The body produces numerous chemicals to deal with balance and change. When you switch your diet and start to eat fewer carbs, then it starts to produce chemicals that are known as ketones. This is usually a metabolic response to dietary ketosis. There are a lot of things that happen when you switch to a keto diet. In this article, we look at the definition of ketones and how to measure them.
What Are Ketones
Ketone bodies or ketones are get formed when the body breaks down fat for energy. This normally happens when the carb intake is quite low. So, the body ends up switching into a state of ketosis to produce energy.
How it Work
By taking a low-carb diet, the body normally ends up burning is glucose reserves. So, once the reserves run out, the body has to look for an alternative fuel source. It will then end up burning dietary fat for fuel. This process is known as beta-oxidation. This ends up leading to the formation of ketones that are then used for energy.
Are Ketones Dangerous?
The body can use ketones as alternative sources of fuel. So, they are not dangerous and are regarded as safe compounds. In case there are excess ketones, then the body eliminates them via urine or breath.
There is only one time when ketones because dangerous. That’s if you have Type 1 or 2 diabetes. This is a condition that can lead to the development of diabetic ketoacidosis, a condition that we will expound on in another section of this article.
Types of Ketones
When the body reaches ketosis, ketone bodies are usually produced. However, not all ketones are similar. The body can produce three types of ketones and they include:
- Acetoacetate: The formulation of this ketone happens after the breakdown of fatty acids. Acetoacetate normally ends up turning into acetone or BHB.
- BHB Acid: It comes from acetoacetate ketones.
- Acetone: It’s also a byproduct of acetoacetate. Acetone usually breaks down quickly. As a result, the body normally eliminates it via breath or waste.
Why Ketones Are Important
Ketones are important because they help to promote several functions in the body. This can be mental functions or even simply physical wellness. Do you want to know a few areas where ketones are important? Here they are:
- Reducing Food Cravings
One of the reasons why people don’t lose weight is because of food cravings. Research studies indicate that most people who are overweight or are diabetics at one point had an insatiable urge to eat sweets and carbs. However, ketone bodies can help to increase dietary restraint. This means that they can considerably lower food cravings by reducing appetite and hunger pangs.
- Weight Loss
A low-carb, high-fat diet such as this can be excellent in promoting ketosis that leads to weight loss. The production of ketones can help to accelerate the rate of metabolism in the body. As a result, the body ends up burning the excess fat that often leads to weight gain.
- Blood Sugar Control
This is an effective remedy for those who suffer from type 2 diabetes. Studies indicate that ketones introduced in the body via a low-carb diet can lead to better glycemic control. This helps to regulate the blood sugar level. So, if you are a diabetic, it can be excellent in reducing dependency on certain medications.
- Treating Epilepsy
Studies suggest that ketone bodies have anti-seizure properties. In addition to that, they are said to have neuroprotective and anticonvulsant properties. These are highly beneficial features that can help treat certain types of epilepsy. Note that trial studies for those with epilepsy show that it can reduce the severity of seizures by up to 55%.
Measuring Levels of Ketones
You can use several methods to measure the levels of ketone bodies. The most common ones include breath, urine, and blood. Each method usually measures something different in order to determine the number of ketones in the body.
- Measuring Blood Ketone Levels
You need to use a blood ketone meter. The device will help you to get a reading by testing the amount of B-hydroxybutyrate found in the blood. Use a finger prick to get a small drop of blood for testing. It’s a relatively easy and quick method to use.
- Testing the Levels of Ketones in Urine
It’s a low-tech technique that involves the use of urine test strips. The items are used to check the levels of ketone acetoacetate on the urine. The best thing about these strips is that you can easily find them anywhere. Besides that, you can get readings after 15 seconds right after dipping the strip in urine for about 2 seconds.
- Testing Ketone Levels in Breath
There are several devices that you can use for this. Additionally, the devices come in a wide range of designs and prices. But they all have one aim, to test the level of ketones in the body once you breathe on them. Simply take a deep exhalation from your lungs and the device will give you the results.
Symptoms of High Ketones
High levels of ketone bodies can result in the following symptoms:
- High levels of blood sugar, usually over 240
- Increased and unquenchable thirst
- Frequent urination
- Dry mouth
In case you fail to treat these symptoms earlier, they will progress and lead to the development of serious symptoms such as:
- Difficulty in breathing
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of concentration and confusion
- Dry or flushed skin
- Breathe with a fruity smell
- Abdominal pain
Note: if you fail to address the high ketone levels, then you risk suffering from a serious complication of diabetes known as diabetic ketoacidosis. You will learn more about this condition in another part of this review guide.
What Level Of Ketones Is Ideal For Optimal Weight Loss?
With the high level of technology, you can easily measure ketone in blood or in the urine. Generally, a moderately high ketone in the urine or blood is what’s considered to be ideal for optimal weight loss. But most people prefer to use blood samples because it gives a better overview.
Note that you can effectively measure the level of blood ketones on a fastened stomach. So, this should happen in the morning, right before you take breakfast. Here is how to interpret the results you get:
- Anything below 0.5 mmol/L means the body has not reached ketosis. It is, therefore, far away from starting fat-burning.
- Between 0.6-1.5 mmol/L: the body us under nutritional ketosis. You can actually start to see the beneficial effects of ketosis on your metabolic health and weight loss. This range is good for shedding excess fat.
- Between 1.6-3.0 mmol/L: this is the best range for optimal weight loss. It’s often referred to as the optimal ketosis range. If you are here, you should definitely lose more pounds.
- More than 3.0 mmol/L: the values past this level are actually unnecessary. This is because you will not achieve optimal weight loss results and in fact, things might go down to the worst. You can find more related information
Table of Ketosis Results
|Normal/negative||Less than 0.6 mmol/L|
|Low to moderate||0.6 to 1.5 mmol/L|
|High||1.6 to 3.0 mmol/L|
|Very high||Greater than 3.0 mmol/L|
The Risk of High Ketone Levels
High blood ketone levels lead to acidity. This means that the body is experiencing diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). The potentially life-threatening condition normally affects those with diabetes mellitus. The most common and serious side effects of diabetic ketoacidosis include:
- Diabetic coma
- Loss of consciousness
- Swelling in the brain
In case you notice any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention. Remember that if diabetic ketoacidosis is not treated on time, then it can be fatal. You can check out more information here.
There are so many ways that you can use to prevent DKA. The most important one is properly managing your diabetes condition by:
- Taking your diabetes medication as recommended
- Testing your blood sugar constantly
- Following a proper meal plan and staying hydrated with water
- To achieve all these:
- Set an alarm reminder for medication and water intake
- Talk to your doctor about adjusting the insulin intake
- Frequently test the levels of ketones in urine or blood
- Seek medical attention early
The Bottom Line
When the body is in ketosis that means that it’s using ketones for energy. The amount of glucose in the body is no longer sufficient and it has to look for the next effective alternative. Ketones have lots of benefits, especially in enhancing wellness. However, those with diabetes have to first consult with their doctors. This is because ketones are produced after the depletion of glucose in the body and this can significantly affect diabetics.