Ketones play a crucial role in your overall well-being and helps your body stay in great shape and health.
They tend to be present in sizable quantities during the fat melting process that helps you become slim and lose that weight. They are a product of that process that converts fats into energy.
Understanding how this works can play a critical role in your weight management as well as staying fit. This way, you can easily make the right choices when it comes to getting the proper diet necessary for weight loss and building lean muscle.
What Are Ketones?
Your body is an amazing machine, designed to intuitively prioritize certain energy sources over others. So, its order of energy generation is usually carbs, fats and proteins… in that order.
So, when the body needs to expend energy, maybe as a result of your sudden burst in energy, it seeks out a carb source. When it doesn’t find it, it then seeks out fats. If that isn’t available either, it then looks for proteins. Ketones are usually a product of the fat to energy conversion process.
And some smart nutritional experts are taking advantage of this by publishing information materials, trainings and course preaching the benefits of ketogenic dieting as well as how you can accelerate the process.
The ketogenic diet is essentially a low carb, moderate protein, high fat diet designed to trigger the breakdown of the body’s fat reserves. With this diet, the body is essentially forced to seek out fats as an energy source, breaking them down in the process and triggering weight loss. The ketones produced by this process in the liver are the energy sources.
While the results per weight loss is questionable, doctors have used this for years to treat unique cases of difficult epilepsy, particularly in children.
Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) and Ketone Types
At every point time, there are always three ketones available in the body. These include:
Each of these play a role in the body and help maintain the other’s levels. In a healthy non-diabetic individual, these three are effectively regulated by the body and kept within normal levels.
But, when they are left unchecked in the body a diabetic, it can result in what is known as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). This condition can be fatal if left unchecked for far too long as it drops the individual’s pH levels to the acidic range.
The lower the range, the higher the risk of the individual going into diabetic shock, followed by coma and then death. DKA often starts with the person becoming unconscious, and then progresses rapidly towards fatality if there’s no immediate medical intervention.
While there’s a higher risk of occurrence in people with type 1 diabetes, those with type 2 could also experience it. This is why diabetics are often required to frequently test their ketone levels and take their insulin shots so as to avoid an episode of DKA.
When Should You Have Your Ketones Checked?
Most of the time, your doctor will inform you of how frequently and when you ought to have your ketone levels checked.
However, you shouldn’t always wait until then. Always pay attention to your body and get to a hospital as quickly as possible once you notice one or more of the following:
- Persistent dry mouth and thirst even after drinking lots of water
- High blood sugar –anything above 300mg/dl is cause for alarm
- Prolonged and unexplained lethargy, fatigue and weakness
- Cognitive impairment like mental fog, confusion and slow thinking
- Blurry vision and drowsiness
- Sudden onset abdominal cramp
- Fruity breath
- Nausea and vomiting
These are all signs of excess ketones in the body. Diabetics who are treating certain health conditions like the flu will need to have their ketones level checked every 4-6 hours, as they tend to be at higher risk of DKA while treating themselves.
Also, newly diagnosed patients will need to test morning and night to ensure that their insulin levels are great.
Most of the time, your ketones can be tested by checking urine and/or blood. Endocrinologists often prefer blood tests because they are more consistent. The good news is you don’t need any complicated equipment to do the test at home.
Many blood sugar testing kits also detect your ketones level these days. But because the doctors can request any one of the two, let’s quickly explore both.
Urine Testing for Ketones
This is about the most popular and fastest ketones testing method in the US. Results are usually evident within 20 seconds. All you have to do is get any one of the portable testing kits over the counter and carry out the test at home by yourself.
Ketone urine testing kits tend to include strips that will show you how much ketones, proteins and glucose you have in the body by simply changing colors. Lighter colors usually mean low levels, intense colors mean significant levels.
These kits also come with instructions that you can follow as well as their color spectrum. Please note that this is not the most accurate ketones testing method
Ketones Blood Testing
Recommended by the American Diabetes Association (ADA), blood testing is the more accurate ketones testing method. Seen as the more preferable method, people can actually use a ketone meter for the test.
Using this requires the use of a pinprick, and putting some of that blood on the attached strip. This can be an inconvenience based on the person. Some people have absolute aversions for needles, so this might put them off.
Other than that, this is probably the most accurate method of determining your ketones level.
Reading and Interpreting the Test Results
There are usually three bands for the results:
- Normal or low
- Moderate or medium
- Large or high
The optimum result you want to aim for at all times is the normal/low. Once it starts becoming moderate/medium, you’re already in a state called ketonemia. This is essentially an indication that your blood sugar and ketones might be getting out of hand.
Large/high essentially meals you’re at risk of an imminent DKA. There’s no reason for your readings to be in the moderate to high range, unless you don’t have adequate insulin in the blood, aren’t eating well or are suffering from low blood sugar.
Consistent readings in the moderate to high range means the person needs to see their doctor quickly, who will then either recommend a change in their lifestyle or adjust their medications.
Ketones are your body’s way of protecting itself and keeping you alive. In small amounts, you’re fine. But, once their levels are higher, you’re at risk of coma and death. Avoid high ketones levels as much as possible, and you will live a long, full and happy life in spite of the diabetes.