Following the ketogenic diet is a great lifestyle to follow if you are someone who is looking to not only lose weight, but also balance your hormones, boost mental cognition, and treat diseases such as epilepsy and diabetes.
In theory, following the ketogenic diet may seem very simple, considering the fact that you’re just going to cut out a large portion of your carbs and increase your fat intake. However, it’s not as simple as that. You’re going to have to wait a period of time for your body to transition from burning glucose (sugar) for fuel to burning ketones for energy, which can take a number of days for your body to make the full transition.
The Benefits of Ketosis
When your body switches over to burning ketones for fuel, there are a great number of benefits that you will experience as you enter into the ketosis, including:
- Higher energy levels
- Weight loss
- Reduced risk of diseases
- Blood testing
- Urine testing
- Breath testing
- Olive oil
- Fatty fish
- Whole eggs
- Coconut oil
- MCT oil
- MCT powder
- Avocado oil
- Coconut butter
- Macadamia nut oil
Since you’re not consuming carbohydrates, your blood sugar levels aren’t going to spike, which means that you will have higher levels of energy for a longer period of time.
Once your body is in the full state of ketosis, you will notice that you won’t be as hungry as you once were and that you won’t have as many food cravings. In the point of long-term success, following along a low carb diet plan is much easier once you fully get into a ketosis.
Studies have claimed that following along with the ketogenic diet lowers your risk of diseases such as Type II diabetes and heart disease.
How long does it typically take to get into ketosis?
Getting your body into the fat-burning cycle doesn’t happen overnight or even within a 24-hour time frame. For your entire life, you’ve fed your body so that it has to burn off sugar to provide you with energy. In order for your body to truly get into ketosis, you’re going to need to give your body time to adapt to burning ketones for energy.
But, how long is it going to take you to get into the state of ketosis? For some people, it can only take a matter of 48 to 72 hours for their bodies to start burning ketones, while other people can take all the way up to an entire week. The reason for the variation in timing is caused by several factors, such as body type, lifestyle, carbohydrate intake, and activity level. If you’re looking to quickly get your body into ketosis, there are several routes that you can take to help speed up the process: dramatically cutting back on your carbs, participating in intermittent fasting, and trying supplements.
You should keep in mind that once you get into ketosis, you’re going to have to keep eating a low-carb diet to have your body stay in ketosis. If you happen to have a ‘cheat’ meal that’s high in carbs or you have a heavy carb day to get ready for an athletic event, your body is going to start running off of glucose again. In order to get your body back into a ketogenic state, you will have the follow the same practices that you did to get into ketosis the first time.
How do you know if you’re in ketosis?
If you’re looking to get your body into ketosis as fast as you possibly can, testing your ketone levels can help you have a better understanding of where your body is at in the process of transitioning into using ketones to for energy. Testing your ketone levels can help you understand what foods you’re consuming kick you out of ketosis. There are three different ways that you can test your ketone levels:
This is the most accurate way that you can test your ketone levels, but the initial cost of getting blood testing strips and ketone meter can be pricey. By pricking your finger, you can get a measurement of the level of BHB ketones that are in your blood.
This is the most affordable option, but it isn’t the most accurate way to test your ketones. The way urine testing works are by measuring the unused, unburned ketones that are leaving your body through urination.
Testing your breath is a more accurate test in comparison to testing your urine and it only measures the amount of acetone in your body, which is another type of ketone. In order to see how deeply your body is into ketosis, you should be trying to measure the amount of BHB you have.
Add more healthy fats
Making sure that you’re eating plenty of healthy fats can help to boost your ketone levels, providing you with an easier time getting your body into ketosis. Following the ketogenic diet doesn’t only mean eating a drastically low-carb diet, but also means that you should be eating high-fat content. However, eating an extremely high fat intake won’t provide you with higher levels of ketones. But, consuming the majority of your calories from fat will help to boost your ketone levels; make sure that when you’re consuming your fats, that you’re choosing healthy fats from plants and animals. Here are some healthy fats:
Keep an eye on your protein intake
Even though you’re supposed to eat high-fat on the keto diet, that doesn’t mean that you should cut out a lot of your protein. Consuming enough protein while the following keto will help your body to preserve your lean muscle mass and maintain normal body functions. Be careful though, because too much protein can cause your body to go out of ketosis.
A common mistake that a lot of keto beginners do is a mistake this diet for another high-protein, low carb diet. But this is incorrect- the keto diet is a very low carb, moderate protein, high-fat diet. The daily consumption of your protein should only be between 18% to 25% of your daily calorie intake. To help avoid eating too much protein, eat protein sources that are also high-fat, like bacon.
Reasons your body isn’t in ketosis
If all of the above tips are tricks that you’ve already tried and you still haven’t been able to reach a state of ketosis, there may be an underlying reason why you’re having problems. Make sure that you take a real hard look at your daily habits and your diet to see what the reason you’re having problems entering ketosis is.
Cut back on your carb intake
Your body has been trained to use glucose as its main source of energy, so when you decrease your carb intake, your body is going to start using fat as another source of energy. By drastically reducing your carb intake for a consistent period of time, you will be able to get your body into a state of ketosis faster. Keep your carb intake low by consuming low carb fruits (such as berries) and vegetables.
Generally, the carb limit for most people following the keto diet is around 30 grams a day, but if you’re extremely active, your daily intake can be closer to around 100 grams a day. If you’ve never followed a low carb diet, you may want to gently ease into a low carb diet and then ease into ketosis. However, if you’re looking to get into ketosis quickly, drastically cutting back on your carb intake will absolutely necessary for you to enter into ketosis. Finding a carb tracker while you’re first starting off on the keto diet can help you keep track of how many carbs you’re actually eating and if the foods that you’re eating have any hidden carbs you didn’t know about.
Exercise more often
If you’re looking to get your body into the state of ketosis faster, increasing the intensity of your exercise can help your body to burn through stores of glucose. When your glucose stores are low and aren’t being replaced by carbs, your body is going to start burning your fat stores for energy. Eating carbs after you’ve finished exercising will replace your glucose stores, meaning that you’re going to have to wait a longer period of time to get into the state of ketosis.
If you cut back on your carb intake, your glucose stores are going to stay low, which means that your liver is going to increase its production of ketones, which is what your body uses as a fuel source when it doesn’t have glucose to feed off of.
Try intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting is often paired with a keto diet, as it can help you get into ketosis faster, helps increase weight loss, and can help increase fat loss. Following intermittent fasting will leave you fasting for a 16-hour period and allows you to eat for eight hours. Most people find fasting until lunchtime the easiest option for their lifestyle, but you could also fast through dinner and eat breakfast the following morning.
Try a fat fast
Following a fat fast for a few days is a way to help your body get into ketosis quickly. Similar to intermittent fasting, fast fasting will mimic the effects of following fasting, but should only be followed for no longer than a week.
In order to follow a fat fast, you will want to consume around 1,000 calories a day. 85% to 90% of those calories should be coming from fat; consuming this low calorie and high fat intake may help you to get into ketosis faster vs trying to get into ketosis just by cutting back on your carb intake. However, since this fast is so low in both protein and calories, you should not follow this fast for more than five days in order to prevent loss of muscle mass.
Pay attention to your appetite
When you’re following the keto diet, you will notice that your appetite is decreased. Make it a point to eat only when you are hungry and to cut back on your portions to fit better with your hunger levels. If you find that you’re excessively hungry, try drinking a glass of water before you eat a snack to see if the cause of your hunger is due to dehydration. Understanding the different signals that your body shows you when you’re hungry versus when you’re dehydrated will help you have an easier time getting into ketosis.
Not enough fat in your diet
Following along with a ketogenic diet means that you’re going to have a high-fat intake. A common problem that keto beginners find themselves getting into is not eating enough fat. To get your body into a state of ketosis you should be consuming 80% of your daily calories from fat; as an example, if you eat 2,000 calories a day, 1,600 of those calories should be coming from fat. This doesn’t mean that you should start eating fatty foods- the quality of the fats that you’re eating also matter in your weight loss journey.
You aren’t eating enough
Fat is very satiating, which means that it acts like an appetite suppressant. When you’re first starting with the ketogenic diet, you may find that you’re not eating enough calories; if your body isn’t getting enough calories, your body is going to get into starvation mode. Once your body enters starvation mode, your body is going to focus on retaining fat rather than burning it.
When you’re first starting out on the keto diet, make sure that you’re keeping count of your caloric intake to make sure that you’re eating enough. This may not make a whole lot of sense, especially if you’re following the keto diet to lose weight, but it’s a common problem for those following the keto diet to not be eating enough to keep their bodies out of starvation mode.
You aren’t drinking enough water
It’s extremely common for people to feel hungry when they are dehydrated, which can cause you to eat more than your body actually needs. A lot of people will experience cleanse of water weight when they switch over to the keto diet, which will also cause dehydration. By drinking water often, you will notice a decrease in your cravings and your hunger levels.
Test your ketone levels
Getting your body into ketosis isn’t easy, especially since a lot of modern-day foods have extra sugar added into them. Achieving and maintaining ketosis is a unique journey for everyone, so what may work for you may not work for your friend if you’re both trying to get into ketosis. By testing your ketone levels on a regular basis, you will get a better understanding of what foods work for your body and what foods don’t work for your body in ketosis.
Get more sleep
Getting at least seven hours of sleep every night will allow your body to properly regulate your hormone function and repair your body. Depriving yourself of sleep will strain your adrenal system, which can cause your body to struggle with blood sugar regulation. If you struggle getting enough sleep every night, try shutting off all of your electronic devices before going to sleep.
Take exogenous ketones
Exogenous ketones are supplements that you can take that can help your body get into ketosis faster; the most powerful exogenous ketones that you can take are the exogenous ketones that are made with beta-hydroxybutyrate (also known as BHB ketones). BHBs are the ketones that make up the majority of the ketone bodies found in your blood.
Even if you are taking exogenous ketones, you still need to follow along with a low carb/ketogenic diet to ensure that your body stays in ketosis. However, using the supplement does help to decrease the amount of time it takes for your body to get into ketosis and also helps to reduce the amount of side effects of the keto flu.
You’re eating too much protein
Another really common mistake that a lot of beginners make when they’re first starting the ketogenic diet is consuming too much protein. While protein is an important aspect of any diet, eating too much protein on the keto diet can cause your body to kick itself out of ketosis.
Why would eating too much protein cause your body to be kicked out of ketosis? When you happen to eat too much protein, your body can enter a state of gluconeogenesis, which is where your body converts amino acids into glucose (sugar), using the sugar for energy. Even if you’ve been in ketosis for a long time, sugar is much easier for your body to burn in comparison to burning fat, so it’s always going to revert back to burning the easiest energy.
In other words, your body converts amino acids and carbs into glucose, which will leave you in the same boat with insulin spikes, resulting in reduced ketone levels.
If you provide yourself with the proper tools and educate yourself on how to enter the state of ketosis, you soon have a success story to share with everyone! When you first enter your body into ketosis, you will most likely cause flu-like symptoms in your body, which is referred to at the keto-flu. These side effects include sugar cravings, constipation, brain fog, mood swings, brain fog, fatigue, dizziness, and headaches. These side effects can last up to a week but can last a bit longer if you’re constantly dipping in and out of ketosis because your carb intake isn’t consistent. Make sure that you’re often testing your ketone levels, as this will give you a better idea of what you can (and can’t) eat without throwing your body out of a state of ketosis.
Medical Review by Dr. Robin Walsh, BASc, ND
This is a great article and does well to explain what ketosis is, some common mistakes and how to get in it faster. Many people think they are following the ketogenic diet, but as this author explains they are usually on a low carb high-fat plan. It takes work and effort to get yourself full in ketosis, and I find with my patients often requires some food journaling and tracking to make sure that they are hitting these macros. The low carb high-fat diet also works for many, but for some patients with significant insulin issues like diabetes, they often do better on a full ketogenic plan. I also love using tools for patients like intermittent fasting and fat fasting to help the patient achieve great results and long term success.
If you have been struggling with sluggish weight loss, this is a diet to consider especially if you are struggling with other hormonal imbalances like insulin resistance, PCOS or diabetes. It is important to speak with a qualified health care professional before starting any time of a dietary program.
Last updated: November 19, 2019
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