The Keto Diet is one of the more prominent diets around right now; backed by celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Halle Berry, and even author/efficiency guru Tim Ferris. Because of its healthy effects on the brain, the Keto Diet dates back almost 100 years ago as a method for treating those with seizures. The Ketogenic diet is recognized as healthful for those with diabetes. However, its mainstream popularity is also on the rise as many people have found the Keto Diet can help aid in dropping pounds, boost their ability to focus, and give an increased competitive edge for athletes.
Perhaps the Keto Diet is novel to you; you’re probably wondering what it’s all about.
Basically, the Keto Diet is all about transitioning your body into ketosis. What, precisely, is ketosis? The brain and the body operate on carbohydrates; however, when there is a shortage of carbohydrates, you are also able to transform fat into fuel. Ketones are created during this process. The three unique ketones derived via ketosis are called: acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate, and acetate.
With a few different ways your body can attain ketosis, the most straightforward way is by simply fasting; however, if you enjoy eating snacks as much as I do, that might not be your method of choice. Another way to is by lowering the carbs and upping the fat in your diet. Ketosis generally begins after a few days of consuming fewer than 50 grams of carbs per day.
The next question is logically, how do I know if I am in ketosis or not?
There are a handful of processes to test this and they relate to the different type of ketones produced. Let’s weigh the pluses and minuses of each method. The two prevalent ways of testing to see if your body has moved into ketosis are blood and urine testing; along with breath testing being a third, less common method.
Breathe testing is essentially a breathalyzer measuring for the ketone acetate. Acetate is created by an exchange of gasses in the lungs, so your breath can give an indication of ketosis. This system can accurately tell you if you’re in a slight state of ketosis, but it doesn’t provide any specific details regarding your ketone levels. One of the pros of this method is there’s no bodily fluid required; however, because it’s generally less reliable, this mode of testing is not recommended.
This next method measures for acetoacetate which is found in urine. This method is pretty quick and easy; test strips can be found on Amazon for about $8 for a hundred-count box. When you first move into ketosis, acetoacetate levels will be high; however, when you maintain a state of ketosis these levels will drop. This can impact your readings, causing it to appear as if your body is producing less ketones when in fact you’re in a deeper state of ketosis. For this reason, urine testing is only accurate to a certain extent. It will provide enough information to know if you’re in ketosis, but not enough detail to precisely measure your ketone levels.
This brings us to the last method of testing which measures for beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) levels in the blood. Blood testing is far and away the most accurate method of testing ketones. Blood tests deliver extremely precise readings every time which is definitely a plus. However, the equipment and test strips necessary can be expensive. You’ll need a glucose testing monitor. (You can get something like the DSS Precision Xtra for approximately $35.00 on Amazon.) The monitor itself isn’t where the bulk of the cost lies, the test strips are around $5-$10 for each one. You can see how daily testing could get expensive.
When reviewing the testing methods, you also may want to do some research as to what ketone level you’re shooting for. Knowing this will help you decide how detailed your readings need to be. Experts recommend anywhere between 0.5mmol/L to 6.0mmol/L depending on your goals.
In conclusion, if you’re going for truest ketone level reading, blood testing is the best choice. If you’re looking for a cost-effective daily method, the urine test strips will meet your needs. Ultimately it comes down to your medical and financial needs, and those concerns can be addressed by your family doctor.