Urine Color in Ketosis - The 5 Shades & What They Mean

Urine Color in Ketosis
The 5 Different Shades & Their Meaning

Urine Color

People new to ketosis are typically wary with regards to how the process is going to change them and their body. One of the first things they’ll usually notice is that they are urinating more often than before. This occurs because the keto diet works wonders in stabilizing insulin levels. And with insulin levels stabilized the kidneys tend to release rather than retain water. The second thing many people notice is that their urine color in ketosis has changed, along with other characteristics. In some cases it might become clear as water, in other cases, it might become a dark yellow, and in still other cases it might seem oily, or frothy or have a foul odor. So, why does ketosis change urine color? Below we’ll address that question.

1. Clear Urine

Some people become concerned because their pee is no longer yellow. In fact, it has no color at all. It’s clear as water. This is the least worrying of any ketosis symptoms. Urine color is likely to change while on the low-carb diet, and clear pee is one of the most common symptoms. It almost always means you’re just drinking more water than you need to. Try cutting back incrementally until your urine takes on a light-yellow appearance.

urine clear color

Be aware though that peeing more often could cause your electrolyte levels to drop, and that's not a good thing. But if you just cut back a bit, you should be fine.

2. Dark Yellow Urine

dark yellow urine

If, on the other hand, your pee turns a bright or dark yellow it’s likely that you are not drinking enough water. Even if you don’t necessarily feel thirsty, your urine color in ketosis isn't going to lie to you. If it's dark yellow that's all you need to see. Time to drink more water.

 Contrary to a barrage of now-debunked myths coffee and diet drinks do help with hydration but nothing is quite as useful as good old water. Just try not to guzzle down a gallon of water at once. Your system will be overwhelmed, and you'll wind up peeing most of it out. Have a glass now, another one a couple of hours later and so on.

3. Oily Urine

Some folks become alarmed after a couple of days on the low-carb lifestyle when their urine appears to be oily. Rest assured, however, that this is nothing to be concerned about. When your body shifts into a state of true ketosis, insulin levels tend to drop and stabilize. When this happens waste products that were being locked away in your cells by insulin begin to be released. These are then expelled via urine in the form acetoacetate, which is oily by nature. If you notice a bit of an oil slick in the toilet, then take it for what it is: a sign that you have achieved ketosis.

urine sample

Note: If you are concerned about your urine color or are not sure if that’s oil you see in the toilet or something else you can purchase keto urine test strips that will measure the level of ketone bodies in your urine and display a color-based result. All you do is hold the strip in your urine stream until it’s wet and then wait a few seconds while it turns color. Light pink means there are few ketone bodies in your pee, and you are not yet in ketosis. While a dark purple means you are producing lots of ketone bodies and are in a state of ketosis. The longer you are in ketosis; however, the more efficient your body will become at creating the right number of ketone bodies. So if you continue testing the color on the strip may gradually get lighter again.

4. Frothy Urine

man on the bathroom

There is no such thing as "frothy urine." There is, however, such a thing as a frothy toilet bowl water that is mistaken for being frothy urine. Because you are drinking more water on the low-carb lifestyle, and because your body is now releasing pent-up water that was formerly held in your cells when you pee the urine is likely to come out under higher pressure than it did previously. As this high-pressure release hits the water from the bowl, it produces bubbles. Ketosis urine color is what you should be looking at. Not whether you pee has a nice head or not.

Cloudy urine is different than frothy urine, and if your urine is cloudy, it may signify a kidney issue. If the cloudy nature of the pee persists, you should see your doctor. Also, if you experience painful urination, you may have a urinary tract infection, and again, you should see your doctor.

5. Unusual Smelling Urine

Everyone has a pretty good idea what their pee smells like under normal conditions. It smells like pee. Nothing else is quite like it. However, after entering ketosis, you may find that your pee starts to exhibit a fruity smell and the change may concern you. It shouldn't matter though. It typically means that your body is in ketosis and the fruity scent is that of byproducts produced by burning fat instead of carbs for energy. Certain foods can also affect the smell of urine, such as asparagus, as can certain vitamin supplements.

bad smell

However, if your pee is both foul smelling and cloudy, it likely indicates a urinary tract infection or kidney problem, and you should see your doctor without delay.

Our Final Thoughts

While keeping regular tabs on your bodily functions is a smart thing to do there is usually no reason to be concerned when it comes to changes in the color of your urine on the keto diet. It typically means you’re doing A-Okay or is a sign of something like drinking too much or too little water. It is a situation that can be easily remedied. The only time to be concerned about your urine color is if your pee becomes cloudy or cloudy and smelly, or if you experience pain during urination.

But if you're still on the fence about your urine color, you should definitely get some strips to check out if you're in ketosis or not. Luckily for you, we found the best one right here.

About the Author

Ryan is a personal trainer, athlete, health enthusiast, and entrepreneur. He is researching and expanding his knowledge about the ketogenic diet. He spends most of his time writing content about his new learnings of the ketogenic diet.