Optimal Keto Levels: Know Your Ketone Zone

Optimal Keto Levels: Know Your Ketone Zone

Most people know that, to achieve ketosis, they need to increase their ketone levels. But the number of ketones often remains a mystery and there are different ketone levels that affect the body differently. It’s even possible to have too many ketones. 

Let’s take a closer look at ketone levels, what they mean and how to test to make sure you’re in an optimal range for weight loss. 

What are Ketone Zones?

Ketone zones represent the various levels of ketones present in your blood. The zones serve different purposes depending on why you started the Keto diet. Here’s a quick breakdown of all the ketone zones:

  • 0.5 – 1.0: Nutritional Ketosis
  • 1.0 – 2.0: Moderate Ketosis
  • 2.0 – 5.0: Post-Exercise Ketosis
  • 5.0 – 8.0: Fasting Ketosis
  • 8.0 – 10.0: Ketoacidosis (danger!)

If your goal is to lose weight, stay in nutritional ketosis. For the best weight loss results, the optimal ketone zone is between 1.0–3.0 mmol/L. The body takes a few days to burn through the glycogen stores in your liver and muscles. Once the metabolism switches over to ketones for energy, consider your goal achieved!

Sometimes, doctors prescribe the Keto diet to patients with chronic disorders such as epilepsy. When that’s the case, dieters should aim for the 3.0–5.0 mmol/L range. 

Levels higher than 5.0 mmol/L can occur when fasting. Extremely high ketone levels (8.0–10.0 mmol/L) trigger a life-threatening illness called ketoacidosis. The illness develops when high ketone levels are present alongside high blood sugar, which makes people with diabetes particularly susceptible.

How to Test for Ketosis

Keto urine strips test for a type of ketone called acetoacetate. Once you dip it in the urine, the strip will turn pink or purple. The darker the color, the more ketones present. While urine strips are the cheapest, they’re also the least accurate.

Breath tests measure a ketone called acetone in parts per million (ppm). These are more accurate than urine strips, and a reading from two to 40 ppm means you’re in ketosis. While breath tests are expensive, it’s a one-time purchase compared to buying more urine strips.

Blood ketone meters are by far the most accurate, albeit the most expensive. The machine pricks your finger, then you transfer a tiny blood sample onto a test strip. These strips test for beta-hydroxybutyrate in millimoles per liter (mmol/L).

Test, Re-Test and Listen to Your Body

When you first cut back on carbs, test your ketone levels on a daily basis until you’ve reached ketosis. From there, you only have to monitor ketone levels once a week to make sure you’re staying in the proper zone. This will help you save money if you’re using urine strips or a blood ketone meter. Burning through strips every day can get expensive!

Remember to involve your doctor every step of the way. While the Keto diet is generally safe, some individuals should avoid it due to certain health problems. If something doesn’t feel right and your ketone levels are too high, stop the diet and consult your physician. Your health is more important than shedding a couple pounds.

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