The ketogenic diet or simply keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat and moderate-protein diet. It affords many health benefits, including weight loss, blood sugar control and longevity. A common goal of people on the keto diet is to achieve ketosis, a natural state in which your body burns fat for fuel. However, it can be difficult to determine whether your diet needs adjusting to reach and maintain ketosis. For this reason, many people use keto strips. This article explains how to use keto strips to measure ketosis and how to reach this state through a ketogenic diet.
What happens during ketosis?
If you follow a standard high-carb diet, your cells use glucose as their main energy source, which comes from the carbs in your diet, including sugars and starchy foods like bread, pasta and vegetables. But if you limit or avoid these foods — such as when you’re on a keto diet — your body doesn’t have enough glucose to meet its energy needs. This means it must look for alternative fuel sources. Your body does this by breaking down stored fat into fatty acids and ketones. These ketones replace glucose and supply most of the energy your brain needs, resulting in a physiological state called dietary ketosis. Being in dietary ketosis increases your ketone levels, which are detectable in your breath, urine and blood.
When you restrict or limit carbs from your diet, your body produces ketones from fat, resulting in the physiological state of ketosis.
Measuring ketosis using ketone (urine) strips
If you want to know if you’re in ketosis, urine strips are a cheap and convenient way of finding out. They were originally developed for people with type 1 diabetes to determine if they’re at immediate risk for diabetic ketoacidosis, a potentially life-threatening condition. You can purchase urine strip kits over-the-counter at your local pharmacy and supermarket, as well as online. They’re relatively inexpensive and can contain from 50 to several hundred strips. The strips typically expire within three to six months after opening, so keep in mind how often you intend to use them. If you want to check your urine ketones day-to-day, stick with a specific time, like in the morning or several hours after your last meal of the day, for best comparison.
The process of using keto strips looks like this:
- Wash your hands, then take a urine sample in a small container.
- Immerse the absorptive end of the strip into the sample for a few seconds, then remove.
- Wait for the amount of time outlined on the package for the strip to change color.
- Compare the strip with the color chart on the packaging.
- Dispose of the urine and strip in an appropriate manner before washing your hands.
The color corresponds to the concentration of ketones in your urine, which can range from no ketones to high concentrations. The darker the color, the higher your ketone levels.
Urine strips are an easy and convenient way to measure ketosis. Follow the directions on the kit for the most accurate results.
How to get into ketosis with a keto diet
For healthy individuals, it can take several days on a ketogenic diet to go into ketosis and a few more weeks thereafter to become keto-adapted. A keto diet is high in fat, moderate in protein and very low in carbs. Some people mistake the keto diet for being low in carbs and high in protein. But consuming too much protein will not allow your body to enter ketosis. More specifically, the diet allows 75% of calories from fat, 20% from protein and 5% from carbs.
For comparison, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that people get.
- 20–35% of calories from fat
- 10–35% of calories from protein
- 45–65% of calories from carbohydrates
Usually, consuming less than 50 grams of carbs per day will get you into ketosis. That being said, everyone is different — some people may need to eat less while others can get away with more. If you’re new to the keto diet and want to make sure your diet is on track, urine strips can be a useful tool.
A ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb and moderate-protein diet. It takes several days for your body to enter ketosis and several weeks thereafter to adapt to using ketones for fuel.