Ketones are chemicals created by your liver. You naturally produce ketones when there isn’t enough insulin in the body to transform gluose into energy. Since you need another source of energy, your body will start utilizing the fat in your body. Your liver changes the fat into ketones, which are a form of acid. The body then sends the ketones into the bloodstream so your tissues and muscles can use the ketones for fuel. If you’re not diabetic, the ketogenic process doesn’t pose a health issue. However, if you are diabetic, it’s possible for your blood to create excess ketones, which can have negative impacts on your health. In some cases, too many ketones in the body can be life-threatening.
If you have type 1 diabetes, your doctor may recommend a ketone test. In this type of diabetes, your immune system will automatically focus on and eliminate the pancreatic cells that create insulin. Without insulin, your blood sugar will spike too high.
You can also develop too many ketones if you have type 2 diabetes, but this isn’t as common. A ketone test will show you when your ketone level is getting too high so you can get the medical treatment you need before your body starts reacting negatively.
Your physician will likely recommend that you test your ketones when your blood sugar is 250 mg/dl or higher for two consecutive days, or if you’ve recently sustained an injury. A ketone test is also necessary if you’ve been sick, or you want to start an exercise plan and your blood sugar level is higher than 250 mg/dl.
If you’re pregnant, it’s a good idea to have your ketones tested, whether you have gestational diabetes or were diabetic before you became pregnant.
If you’re experiencing diabetic ketoacidosis symptoms such as needing to urinate often, excessive thirst, fatigue, dry mouth, vomiting, nausea, stomach pain, difficulty breathing, or red/dry skin, your doctor will likely order a ketone test to evaluate your levels.
Checking Your Ketones Regularly If You’re Diabetic
If you have diabetes and want to make sure your ketones are at healthy levels at all times, talk to your doctor. Regular testing may be necessary if you’re a type 1 diabetes, but you won’t need to test as often if you’re a type 2 diabetic. If raised blood sugar levels are making you sick, you should check your ketones at least every 6 months. If you’re pregnant and diabetic, test your ketones each morning before eating.
Using Ketones for Weight Loss
The ketogenic diet, also known as the keto diet, is high in fats and very low in carbohydrates.
Following the diet for just a few days will put your body into a state of ketosis. Ketosis occurs when your blood ketones are higher and your body is poised for weight loss.
There are some benefits to the keto diet, but it can be challenging to stay on this eating plan. Some medical experts say that ketone supplements can mimic the process of ketosis in the body and elevate the level of blood ketones in the body without making dietary changes.
When Ketosis Occurs In the Body
If you typically eat a diet that is high in carbs, your body will get energy from glucose. Glucose comes from carbohydrates and includes foods that are high in starch and sugars like pasta, bread, sweets, and even some fruits and vegetables.
When you limit or restrict these foods while on the keto diet, you prompt your body to look for another source of fuel. Your body will start using your fat to create energy, and this produces ketone bodies when the fat is broken down at consistent rates. This puts your body into ketosis. Your body naturally goes into a milder ketosis when you fast periodically or engage in intense exercise.
Ketone supplements are available for increasing ketone levels, since they imitate ketosis. If you find that the keto diet is too restricting or difficult, ketone supplements may be helpful. However, you should speak with your doctor to determine if these supplements are safe for you.