What Are Ketone Strips—And Can They Help You Lose Weight?, keto diet, ketones, – Beauty And Health
Would you pee on a tiny strip of paper once
a day in the name of weight loss?
Believe it or not, that’s what some followers
of the ketogenic diet are doing to ensure
they shed pounds.
Some background: The ketogenic diet is the
hottest low-carb diet right now, with proponents
saying that it helps them lose weight quickly
The diet calls for getting 70 to 80 percent
or more of your total calories from fat and
eating fewer than 50 grams of carbs (the equivalent
of two bananas) per day, explains Ashley Cuellar
Gilmore, M.D., gastroenterologist and program
director for IU Health Medical Weight Loss.
Why so low?
Because, unlike many other low-carb diets,
it’s centered around achieving ketosis.
And to see all the purported benefits of going
keto, you have to get in ketosis and stay
there for an extended period.
(Though, Gilmore notes that the benefits of
the diet don’t always outweigh the risks;
talk to your doctor before making an attempt
One of the simplest ways to find out if you’re
in ketosis is by peeing on a tiny piece of
paper called a ketone strip.
The Basics of Ketosis.
First things first: What is ketosis?
Ketosis occurs when you have used up all your
body’s glucose stores (translation: sugar
from carbohydrates) and your body switches
to metabolizing fat for energy instead, says
Adam Splaver, M.D., of NanoHealth Associates
in Hollywood, Florida.
So, when people say they’re “in ketosis,”
they mean they’ve depleted their glucose stores
completely and are now primarily burning fat.
But how do you know you’re in ketosis, exactly?
That’s where ketone strips come in.
So What Exactly Are Ketone Strips?
Ketone tests are strips that you pee on, similar
to pregnancy tests, that test the levels of
a particular type of ketone, called acetoacetate,
in your urine, Gilmore says.
The levels of acetoacetate in your urine roughly
indicate the levels in your blood, helping
you gauge your level of ketosis.
Most people are considered “in ketosis” when
their blood ketones measure 0.5 mM/dL.
However, the optimal range for maximum fat-burning
is between 1.5 to 3.0 mM/dL, she says.
Using the strips is pretty simple.
Ketone tests come in either sticks (that you
hold in your urine stream) or strips (that
you dunk in a cup of your urine).
They’re covered with a paper specially formulated
to react in the presence of ketones by turning
a different color.
Because they can’t give you a number measurement,
like a blood test, most ketone strips or sticks
come with a color chart to help you estimate
what level of ketosis you’re in—the darker
the color, the higher the level of ketosis.
They’re not foolproof, however.
The levels of acetoacetate in your urine only
roughly mimic the ketone levels in your blood,
which are the ones most indicative of ketosis.
In addition, your hydration levels can affect
the concentration of ketones in your urine,
giving you an inaccurate reading, Gilmore
However, while urine ketone strips are not
great for getting an exact measure of your
ketone levels, they can be useful if you’re
simply trying to see if you’re limiting your
carbs enough to get into some level of ketosis,
Ready Your Bladder!
Ketone strips can be found at any drug store
and many supermarkets and usually run between
$5 and $15 for a package.
Here are three popular options you can find
Smackfat Ketone Strips: These strips are cost-effective,
come with a color guide right on the bottle,
and work great for people new to ketogenic
dieting, according to the 4,500 positive reviews.
($9.95/100 strips, Amazon)
Nurse Hatty Ketone Strips: Even though these
are one of the cheapest ketone strips they
still do the job well, with nearly 2,000 positive
They’re no-frills but do you need to get fancy
with something you’re just going to pee on?
($6.95/150 strips, Amazon)
Keto Nutrition Ketone Strips: These “professional-grade”
strips show your results clearly for easier
If you do use ketone strips, for the most
accurate results make sure to follow the directions
exactly and only use kits that aren’t past
the expiration date.
Do You Really Need To Test Your Ketones?
Since the difference between following a keto
diet and any ‘ole low-carb diet is the ketosis
part, it makes sense to stay on top of your
levels with ketone testing strips.
But, no, testing is definitely not necessary,
“If you find ketone strips fun or motivating
you can use them, but you can do the diet
just fine without them,” he says.
After all, if you follow the ketogenic diet’s
macro guidelines, you’re pretty much guaranteed
to achieve ketosis anyway.
(And, if you really need affirmation that
you’ve hit ketosis, fruity or rotten-apple-smelling
breath is a surefire sign that you’re there.)
Plus, if you take ketone strips too seriously,
they might even hurt your progress, says Splaver.
Because ketone strips aren’t completely accurate,
it’s possible to be in ketosis even if your
test results say otherwise—making you feel
frustrated and more likely to give up, he
Meanwhile, testing your urine multiple times
per day can get really overwhelming, while
setting you up for obsessive thoughts and
behaviors around food, he says.
Basically, for a diet that’s already known
for being super strict, ketone strips can
take things to a whole new level of intense.