The new Virta Glucose and Ketone Meter is more sensitive than many older model meters. While this leads to increased accuracy, it also means you need to follow all testing procedures precisely each time you test due to the increased sensitivity of the meter. We recommend you get started by watching this quick demonstration and reading through the steps below. You can also find more in-depth instructions here.
This article will cover:
- How to test
- Using your glucose strips
- Using your ketone strips
- When to test
How to Test
- Preparation. Be sure to set up your meter (see details here) prior to testing and have all the materials you need for testing in front of you. This includes the Virta Glucose and Ketone Meter, Virta blood glucose test strips, Virta blood ketone test strips, the Virta lancing device, lancets and alcohol swabs.
- Getting started.
- Wash and dry your hands well before testing or use an alcohol swab to sanitize the testing area. Do not use scented soap as the chemicals in the soap can skew your results. Make sure there are no contaminants at the test site as the Virta Glucose and Ketone Meter is very sensitive to microscopic debris.
- Remove the test strips from the container. Once you open the container, the test strips will last for 6 months. We suggest you write the first open date on the side of the container as a reminder. Using expired test strips will cause inaccurate results.
- Firmly insert the test strip into the meter strip port and make sure it is secured. The meter is ready to test when the symbol of a blood droplet is flashing.
- Best practice for drawing blood. The best method for getting enough blood flow is to squeeze your finger at the base with the opposing thumb and pointer, encircling tight and massaging toward the tip before you even prick the finger. (The ring and pinky fingers are typically better bleeders than the others.) When the tip of the finger is red, quickly release the circle grip, prick the side of the finger, and immediately go back to the circle grip at the base of the finger squeezing up toward the stick hole. This should produce a nice blood droplet. Quickly wipe away the first droplet and encircle the base of the finger and squeeze toward the side of your finger again to get the second droplet, which you will use to test with.
- Step-by-step testing.
- Press the lancet device firmly against a clean, dry area on the side of a fingertip. Press the release button to activate the lancet and get a blood droplet about half the size of a matchstick head. Wipe away the first droplet and use the second droplet to ensure no interstitial fluid is mixed with your blood, which can skew results.
- With the meter turned off, insert the strip into your meter.
- Bring the tip of the strip up to the edge of the blood droplet on your finger; on contact, it will draw in the blood via capillary action.
- Hold the tip of the test strip in the blood droplet until the meter beeps and starts counting down. Glucose will count down from 5 seconds and you’ll get a reading. Please do not touch the test strip during the countdown as this may result in an error.
- Immediately discard the glucose strip using the easy eject button on the back of the meter.
- Insert the ketone strip into the meter and wait until you see the flashing blood droplet, letting you know the meter is ready, then bring the tip of the strip to your blood droplet. Hold it there until the meter beeps. The meter will start counting down from 9 seconds, and then your results will be displayed.
- Discard the ketone strip using the eject button on the back of the meter.
- You have 3 minutes to get your readings before the meter will shut off. The test result will automatically be stored in the meter’s memory.
- Alternate sites that can be used for blood draw. The most common and best place to draw blood from is from the side of your finger. However, there are alternate sites that will work to measure your blood glucose and ketone levels with the meter. These sites include the side of your hand, the heel of your palm and even the top of your knee. Note: glucose arrives faster in the fingertips than from other sites. When blood glucose is falling rapidly or rising rapidly it is likely to be less accurate from alternate sites and best to use your finger.
When to Test
- Test in the Morning While Fasted. Testing before you ingest anything but after you’ve been awake awhile helps you avoid the “dawn effect” (an early-morning increase in blood sugar/glucose caused by a natural rise in cortisol before you wake). In the morning, glucose will generally be higher and ketones are generally at their lowest.
- A fasted test result will give you a good baseline to compare over time. But just how long to wait after you’ve risen may depend on your metabolic state or condition. For someone without insulin resistance, testing an hour after waking will generally provide a good fasted baseline. But for someone who is insulin resistant, which causes elevated levels of glucose in the blood, it may be better to wait 2-3 hours for your fasted baseline, giving your body more time to adjust to the cortisol spike. The best way to determine the ideal time for you is by testing your glucose consecutive days at the same intervals after waking: 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours. This will help you understand how long it takes for your glucose to level out.
- Test Before Lunch or Dinner. For the most insightful ketone readings, test right before lunch or dinner, at least 2-3 hours after you’ve eaten any other food or drink (other than water). It’s important wait 2-3 hours after eating because consumption of almost any food, keto-friendly or otherwise, will cause your glucose to go up and your ketone levels to fall a bit. Thus, testing well between meals ensures you get a truer reading of your progress.
- Testing Before and After Meals to Determine Food Sensitivities. Testing right before a meal or particular food and then 60 minutes and 3 hours afterward is a great way to find out how your body responds to various foods, snacks, and drinks you have consumed. Advanced users may want to add additional tests at 30 minutes and 2 hours. When testing for food sensitivities, please note that glucose strips are a better indication of food reactions because glucose fluctuates faster than ketones. For example, glucose reaches its peak one hour after eating, while ketones take much longer to generate.
Strip Storage & Temperature Ranges
- Test strips should be stored between 36-86°F and between 10-90% humidity. Avoid heat and direct sunlight.
- Test strips should be used at temperatures between 45.5-113°F and between 10-90% humidity.
- Storing or using the strips outside of these temperature ranges for periods of more than 24 hours can cause damage to the strips and therefore may result in inaccurate testing results. If you are unsure if your strips are working properly, you can perform a control solution test. The instructions are outlined here: How and When to Use Control Solution.