“How Do You Know If You’re In Ketosis?”


Keto SnacksMy weight has been fluctuating between the same few pounds up and down lately, and several times I’ve felt OUT of ketosis and then experienced mild Keto Flu symptoms… which brings us to today’s topic!

“How Do You Know If You’re In Ketosis?”

I get asked this often. In fact, we were just discussing it over dinner at the meetup and Ginger asked me if I had ever done ketone testing to monitor my ketosis levels.

Interesting timing, because that VERY day I got this box of Ketone Test Strips in my latest Amazon delivery. šŸ™‚

Ketosis Testing with Ketone Test Strips

Why Would I Start Testing… NOW?!

I told Ginger the same thing I tell everyone else who asks: No, I’ve never done ketone testing before. I can just TELL when I’m in ketosis – and when I’m not.

How can you tell?

For me, I feel “keto lean” when I’m in ketosis. That’s the best way I know to describe it, because a ketogenic low carb diet is a natural diuretic and you don’t have the squishy water weight on you.

When I am out of ketosis I feel bloated. I also feel some of my old symptoms return: inflammation, back pain, migraines, swelling in my ankles, etc.

The confirmation comes when Keto Flu hits me. šŸ˜›

Not everyone has the same symptoms in or out of ketosis or even with keto flu, but I usually tell people: as long as you’re losing weight and feeling good, no worries! šŸ˜‰

That’s why I don’t readily recommend ketone testing. It’s not something you want to get obsessed with, just like the scales.

That said, it’s a VERY useful tool if you ARE struggling with weight loss stalls & plateaus – or experiencing the in/out problem I seem to be having lately.

On Saturday morning I weighed in a couple pounds higher, and by that evening my feet were turning red and starting to swell (old symptoms from a lower back injury). I also had that uncomfortable bloated feeling around my midsection.

That’s not the first time I’ve experienced that in the last month or two, so I finally (yes, after almost SEVEN years) decided I should test my ketone levels to figure out exactly what’s going on.

Why “Med Lab Diagnostics” Ketone Strips?

In the most interesting timing, yet again (synchronicity at it’s best!) I got a message on Instagram from the owner of Med Lab Diagnostics and we had a GREAT discussion about the topic.

She’s a licensed Clinical Laboratory Scientist (MT, ASCP) and these are the strips developed and used in her lab at the hospital. She is VERY helpful, willing to answer any questions -AND- provides a “satisfaction guarantee” on the product.

Med Lab Diagnostics Ketone Strips Keto Test (150 count)

Not only do you get more strips (150) than most other packages, but they’re very inexpensive + free shipping on Amazon.

Why I suspected I was NOT in ketosis – and what I’m doing about it.

I’ve gone round and round about this, and haven’t really talked publicly about it, because I’m not 100% sure what’s knocking me out of ketosis off and on.

I’ve considered medication, such as the Excedrin Migraine I’ve been taking here and there due to the strong weather patterns this time of year. And of course I’ve considered any variety of the food products I’ve been reviewing lately. šŸ˜‰

But there is NO way to know without doing a “clean test” – which means you eliminate only ONE thing for two full weeks without changing anything else.

Don’t just make guesses, or eliminate four things and then guess which one was the culprit! I see this all the time. But a “clean test” is truly the only way to go – and the only way to know for sure what might be causing you issues.

Unfortunately I haven’t had a good solid two week period to do a clean test between testing and reviewing new products, using up things I have on hand, and truth: not being overly worried about it.;)

Anyway, I tested out the strips over the weekend while I was feeling “definitely out of ketosis” along with the lovely irritability and insomnia for a few days – my classic Keto Flu symptoms.

As expected, my results came back “keto negative” …

Ketosis Testing Strips - Ketone Urine Testing

Having the symptoms of Keto Flu though, I just stuck to my usual macros (which I haven’t strayed from anyway, btw) and rode it out.

Meaning, yes: some medications and some foods or food products CAN knock you out of ketosis even if you are consistently doing ideal keto macros (20 net carbs max, 70% fat minimum).

My results this morning – BINGO! – along with a 2 pound drop. šŸ™‚

Ketone Strips

You may not always know what knocked you out of ketosis.

I’ve had antibiotics knock me out before. Or even certain low carb foods, even when you are consistent with your tracking and LCHF macros. It can depend on so many factors, including your individual sensitivities or intolerances.

Just don’t GUESS, or go crazy changing things up. That’s my main point. Eliminate or change only one thing at a time for two full weeks as a “clean test” to determine your culprits.

I say that because it can take 72 hours (give or take) to fully metabolize any foods you eat, and longer if you also drink alcohol. So a few days of testing, or what you ate yesterday, is not a true test of anything. šŸ˜‰

False Negatives & Varying Results

When I first got a negative reading with the strips I considered the possibility that it may be a “false negative.” Or that I used the strips incorrectly.

I’ve been consistent with my macros for SO long, and that can give you a “false negative” result or a much lower reading, simply because your body becomes better at creating and burning ketones.

When you are just starting a ketogenic diet, or just starting back, you’re more likely to see the deeper/darker color on the readout. The color result can vary in darkness/lightness depending on hydration levels too.

If you drink a TON of water for example, you’ll probably get a much lighter reading.

But it’s like a pregnancy test – you either ARE you are NOT in ketosis. That’s all. So don’t stress over the actual color, but rather: positive or negative.

Here’s a good article on that, btw: Measuring Ketosis on Ruled.me

Even if I had not tested “dark” (positive) on the ketone strips this morning, I knew by how I felt the minute I got out of bed this morning that I was back in ketosis.

Stepping on the scales confirmed my “keto lean” feeling. Which again just means the bloated feeling of water weight was gone. A ketogenic diet being a natural diuretic, that’s always the first thing you notice.

I’m glad too because I’m flying out on my next trip tomorrow, and the idea of feeling bloated or lethargic while traveling would NOT make me happy. šŸ˜›

Which is why I never indulge in off plan foods while traveling or on vacaction, and make it a point to eat super clean when I’m on the go. šŸ˜‰

Update: I’m now using a Blood Glucose/Ketone Testing Meter.
See: Ketones, Ketosis Levels & Bio-Individuality Next…

Have You Ever Used Keto Strips or Tested For Ketosis?

Like I said, I’ve never felt it necessary to test before, and I certainly don’t recommend testing daily. That can become an obsession like weighing daily, and it tends to cause people to get a little nutty over the results.

That said, there’s a time and a place for everything.

Right now in my own health & weight loss journey, I want to figure out what’s been affecting my body the last couple of months, and I also want to get and STAY in ketosis to enjoy high energy AND avoid my chronic pain & inflammation issues.

The bottom line: I want to FEEL my best!

Using these new Med Lab Diagnostics Ketone Strips will help me while I go through a round of “clean testing” – when I get back from my trip, that is.


In other news…

I had AMAZING low carb waffles for dinner last night. šŸ™‚ I’m working hard to get the recipe post up as soon as possible for you, so keep an eye out for that.

Also in my queue for you: Products I Don’t Like šŸ™‚

I’ll be on the go all week this week, so stay tuned to my Facebook page and Instagram for my “low carb on the go” updates!

My schedule is going to be super full between traveling, a non-stop conference agenda, and work socials four nights in a row.

I should get in some good Fitbit steps this week at least!:) lol

I’m really looking forward to the trip, and sharing with you what I eat along the way. And of course seeing how I feel throughout the week as I continue keeping a check on what’s going on with my body…

I admit, I was HAPPY to see that little drop on the scale this morning!

How are things going with you this week?

Leave a comment and let’s chat!:)

Update: I’m now using a Blood Glucose/Ketone Testing Meter.
See: Ketones, Ketosis Levels & Bio-Individuality Next…

Lynn Terry,
aka @LowCarbTraveler

p.s. The next Keto Krate box will be shipping in about a week! Along with the other two top boxes. I have the Top 3 Keto Boxes comparison review here (with promo codes) in case you missed that. Are you getting a monthly keto box, and if so – which one did you choose?? I can’t wait to see what we get this time! šŸ™‚

UPDATE: Test #1


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About Lynn Terry

I love making the low carb diet EASY for people with a busy lifestyle (like me!) with my KISS / Keep It Simple method. :) About Lynn Terry: Host of the Low Carb Challenge
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20 Responses to “How Do You Know If You’re In Ketosis?”

  1. Valerie says:

    I think it’s important for people to realize that just testing urine isn’t that accurate. As a person with Type 1 diabetes, I test whenever my BG is out of whack. I’ve been very low carb for many years and never show ketones in my urine.

    Here’s a good article that explains why.

    • Lynn Terry says:

      Yes I agree, that’s why I linked to the Ruled .me article on that as well. This is a quick, easy, inexpensive way for most people to simply tell if they’re in ketosis or not. Kind of like a pregnancy test – then you follow up with your doctor to confirm. šŸ˜‰

      But if you have been low carb for a long time consistently, you won’t always show ketones in your urine – as I explained in the post. And it only tests certain types, so for health & medical issues you would do more specific types of tests.

      But those aren’t necessary of course for someone just starting out on a keto diet for weight loss. Thank you for the comment & link, and contributing to making those points more clear! šŸ˜‰ *cheers*

  2. Susan says:

    Iā€™m just wondering if anyone has experienced Keto Rash. I have been looking for information on this topic. Have been doing a strict Keto diet for last few months and think I may have the rash. Thanks

    • Lynn Terry says:

      Hi Susan – I’ve heard of that, but I’ve never experienced it myself. I would Google it to see what other people said about it, and how to clear it up, or how long it lasts.

  3. Gina says:

    I used to test my urine with these while on Atkins. The simplest thing can knock you out of ketosis like dairy products or even too many berries
    To get back into ketosis i have to eat really low carb for at least three days. Or two full days. And i have to use the three ingredients only plan. Usually just meat and. Lettuce or boiled eggs only. I need under 20 gms of carbs to get into ketosis. I can still lose weight if i stay low carb without being in ketosis. I do not believe it is healthy to stay in real ketosis for too long ( strips turning purple)
    You see i was a nurse and studied about this. What you have called being i. Ketosis is simply burning fat for fuel …dietary fat, that is. Ketosis is the by product of stored fat being. Burned. These are two different things. Diabetic ketosis is dangerous as is forcing yourself to go i to real ketosis for too long. These are my educated opinions on this matter.

    • Lynn Terry says:

      If you eat a ketogenic low carb diet long term, you won’t show a dark reading like that because your body adjusts. That’s why I mentioned the “false negative” for people who have been in ketosis for a longer period of time.

      It’s definitely not ideal to go in and out of ketosis regularly. That’s really hard on your body – or it is on mine! šŸ˜›

  4. Valerie says:

    For diabetic ketoacidosis to occur, extremely high blood glucose must also be present. For people who produce insulin (I don’t), it’s a non-issue. Dietary ketosis is a natural byproduct when burning fat. Dietary carbs are non-essential in humans; there are lots of folks who’ve been eating very low carb for years.

  5. Kitta says:

    His was some great information but it seems like I always stall on my weight loss. I need to figure out or understand if my workouts are effecting my weight loss.

    • Lynn Terry says:

      Hi Kitta,

      How are you tracking, and what macros are you tracking?

      When did you start working out, what kind of workouts are you doing?

      When you say “it seems like I always stall on my weight loss” – what do you mean specifically?

      I’m happy to help you get things on a good roll with a few more details! šŸ™‚

  6. Marti says:

    Like you Lynn, I have never tested to see if I am in ketosis but I know AND can just tell. My body let’s me know and it’s not pretty! The irritability, bloating, and knee pain comes back immediately. Within 12 hours of eating any type of bread product, even low carb, my knee will swell and become stiff and sore along with the awful bloating. It takes three very strict days and then all is well…no pain at all! It happens every single time. I suspect a gluten intolerance. It’s so not worth it. I’d much rather wake up feeling lean and healthy, especially while traveling for work or vacation!

    • Lynn Terry says:

      That definitely sounds like a gluten intolerance, Marti. Fortunately there are some great gluten free products and companies now, for extra options at least.

      It takes me 3 days to get back in ketosis also, or it used to be “by the 3rd morning” but I notice it seems to be taking me longer now. Or maybe just lately – with whatever is going on.

      It still amazes me just how much impact foods have on our body. And how long it took me to realize that…

  7. Arlene Skellington says:

    I find all your posts very inspiring! haven’t yet committed to going LCHF but I’m getting closer… I think it’s because the tracking seems so confusing to me:( I’ve got some books at the library waiting for me that might help! just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy reading about your journey!

    • Lynn Terry says:

      Thank you Arlene. šŸ™‚ My advice: don’t try to learn everything upfront. It can be like getting sucked down a rabbit hole -lol.

      Just keep it super simple to start: 20 net carbs a day and plenty of healthy fats. šŸ˜‰ Let me know if you have any questions!

  8. Jeanette Kyryluk says:

    I love the sugar free Coffee Mate . I have the chocolate flavour . I just noticed it has corn syrup solids listed in its ingredients. This is a form of sugar. How are we able to consume it. I reduced to one teaspoon from one tablespoon . But I still wonder if this is ok to consume I see you use the Hazelnut flavour..

    • Lynn Terry says:

      Hi Jeanette!

      I use the Hazelnut powdered because it is lower in carbs than the liquid, and takes less (it’s creamier). It’s also less carbs than the other flavors – and while I’m not necessarily a hazelnut flavor fan, it’s the best of all their flavors to me.

      It is definitely a “frankenfood” and my one BIG guilty pleasure. šŸ™‚ It’s only 1 carb per TBSP and makes my coffee so enjoyable! And it does NOT knock me out of ketosis… which is good enough for me. šŸ˜‰

      Otherwise I’m pretty picky about ingredients and try to eat as clean and simple as possible. And the creamer will be the next thing to go as I continue on my own health journey – but it fits just fine into keto macros…

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