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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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 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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