If you or a loved one has diabetes, you may only know about ketones in the context of ketoacidosis, a dangerous buildup of ketones in the blood. But in the right amounts, the presence of these byproducts may be a good sign – especially for those looking to lose weight.
What are ketones?
When you move and exercise, your body usually breaks down glucose, or sugar, in the bloodstream for fuel. But when you are low on glucose, your body starts breaking down fat reserves instead. Ketones are the byproduct of the breakdown of fat. So, if you’re trying to shed extra body weight, they’re a handy hint as to how your workout and diet regimen is going.
On the other hand, if you’re at risk of developing diabetes, excess ketones may be a sign of trouble. If your body is short on insulin, your ketone level may rise not because your liver is kicking your body into ketosis, but because your body is struggling to break down glucose.
What ketone level should you aim for?
On a low-carb keto diet, you can try to nudge your body into ketosis, which is a state in which your liver produces ketones, encouraging your body to burn fat instead of glucose. Ketosis involves a much lower level of ketones in the bloodstream than ketoacidosis, the buildup of excess ketones that causes health problems in diabetics.
If you’re cutting down on carbs and working out to lose weight, you want a ketone level between 0.5 and 3.0 mM (millimolars). A higher level than that indicates starvation ketosis, and ketoacidosis kicks in at 5.5mM.
If you’re not on a ketogenic diet, but are at risk of developing diabetes, it’s also a smart idea to test your ketone level. In this case, you want to look for a reading below 4.0 mM. If your level is higher than that regularly, you should consult a doctor about how to encourage your body to produce more insulin.
How do you measure ketone levels?
Easy – buy urine ketone strips from TestSure! They’re color coded, easy to use, and FDA certified.