Top 3 Ways To Test For Ketosis

Authored by Justin Liau and Michael Brandt • 
September 18, 2018

Individual measuring their ketone levels using a blood prick

At HVMN, one of our 6 core principles is being up to date on the best methods of personal measurement of biomarkers. You may have seen our video ‘seeing is believing’ where HVMN CEO, Geoff Woo measures his blood BHB (the predominant ketone in the body) levels using a blood prick after a drink of HVMN Ketone. Ketone levels are an excellent biomarker for tracking effectiveness of fasting, low-carbohydrate / ketogenic diet, or exogenous ketones.

Why should you care about how high your ketone levels are?

Over time, keeping track of the level of ketones in your blood can help you to work out what levels make you feel best, and help you to optimize your diet to achieve your goals. Many people read their blood ketone levels while doing the keto diet, or taking exogenous ketones, to verify that they’re actually achieving ketosis

Graph comparing levels of blood ketone levels

It's a great idea to test your blood ketone levels if you are starting off with the keto diet for weight loss and other health benefits such as control of metabolic syndrome. If you're trying to lose weight on a low-carb diet, moderate ketone levels could be an indicator of whether you're on the right track for fat loss. When following a keto diet, body fat stores are broken down, and fatty acids concentrations increase in the bloodstream. The fatty acids are turned into ketones in the liver. When ketone levels exceed 0.5 mM, that is considered to be a state of ‘ketosis.’ Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney define nutritional ketosis as ketones ranging from 0.5 to 3.0 mM in "The Art and Science of Low-Carbohydrate Living."1 There are three methods that you can use to measure your level of ketosis, with this data you have the power to optimize your biohacking protocol:

1. Blood Test for BHB Measurement

Person holding up blood ketone meter reading


  • Most accurate way to measure ketosis in mmol/L (mM).
  • Measures BHB, the predominant ketone in the body, rather than acetoacetate or acetone.


  • You need a handheld device (i.e., Precision Xtra or Keto Mojo) and test strips, which can be expensive relative to other techniques. Keto Mojo is substantially more affordable than Precision Xtra, with each testing strip costing only 99 cents.
  • You have to take a finger prick blood sample which can be bothersome and invasive at first until you get used to it. 

When testing blood using a BHB/glucose meter, you’re getting the most accurate measurement available. The meters measure glucose or ketone levels depending on which test strips are inserted. Those with diabetes commonly use the same procedure and the same blood meters to measure their blood glucose levels. It's critical for people with diabetes to control blood sugar levels and also to avoid dangerously high levels ( > 20mM) of ketones, known as ketoacidosis.

To use a blood ketone measuring device, you need a measurement device and compatible test strips, as well as a lancet device, lancets, and an alcohol swab for sanitization. 

In order to take a reading:

  1. Insert a fresh ketone test strip into the ketone measuring device.
  2. Clean the pad of your finger with the alcohol swab.
  3. Load a fresh lancet into the lancet device, prick your finger with the lancet, and massage your finger to squeeze a small droplet of blood onto the tip of the ketone test strip. 
  4. After 5-10 seconds the measuring device will report your present blood BHB levels. 
  5. Wipe your finger with the alcohol swab or a tissue. The skin puncture is small enough that it will self-heal immediately; you will not need a bandage. 

Using blood BHB might seem like an obvious choice to measure ketone levels. However, pricking your finger multiple times a day might not be realistic for your lifestyle. If that’s the case for you, there are still other options.

2. Urine Ketone Test Strips

Urine test strips to measure ketosis levels


  • Relatively inexpensive.
  • Widely available in pharmacies.
  • Non-invasive.


  • Less accurate than blood.
  • Over time the body adapts to excrete fewer ketones in the urine.

Urine ketone test strips can be bought at your local pharmacy or online. They’re easily accessible, affordable, and straightforward to use; however there are certain drawbacks. Urine testing was designed to measure acetoacetate, one of the three ketone bodies, but it turns out this is not the best indicator of being in ketosis as it doesn’t account for blood BHB levels. 

Furthermore, urine is a waste product so what’s displayed on the urine strips is what your body is excreting, not necessarily the best indication of how well your body is utilizing ketones for fuel. As you become more keto-adapted, you will excrete fewer ketone bodies through urine. Hydration status can also affect these ketone readings and lead to inconsistent results, as relative hydration level can dilute the concentration of ketones in urine. 

Urine ketone strips may be a cheap way to get a general sense of whether you’re headed in the right direction, but not an accurate long-term option.

3. Breath acetone meter

Ketonix Breath Meter


  • Once you have bought the device, it is free each time you test.


  • You need a handheld device (e.g. Ketonix).
  • Less accurate than blood meter.

Breath ketone meters are relatively new to the market for testing ketone levels. These meters specifically measure the amount of acetone that is excreted in your breath. These devices give readings that relate well to blood ketone levels at low concentrations. However, there haven’t been enough studies done to confirm the accuracy of breath acetone meters at higher ketone levels, such as the level achieved after drinking HVMN Ketone.

We are testing cutting-edge devices for new ways to measure ketosis.

You want the fastest, cheapest and most-accurate ways to test that you’re in ketosis. We just received some of the newest devices on the market. Sign up to be first to hear our analysis of how they work.

We strongly recommend that you start out testing your ketone levels if you are trying to get into nutritional ketosis or if you are using exogenous ketones like HVMN Ketone. Fat burning mode via the ketogenic diet is tough enough to get into as it is, so it’s helpful to monitor ketone levels to make sure your efforts are working out and that you're in ketosis. Ketone readings don't tell the whole story, but they are a large piece of the puzzle of taking advantage of ketosis. That way you will know what is going on in your body and to what degree. Over time, some people develop intuition around what diet or routines lead to a given ketone level, but it’s helpful at the start and on a periodic basis to use an accurate ketone measurement device to get reliable objective data.

Let us know in the comments how you like to track your ketone levels, or if you have any questions!

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