Getting into ketosis is not a black or white thing. It’s not like you’re either in ketosis, or out of ketosis. Instead, you can be in different degrees of ketosis, as this chart demonstrates. The numbers below refer to values when testing blood ketone levels.
Below 0.5 mmol/l is not considered “ketosis”. Although a value of, say, 0.2 demonstrates that you’re getting close. At this level you’re still far away from maximum fat-burning.
Between 0.5–1.5 mmol/l is light nutritional ketosis. You’ll begin to see a good effect on your weight, but perhaps not optimal.
Around 1.5–3 mmol/l is called optimal ketosis and is recommended for maximum mental and physical performance gains. It also maximizes fat burning, which can increase weight loss.
Values of over 3 mmol/l are only necessary when using ketosis for therapeutic reasons, such as treating epilepsy. In this case, you might need higher ketone levels of 3.2 – 6.4 mmol/L, but first be sure to speak with a medical practitioner on this.
Values of over 8–10 mmol/l are usually impossible to get too just by eating a ketogenic diet. It means that something is wrong. The most common cause by far is type 1 diabetes with severe lack of insulin. Symptoms include feeling very sick with nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and confusion. The end result can be a state called ketoacidosis, which may be fatal. Needless to say abnormally high ketones requires immediate medical care.
There are many things that increase your level of ketosis. Here they are, from most to least important:
Restrict carbohydrates to 20 digestible grams per day or less – a strict low-carb diet. Fiber does not have to be restricted, it might even be beneficial.
Restrict protein to moderate levels. If possible stay at or below 1 gram of protein per day, per kg of body weight. So about 70 grams of protein per day if you weigh 70 kilos (154 pounds). It might be beneficial to lower protein intake even more, especially when overweight, and then aim for 1 gram of protein per kg of desired weight. The most common mistake that stops people from reaching optimal ketosis is too much protein.
Eat enough fat to feel satisfied. This is the big difference between a ketogenic diet and starvation, which also results in ketosis. A ketogenic diet is sustainable, starvation is not.
Avoid snacking when not hungry. Unnecessary snacking slows weight loss and reduces ketosis.
If necessary add intermittent fasting, like 16:8. This is very effective at boosting ketone levels, as well as accelerating weight loss and type 2 diabetes reversal.
Usually not necessary: Supplement MCT oil and/or Bulletproof coffee.
Usually not necessary: Supplement exogenous ketones.
Optimal ketosis can be accomplished through dietary nutrition alone.
You shouldn’t need a magic pill to do it.
Just stay strict, remain vigilant, and be focused on recording what you eat (to make sure your carb and protein intake are correct).
When you’re figuring out the ways to maintain your restricted keto diet, a thought crosses your mind and makes you think, ‘How am I suppose to know if I’m in ketosis?’ According to an old saying (which seems quite relevant now), you have to test it to believe it, or else guessing won’t help. Only after knowing the level of ketones in your body, you can determine if you’re in ketosis or not to purse all those benefits of a keto diet.
There are three main types of ketones: acetone, acetoacetate, and beta-hydroxybutryate (BHB). Each of these compounds is linked to a different function in the ketosis metabolism and can be determined individually using a variety of techniques.
When the ketone (acetoacetate) is produced excessively, the body excretes it via urine. The only way to measure the excess amount of acetoacetate is simply using urine strips. It’s common, easy to use and way too cheap.
Unfortunately, with some pros, always come some cons. This test is not always reliable and can be misleading when it shows less ketones in contrast to the deeper ketosis you’re in.
#2 Breath-Ketone Analyzers
Due to its volatile nature, acetone can be measured via the breath. Various devices, such as BrAce and ketotonix, are used for measuring acetone levels. Some of these devices show different colors at various frequencies depending upon the level of acetone in your breath.
However, these are just about $50 more expensive than the urine strips, but are reusable, unlike the former ketone measuring technique. As for its cons, the results aren’t accurate and can be misleading; plus, you can’t carry it around and should have a computer associated for the reading.
#3 Blood-Ketone Meters
The most important ketone that our body produces is the BHB, which doesn’t stay in the cell, but rather is carried in the blood stream (to the cells, obviously!). The only way to measure its levels is to test your blood. It’s as simple as testing diabetes at home by pricking a finger, squeezing it for a drop of blood, tap it on the strip, and let the machine give you the exact amount of ketones in your blood.
Unlike the aforementioned methods of ketone testing, blood-ketone meters are accurate, reliable, and the readings don’t fluctuate when you’re dehydrated. On the other hand, it’s going to cost you way too much, if you ask me! With a meter with 10 testing strips and 30 needles, you’re going to have to pay $120 along with $3 per test after that. And by the way, pricking yourself is going to hurt a lot.
So, think about it and aim to keep yourself healthy with the hope for a healthy life. Yay for Keto!