You're on the keto diet and are starting to wonder if you're in ketosis. So, you order a ketone test device and open it up and you do your very first test.
Then, you start wondering…
- When is the best time to test?
- How often should you be testing?
- How will food impact my results?
- What about exercise, will that change my results?
First of all, know that you are asking the right questions. In this brief article, I'm going to cover the best practices around testing for ketones and glucose.
What Variables Impact Ketone Test Results?
There are some variables including food, time of day, exercise and stress and hormones that can impact your results.
It's also important to note that the time of day you test can impact the results you get. Some early research shows ketone levels highest between 9am and 1pm during the day. But, there's so many things that can impact this curve – there's not enough research available to make a broad statement that this is when everyone will see the highest level of ketones.
For now, know that there's a lot of variation throughout the day. Results may be changed by food intake, stress levels, your activity level, your hormones and even your environment.
Getting a clear picture around what is happening with your ketone levels and glucose levels may best be established by testing these biomarkers 3-4 times a day and charting them for 10 days.
Now, this can get expensive with blood ketone strips costing around $1 per strip. If you can only afford to test your ketone levels once per day, then do that.
But, avoid testing within the first 30-60 minutes of waking up to avoid skewed results due to the dawn effect.
Otherwise, pick a time of day and be consistent around testing at that time and in the same scenario.
How Does Exercise Impact Ketone & Glucose Levels?
The other thing to remember is not to test your ketone or glucose right after a workout. Unless you are looking to see what the glucose and ketone response is to your workout.
Exercise will increase your glucose numbers and deplete your blood ketones numbers.
This is something we noticed early in our keto lifestyle and it was very confusing. Why would blood sugar numbers rise because of exercise?
The answer is that our body produces it's own glucose to fuel the extra energy demands of the muscles.
This is a great experiment to prove to yourself that your body can produce its own glucose when you are in ketosis. Your body will not starve for glucose. It will simply make its own.
How Often Should We Test Ketones?
In our first six months of the keto diet, we tested our ketones more often because we were experimenting.
How you feel is one thing. But, getting some real data as to how your body is actually responding requires frequent testing.
Once you get a baseline established, then you may test less often. Maybe you'll test only when you eat a new food or “keto product”, when you travel or make changes to your sleep patterns. If you have a poor nights sleep you can sometimes see an impact on your biomarkers. Think of this as a science experiment. How are these things impacting my glucose levels? My ketone levels?
After three years on keto, we may only test a few times per month.
When do we test? Usually when we try a new keto product or when a new keto recipe was created and we're giving it a final test to make sure we don't see any discernible impact in blood glucose levels.
What Tools Should I Use To Test For Ketosis?
We use the following tools to test ketone levels:
Do I Have To Test For Ketosis?
No, you don't have to buy a testing device or even test for ketosis at all. It depends on your preference and if you want to see hard evidence that you're in ketosis.
There are many different signs that you're in a state of ketosis.
Click here to read about the different signs you're in ketosis.