Sweet Geek

Thoughts on Health and Nutrition

Recent Posts

The Ketone Challenge

mmm delicious ketones!

This part 2 in a series on ketogenic diets. Check out part 1.

I’m on day 4 of monitoring my ketogenic diet with a ketone meter. Things are looking well so far and I promise to report my results after 1 week. In the meantime, if you would like to try The Ketone Challenge yourself here is some information on how to get started.

I would love to hear about your progress and thoughts! Please leave a comment or if you use twitter, use the tag #KetoneChallenge.

Ketone Meters

At the moment there are only 2 ketone meters: Precision Xtra and Nova Max Plus. As usual the price of the strips should probably dictate which one you buy. If you are willing to wait, sometimes you can request a free meter directly from the manufacturer (nova max plus).

Ketone Strips

There’s no getting around it, they are much more expensive than blood glucose strips. Here are some average prices and places to find them:

  • Amazon: $5-$6 per strip for Precision Xtra, $3-4 per strip for Nova Max Plus
  • Ebay: $4-$6 per strip. Usually only cheaper when sold in bulk
  • Online Canadian Pharmacies: $2-$4 per strip. Make sure to select an accredited pharmacy! Most should not require a prescription since it is “over the counter”.

The Basics

Here is my understanding of how to go about this based on my reading of two books by Drs. Steve Phinney and Jeff Volek: The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living and Performance.

  • If you are already trying a low-carb or ketogenic diet (and think you may be in ketosis), you may want to try keeping your diet the same until you get your strips so that you get a baseline. Maybe you already have good ketone levels.
  • Start your ketogenic diet. You should read up about it yourself being starting but here are the highlights:
    • Restrict carbohydrates to < 50g a day. You most likely will need to be lower, use your meter to guide you.
    • Get adequate protein for your size and activity (0.7 - 1.5g per lb lean body mass) but keep it on the low-end if you are having trouble getting high enough ketones. Too much can prevent ketosis. Here is some info on protein requirements, my protein calculator and Blood Sugar 101’s Diet Calculator.
    • All your remaining energy is coming from healthy fats. Prefer saturated and monounsaturated fats like animal fats (meat, eggs, dairy), coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, etc.
    • Stay hydrated!
    • You may need to supplement with sodium (2 cubes of bouillon), magnesium (400mg mag citrate), potassium or zinc. See the chapter on Mineral Management from The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance for details.
  • A healthy goal for ketones is 0.5 - 3 millimolar. A note for diabetics: If you go higher than that, please be careful and check your blood sugar too. If you already have your blood sugar under control, DKA should not be a concern but if you have ketones AND high blood sugar, get thee to a doctor.
  • Since strips are expensive, figure out a testing plan. I decided to test fasting ketones since ketones are lowest in the morning (fasted) and rise through the day. My plan is to test 1x a day until I’ve hit my goal of > 1.0. Once I’m in ketosis for a week, I will test less often, maybe 1x a week to make sure I’m staying there.
  • It may take up to 2 weeks to get your ketones into the desired range. How long really depends on many factors such as: previous diet, glycogen stores, blood sugar control, medications and identifying your personal carb/protein/fat ratios.