is probably the most accurate of all three methods, as it basically gives you a number that corresponds to your blood ketone level. This means it’s a very precise measurement of how high your ketone levels are.
- Easily available – You can get these monitors in most pharmacies and, of course, online.
- Expense – While the monitor is quite cheap to buy, the actual strips that you have to put in it are quite expensive.
- Invasive – you do need to prick your finger to obtain blood for the test, so it can be uncomfortable.
In summary, this is probably the most accurate and most expensive option for measuring your ketone levels, and you do need to put up with a bit of discomfort if you use it.
Breath Ketone Monitor
Method number three is ketone breath monitoring. I got really excited when I heard about ketone breath monitoring for the first time. We do breathe out ketones when we’re in a state of ketosis, so, theoretically, should be able to measure the ketone levels in our breath.
- No ongoing costs – While the device is quite expensive to buy, you don’t have to keep replacing strips like you do with the blood ketone monitor.
- Initial cost – It is quite an expensive piece of equipment to buy.
- Difficult to use – You have to take a very deep breath because the highest ketone concentrations are at the very depth of your out breath. Supposedly, if you get good at that, it’s a reliable measure, but I couldn’t get it to work accurately, no matter how much I tried.
The difficulties I had with making this method work mean that I’m not very enthusiastic about it. While it may have been down to poor technique on my part, its results didn’t correspond with my ketone levels at all. In the end I had to send it back, to be honest. On those grounds, I can’t recommend it, which is a big shame because I really wanted it to be the way that I monitored my ketosis.
Bonus: Don’t check your ketones at all!
The final, bonus method for measuring your ketosis is not to measure it at all.Stay with me here.When I lost 30 kilograms, it took me a little bit over six months. I didn’t use any of these methods. I didn’t need to, and I’ve actually made an entire video about how to just monitor the symptoms of your ketosis in order to know whether you’re in ketosis. You can check that post and video out here.
There you go. You’ve got three different ways to actually measure your ketone levels. You’ve got the pros and cons of each, and you’ve got the fourth bonus method.