For control-freaks like me, beginning with LCHF brought an unexpected pleasure. You could buy little strips and dip them in your urine and get a color-coded answer how many keton-bodies were in there. A dark red meant you were doing well, a pale pink meant something in your diet needed tweaking. I went through more packs of keto-sticks in my first LCHF-year than I am comfortable admitting.
But gradually the dark red went away, and I was stuck on the little-or-no-ketons pink. No matter how much I tweaked my way of eating, lived on steak, egg and butter, nothing. Pretty in pink all the way.
In this situation, there are three ways of reacting: worry yourself sick, keep tweaking or simply not give a damn. So, of course, I found a fourth way – research and check the facts.
It so happens that what the ketosticks measure is not whether you’re in ketosis or not. They only measure the amount of keto-bodies in your urine. Which in turn means that if you’re so adapted to running your metabolism on fat, you’ll use up your ketons and nothing spills over into the urine. Which means little or no result from your stick, no matter how many times you bring however many sticks into the bathroom…
Every single person, even inveterate carb-browsers, will be in ketosis during the night. This is how your body keeps your blood sugar level up when you’re between eating food that raises your blood sugar. The trick isn’t to enter ketosis, it is staying there. Ketosis isn’t an absolute science. It depends not just on how many carbs you eat per day, it also depends on how many carbs you eat at any one time. Dr Gregory Ellis suggests that there’s a break-off at 25% carbs of your daily energy intake.
As a rule of thumb: eating less than 100g of carbohydrates spread out through the day will likely keep you in ketosis. Eating less than 20-30g of carbohydrates (which is where I tend to end up in my everyday life) it’ll be difficult not to be in ketosis. If you eat even less carbs than that… Regardless of the color of your keto-stick.
So, if you’re a long-term low-carber you might decide not to fork over more cash to your keto-stick supplier. Use them if you need to change or tweak your diet, if you are getting back after being derailed into the carb swamp. By all means use them if you’re getting a kick out of urinating on a stick. But, really, do you need proof that your body is up and running on optimal fuel?