The short answer is NO. If you keep your net carbohydrates under 20 grams and your total carbs under 50 grams, you will get yourself into ketosis. Like most people, when we started keto we ran out and purchased ketone urine strips. It was so awesome around day 3 to see that little stick turn from white to dark purple. Then came week 4 and that little stick was hardly changing color. We were keeping our net carbs under 20 so what were we doing wrong? The answer is nothing. Urine ketone strips only test for acetone and sometimes acetoacetate but not for Beta-hydroxybutyrate, which are the ketones that are the most active. When your body makes more ketones than it can use, it gets rid of them through the urine and breath and thats what the pee strips are measuring. Once you get into ketosis and your body begins utilizing them, very few, if any, will appear in your urine. When we realized that, we purchased a blood ketone meter. The problem with blood meters is they are expensive to use. The cheapest one on the market is the Keto-mojo and it costs $1 a test plus the initial cost of the meter. Even the blood tests can be inaccurate with your level of ketosis. The blood meters test for the Beta-hydroxybutyrate that is floating in your blood, not the ones in your body mass. Basically, the more body mass you have, the lower the ketones in your blood may be since you’re utilizing them. For example, Joe has more muscle and more mass than Rachel. He consistently keeps his carbs under 20 net carbs yet usually only registers between .5 and 1.0 on the blood meter. Rachel on the other hand, usually measures ketones around 1.0-1.8. The other thing to consider is that the longer you do keto, the better your body gets at utilizing the ketones.
There are times when you may want to measure ketones. If you have been doing keto for a while and not feeling optimum, you may want to test your blood. Testing your blood will at least give you an idea of whats going on. If you are seeing really low numbers, you want to consider a fast to reset your body or analyze your diet. You may be consuming too many hidden carbs. We like to use the Keto-mojo for experiments like what a fast does to our body or changing the amount of fat we consume. For the most part though, we don’t check our ketone levels.
In the end, you don’t really need to test for ketones. If you are strapped for cash and trying to do keto on a budget, the better thing to test is your blood glucose. You can pick up a blood glucose meter at Wal-Mart for about $8 and the test strips can be purchased for as little as 3 cents. Measuring your glucose level will give you an accurate idea of whats going on with your body. It’s also a great way to see if you should eat a particular food or steer away from it. Just test in the morning to see your fasting glucose level and then test about 1-2 hours after eating. The bigger the spike, the more that particular food is affecting your glucose.
Exogenous ketones are ketones that are taken in the form of a nutritional supplement. They are called exogenous because they come from an external source. The ketones that your liver produces are called endogenous ketones. Taking exogenous ketones will not put you into nutritional ketosis, which is what the keto lifestyle is all about. You don’t need to take exogenous ketones to do keto and personally, we don’t use them. There are some benefits to taking them but only on a very limited basis. If you are living a low carb lifestyle, taking exogenous ketones will give you some extra ketones and you may experience some increased energy and focus. This “extra boost” doesn’t last long though, only around an hour. There are 3 reasons you may want to consider occasionally taking them. The first is if you’re going to do an intense workout or a marathon. The second reason would be if you need to have intense mental clarity like before an exam or something. Finally the last reason would be to help with the keto flu. They won’t put you into nutritional ketosis faster but they will supply you with energy while your body starts producing its own ketones. They also help with the keto flu because they are bound to electrolytes. For the most part, you really don’t need them though. They are very expensive and in the end, very few of us will benefit from them. If you are going to purchase them, stay away from the Multi Level Marketing companies that sell them. The only company we would purchase them from is Perfect Keto.
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