Which ketone meter to buy -blood ketone versus breath ketone meters. What's the best choice ?

Posted by Dr Mike Garside on

Breath Ketone Meters

Breath ketone meter UK

2019 has seen an explosion in the availability of breath ketone meters into the ketosis diet and low carb diet markets in the UK. The ability to monitor ketone levels and fat burn with a simple, quick and painless breath ketone test is very appealing.

Blood Ketone Meters

Home blood ketone meters have been commercially available to buy for self ketone testing in UK for over 10 years. The first ketone meters were expensive to buy, and targeted mainly at brittle diabetics, to prevent the onset of diabetic keto-acidosis, a life threatening complication of ultra high glucose levels. Each ketone test strip was expensive, but the technology is well developed and over time the ketone meter purchase cost reduced, and the cost per ketone test strip dropped.

Currently each ketone test with a blood ketone meter will cost the user between £1.00 and £1.50 and many of the ketone meters are now offered free in bundle purchases of blood ketone test strips. Each blood ketone test strip directly measures beta ketone levels in real time finger prick blood samples. Accuracy levels of +/- 15% are achieved in the ISO certified ketone meter models.

How accurate are breath ketone meters compared to blood ketone meters?

How do breath ketone meters compare to blood ketone meters, and can they really offer a reliable and effective alternative to blood ketone test measurements ?

Breath ketone meters can not measure beta ketone levels. They all measure breath acetone levels. This is a problem for all breath ketone meter models, because while acetone is a good marker for fat burning and ketosis, it's not that specific, and there is also another big problem for this mode of testing. Acetone sensors are prone to picking up all sorts of other environmental pollutants in breath, other volatile ester compounds. (cooking smells, perfumes, fragrances etc) and of course alcohol.

So if you think a breath ketone meter is going to be a nice easy, cheap alternative to doing blood ketone tests think again.  It's never going to give you anything near the accuracy of a blood ketone test.

But if you are dieting to loose a bit of weight and just need to know if you have restricted your carb intake sufficiently to get you body burning fat, do you really need that greater accuracy. If you can keep off the alcohol (which you should be doing to loose weight anyway) do a bit a practice with your blow technique and when and where you do your breath tests

Using a breath ketone meter to help with weight loss on a ketogenic diet

Myself and my wife have been doing The Blood Sugar Diet, by Dr Michael Moseley, for almost 6 months to reduce are weight and our risk of developing type 11 diabetes. Neither of us are currently diabetics, although we both have a strong family history of type two diabetes.

Over this time we have had access to a range of blood ketone meters and breath ketone meters, and we have found our go to ketone test is the £24.99 breath ketone meter. We've replaced the batteries twice, we've used it so much, but its just so easy and quick, and we know its only giving an indicator of what is going on, but we have found it accurate enough, and more importantly, motivating enough to guide us with dietary choices over a long period of carbohydrate reduction and restriction. (we tried it side by side with £179 breath meters and really could not justify the high costs to potential buyers)

So here is our advice on which ketone meter to choose

  • If you want to do ketosis professionally buy a blood meter.
  • If you are diabetic buy a ketone blood meter.
  • If you want motivating to eat low carb and lose weight, buy a medium price breath ketone meter, and don't test in the kitchen of after drinking and you will be just fine. It is accurate enough for keto diets 

See all our ketone meters and ketone test strips


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