Wondering how to tell if you're in ketosis? These keto testing strips make it easy to detect ketosis levels at home.
If you're following the keto diet, one of the first things you likely learned was that filling your plate with lots of healthy fats (think salmon, avocado, nuts, and seeds) and cutting way back on carbs can eventually put you in ketosis. In this metabolic state, your body burns stored fat instead of carbohydrates, which can lead to weight loss.
But how do you actually know whether or not you've achieved ketosis—and make sure you stay there?
Enter keto strips. "They test levels of ketone bodies, which you produce when you're following the keto diet correctly," explains doctor of natural medicine Josh Axe, founder of DrAxe.com, author of the upcoming book Keto Diet, and a member of The Vitamin Shoppe Wellness Council. "Testing your ketone levels is a way of providing real-time feedback about how well your diet and lifestyle choices are working to keep you in ketosis."
Types of keto strips
The main ways to measure ketosis are with urine keto strips and blood keto strips. Urine keto strips are affordable and easy to use, but there are some drawbacks, Axe tells us.
"[Urine keto strips] don't measure all three types of ketones," he says. "They measure acetoacetate, one of three ketone bodies, but not BHB (beta-hydroxybutyrate), which is considered the predominant ketone that’s produced." Over time, he adds, it's possible for urine keto strips to become slightly less accurate as your body becomes more keto-adapted.
If you're someone who's just starting keto or prefer to test for ketosis quickly and cheaply, urine keto strips are probably all you need. But if you've been following the diet for some time and want super accurate results, you might consider a ketone blood meter instead.
"Many consider blood keto tests to be the most reliable and accurate way to test for ketones, since this is actually the same method that people with diabetes use to test their blood glucose levels," says Axe. Blood tests are less likely to be affected by hydration levels, food consumption, or recent exercise, he explains.
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How to use keto strips
Urine keto strips are pretty straightforward, especially if you've ever taken a pregnancy test. Although instructions may vary slightly depending on the brand, most recommend that you pee into a cup (we suggest stocking up on some cheap paper cups), dip the strip into your urine for a few seconds, then wait for the strip to change color. An accompanying keto strip color chart helps you determine your ketone levels.
Blood keto strips usually instruct you to prick your finger to draw blood into the strip, then insert it into your meter. Getting set up with this method is a little more involved, however.
"You'll need to initially invest in buying the device itself, compatible test strips, and a lancet device to prick your finger," says Axe. He also recommends taking time to read reviews so you fully understand how different devices work. "For example, some [ketone blood meters] work with an app on your phone; some require you to pay for a monthly subscription."
Regardless of whether you're using urine or blood strips, "most experts recommend testing fasted ketone levels right after you wake up in the morning," says Axe. "You don't want to be very dehydrated when testing, since this will alter your results and show higher levels of ketones."
Ready to start testing those ketones? Below, some of the best keto strips (for both blood and urine testing) you can buy online.