A Beginner's Guide to Ketones

7 minutes

A Beginner's Guide to Ketones


Glucose is a type of simple carbohydrate and is the main energy source for the human body. However, there are two circumstances under which your body might be forced to burn fat for energy instead. The first is when your cells cannot get the glucose they need. The second is when your body doesn’t have enough insulin (i.e., the hormone that allows your body to use glucose for energy). This fat-burning process is regulated by the liver and releases ketones, which the body uses as an alternative energy source throughout the body, including for muscles and tissues. 

Over time, blood ketone levels will rise. When this happens, it is a sign that the body has successfully achieved ketosis, a metabolic state in which ketones become an important energy source. Nutritional ketosis is generally considered safe but may cause mild side effects like fatigue

That said, overly high levels of ketones can be harmful to the body. This is typically not a concern for healthy individuals, as various hormones prevent blood ketone levels from getting too high.

Related: Vivoo Ketone Box

Why do ketones form?

Ketones are fatty acid metabolites made in your liver. Under normal circumstances, the body only produces small quantities of ketones. Your body only ramps up its production of ketones when outside normal situations, such as if the body is going through starvation or an individual is observing a ketogenic diet. In these situations, things could spiral out of control, resulting in too many ketones building up in the blood and eventually “leaking” into the urine.

energy for ketones

The body's primary source of energy comes from glucose. Essentially, this means that your body needs to have an adequate level of carbohydrates to produce energy. Failing to provide your body with carbohydrates will force it to turn to fats as a source of fuel instead, which in turn increases your liver's production of ketone bodies and raises ketone levels.

What does the presence of ketones in the urine mean?

Ketones in the urine could indicate that the body lacks the sugar it needs for energy production and is forced to burn fat and fatty acids instead. This could result from skipping meals or following a low-carb diet.

For those on the ketogenic diet

Ketosis refers to a metabolic state where blood ketone concentrations rise above normal levels. In this state, the body uses fat as its primary energy source. This typically stems from following a ketogenic diet, also known as a low-carb diet. When the ketogenic diet is observed correctly, it can result in many biological adaptations in the human body, including increased fat distribution. The liver is also known to produce large amounts of ketones that help fuel the brain. At the same time, the body's fat-burning ability is also boosted. The presence of ketones in the blood and urine indicates that ketosis has been achieved. 

diet for ketones

For those not on the ketogenic diet 

Ketonuria (ketones in the urine) is a condition that occurs when fats and proteins are broken down for energy use instead of glucose. Ketones are a resulting product of this breakdown, and the body attempts to remove excess amounts through urine. The body produces only a tiny number of ketones under normal circumstances, thus explaining why ketones are not typically found in the urine.


The causes of the presence of ketones in the urine include: 

  • Skipping meals
  • Not eating enough
  • Not paying attention to nutrition
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Pregnancy
  • Prolonged hunger
  • Eating disorders
  • Fasting
  • Long-term exercises
  • Diuretic medications

Why is it important to track ketones?

If you're on a low-carb diet, like the ketogenic diet, tracking your urinary ketone levels can tell you if your diet is working. On the other hand, if you're not following a low-carb diet, the presence of ketones in your urine could suggest that your body’s energy metabolism is not functioning as usual.

Additional information on the ketogenic diet

The ketogenic diet (or keto diet) is a low-carb diet designed to boost the body's fat-burning abilities. While the ketogenic diet has many benefits for weight loss and performance, it can sometimes lead to weakness and fatigue. Individuals on a ketogenic diet should monitor their urinary ketone levels to tell whether they’ve achieved optimal ketosis by keeping track of the ketone concentrations in their urine over a period of time. For those who are tracking their ketones, it is essential to measure these levels at the same time every day. Ideally, they should also take these measurements before eating anything, such as before breakfast. 

sleepiness for ketones

Optimal achievement and maintenance of ketosis

Optimal ketosis refers to a metabolic state where your body is most efficient at using fat for fuel. Many people following a ketogenic diet experience various side effects while reaching optimal ketosis. These side effects include “keto flu,” occasional dips in energy levels, and plateaus in weight loss. Though these side effects may take place, staying consistent with the diet is ultimately key to achieving the optimum level of ketosis.

Note that ketones won’t be found in the urine once an individual has reached the optimal level of ketosis. Instead of "leaking" ketones, the body will start "leaking" uric acid instead. Still, your uric acid levels will return to normal over time, a sign of keto-adaptation. In other words, it means that your body has adapted to, adjusted to, and accepted the ketogenic diet. 

Preventing High Ketone Levels

It is important to eliminate all factors that increase ketone formation in the body. Making simple lifestyle tweaks like drinking plenty of water, getting an adequate amount of sleep every night, making changes in diet, preventing prolonged hunger, or taking a break from exercise can all help reduce urinary ketone levels and bring them back to normal ranges. 

How often should you measure your urinary ketone levels?

The? keto diet ?is? ?a? ?low-carb,? ?high-fat??, and? ?moderate-protein? ?diet designed to help people ?achieve? ?ketosis, a? ?metabolic state? ?where the body? ?burns? ?fat? ?for? ?fuel.? ?That said, it can be challenging to determine ?whether? ?your? ?diet? ?needs? ?adjusting? ?to reach ?and? ?maintain?ing ?ketosis.? That's where Vivoo comes in. Vivoo's urine test strips offer you a straightforward, low-cost, and fuss-free method of measuring your urinary ketone levels at any time and any place. Plus, Vivoo also provides personalized nutritional and lifestyle advice based on your results to help you achieve and stay in the optimal state of ketosis. Even better, the whole process only takes 90 seconds!


The? ??best? ?times? ?to check your urinary ketone levels are? ?in?? ?the? ?early? ?morning or? ?the? ?late? ?evening? ?after? ?dinner.? Measure your ketone levels frequently during the first two weeks. This helps you tell whether the diet is working (i.e., confirm whether your body is producing excess ketones). 

By the way, you can indicate on the Vivoo App if you're on a ketogenic diet, and we will tweak the recommendations we share with you accordingly. This is particularly helpful if you've just started on the ketogenic diet and/or require advice on your diet. Note that you don't have to be on a ketogenic diet to benefit from Vivoo. Monitoring your urinary ketone levels can provide crucial insights into your wellness for anyone, regardless of what diet you follow. 

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