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How Do Ketone Testing Strips Work?

Ketones and ketosis are no mysteries thanks to ketone testing strips.


They are called KetoStix (the first brand name), Urine Test Strips, Reagent Strips, Ketone Testing Strips, or Lipolysis Test Strips.


Quick look at ketosis and ketones
  1. During ketogenic diet program, glucose is by design in short supply; in this state the liver switches to breaking down the ingested and stored fats as alternative energy source. This metabolic state is called “beta-oxidization.”
  2. Ketoacids are the product of beta-oxidization process in our liver. During beta-oxidization the stored or ingested fatty acids are broken down in our liver into our alternative energy source.
  3. Our fat stores accumulate fat as “long” fatty acids called triglycerides. While sugar (glucose) is in short supply, the triglycerides are broken down into “short” ketoacids. These short molecules are able to penetrate our cells as fuel.
  4. These ketoacids are utilized (burned) by many of our tissues, including the brain. The brain operates just as well on a diet of ketoacids as it does on glucose.
  5. What’s left (the incompletely burned fragments) are called ketones. They are what spill into the urine to be removed from the body.
Being in ketosis simply means that we’re burning our fat stores and using them as our primary source of fuel.
How do ketone test strips work?

The test strips provide a quick, private and cost effective way to determine if we are in ketosis at any given time and at what rate. Most of us feel more secure with such a simple way to test, and get instant answer. All we need to do is to simply dip the reagent end of the strip into our urine specimen and remove immediately. Alternatively we can wet reagent area of the strip in our urine stream. We check the color of the reagent area within 10-15 seconds against the color chart on test strip bottle.

ketone chartA beige or cream color indicates that NO KETOSIS was detected. Any shade of pink/purple indicates some level of ketones in the urine. We are all different. Some of us lose better (and feel better) at lighter or darker levels. You’ll soon learn what feels right for you.

The preferred zone for optimal ketosis is between 30-55 mg/dl  of ketones in the urine.

If your reading is over 30 mg/dl, this means you are in starvation mode, thus instead of losing fat, you will gain weight. This is because your body in the starvation mode will store rather than using fat as fuel.

Caution: If we let the test strip sit for longer than 15 seconds after being exposed to urine, the reagent area will turn totally dark, which is a false reading.

Attention! Danger zone: Any value over 55 mg/dl is truly dangerous to your health and medical assistance should be sought.


KETONE ZONEHow do blood and urine values compare?

The blood and urine values may differ slightly. This is due to the possibility that urine may have been sitting in the bladder for a while. On the other hand, the blood ketone reading reflects the real time value.

Blood ketone values are in milimol/liter while urine ketone values are in miligram/deciliter. So how do the correspond to each other?

Ketosis Status Urine ketone reading Blood ketone reading
No traceable ketosis less than 5 mg/dl less than 0.6 mmol/liter
Small to moderate ketosis between 5-15 mg/dl between 0.6 – 1.5 mmol/liter
Moderate ketosis between 15-30 mg/dl between 1.6 – 3.0 mmol/liter
Large ketosis between 30-55 mg/dl between 3.0 to 4.5 mmol/liter
Dangerous level of ketosis over 55 mg/dl over 4.5 mmol/liter



Which brand should you get?

There are a number of brands to chose from. The original Ketostix by Bayer is the most common and easiest to find one. It is sold in most pharmacies and health stores. Shop for price first though because they can be bought for anywhere from $6.00 to $16.00 in different stores and online sites.

It doesn’t matter which Ketone Testing Strips you use, avoid switching brands because it can get confusing with slightly differing colors.




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