Dr. Anthony Gustin is a board-certified sports chiropractor, functional medicine practitioner, entrepreneur, podcast host, and founder of Perfect Keto.
Are you taking exogenous ketones but wondering if they’re working for you?
If so, the first questions to ask yourself is: am I testing my ketone levels? And am I doing so correctly?
Testing your ketone levels after taking exogenous ketones is imperative in order to know if they are working for you. I (and many other keto diet followers) made this mistake for a long time before realizing that it’s the single best way to learn if we need to make adjustments.
Sometimes there’s an underlying reason we don’t want to test ourselves: we might not get the answer we want. Comfort, pride, and shame conspire to tell us we don’t need to check our results.
The solution is simple: don’t take yourself so seriously and just go for it! The best way to know where you are in your keto journey is to test.
There’s a lot of confusion around the “whys” and “hows” of ketone testing to enter and maintain ketosis, especially if you’re using exogenous ketones to raise your ketone levels.
So, let’s first talk about the main methods of testing and what’s most important here:
Testing Ketone Levels
There are three main methods people use to test their ketone levels:
While these can all have their uses, urine and breath testing are pretty weak compared with blood testing if you want an accurate view of your ketone levels. Let’s break down why:
Urine Ketone Testing
Urine ketone testing is simple. You pee on the stick, tap off any excess urine, wait just a bit, and read the strip to see if any levels of ketones have been detected in your urine.
So, what’s the problem? Urine tests are unreliable because they measure the unused ketones in your body that are spilling over into your urine. Sounds simple enough, right?
Well, the problem here is that your body becomes more adapted to ketosis the longer you’re on keto and will be using the ketones. So, they might not show up as much on a urine test — even if you’re deeply into ketosis.
For example, there have been plenty of times my blood levels have shown ketosis but there’s been nothing on my pee strip.
Moral of the story: urine testing can be a good option at the beginning of your journey into ketosis — but not so much the longer you stay keto.
Breath Ketone Tests
You can test ketones on your breath by using a Ketonix meter. You blow into and it shows a reading based on the detected level of acetone, which is the ketone that shows up on your breath.
Breathe testing is more reliable than pee testing, but still not ideal for clearly discerning your level of ketosis.
While you might get a general idea, obviously that’s not a precise way to obtain the measurement you’re looking for.
Blood Ketone Tests
The blood testing method is simple, direct, and the most accurate way to best your levels of beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) — which is the primary ketone your body can make and ultimately convert to energy. BHB is also what provides the “clean” energy ketones in our Perfect Keto products.
Blood testing involves a small prick of the finger with a blood meter, which measures BHB levels in the blood. Testing your ketone levels through blood is the most accurate because there aren’t factors that can dilute the results, such as, for example, how drinking water could dilute urine results.
Analyzing You Ketone Levels
Another reason to track your ketone levels diligently after taking exogenous ketones is because different factors can affect how your body reacts on a ketogenic diet.
Common Factors That Affect Ketone Levels
The type of foods you eat, the amount you eat, and the type and duration of exercise can change your ketone levels.
Test your ketone levels often to get a good idea of how your body is reacting to different factors like diet and movement. This is especially helpful when you’re just starting out on a keto diet. It can also help you gauge the amount of exogenous ketones you need and when it’s best to take them for optimal results.
Testing Ketone Levels Often is Vital
You should test regularly if you want to get the most out of taking exogenous ketones.
Every single method covered here can be done in the privacy of your own home, so there’s no need to go to a clinic or any place with fancy pants equipment to get them done. Taking ketones and then not testing your levels is a shot in the dark, and it can be a waste.
If you don’t want to test with blood, urine, or breath ketone measurements, then at least keep a journal of how you feel and your body measurements on the days you use exogenous ketones.
Patience is a virtue, too. It might take some time to get used to testing your ketone levels regularly, and it might take a bit before you find the right balance of macronutrients, exercise, etc. that’s just right for you to get into and stay in ketosis. (And make sure you account for common ketosis mistakes.)
Plus, the amount of ketones that are right for you depends on your specific goals — and the only way to make sure you’re hitting that amount consistently and seeing real and accurate results over time is by testing regularly.
When to Take Exogenous Ketones
To optimize your use of exogenous ketones, here are some of the best times to take them:
- Before you exercise
- When you wake up in the morning
- After a carb-laden meal when you’re trying to get back into ketosis
- When you want to suppress hunger during a fast or on an empty stomach
- To enhance ketone levels when you need a daily energy boost
So, if you’re worried your ketone levels aren’t raised after taking exogenous ketones, be sure you’re using a reliable method for testing as well as testing often. Don’t just rely on a feeling or the assumption you’re in ketosis because you’re following a ketogenic diet or simply taking ketone supplements.
It’s not just about following the diet and using the products, but also about being smart with your testing and monitoring. Stay in-the-know with the right facts and testing methods, and you’ll get the results you desire.