A new $100 keto breathalyzer could finally make the low-carb diet easier to manage
- The keto diet is a low-carb routine that involves eating about 70% to 80% of daily calories from fat, and nearly zero from carb and sugar intake.
- Ideally, this primes the body for a fat-burning state called ketosis, wherein fat is burned as fuel.
- But it can be difficult to know whether you're in the fat-burning metabolic state.
- A new breathalyzer test aims to help people figure out if they're doing the diet right.
For ages, dieters have had essentially one tool for measuring their success: the brutal bathroom scale.
Progress there is measured out in full pounds, and it can take weeks or months to know if a new eating plan is working.
For the increasingly popular low-carb, high-fat keto diet, there's another method: determining if your body is in the desired fat-burning keto state, called ketosis. A new breathalyzer, called the Keyto, could help.
Ketosis is the body's natural starvation mode, when people burn fat stores for fuel. But ketosis can also happen when we eat very few carbohydrates, which act as a quick-burning, sugary energy source. Starved for starchy foods like bread, pasta, and beans, the body reaches for fat to burn instead.
Some keto dieters use acid-measuring urine strips to figure out if they're in fat-burning mode, but the pee tests are inexact, and not always reliable. Other keto dieters pick up pricier diabetic blood testing machines, which are more accurate, but also more painful.
Increasingly, people are discovering that you don't really need blood or urine to figure out if you've achieved a desired keto state. Instead, you can harness the body's natural reaction to going keto: bad breath.
One of the ketones a body produces in a state of ketosis is the chemical acetone. In addition to being a very popular nail polish remover ingredient, acetone is one of the basic byproducts that a body converting fat into fuel excretes in a state of ketosis.
Simply re-jigger an alcohol breathalyzer test, which typically measures for ethanol on the breath, into one that measures for acetone, and you can have instant keto diet feedback.
At least that's what San Francisco cardiologist Ethan Weiss, who's lost 20 pounds on the keto diet, recently told Business Insider. Weiss is behind the new Keyto breathalyzer.
Weiss says the breathalyzer test produced some shocking results for him, and he wasn't even trying to go keto.
"I didn't… try to lose weight or think about losing weight. I was just trying to see if I could get my breath score to go up. And after about a week or so, I'd lost five or eight pounds," Weiss said. "By the end of a month, I was buying new clothes."
The new breath test isn't completely foolproof. It can give false readings after a person drinks alcohol (since most alcohol has a fair amount of sugar in it, keto dieters can't have too much to drink anyway.) Keyto certainly isn't the only keto breathalyzer on the market, either.
Weiss is confident that paired with the company's new app, his breath test will have the edge over competition. In addition to giving breath readings, the app includes meal planning ideas, and a library of about 10,000 foods so dieters can look up whether or not the food they're about to eat is keto-safe.
But most importantly, it gives dieters feedback quickly and painlessly. For example, one morning after Weiss inadvertently ate breaded chicken for dinner, his breathalyzer score plummeted. Weiss quickly knew the chicken wasn't keto-safe.
Devices aren't ready to try just yet, but should be available in early January to those who support the company's crowdfunding campaign, at $99 a pop.
In 2019, the Keyto team plans to start mass marketing the device on the company website at the steeper price point of $150.
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