One of the things I really like about this diet, is the ability to check that your food-choices are having the desired effect.
What do I mean? If you’re in ketosis, then you’re definitely burning body-fat!
Other diets don’t have this security-blanket. On a low-fat diet, you only have the scales to rely upon. And these fluctuate daily, with sufficient variation to make even the most rational person more than a little paranoid about their progress…
So how do you test for ketones?
There are two methods currently available on the market:
- Ketone testing-strips e.g. Ketostix. These test ketones excreted in the urine
- Ketone blood-testing meters e.g. Freestyle Optimum. These test ketone-levels in the blood.
There’s naturally a huge difference in price between the two. So which is better?
Ketone-strips are a cheap and cheerful method (my diabetic partner & I both use them currently). You place a single strip into the urine-stream and after 15 seconds, the colour changes to indicate ketone-levels . It shows a gradation of weak > strong; and you match the colour of the strip against that scale (indicated on the side of the packaging).
A ketone-level somewhere between 1.5 – 3 is said to be the optimal level for maximizing weight-loss.
Pros & cons? Well; I’m colour-blind, which makes things rather difficult!!; but I can still detect the stronger intensities, so it’s pretty functional on a day-to-day level.
What it’s important to realise, is that ketones excreted in urine are only ‘excess’ ketones, not metabolised by the body (i.e. the excess energy you haven’t burnt, which would otherwise have been stored as fat on a glucose diet). The strips don’t therefore indicate actual levels in the body. There’s inevitably a time-lag too, as the strips will be indicating levels from several hours ago (urine being the end-point of a process).
It spite of this, they’re more than good enough for me at present. They say that ketone-levels decrease in urine after a few months of nutritional-ketosis; so if they cease to become effective, then I’ll reassess as need dictates.
And the meters? These are obviously a lot fancier. The readings are ‘measurable’, accurate and current! They show the actual levels in the blood at any given time, plus a precise reading (as opposed to a rough guess based on a colour-scale).
The accuracy is the main advantage. Ketones in urine show the ‘past excess’; they can’t show the ‘current totals’. The monitors are therefore far better if you require this level of accuracy. The downside? Cost.
Whichever version you choose, being able to monitor ketones provides you with a tool to make dietary-adjustments where necessary. If you see that ketones are getting weaker, you can lower your carb-intake accordingly. This makes the whole thing far easier to manage – you don’t have to wait until you’ve gained weight to realise that something’s wrong!
So happy testing!
Thanks for reading,