What is a Ketosis Test?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A ketosis test is a lab test conducted to check for signs of ketone bodies, also known as ketones, chemical compounds produced by the body when it is burning fat for energy rather than relying on stored sugars. In addition to being done in a lab, a ketosis test can also be performed very rapidly and easily at home. Drugstores and pharmacies often carry ketosis testing supplies and they may also be supplied by a doctor if the physician wants a patient to monitor for ketosis at home.

A urine sample is required for some ketosis tests.
A urine sample is required for some ketosis tests.

Ketosis is most often a diet-induced state. When people do not intake enough carbohydrates or burn carbohydrates at a very rapid rate, their bodies cannot convert the carbohydrates into stored sugars. As a result, the body turns to other sources of energy, including dietary fat and body fat. The process of converting fat into a form usable by the body generates ketones. Eventually, ketones will be excreted into the urine. People in ketosis tend to have strong smelling urine and can have bad breath as well.

A blood ketosis test offers immediate accuracy.
A blood ketosis test offers immediate accuracy.

This state can be dangerous for people with certain medical conditions, but in other cases, it is actually deliberately induced. Some diets for people with seizure conditions use ketosis to control seizures, and it is also a component of some weight loss diets, with the goal of forcing the body to tap into dietary fat for energy, thereby losing weight. A ketosis test may be recommended for someone to identify and avoid ketosis, or for someone to monitor controlled ketosis.

A urine test strip is used in one of the simpler ketosis tests.
A urine test strip is used in one of the simpler ketosis tests.

One of the simplest types of ketosis test involves dipping a test strip in a urine sample or urinating on a test strip. The test strip includes an absorbent pad with a chemical that will react with any ketone bodies present in the urine, changing color. People can check for signs of ketones in the urine and may be able to estimate their concentration on the basis of how much the color changes.

When fatty acids are broken down in the body, ketones are formed.
When fatty acids are broken down in the body, ketones are formed.

A blood test can also be used. One advantage of a blood ketosis test is immediate accuracy, as it can take some time for ketones to show up in the urine once they start appearing in the body. A blood ketosis test will require a small blood sample from the patient and can commonly be done in a simple lab at a doctor's office or pharmacy. Blood samples can also be sent out to a lab if there is no rush on results.

Ketosis tests determine whether the body is burning fat for energy.
Ketosis tests determine whether the body is burning fat for energy.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

donasmrs

I'm a diabetic and I have to use ketone test strips. I used to think that checking my blood sugar regularly was a hassle but now a routine ketosis test is necessary as well. It's fine though because I'd rather be preventative about this rather than calling an ambulance and being rushed to the ER. For diabetics, ketosis can be highly dangerous and has to be treated quickly.

fify

@bear78-- I'm glad you shared this because I think that diet induced ketosis occurs to many people. People read about fad diets from just about anywhere and start following them without even consulting with their doctor. I think that anyone on a restrictive diet should use home urine tests strips for ketones. At least they can keep a track of it that way.

bear78

My cousin was on an extreme diet for weight loss and developed ketosis. Of course, she didn't know what it was or that it had occurred. She had been losing a lot of weight but noticed a change in her scent. She developed a bad odor, breath that smelled like alcohol and very dark, foul smelling urine. She was also dizzy often, probably because of low blood sugar.

She went to the hospital and they ran a blood test to check for ketones. The ketones were extremely high in number and she was given treatment right away. She had to stop her extreme diet and start a healthy diet with enough carbohydrates. She's still losing weight, just more slowly. She doesn't want to go into ketosis again so she doesn't mind that reaching her target weight will take a little bit longer.

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