Chances are that if you’ve been eating an ultra-low carb diet (less than 30g usable carbs per day) for an extended period of time (weeks or longer), then you will have experienced ketosis. Everybody differs in how they produce ketones and glucose, but the most stable way of ensuring you’re in ketosis is to eat an ultra-low carb diet.
Your friends and family will probably be the first signs that you’re in ketosis – thanks to ‘keto breath’ that commonly comes with the ketotic state. What does keto breath smell like? Again, it differs between people, but some report nail polish remover, rust/metallic smells, and others over-ripe fruit. If your oral hygiene is on point and your breath smells, there’s a good chance you’re in ketosis!
Don’t worry, most people report that keto breath diminishes after longer-term ketosis, and with increased water intake (as this dilutes the acetone released within the blood).
One of the most commonly-reported benefits of the ketogenic diet is mental clarity and focus, and, although somewhat counter-intuitively, this tends to come right after a period of brain fog once you remove carbohydrates from your diet. This is often due to the transition period between your body, and particularly your brain, from glucose to ketones as fuel. Once ketosis has kicked in, most people feel a sense of mental focus and clarity similar to that experienced with a decent caffeine dose.
One of the most convenient and cheapest ways to test your ketone levels are through ketone urine strips. You pee on the strip, and it turns a colour to indicate your level of ketones in your urine. While the test strips won’t show you exactly what level of ketosis you’re in, if you get any colour on the spectrum, then you’re in ketosis. Protein King stocks KetoSports Ketone Test Strips, which are currently $19.95 for 100 strips.
A blood test at a local GP or with a portable blood ketone meter will confirm that your blood ketone levels are in the ketotic range, which is usually considered to be within 0.5 – 3.0 mmol/L, with the ideal range around the 1.5 – 3.0 mmol/L level. Far higher ranges in the 5.0 mmol/L < indicate that something might be wrong, and you should seek medical advice.
Save yourself a trip to the doctor and invest in a blood ketone meter, with products such as Freestyle Optium Neo, Nova Max Glucose Plus and Precision Xtra widely available. The test strips are costly, but they’re quite accurate and convenient!
Next up: How to Get into Ketosis!