When Is the Best Time To Use Ketone Strips?

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So you have decided and committed to start a low carbohydrate keto diet.  The main goal of people on the keto diet is to achieve ketosis, a natural state in which your body burns fat for fuel.

You know that by cutting down your daily intake of carbohydrates to between 20-50, grams per day and eating the rest of your food in the form of fats and protein your body should go into ketosis.

Most people will start to get into ketosis by eating less than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day. It may take a few days.  This can be detected in your urine, blood, and breath.

Checking your ketones using your urine is a good way in the beginning to monitor your ketone levels.

By limiting your carbohydrates, your body doesn’t have enough glucose to meet its energy needs and will start to look for alternative fuel sources. Ketosis is a process where your body switches from a glucose burner to a fat burner to obtain the energy it needs.

When there is not enough glucose in your body, your body begins to process other energy sources, like breaking down stored fat into fatty acids and ketones.

When you do not use insulin to change sugar into energy you will begin to shed ketones into your system. You can check this in two ways either by checking your urine and using ketone strips or by checking your blood using home kits and pricking your finger and checking it with a monitor.

Urine strips are a cheap, quick,  easy way to check your ketones, and a lot less painful then pricking your finger. That being said, after a few weeks your body will adapt to being in ketosis.

Initially, while your body is adapting to become a fat burner, you will spill extra ketones in your urine and blood. If you have been on a keto diet for a longer period of time the strips may not show you are in ketosis, and you may need to switch to using a blood monitor.

If you are not eating enough fat on the keto diet and overeating protein you may be kicked out of ketosis. You need to keep your macronutrients in the proper percentages.

Individuals vary their ketone levels on the course of a day and from day to day.  This is due to variation in your diet. How you spread out your macronutrients (Carbohydrates, Fats, and Proteins) during the day.

There are also individual differences in how each person processes their ketone levels. Some people have their highest levels in the morning, others are lowest in the morning. Some tend to have reduced levels after some meals and others have low levels in the morning and raise during the day.

When to Test

Scientists like Urbain and Bertz in the Nutrition and Metabolism journal “Monitoring for compliance with a ketogenic diet: what is the best time of day to test for urinary ketosis?”

have suggested that the reliability of urine ketone testing increases when the test is done in the early morning or in the late evening several hours after dinner.

Originally Atkins dieters checked three times per day to determine when your body is at its highest level so maybe use that as a reference for your body and then check once a day when it is highest.  No matter which time you choose it is suggested that the time you test is consistent day to day.

How to Test with Urine Strips?

  • If you use urine strips you will need to wash your hands. 
  • Take a clean cup and urinate into the cup. 
  • Then you dip one of the keto strips into the urine, await a bit (follow the instructions on the package) and take it out.
  • Compare the color on the tip of the strip with the colors on the side of the bottle. Generally the darker the color the higher the ketone levels
  • Dispose of the used strip and urine appropriately,
  • Wash hands again with soap and water.

The strip contains chemicals that change colors when they react to ketones. You interpret the test results by comparing the color of the strip with the color chart on the side of the bottle. The strips usually have a 3 month- six-month shelf life.

Urine keto strips can help you determine if you’re in ketosis, but possibly not in the long run. If you want a more accurate reading, blood keto strips are a better option.

Urine keto strips can help you determine if you’re in ketosis, but possibly not in the long run. If you want a more accurate reading, blood keto strips are a better option, however, they are more expensive. Either type, urine or blood testing, can help you adjust your eating to adhere to the diet.

The urine keto strips can usually be purchased over the counter at a pharmacy or online. They are relatively inexpensive and each bottle contains between 50-100 strips. Some brand names are: Perfect Keto Ketone strips, Smackfat Ketone Strips, KETO-MOJO Ketone Test Strip and Keto stix,  and can be purchased through Amazon.com. They have a shelf life of between three to six months so use accordingly.

Signs that you are in ketosis:

Bad Breath- there are those who have a certain cloying smell when they reach full ketosis. You can brush your teeth a few times a day, chew parsley, or mint gum to help. Check the number of carbs on the gum and keep track.

Weight Loss- Initially this is mostly stored carbs and water. .After the initial week and rapid drop in mostly water weight, you should continue to lose body fat consistently as long as you stick to the diet, keep your macronutrients in balance and remain in a calorie deficit.

Increase of Blood Ketone Levels- You will experience a  reduction in blood sugar levels and an increase in ketones since you are changing from a glucose burner to a stored fat burner. Some experts suggest that on the ketogenic diet, nutritional ketosis is defined as blood ketones ranging from 0.5–3.0 mmol/L. Because the test can be expensive some people do this only once or twice a week.

Other symptoms are decrease in appetite, initial tiredness followed by energy and focus boost, and some people have digestive or sleep problems initially.

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