What is a ketone?
Dr. Boz below will give some more stats, but to give you the 10,000′ level, ketones are a by product of fat (triglycerides) being pulled apart for use by your liver. So it is evidence that fat is getting converted to fuel because there is not enough glucose to provide all the power. Each night – for healthy, insulin sensitive individuals – there is a window in which you are likely to enter a state of nutritional ketosis. After your body has processed your last meal and the glucose has been used, Insulin has reduced, you are likely to enter nutritional ketosis. If you are not regularly entering nutritional ketosis – no matter what diet you consume! – you are preventing or delaying your body’s natural internal clearing processes.
Dr. Ben Bikman gets into the details on his lab’s shift from studying insulin and insulin resistance with disease to ketones as the counterpoint to the insulin resistance issues (min 4:30-7) Ketones are a product of the oxidation of fat – converting fat to energy (there is no such thing as “burning” fat – it’s is converted to CO2 and H2O) – and that happens when insulin levels are low.
There are 4 methods, and while every damn site seems to care about discussing each one, the reality is this – you need something simple to start. You then need something very accurate when you’re ready to graduate.
- Start with pee sticks. They’re the cheapest method by a lot. $8 for 150 sticks. That could last you 2 months even if you check yourself several times a day. It is too easy and simple not to measure.
- When you’re ready to graduate, get yourself a blood ketone (and glucose) meter. Just do it. The pee sticks are a nice initial boost, but they are horribly inaccurate in terms of levels. Treat them as either yes for any level of pink, or no when the stick reads negative. The meter is measuring ketone levels in your blood – this is an accurate representation of what your liver thinks your body needs for energy and it is the hottest ketone on the rounds, BhB. The Claudia Schiffer of ketones. Pee sticks measure acetone which is indeed a waste product of ketones but not necessarily from USE of the ketones – like the food in the prep kitchen that never made it to the table.
- Ignore the 2 other methods for measuring ketones. They are neither accurate nor cheap enough to deviate. Wasted space in the middle. Pee sticks or blood meter.
- When you upgrade to the blood meter, do get one that does both ketones and glucose. You will want to measure your blood glucose levels to make sure you aren’t triggering any odd spikes. It will also help you test foods that will create problematic responses for your keto journey.