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How do I tell that I’m in ketosis?
If you made it to this page, chances are that you have heard about the ketogenic (or keto) diet.
It’s the diet where you reduce the amount of daily carbs you eat and increase the amount of fats.
The goal is to move your body to burn fats as its source of energy rather than the normal way of burning glucose and carbs.
Don’t know much about the keto diet? Navigate to our Ultimate Guide to the Keto Diet.
For your body to start burning fat, it has to enter ketosis. This is the fat-burning state.
Therefore the keto diet won’t produce the results you hope if your body doesn’t enter ketosis.
So, how do you know when your body is breaking down fat instead of glucose?
The goal of this article is to help you understand the signs that you might be in ketosis. You don’t have to remain in the dark about it.
So keep on reading to find out.
How long does it take to reach ketosis?
The amount of time it takes to reach ketosis is a little different for each person.
It generally takes only a few days for your body to start burning fats.
This would be due to a significant reduction in the amount of carbs (and therefore glucose) your body receives.
Most bodies are able to recognize this change within a few days and switch over accordingly.
Other people need to give themselves a few weeks to reach ketosis.
There is some literature that says that the amount of glucose stored in your body can delay the time it requires you to enter into ketosis.
That is why it is better to monitor your progress to help you pinpoint when you are actually in ketosis.
There are two general ways to tell that you are in ketosis.
You either notice certain signs or test your blood ketone levels.
What are the signs that I might be in ketosis?
You might experience some of these things when you enter ketosis.
Make sure to take note of them and be prepared if it happens to you.
Preparation is key to remaining on the keto diet.
- Reduced hunger: Ketones help suppress your appetite and make you feel like you are full for a longer time.
- Keto breath: Ketones can have a fruity smell to them, which you can smell in your breath.
- GI Upset: in the beginning, your digestive system will not like having to switch to using ketones and you might experience either diarrhea or constipation.
- Keto urine: The fruity smell will also be in your urine because your kidneys are getting rid of as much ketone as they can initially.
- Flu-like symptoms: This is a big one for many people. The initial period involves symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, and insomnia.
- Weight loss: losing weight after starting the keto diet should mean that you’re in ketosis since you’re burning fat in that state.
How do I test my ketone levels?
From what I could research, there are three main ways to test your levels:
- Testing your urine
- Testing your breath
- Checking your blood directly.
I found some keto breath analyzers on Amazon and online.
However, not many of the results that I found were under $25.
This is not a cheap way to measure ketone levels.
Many of the keto analyzers only had a few dozen reviews.
It doesn’t seem like it was a popular option.
It might not be the most accurate option either.
The second most popular option appears to be testing your blood directly.
It is also the most accurate way to tell if you’re in ketosis.
From the reviews that I read of some of the kits, some might not have a good reputation for giving reliable results.
Many of the tests involve poking your finger and testing the blood with the help of a machine.
Unless it’s is related to a disease, it might be hard for some people to poke their fingers willingly.
Search for ketone test strips, and you will find multiple urine testing strip kits. Many of them also have hundreds of reviews that you can go through.
Most of them are also under $10 for many test strips. You can find them online or at your local pharmacy.
The one that I tried was from Perfect Keto. I thought that the whole process was quick and easy. The side of the bottle has colors to tell you the range of your ketone levels.
What I did was to pee in a cup and dip a test strip into the urine. After a short time of waiting, I compared the test strip to the colors on the side of the bottle. Once done, I poured the urine back down the toilet.
You don’t have to do it that way, but this was my experience.
I will note that once your body adapts to being in ketosis, it will start to use ketones as fuel and won’t get rid of them as quickly.
This will result in a reduction of ketones found in your urine.
At that point, you may decide that you don’t need to check your ketone levels anymore.
But if you still want to make sure, you might have to look towards checking your blood.
What numbers am I looking for?
Regardless of which method you use to test your ketone levels, the kit that you buy should include instructions with the ranges of ketone levels.
You measure ketones in your blood in millimoles per liter (mmol/L):
- Under 0.5 mmol/L – an average blood ketone value for non-keto dieters
- 0.5 to 1.5 mmol/L – fasting or ketosis state
- 1.5 to 3.0 mmol/L – a high level of fasting or ketosis
- Above 3.0 mmol/L – a dangerous level of ketones that may indicate ketoacidosis. Please seek medical care.
As long as your ketosis falls within the 2nd and 3rd ranges, then you are doing okay. Your body is breaking down ketones and then using them.
As I said, those ketone levels may decrease once your body starts using those ketones as fuel.
A Note about Ketoacidosis
Typically, the body can maintain a balance between the acid-containing and base-containing molecules within.
Ketone bodies are acidic molecules. When your body produces significantly more ketones than it is using, it creates an acidic environment in your blood.
Anytime your blood pH falls below a particular concentration, it is called acidosis.
Through some adjustments, your body can compensate and raise the blood’s pH back up. However, there are instances where your body might fail to do this.
This is what occurs in ketoacidosis.
Ketosis is NOT the same as ketoacidosis.
This condition is more commonly found in uncontrolled diabetics and is known as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). https://www.healthline.com/health/ketosis-vs-ketoacidosis
In this instance, it is life-threatening because your organs and tissues need that acid-base balance to function properly and your body can’t compensate for its survival.
Based on the literature that I could find, non-diabetic ketoacidosis isn’t very common. People on the keto diet usually do not enter ketoacidosis because their ketone levels do not reach that high level.
You just need to know that being on the keto diet puts at a higher risk than non-diabetic people who aren’t on the diet.
Though if you have working kidneys, liver, pancreas, and other organs, it is very unlikely you will achieve ketoacidosis.
However, this study found that there might be an even higher risk for lactating women in a condition called lactation ketoacidosis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6644245/
The authors caution such mothers who are on or considering the keto diet.
If ketoacidosis is a concern to you, please speak to your doctor and see if this diet is still possible for you.
Now you should be confident in knowing whether or not you are in ketosis.
The body in ketosis is crucial for success on the keto diet. You won’t be able to get many of the benefits of keto if you aren’t burning fat.
That’s why knowing how to measure your ketones levels is very important.
You can choose to measure your ketone levels through the blood, breath, or urine. Though, urine test strips seem to be the cheapest and fastest method available.
Hope you enjoyed the article and learned valuable information.
If you are ready to start your keto journey, make sure you know the 13 Steps You Should Consider Before Starting.
Seun Oyeku brings you A Peek To Wellness. She has embarked on a journey to improve her well-being, and she’s bringing everyone with her. She believes that wellness is about improving your physical, mental, and emotional health together. From topics such as in meditation or workouts, she strives to you to bring you the information that can lead to your success. Even if that means you have to take things one peek at a time.
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