I was legitimately nervous about the needle. I realize this makes me a big baby, especially since it’s not even a real needle — it’s the teen-tiny pointy tip of a lancet cartridge. But like a four-year old, I asked KetoCoach Founder, Matt Payne, if his companies ketone blood test was gonna hurt.
This is the second time I’ve gone on the ketogenic diet for a story. I did at the start of the year to test out the Keyto, which measured acetone in your breath to see how deep into ketosis your body is. But while exhaling may be easier, Payne told me that KetoCoach’s blood test provided more accurate results.
So back into a diet heavy on avocados I went to see how the two tests stacked up.
The KetoCoach system has three parts: a lancet, the digital meter and test strips. For anyone who monitors their blood glucose, this should all seem familiar. Place the test strip into the meter, prick your finger (after washing it), place a drop of blood on the test strip and wait a few seconds for the results.
The test is looking for ketones in your blood that show up when you are in ketosis. According to the FAQ:
If you are monitoring your blood ketones, you will be measuring beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), the most common ketone the body produces. Since the blood cannot get altered as much as urine can, blood is considered a more accurate, and more consistent measurement of ketosis. However, be aware that blood levels may still fluctuate (although not as greatly as urine).
There are other keto blood testing kits out there, but Payne says the difference with KetoCoach is that its test strips are individually wrapped in foil, which results in a cleaner test.
Before we begin, I should reiterate that I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist, nor do I actively recommend the keto diet. Check with your physician before embarking on dietary changes.
Much to my (big baby) surprise, the actual needle prick was the easiest part of the test. The hardest part early on was getting enough blood out for a test. Payne said to get a matchstick head-sized drop of blood to have enough for the test — but I wasn’t supposed to “milk” or squeeze the lancing site, as I could introduce other substances from my skin and impact the readings. I actually went through about three or four test strips (and lord knows how many pin-pricks on different fingers) before I was able to figure out how best to get out enough blood (one trick, getting a thicker gauge needle).
Once add your blood to the test strip, the device gives you a numerical reading: Lo, .5 – 3.0 is nutritional ketosis, 3.0 – 8.0 is high ketosis. I wound up doing two separate trials as I ran out of test strips early on and it takes about three days to get into ketosis.
Without getting into too many numbers, the KetoCoach worked as promised. By day 3 of being on a keto plan, the test said I was in ketosis. I never got above a 1.0, which could be because while I was pretty strict about adhering to the keto diet, my carb counting may not have been accurate enough.
Since I still had the Keyto, I decided to use that simultaneously with the KetoCoach. Each test was done around the same time every day. While the two devices operate on different scales, they seemed to line up — with the exception of only two instances. In particular, for the last reading I took, Keyto said I was in high ketosis, but KetoCoach said I was just in nutritional ketosis. Again, it’s hard to verify, but I certainly felt keto-y, if that’s a thing, and like I should be in high keto.
Without a full-on scientific lab to verify results, it’s hard to say that KetoCoach is any more or less accurate than the Keyto, though the theory behind it (a cleaner test) seems solid. The KetoCoach is definitely more complicated to use at first, but pretty easy to run after you get used to it.
For those wanting to measure their progress on their keto diet, it may come down to cost. The KetoCoach costs $50 for the starter kit, with additional 50-packs of test strips costing $35. For comparison, the Keyto breathalizer costs $250, but you can keep using it over and over. There is a little more to carry with the KetoCoach, but it comes with a floppy case that’s easy enough to fit in a gym bag or duffel.
It’s hard to give a flat out recommendation for either device without further testing. But the KetoCoach did seem to do as promised, and after getting over my fear of needles, was easy to do on a daily basis.