This post may contain affiliate links, which helps keep this content free. Please read our disclosure for more info.
Testing your ketone levels for ketosis is the easiest way to see if you have lowered your carbohydrate intake enough to induce the state for optimal weight loss. And you have 3 different methods to choose from when testing for ketones?
Each testing method tests a different type of ketone that your body produces.
Urine test measures acetoacetate (which determines your ketone levels in urine). The breath test measures acetone (the least invasive method). Blood test measures β-hydroxybutyrate (which determines your blood ketone levels).
All three, acetoacetate, acetone, and β-hydroxybutyrate are types of ketones produced during fat metabolism. And all three can be tested to gauge your level of ketosis.
Urine Test Strips
The test strips for measuring ketone levels in urine are by far the most affordable, but they are also the most unreliable.
You see, our bodies get rid of excess ketones in one of two ways: our urine and our breath. You will see higher levels of ketones expelled through your urine when you first begin the keto diet.
As your body becomes fat-adapted, it begins to produce and burn ketones more efficiently, and so fewer ketones spill into your urine. It’s not uncommon for ketone urine test strips to quit working after you’re on keto for a while.
Another thing that will affect the results of the urine test strips is your hydration level. The more dehydrated you are, the darker the resulting color. But that darker color may just be a sign of dehydration and not a sign of deeper ketosis.
Because of these things, urine tests are not an accurate way to measure ketones. BUT, in the early stages of the keto diet, seeing that darker line on the stick can help motivate you to keep going.
Because it’s a very inexpensive way to verify you are in fact in ketosis, I do recommend urine test strips for those just beginning the keto diet.
Any color change on the strip means you are in ketosis. But don’t trust the level of darkness to be an accurate measure of how many ketones are coursing through your body.
The instructions for using the urine strips are pretty basic. You urinate on a stick. If you are a woman who has ever taken a pregnancy test, same concept.
Related: Read my family’s keto success story.
Breath Ketone Testing
This method of testing ketone levels for ketosis is similar to a breathalyzer test. A ketone breath analyzers test for acetone which gives you a good idea of how much your body is burning fat into fuel, overall.
I recently started testing out the Ketoscan Mini Breath Ketone Meter. I wasn’t sure that I would like it after using a blood ketone meter for several months, but I was pleasantly surprised with the results!
Acetone levels are measured in PPMs.
You want to register a minimum of 3 PPMs which is the beginning stages of Ketosis, but the device will tell you that 5 PPMs or higher are ideal.
Anything between 10 – 40 PPMs is considered an optimal level of ketosis, but you are warned to NOT go over 40 PPMs which can signify dangerous levels of ketones in your body.
If you breathe over 60 PPMs, it’s advised that you seek medical attention.
The great thing about the breath meter is you can easily test wherever and whenever. To test the acetone in your breath, you simply blow into the breath ketone meter for 3 seconds. Easy Peasy!
The following video has my full review and demonstration of the Ketoscan Mini.
Blood Ketone Testing
My preferred method of testing ketones is with a blood test. I use Keto Mojo which tests both ketone levels AND glucose levels.
How to test your blood ketone levels – It’s similar to a diabetes test. You prick your finger and place a small amount of blood on a testing strip which is then placed in a device that reads your ketone levels for ketosis.
Since the Keto Mojo also test both ketones AND glucose, you can get a much better picture of how certain foods affect you.
Your blood ketones, β-hydroxybutyrate, are measured in “mmol”, and anything over 0.5 is considered ketosis.
I personally like to be anywhere between 1.0 – 1.5 mmol for my blood ketone levels.
The obvious downside to testing your blood is that it requires a finger prick every time. However, if you are testing your glucose and ketones at the same time, you don’t have to prick your finger twice.
Just use the same puncture wound to test both strips ?
I show you how to use Keto Mojo in this video. (viewer discretion is advised because my husband said there was an excessive amount of blood, lol)
Pros and Cons of Each Method for How to Test Your Ketone Levels
- Easy to use
- Great motivator for those first beginning the Keto Diet
- Gives a general indicator of ketosis
- Not very accurate
- Can be confusing for beginners that don’t understand how hydration affects the results
- Easy to use
- Can use anywhere and anytime
- 300 uses or 12 months before you need to replace the sensor making it less costly in the long run compared to the Keto Mojo
- Free smartphone app to track ketones
- It’s non-invasive
- The sensor replacement requires you to mail in the device
- Upfront cost is more expensive than the Keto Mojo (even though cheaper in the long run)
- Accurate results
- Test both ketones and glucose
- The upfront cost is less expensive than the Ketoscan Mini
- You have to prick your finger
- Replacing the test strips can be costly
If you are just starting out and not sure if you want to do the keto diet long term, then use the urine strips. Even though they are not very accurate, any measurement on the stick is in an indication of ketosis.
If you plan to do keto long term, then both the Breath Meter and Blood Meter work great. If you are especially averse to pricking your finger, then choose the Ketoscan Mini.
If you are diabetic or just like testing glucose along with your ketones, then the Keto Mojo is the way to go.
I have several ketone test videos on YouTube along with recipe videos, so if you would like to see those, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel: Healthy Ambitions on YouTube
And of course, don’t forget to check out all my yummy recipes!