Learning about ketones

Ketones are by-products of fat breakdown in your body. When found in your urine, they indicate that you're not eating enough calories at regular intervals during the day or that your blood glucose is too high.

Small amounts of ketones in your morning urine can result from:

  • not eating enough the previous day
  • missing your bedtime snack
  • not eating all the carbohydrate choices in your meal plan
  • more exercise than usual on the previous day

Large amounts of ketones may be seen if you have:

  • extreme morning sickness
  • vomiting and diarrhea so you can't eat or drink
  • illness or infection

If you become sick, it's even more important for you to regularly check your ketones.

Add a protein to your snack at bedtime. A slice of turkey, a few cheese cubes, a scoop of cottage cheese or a glass of milk may help prevent ketones from forming overnight.

Checking for ketones

You'll check your urine for ketones each day and record the results. When you get up for the day, check your first morning urine.

Ideally, ketone readings should be negative to a trace.

Avoiding ketones

When to call your health care provider

Call if you are sick and:

  • your blood glucose levels are above your ideal level
  • your urine ketones are moderate to large
  • vomiting continues or diarrhea lasts longer than 4 hours
  • you have a fever of 101.5 Fahrenheit or higher

Remember that ketones may be a signal that you need to eat more. The following will help to keep your ketones at a healthy level for you and your baby:

  • Don't skip meals or snacks.
  • Eat three meals and three snacks every day.
  • Eat all the carbohydrate choices in your meal plan.
  • Include protein in each meal or snack.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Gestational Diabetes: When You Have Diabetes During Pregnancy, third edition, ISBN 1-931876-21-6
Reviewed By: Reviewed by Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts
First Published: 11/27/2006
Last Reviewed: 01/20/2014