Keto Testing and Keto Sticks

Have you been wondering if you are in Ketosis? How do you test to see if you are in it? Do you NEED to test? What colour should the Keto Sticks be? 

These questions are all asked on a daily basis in our group Keto New Zealand and this article will help you answer these and more. 

There are many signs that you might be in ketosis. In the first week or two, people will often get  “Keto Flu”. This is the less enjoyable signs that you are in ketosis and are temporary.  Some of these such as the headache or nausea are due to a loss of electrolytes as you go into ketosis rather than a long-term side effect of ketosis. Have a read of our information about Keto Flu to learn more about how to stop this.  Some of the keto signs that people experience include less hunger, increased energy, increased thirst, weeing more, nausea, metallic taste in mouth, headaches, keto breath, can’t sleep well and fast weight loss in week one (assuming you weren’t low carb before it). This article has more information if you are wanting to learn more: 

Keep in mind too that some of these such as the headache or nausea are due to a loss of electrolytes as you go into ketosis rather than a long-term side effect of ketosis. Have a read of our information about Keto Flu to learn more about how to stop this. 

Firstly, you don’t have to test to see if you are in ketosis by any means. Many people never test to see if they are in ketosis. They just know that by eating under 20g net carbs per day, they will be. However, for those who want more numerical (or colour!) proof, it is possible to test with urine strips, blood testing or breath testing.

Why you may want to test ketone levels

The main reasons you will want to test for ketones include: 


  • If you want to ensure your ketone levels aren’t high at the same time as high blood sugars if you have diabetes (aka Ketoacidosis, something that diabetic get and generally those without diabetes don’t need to worry about).
  • If you are using them as a therapeutic way to treat something such as epilepsy or cancer. In this case, it requires a very strict keto diet, sometimes can be worth looking at BHB supplements and needs to be done under the supervision of your doctor.
  • For additional motivation – Some enjoy seeing that they are in ketosis!

If you want to buy Keto Stix 
If you are getting started with keto, and you want to buy some, the best suggestion would be to get these ones – KetoStix (Or also called DiaStix when they test glucose too).  You probably won’t test much as time goes on, but buy getting these, you will have testing sticks that will stay accurate for around 6 months. I personally sourced and sell these (to help you get ones that work and from a trusted source   ). However, you can get these from most pharmacies too, they just have to order them in and are more expensive. Here’s our link to purchase:

Urine Testing
In NZ two of the main, in pharmacy versions, of the urine strips are:  Vitadiet and Ketostix. They work similarly, but the Ketostix tend to work for longer as they are a medical product. We frequently see Vitadiet and other brands not working within 1-2 months and people getting frustrated with “not being in ketosis anymore”. If you choose to use others, just be aware that after a month or two, they may show as being not in ketosis (or less strong) and this is normal. 

If you are in early ketosis (first few days to weeks), don’t worry what colour it is, other than wanting to have it trace or more. The darker colours usually indicate you are dehydrated later on, but early on you’ll have darker ketones when you start ketosis as your body seems to overproduce them whilst it’s getting towards fat adapted. This is absolutely normal and you don’t need to eat more carbs. If you are dehydrated, drink more. If you aren’t, then just go with it (If you have diabetes, contact your doctor for advice).

IGNORE the advice on the VitaDiet ones telling you to have more carbs – This is for their diet, NOT keto!

You want to be changing to pinky colours over time (and then finally possibly to nothing as your body gets more efficient at making what you need and using it), but it doesn’t mean you are in better ketosis if you are darker. It’s a bit like a pregnancy test, you are in ketosis or you aren’t (when using test strips). We’ve seen people who’ve been eating keto for 2+ years having positive urine ketones. They are used more efficiently, but often people misinterpret their strips going “off” for not producing them anymore or using them all. 

Reading Dia-Stix 

If you have bought Diastix from us on trademe, you might be wondering how to read them! These sticks check for both ketones (yellowy/red/brown pad) and glucose (blue/green pad). If you are eating keto, you want to have the yellowy pink patch turn more pink. The other one shouldn’t change colour much. There is occasionally some seepage from one pad to the other, so tiny colour changes are normal, but if you see significant changes on the glucose strip, try testing it again and if it’s still abnormal, ring healthline for advice – 0800 611 116. 

Pricing: They are about $15 for 50 strips for Vitadiet and around $40 for 15 strips for the Ketostix in pharmacies. There are other options from various retailers, but in our experience, they are similar to the Vita Diet ones. 

You can also buy the strips on Aliexpress or Trademe (NZ eBay) for around $3. These like the VitaDiet ones but expire even quicker. 

Blood Testing

Alternatively, you can get a blood tester. You can see more about the ideal levels for blood testing here: 

The easiest option to source one of these is to get a CareSens Dual. You will need to buy the tester and the strips separately. This is one example of this, but you can find them on Trademe, in your local pharmacy and elsewhere too. They are around $35 for the monitor and $25 for 10 sticks.



Breath Testing
There are two ways you can do this. One is the more expensive way using a ketone monitor like Zest Keto –  Another way is to get a very inexpensive breathalyser. You need to get a cheap one to have it recognise the acetone on your breath (more expensive ones are configured to ignore this).

Here’s somewhere you can learn about the numbers when using these: 


Which One To Use? 
Pee testing tends to say you are in or out of ketosis and takes a few hours to show what happened. It also can still say you are in ketosis the day after eating lots of carbs and will stop showing ketones a day later. It is more accurate early on but loses accuracy over time when your body gets more efficient at using the ketones. Blood testing shows how much you are in ketosis, is more accurate and is more “up to date”.


However, over time, your body can make less (i.e. close to supply/demand) and use them more efficiently, having less available in your blood for the monitor to test. The same thing happens with breath ketones.


Either way, you can test if you want, but you don’t need to. To lose weight, being in ketosis (and eating below your daily needs) is what you need to do, the level of ketosis doesn’t matter as much. They aren’t exactly sure why you get low ketone levels, but here’s some interesting theorising on it! 


Do You Want Ketostix and Live in New Zealand?


As explained above, I’ve managed to get hold of the REAL Keto Stix way cheaper than you can get them in NZ! Whilst I hate promoting things like this, but I also hate to see people struggling believing they aren’t in ketosis, when it’s really their sticks have “died”. 


I way prefer these over the others as they are tested to be accurate, and last for 6 months once opened, unlike the cheaper ones that last for a couple of months (and often go off before that). 


You can purchase them here: