Sometimes you can tell your body is in ketosis because you have more energy, improved focus and mental clarity, and you’re less hungry between meals. But these signs are often subtle and do nothing to tell you about your actual blood ketone levels. That’s where ketone meters come in. Blood ketone meters, in particular, can give you the most accurate measurement of your ketone levels at that exact moment, so you know for sure if you are in ketosis or now. In this article, we will discuss the most important things to look for when shopping for a blood ketone meter and review 3 of the most popular options on the market today.
Why Buy a Blood Ketone Meter?
Most Accurate Way to Monitor Ketone Levels
There are three main ways you can test your ketone levels at home; using urine strips, breath meters, and blood meters. Urine strips are usually very affordable, but they aren’t always reliable, especially once your body is already in ketosis. Breath meters aren’t very reliable either, with very little research actually being done on them. They also take a while to use and can be difficult to get the hang of.
Blood meters are the most expensive option, but they give you the most reliable readings every time and they let you know definitively whether or not you are in ketosis. All of these methods of monitoring ketone levels are much more reliable than just counting carbs, but the benefits of blood meters easily outweigh the urine strips and breath meters. As long as you choose a blood meter with a good reputation, it is also worth the added cost.
Optimizes Ketogenic Lifestyle
Many people use ketone meters not just to tell when they are in ketosis, but also what precise ketone level is best for them. Your ideal ketone level may be different than someone else’s, based on what your overall goals are and how your body functions. But there is an optimum level for everyone, the point at which you are getting the most out of your diet and exercise, and blood ketone meters make it easier to find your ideal levels.
Many people who consistently monitor their blood ketone levels find that it actually improves their accountability and helps them stick to the ketogenic lifestyle. Having those consistent check ins can drive you to maintain a proper diet and exercise routine. Making goals, such as maintaining a minimum ketone level, and striving to meet them is another way to help improve accountability. Some meters even have alarms that you can set to remind you to test your levels, improving accountability even further.
Factors to Consider When Shopping
Do You Mind Having Your Finger Pricked?
Some people are very sensitive to pain and don’t even like their finger being pricked. If this is the case for you, you may want to think about if you could really consistently use a blood meter. A lot of models today are designed to only need a very small amount of blood, so the prick is very small, still, pricking at all is a deal breaker for some people. I suggest keeping an open mind, even if you don’t like having your finger pricked, and giving it a try anyway. Because the anticipation is the worst part, most people find it easier to handle the second or third time around. It doesn’t take long to adjust to, so if you are serious about monitoring and tracking your ketone levels, I recommend adjusting to the finger pricking.
Blood ketone meters are faster than urine strips or breath meters, which usually take several seconds to get results, but test times from blood meter to blood meter still vary. Generally, the faster the test time, the better, since it means less waiting. However, a fast test time is not the most important feature in a blood ketone meter, it’s just a matter of convenience.
As I mentioned earlier, blood ketone meters are the most expensive method of testing and monitoring your ketones, with some kits being over $100. All of the meters we have recommended below are under that threshold, so they are affordable on most budgets. You’ll also need to consider the cost of test strips, which you will need to buy regularly. Unfortunately, they are also the most expensive part, costing a few bucks per strip, so you have to think about the long-term costs.
The Top 3 Blood Ketone Meters
A blood ketone meter is must for anyone partaking in the ketogenic diet, but it is also a precise and often costly purchase. Not only do you have to consider the purchase of the ketone meter, but also the test strips and other ancillary costs. After testing all the top brands we’ve narrowed it down to our top 3 below based on cost (meter + test strips), accuracy, and ease of use.
1) NovaMax Blood Ketone Meter & Monitoring System
What’s Included: NovaMax Plus blood monitor, 10 ketone testing strips, sureflex lancing device and lancets, 10 alcohol wipes, carrying case, and user manual
Easy to Use – A lot of blood meters have to be calibrated before you can use them, but not this one. The NovaMax Plus blood monitor is ready to use as soon as you take it out of the box. Once you have it out, there are only a few steps to take in order to draw and test your blood. First, install a lancet on the lancer, put a test strip in the monitor, prep your finger tip by wiping it down with an alcohol wipe, obtain the blood drop using the lancer, and apply it to the test strip. Then, just wait 10 seconds and your results will be ready to read.
Reliable – Urine strips are known for being notoriously unreliable, and if a blood monitor is of poor quality, it can be unreliable too. Thankfully, this blood meter gives accurate and reliable results every time. This is hard to test for yourself, but you can trust that its true since this blood meter is used in hospitals all over the world, where they have to have reliable equipment.
Measures Glucose and Ketone Levels – Although this meter only comes with ketone test strips, it also measures glucose levels. This is extremely helpful because you can get either reading, depending on what you need, without having to do any conversions yourself. If a blood meter measures only glucose or only ketones, it is still possible to get the other measurement, you just have to do some long math in order to do so, which leaves lots of room for error. This is great for people who need to monitor both glucose and ketone levels, for example, if you are diabetic.
3 year warranty – Buying this kit is virtually risk free since it also comes with a fantastic three year warranty. The warranty will cover the cost of replacing the meter if it doesn’t work. It doesn’t matter why it doesn’t work, whether you did something to mess it up or it was caused by a defect in manufacturing, the warranty will replace it. A lot of meters won’t come with a warranty, so it’s nice to have that extra level of security and confidence that this meter is of high quality and reliable.
On top of the three year warranty, there is also a 30 day money back guarantee. So if you get your kit and are not pleased with it, as long as you contact customer support within 30 days, they will replace it or give you a full refund. Another benefit of this blood meter kit is that it is very affordable. Blood meters can get pretty expensive, and you’ll have to keep replacing strips and lancets over time, so having to invest only a small amount to begin with is always appreciated.
Lots of people love the translucent blue design of this meter and lancet, but some people don’t care for it. Unfortunately, this is the only design that this meter comes in, so if you don’t like it you’ll either have to find another meter to purchase or just put up with a design you don’t like. This doesn’t take away from the functionality of the meter whatsoever, so I wouldn’t really even count it as a downside.
2) BaceLabs Precision Xtra Blood Glucose and Ketone Monitoring Meter Kit Bundle
What’s Included: Precision Xtra blood meter, 30 lancets, 10 ketone test strips, lancing device, carrying case, user manual
Large Display – This blood meter from BraceLabs features a large, backlit display that is very easy to read. This is helpful because you’ll never have to struggle to read your results and can even read them in the dark. The large digital display tells you everything you need to know, including the date, time, and your glucose or ketone levels.
Fast – The Precision Xtra Blood Glucose and Ketone monitoring meter analyzes your blood and gives you results in a matter of seconds. This makes it very convenient, you won’t be wasting several minutes of your time testing blood. Usually measuring ketones takes a few seconds longer than measuring glucose levels, but it’s still a very fast process. This also makes it easy to do if you are in a hurry, like rushing out the door for work, or during the last 2 minutes of your lunch break.
Memory Storage – What makes this meter so awesome is its ability to store data on up to 450 previous tests, so you can easily retrieve past tests to look at. You can see what day and time you took the past 450 tests and what the results were. This meter also automatically measures averages for the past 7 days, 14 days, and 30 days, so you can look at your unique short term trends and track your progress.
Tracking your results and progress is important to do and makes it easier to set goals that are appropriate for you. Without a large storage capacity like this one, you would be left to remember or write down your results and average them on your own, which can feel like a tedious waste of time.
Portable – Lastly, not only is this meter compact, but it also comes with its own carrying case, so it’s super easy to take with you wherever you go. The carrying case holds all the accessories as well, the lancer, lancets, and test strips, so you can keep them all together to avoid losing anything. The carrying case easily slips into any purse, suitcase, or desk, so you can have it whenever you need it. Without the carrying case, it would be a lot harder to transport everything at once, so it’s definitely a key feature.
This blood meter only requires a very small amount of blood, so you shouldn’t have to prick your finger more than once, and the pain is kept to a minimum. The test strip sort of “draws” the blood onto itself, so it’s very easy to load the sample properly. It’s also very easy to tell whether or not you have placed the blood correctly because you can see the tip of the strip become filled with blood. Once you see the tip is filed, there is no need to squeeze or apply more blood.
It’s really nice that this kit comes with 30 lancets, but you probably noticed that it doesn’t come with nearly as many test strips. This means you will have to purchase replacement test strips before you have to purchase more lancets, which is slightly inconvenient, but hardly a drawback since this meter comes with 3 times as many lancets as the other two.
This kit is also the most expensive one on our list, but that is expected since there are 30 lancets included. The price of this kit reflects the quality of the product, so you don’t have to worry about investing your money into something that doesn’t work.
3) Keto Mojo Blood Ketone and Glucose Testing Meter Kit
What’s Included: Keto Mojo testing meter, lancing device, 10 lancets, 10 blod ketone testing strips, one carrying case, 2 AAA batteries, 3 manuals
Easy to Read Results – The Keto Mojo blood meter features a large backlit display that tells you everything you need to know. Whether you are testing glucose or ketones, you can do so easily and in pretty much any location. In addition to displaying your glucose or ketone results, the screen also displays your hematocrit and hemoglobin measurements, both of which can be very useful. Hematocrit is the percentage of red blood cells in your blood and your hemoglobin tells you how oxygenated your blood is. You can read more about these measurements and what they mean in the user manual.
Fast and Accurate – This meter takes just a few seconds to give you accurate results that you can trust. This makes it perfect for active people who are on the go and don’t have time to second guess their results. This blood meter from Keto Mojo actually exceeds the FDAs standards and international standards for generating accurate results. This is arguably the most important feature of any blood meter, since if the accuracy is off, it can throw off your whole lifestyle and diet.
Memory Storage – This blood meter can store data on a whopping 1,000 tests. This allows you to track and analyze your long term and short term trends. You can see exactly what you tested at on what day and at what time. Looking at these results can help you pinpoint goals that are good for you, and it can even average your results for different intervals of time. This meter calculates your 7 day, 14 day, 21 day, 28 day, 60 day, and 90 day averages, which lets you track your progress more accurately.
Daily Alarms – The hardest part of monitoring your ketone levels is actually remembering to measure them. Your ketone levels will fluctuate throughout the day, so the best way to get an accurate idea of your ketone levels is to measure them multiple times a day. It’s also best to stay consistent on your timing and take your measurements at around the same time every day. This can be difficult to remember on your own, so the four daily alarms in this blood meter are extremely helpful. They make it so you’re much less likely to miss a test and takes the burden of remembering off of you.
A really nice feature of this meter is that it only has one button. Most meters only have a few buttons to begin with, but the fewer buttons, the easier it is to use. You can do everything you need to do with this meter with just the press of a button. This blood meter is also very compact and easy to travel with, weighing just a few ounces. Additionally, Keto Mojo provides you with quality assistance for whatever you may need help with. They provide you with tons of informative guides and trouble shooting videos, so it’s easy to fix any problems you run into.
It’s fantastic that this meter can take both glucose and ketone measurements, doing the job of two machines in one. Unfortunately, the kit only comes with ketone strips, so if you want to measure your glucose levels, you’ll have to purchase glucose test strips separately. This isn’t a huge deal, but they can run on the expensive side. Still, it’s necessary for the meter to measure glucose, which it does just as fast and accurately as it measures ketones, so it’s not a huge downside.
Choosing the Best Blood Ketone Meter For Your Needs
As with any product, it’s always best to start by researching. Since you’re here, you probably already know this, but researching beforehand can save you lots of time in the long run. You have all the information in the world at your fingertips with the internet, so take advantage of that and compare various products. Look at each one’s features and read reviews so that you can make an informed decision and choose the best meter to suit your needs.
When shopping, it’s important to not only look at the meter, but what else it comes with. Does it come with a carrying case? Are there test strips included? How many? All of these things are important to look at because if they don’t come with the meter, you’ll probably end up buying them separately later. Buying a kit with everything you need is just easier and saves you time and money.
Once you have decided on a blood meter, I recommend comparing prices at different stores and on different websites. Since keto is all the buzz right now, many keto related products, like blood meters, go on sale all the time. See if you can find your chosen meter on sale anywhere, and if not, wait a week or two and check again. This can be a great little trick if you are on a budget or just looking to save money.
So Who’s the Winner?
Our top choice for the best blood ketone meter is the NovaMax. It comes with everything you need to get started and is super easy to use. If you have used a blood meter before, the process is pretty intuitive, but if you have never used a blood meter, don’t fret, the included manual explains everything very clearly. This kit is great for anyone, whether you are a homebody or a busybody, you can take it with you wherever you go so you will always have it when you need it. The 3 year warranty that comes with this meter is unmatched and better than any other warranty I’ve been able to find. However, what puts this kit over the top is value. This is a great starter kit since it isn’t too large of an investment and can be afforded on most budgets. The strips are also much more cost effective than competitors so you’ll continue to save more and more money over time. But no matter which kit you choose from our list, you’ll be in good hands.