How to Test Your Urine for Ketones

Instructions and Tips for Home Urine Ketone Testing

urine ketone test
Using a urine test to detect ketosis. Ian Hooton/SPL/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

Are you on a diet where part of the goal is to be in ketosis? Some diets recommend testing to find out whether your body is generating ketones, and the easiest and least expensive way to test for ketones is in the urine. Although it is not the most accurate way, it can be helpful to test, especially when new to a ketogenic diet. The Atkins Diet famously promotes urine testing of ketones, and testing can be a useful way to tell if you are eating something that is higher in carbohydrate than you realized.

Since different people will be in nutritional ketosis with different amounts of carbohydrate (and sometimes protein), it can provide information to help you individualize your diet, as well as providing motivation to stay in ketosis.

Note: If you are a diabetic testing for ketone levels to check for ketoacidosis, you will interpret the reading much differently than someone on a ketogenic diet who desires higher levels of ketones. The American Diabetes Association has good information to help you, summarized here.

Another Note: A reduced-carb diet does not have to be ketogenic to be helpful.  Many studies of non-ketogenic low-carb diets have been found to have many benefits.

What You Need: Ketone urine testing strips (there are many brands, such as Ketostix and Chemstrip)

Here's How:

  1. You can either pass the test end of the strip through your urine as you urinate (be sure to get it entirely wet), or collect urine in a clean dry container and dip the test strip in.
  1. Shake off excess drops of urine.
  2. Wait for 15 seconds or whatever time is stated on the brand of test strips you have.
  3. Compare the color on your strip to the color array on the side of the bottle.

Any color other than the original beige means there are some ketones in your urine, and the farther towards deep purple, the more ketones.

This does not necessarily mean that the darker the better. Some people find that a low-to-mid level of ketosis is the "sweet spot" for weight loss and feeling good.


Urine ketone testing is notoriously unreliable, in that the level of ketones in the urine doesn't necessarily reflect the level in the blood. How diluted your urine is makes a huge difference, for example. Also, as time goes on, people on ketogenic diets tend to have lower levels of ketones in their urine. (The thinking is that we get better at recycling them over time, and don't excrete excess acetone as much.) Blood tests of ketones are much more reliable (but the test strips are very expensive).

More recently, some people on ketogenic diets have been using breath analyzers.  The only one I am aware of that is made for consumers is called Ketonix, which you can find with a web search engine.


1. Check the expiration date!

2. Be sure to store your test strips with the lid tightly closed. Any moisture or long exposure to air will cause the strips to not work correctly.

3. If you are dehydrated, the urine ketone concentration will obviously higher ("false positive"). This often happens in the morning to at least a mild degree.

Likewise, if you are drinking a lot of fluids, the ketone concentration will be lower ("false negative").

4. If you are finding yourself frustrated with urine testing because of inconsistencies, consider either not testing or trying the method of finding the ketone levels in your blood instead.  (How to Do Blood Ketone Testing)

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