When the body cannot get enough glucose for energy, it starts to use body fat for this, causing an increase in ketones, and in turn more ketones in urine. When you're on a keto diet, your goal is to reach a certain amount of ketone, as very high amounts mean you're moving away from optimal ketosis. But what if you aren't sure what a healthy amount of ketones in urine should be? Or if you're experiencing symptoms that are related to ketosis, a phase in which the body, unable to find glucose for energy, meets its energy needs from proteins?
In either situation, it’s important to track the ketones levels in your urine to better understand your body. Checking your ketone levels can help you figure out what's happening in your body and keep your body on a healthy path. Here's everything you need to know about ketones and its impact on our bodies.
What are ketones?
In general, your body uses glucose as its primary energy source. However, when cells are deprived of glucose, the body starts to use fat instead of glucose as its source of energy. Burning fat produces ketones, a type of acid that ultimately ends up in your blood and urine.
There are several ways to test if you have ketones in your blood or urine, including through at-home tests. These at-home tests can help you determine whether you have either high or some trace amounts of ketones in your urine.
What are ketones in urine?
Ketones are not normally found in urine. But dehydration, extreme exercise, and infections can all elevate one’s ketone levels. People who are diabetic especially need to be careful about monitoring ketone levels, as high ketones in urine is not undesirable if one is diabetic because it can signal that they are not managing their diabetes and have developed diabetic ketoacidosis.
However, there are other situations in which you might want to have ketones in your urine. More specifically, if you’re following a ketogenic diet, having moderate ketones in your urine is a sign that that you’ve reached ketosis, a state in which your body burns more fat than glucose.
So exactly what do ketones in urine mean?
Ketones in the urine indicate that your body is burning fat for energy instead of glucose, a process which results in the production of ketones. Since the brain can use ketones as a fuel source when glucose is not available, ketones are considered essential to maintaining a healthy body. At the same time, high ketones in urine might suggest that something unusual is happening in your body.
What causes ketones in urine?
The causes of ketones in urine include:
- Poorly managed diabetes and diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)
- Skipping meals, prolonged hunger, or fasting
- Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and/bulimia nervosa
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Long-term exercise
- High-fat, low-carbohydrate diets such as the ketogenic diet.
What constitutes a high level of ketones in urine?
Although ketones are not normally expected to be found in the urine, the type of diet one has can explain the presence of high levels of ketones in urine. Because of the role diet plays in health management, there are different ranges of ketone levels that are expected in individuals on the ketogenic diet compared to those on a non-ketogenic diet.
For example, according to the reference ranges that Vivoo uses:
- If one is not on a ketogenic diet, having 5-150 mg/dL ketones in urine is an indicator of having a high level of ketones in urine.
- If one is on a ketogenic diet, having 50-150 mg/dL ketones in urine is an indicator of having high levels of ketones in urine.
If you’re on a ketogenic diet, a moderate amount of ketones in your urine (5-50 mg/dL) means you're burning fat for energy. However, having a high level of ketones in your urine means you're far from optimal ketosis.
If you're not on a ketogenic diet, there are a couple of possible reasons for having ketones in your urine. For example, you might not be eating enough, skipping meals, and/or exercising too much.
Whatever diet you follow, there are plenty of ways to regulate your urine ketone levels. For example, you can:
- Prepare a meal plan that always includes some carbs
- Drink plenty of water to flush out high ketones in urine
- Exercise at least 150 minutes a week to stay healthy
- Check your blood sugar and insulin levels daily if you have diabetes, and stay one step ahead of any existing insulin therapy plan.
Considering the potential causes of ketones in urine, it is recommended that ketone levels are tested regularly, especially among individuals who follow a ketogenic diet, are fasting, or have diabetes.
What is a normal ketone level in urine?
If you’re not on a ketogenic diet, the absence of ketones in the urine is considered to be normal ketones in urine. This means that the body is functioning optimally and that nothing unusual is taking place.
Are you curious about whether you have ketones in your urine? You can easily check your ketones in urine from the comfort of your home with Vivoo! Vivoo is an at-home urine test that gives you real-time data on your body’s wellness based on 9 wellness parameters, including ketones, vitamin C, magnesium, and so much more! Learn whether you’re in ketosis through this simple at-home test. No need to prick your finger like other tests on the market - just pee on the strip and scan to the Vivoo App!
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