Best Time to Test Ketones in Urine

It is relatively difficult to give a specific time for testing ketones in the urine. 

If you are looking for the best time to test ketones in urine, you will need to find a suitable time for you regularly.

It is advisable that you choose a time you can meet up with each day as consistently testing your ketones at the same time will help in increasing the accuracy of the results. 

So, if you select a time that is most suitable for testing each day, you are more likely to carry on testing on time. As a result, comparing your test results will be easier.

Nonetheless, since meals and sleep are capable of skewing your test results, testing at certain times may be better than others. In this piece, you will find all you need to know about ketones and the best time to test ketones in the urine. 

Best Time to Test Ketones in Urine

What are Ketones?

In simple terms, ketones are acidic substances produced in the liver due to insufficient insulin at any point in time. 

Everybody has ketones in their body; however, it is more rampant in people suffering from health conditions such as diabetes.

Diabetes prevents or limits the ability of your body to produce enough insulin.

When you don’t have adequate insulin in your body, it makes your body begin to use fat as an alternative energy source. This fat is then converted into ketones by your liver. For more info follow this guide.

Once ketones are produced, they go straight to your bloodstream for fuel by your tissues and muscles.There are different ways by which you can boost ketone levels

What is Ketosis?

Ketosis is the physiological state in which your body starts to depend on fat-sources as its source of fuel as an alternative to carbohydrates. One of the easiest ways to achieve this is by consuming a high-fat, low-carb diet known as a keto diet.

Other ways of entering ketosis are extensive exercise and fasting. Ensure you speak to your doctor before making any changes to your exercise plan or diet. Exercise plan, it's essential to speak to your doctor.

What is Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)

Diabetic ketoacidosis is a medical condition where your body becomes unable to effectively absorb blood glucose into the body’s tissue or muscles for use as a source of energy. It can occur in both those in ketosis and diabetic patients.

If you begin to experience the signs of DKA, you should go to the hospital immediately as it is capable of resulting in coma and death in some cases. Common symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis, according to research, may include excessive thirst, dry mouth, rapid breathing, and fast heartbeat.

Are Ketones Dangerous?

Best Time to Test Ketones in Urine

Ketones classify into two broad groups based on the method of production. Endogenous ketones refer to ketones naturally formed in the body by the liver when it converts fat cells into ketones. On the other hand, Exogenous Ketones refer to ketones that come from synthetic sources outside the body, such as ketone supplements. 

Ketones do not harm most people. Nevertheless, it can be life-threatening for those who have diabetes. We recommend that you see a doctor and talk about your ketone levels as it will help you in better managing and understanding ketones.

Additionally, ensure you always measure your glucose and ketone levels in your blood to stay safe. If you start to experience signs of excess ketones, see a doctor for a proper urinalysis.

Reasons for High Ketone Levels in Urine

To achieve ketosis, you will need to increase your blood ketone levels intentionally. Apart from this reason, there are several other causes of high ketone levels. Some of the cause include:

  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Pregnancy
  • Diabetes
  • Eating disorders
  • Chronic diarrhea or vomiting
  • Strenuous exercise
  • Eating a low-carb diet
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Pneumonia
  • Infection
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Fasting
  • Sepsis
  • High fever
  • Burns

While this list may not be the only cause of ketones in urine, it is always necessary to speak to your doctor for proper diagnosis.

Why You Need to Measure Ketones

The importance of measuring your ketone levels can never be overemphasized. This is because when ketones pass through your arteries, your kidneys filter the blood and gives off ketones in your urine as waste products.

Best Time to Test Ketones in Urine

However, at low concentrations, the kidney reabsorbs most ketones and re-circulates it throughout the body. A blood test is highly recommended for diabetic patients to ensure no extra ketones are remaining in their blood.

The most accurate method of testing for ketones in the urine is through a urinalysis. However, there are other ways of home testing ketones in urine in cases of emergencies.

Symptoms of Ketone Accumulation

When you begin to experience an increased build-up of ketones in your blood, there are several signs you are likely to experience. You should always look out for these symptoms, especially if you have diabetes. Studies have shown that the most common signs and symptoms of accumulation of ketones include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Frequent urination
  • Blood sugar levels more than 240mg/dL
  • Feelings of dehydration or Strong thirst

On the other hand, if these symptoms are left unaddressed, they may worsen, leading to complications due to excess ketone build-up. More so, these complications can lead to the following signs:

  • Stomach pains
  • Confusion
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Fruity smelling breath
  • Flushed skin
  • Vomiting  🤮
  • Difficulty breathing

Once you begin to see any of the signs above, you should see a doctor immediately. The excess build-up of ketones in the body can be dangerous irrespective of your health condition. Also, symptoms in those who have diabetes may be more severe.

How Frequently Should I Test for Ketones?

When you newly start a keto diet, it is necessary to test for ketones regularly, like twice daily. However, the total number of tests you should typically carry out will depend on what you want to achieve.

If you want to find out whether you are in ketosis, you can test for ketones just once a day. But if you are on a keto diet for therapeutic benefits, you will need to check for ketones before any meal to determine your daily limit so far to make adjustments before consuming another meal. This will help you make a healthier food choice for your next meal to maintain your preferred ketosis levels.

It is expected that after some months on the ketogenic diet, you would have known what you need to stay in ketosis hence the need for fewer tests. You can check several weeks or months in the keto diet to see whether your carbs and protein intake have increased.

Additionally, if your test result is positive, it will serve as a form of encouragement and motivation for you to continue going. More so, it is exciting to see your progress before feeling it in your body.

Best Time to Test for Ketones

✅ In the Morning While Fasted

When you test for ketones in the morning before you consume any food helps to prevent what is known as the dawn effect. The dawn effect is an early-morning rise in blood sugar due to a natural increase in cortisol just before you wake.

Studies have shown that glucose is higher in the morning; thus, ketones are usually at their lowest level. A fasted ketone test result will help in providing you with a proper standard for comparing your results over time. However, the exact time to wait before testing after you must have woken up will depend on your body’s metabolic condition or state.

If you are not insulin resistant, you should test for ketones after one hour of waking up to get a good fasted baseline. On the other hand, if you are insulin resistant, you should wait for between two to three hours after waking up before testing for ketones. Insulin resistance causes an increase in glucose levels in the blood, so you will need to allow your body to make the necessary adjustment to the spike in cortisol.

If your ketone levels are one mmol/L or above in your estimated lowest daily levels, it, therefore, means you are already in a comfortable state of ketosis.

✅ Before Lunch or Dinner

For the most accurate ketone readings, it is advisable you test for ketones before eating lunch or dinner. It should be at least two to three hours after you must have taken any drink or food. The consumption of any food, whether keto-friendly or not, will increase your glucose level while your ketone levels decrease. As a result, testing for ketones between meals makes it possible to get more accurate readings.

✅ Testing Before Meals and After Meals to Discover Food Sensitivities

Even though we stated above that it is not recommended to test for ketones after eating, testing before and after meals has its benefits; if you want to find out how your body reacts to certain foods, testing for ketones just before a specific meal and one and three hours after is a suitable way of finding out how your body reacts to different snacks, drinks, and meals.

Each time you are carrying out tests for food sensitivities, ensure that the glucose strips are great at indicating food reactions. Glucose fluctuates faster than ketones. While glucose reaches its peak in one hour after a meal, ketones require a longer time to generate.

Testing Your GKI

GKI, which is an abbreviation for Glucose Ketone Index, gives you a general view of your body’s state of ketosis and metabolic status. We advise that you test for your GKI at least twice daily. Once after waking up, and once before your lunch or dinner. Calculating your GKI is very easy. Take your ketone and glucose readings and then use the formula:

[Glucose Reading in (mg/dl) ÷ 18] ÷ Ketone Reading = Glucose Ketone Index.

How to Select Ketone Testing Strips?

At present, there are several brands of test strips for testing ketones in urine over the counter at supermarkets, drugstores, pharmacies, and many other stores. Ketone urine test strips are also available by prescription.

When it comes to selecting ketone testing strips, we recommend you get a doctor’s prescription or recommendation. Avoid the temptation of buying pre-owned test strips currently sold at discounted prices both online and in a physical store.

Additionally, you can follow the following tips when buying test strips:

  • Ensure you get the right test strips for your meter
  • Check out for expiry dates on the test strips as expired strips will not give accurate results.
  • Avoid buying pre-owned test strips.
  • Ensure you buy only FDA approved strips

How to Use Ketone Testing Strips?

Irrespective of the brand of testing strips you are using, it is imperative to read the manufacturer’s instructions on usage directions. If there are instructions, simply follow them. However, if the strips do not come with instructions we have provided you a generic method of using ketone testing strips below:

Step #1 : Saturating the Test Strip

When it comes to saturating a test strip with urine, there are two main methods. One of the methods is to hold the ketone test strip in your urine stream until it becomes saturated. The other way will be to collect a clean urine sample.

To collect a urine sample, wash your hands and genital area, then wipe the tip of your penis with a disposable cloth if you are a man. But if you are a woman, open your labia and use a disposable material to wipe from front to back.

Now, hold a collection container in your urine stream as you urinate in the toilet until you get about an ounce or two of urine. After you have finished urinating, wash your hands and then dip a ketone test strip into the container containing urine to saturate thoroughly.

Step #2 : Interpreting the Ketone Test Results

When the test strips get saturated, check the strip for color changes. If it changes to any color apart from the original beige, it shows that there may be ketones in your urine. Now, compare the color on the ketone test strip with the chart that comes with the testing kit. It will help to provide you with a range of the total amount of ketones in your urine.

If it shows that you only have a small trace of ketones in your urine, then it may mean that you are beginning to have a build-up of ketones. Hence, you will need to test for ketones after a few hours. While testing, ensure you maintain a log of all your test results so you can compare it or show it to a doctor. Even more, such data can help you in making specific changes to your diet if necessary.

Tips for Improved Test Accuracy

Testing for ketones in the urine is generally not as accurate as testing using blood. The results tend to vary since your urine might not be concentrated all the time. Nevertheless, you can use a few tips to improve the accuracy of your ketone test results. 

Always check for the expiry date of the test kit as expired test kits will give wrong results.

Store the ketone test strips with its lid closed tightly to prevent extended exposure moisture and air.

Test for ketones in your urine in the morning or after dinner. Research shows that these are the most reliable times for testing.

Consult a friend, doctor, or medical professional if you are unable to determine the exact color.

Ketone Testing for Ketogenic Diets

Those who have standard blood glucose are likely that ketones in your urine may be at its highest point in the morning after your night fast. But, several people have reported that their ketone levels tend to rise during the day.

If you wish to track your ketone levels each day, choose a specific time for measuring and comparing your ketone levels.  Several factors may cause variations in ketone levels, which includes consuming fats like MCT oil or coconut oil, and exercise. 

Why Should You Test Ketones in Urine?

Since there are several testing methods for ketones, it is imperative to highlight the benefits of testing ketones in the urine. We have highlighted some benefits below:

It is the Most Affordable Method of Testing

Testing your ketone levels using a urine test is the most affordable method today compared to other methods. A packet of test strips containing up to a hundred ketone urine test strips is often sold for about ten dollars.

With this strip, you can carry as many tests as you want without having to bother about straining your budget. Although it is cheap, it is also reliable in detecting ketone levels.

It is Convenient

When it comes to convenience, this method of testing stands out more than others. The test strips are readily available for purchase, and the test can be carried out anytime and anywhere.

More so, it is also more preferable instead of having to prick your finger in the case of blood testing. It is also less invasive compared to other ketone testing methods available.

It is a Fast and Efficient Method of Tracking your Progress

If you are looking for a way to find out whether you are progressing on your keto diet, then testing your ketone level is one of the most reliable methods. If you can know your ketone levels before or after meals, it will help you in making adjustments to your diet for better results. 

With the ketone urine testing method, it is fast and easy to test your ketone level, which in turn helps you in tracking your progress. It does not require plenty of time for the results to be ready. Also, the result is easy to read; hence you might not need to see a doctor or health professional to interpret the results.

If you have a high ketone level, it means your body is burning a substantial amount of fat.


All in all, it is difficult to choose a specific time as the best time to test ketones in urine, as it will depend on your purpose of testing. However, you can test for ketones in the morning while fasted if you are looking for a baseline measurement for comparing your results.

Even more, testing for ketones before lunch or dinner is also a great time as it will help you in getting more accurate results. You can also test for ketones before and after meals if you want to determine how you react to certain foods.

Ketones FAQs

What time of the day should you test for ketone levels?

You can measure your ketone levels at any time during the day, as ketone levels vary. But, ketone levels are generally higher in the morning and just after dinner.

Also, you should avoid testing ketones immediately after exercising as it tends to affect the accuracy of the test results. 

How long does it require for ketones to show up in urine?

Overall, it takes between two (2) to four (4) days to get into ketosis. Notwithstanding, it might take up to a week or more in others as it generally varies from person to person. It also depends on other factors such as your body’s metabolism, age, current protein, fat and carb intake, and your exercise level

How do you know if you are in ketosis with urine strips?

The way to know if you are in ketosis using ketone strips is to check if the strip changes to a color different from its original beige. If it does, it means that there are ketones in your urine, which indicates that you may be in ketosis.

However, compare the color of the test strip with the chart provided by the manufacturer for a better breakdown of the number of ketones in your body.

Can dehydration cause ketones in urine?

Yes. Dehydration causes urine to be darker and a bit more concentrated hence making it contain more ketones. Other factors that can cause increased ketones in urine may include low blood pressure, disorientation, rapid heartbeat, lack of sweat, inelastic skin, and fever.

Can I reuse ketone test strips?

No, it is advisable to use each test strip just ones. Reusing the test strips will only affect the accuracy of your result hence defeating the whole aim of carrying the test.

Can you smell ketones in urine?

Except you have an excess amount of ketones in your urine, you will not be able to smell ketones in your urine. Having excess ketones in your body can also lead to diabetic ketoacidosis, which is a dangerous health condition. A common sign of diabetic ketoacidosis is that your urine will begin to have a popcorn-like smell.

I have covered most the questions and answers that I can think of
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Promode(Health Coach)

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