Getting into ketosis – and maintaining this metabolic state – is the holy grail for keto dieters. But just like most things in life, the journey towards ketosis is far from easy. I’m not saying this to discourage you, but rather to prepare you for what lies ahead. There are no shortcuts, but there are several proven tips that will show you how to get into ketosis in a short period of time!
But What Exactly Is Ketosis?
To illustrate what ketosis is, I need to demonstrate what a typical diet looks like. So, for a lot of people, their staple food will normally include any of the following: rice, wheat, potato, corn, cassava, or sweet potato.
You know what’s common among all these foods? They’re all rich in carbohydrates (or carbs for short)! Now, in a carb rich diet, the body converts the carbs to glucose for use as an energy source.
To get to ketosis, your body needs to transition from using glucose to ketones (these are produced by breaking down fat). To activate this metabolic state, your body needs to burn through its supply of glucose first. Once the glucose is all used up, your body is now forced to use fat as an energy source. When this happens, congratulations are in order. You’re now officially in ketosis!
It’s such a simple concept really – get the body to burn fat instead of carbs and you’ll finally achieve that slim, fit physique you’ve been dreaming of! But, of course, keto is not just about weight loss.
Achieving this metabolic state also comes with significant life improvements. Here are some notable benefits:
- It helps suppress appetite
- It gives you more energy throughout the day
- It offers cognitive and neuroprotective benefits
- It provides better heart health
- It reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes
Sounds exciting, right? Unfortunately, getting into ketosis is easier said than done. The ketogenic diet does have solid science behind it, but knowing how to get into ketosis is another matter altogether.
Here’s How To Get Into Ketosis In A Matter Of Days
If you diligently follow all the tips below, you’ll find yourself in ketosis in a few days. Of course, it will be hard to pinpoint the exact moment you reach this state. There are several factors that affect how fast you enter ketosis like your age, carb/fat/protein intake, and physical activity levels.
That said, here are several proven techniques to help you get into ketosis quickly:
Tip #1: Minimize carb consumption
Carbs are keto’s biggest enemy. But quite understandably, it’s hard to live without carbs if you’ve been eating carb-rich foods your entire life! Fortunately, you don’t need to quit cold turkey. You can still eat carbs – just limit your net carbs intake to 20-50g per day.
But what exactly is net carbs? Well, here’s the formula:
Net Carbs = Total Carbs – Dietary Fiber
If you check nutrition labels on food items, you’ll notice there’s an entry for Dietary Fiber, right below Total Carbohydrate. Here’s an example:
In the example, the Net Carbs would be Total Carbs (37g) – Dietary Fiber (4g) = 33g Net Carbs.
We subtract Dietary Fibers from the Total Carbohydrates because they’re the good kind of carbs. Your body can’t digest fiber. So, it doesn’t get transformed into glucose, which means it won’t affect ketosis.
Oh, and by the way, sugary drinks are also off the menu for keto dieters. So, say goodbye to fruit juices, sodas, and bubble tea if you’re into that. Fortunately, coffee and tea are still good for keto as long as you lay off on the sugar. If you’re thirsty for some ‘real’ drinks though, here’s our special recipe for keto cocktails.
Tip #2: Add more good fats to your diet
If carbs are keto’s number one enemy, then fats are its best friend! You see, ketosis needs fat to burn so it can fuel the body. To sustain the body, it’s essential to continuously eat good fats. To get to ketosis – and stay there – a large majority (about 70%) of your diet should be made of fat.
Here are some examples of good fats you can eat on keto:
- Plant oils like coconut oil, olive oil, flaxseed oil, sunflower oil
- Avocado and avocado oil
- Nuts like almonds, pecans, cashews, pistachios, walnuts
- Chia, flax, and hemp seeds
- Dark chocolate (yes!)
- Animal fats from eggs, butter, cheese
- Fatty fish like salmon and tuna
Tip #3: Stay away from trans fat
Consider trans fat as keto’s number 2 enemy, it’s the bad kind of fat. You’ll usually find trans fat on nutrition labels, so if you see it, run in the opposite direction!
Now here’s the thing. Trans fat is present in many processed foods, especially those that contain hydrogenated oils. The label may say 0g trans fat, but in reality it may have up to 500mg of trans fat.
Technically, these manufacturers are telling the truth. According to the US FDA’s Food Labeling Guide, if a serving contains less than 0.5g (or less than 500mg) of trans fat it must be labelled as “0g”.
In plain English, it means that each serving does not contain a significant amount of trans fat. However, if you do the math, all those milligrams of trans fat will eventually add up!
So, to make sure there’s no bad fats in your diet, stay away from processed foods. Processed meats and fried foods also often have trans fats in it, so it’s best to keep these to a minimum or stay away from it completely.
Tip #4: Eat a moderate amount of protein
It’s easy to go overboard on protein when you’re carb deprived. It’s like the next best thing, right? Well, no. Protein is a far second to fats in the keto diet hierarchy. More specifically, your protein intake shouldn’t be more than 30% of your daily food intake.
But why, you wonder? Well, there’s this metabolic process that occurs when there’s too much protein in the blood. The protein gets converted into glucose, NOT ketones, so when this happens, ketosis won’t occur. This metabolic process is called gluconeogenesis – it’s a mouthful I know, so best limit that protein if you don’t want to say this word out loud!
Tip #5: Exercise!
You might have heard about people on keto losing weight without exercising. Nope, it’s not fake news. It’s really true! This is why keto is so popular – people literally lose weight by eating fats and not moving much at all! Of course, there’s a ‘fine print’ to achieve this, but if you follow tips 1 to 4, you’ll still manage to lose some weight.
But don’t dismiss exercise just yet. There are a ton of benefits to living a healthy, active lifestyle. In fact, 10 minutes of exercise a day can go a long way towards speeding up your goal of entering ketosis!
Here’s the caveat though. When you’re new to keto, your body’s still adjusting to its new energy source (ketones instead of glucose). So, don’t push yourself too hard. Give it a few weeks for your body to adjust to using ketones for energy!
Tip #6: Do intermittent fasting (IF)
With higher fat content in your diet, you’ll feel fuller longer which reduces snacking throughout the day. You’ll still feel hungry, of course, but it won’t be as frequent as when you were still eating tons of carbs.
Doing IF together with keto will help you get into ketosis much faster. The most common method (read: beginner friendly) is the 16:8 method which means you fast for 16 hours and eat for 8 hours (not continuously of course). This means eating 2 or 3 meals within the 8-hour eating period. So, for example, you can fast from 6pm until 10am the following day, and eat your meals between 10am and 6pm.
For this combo to work well, your last meal should be high in fat, so you don’t feel hungry during your 16-hour fast. The last thing you want is to grab a midnight snack because your hunger overpowered you!
How To Tell If You’re In Ketosis
Now that you know how to get into ketosis, you’re probably wondering how you can tell if you’ve successfully transitioned to this metabolic state.
1. Test for ketones
There are a few ways you can test for ketones – there’s urine, breath and blood testing. Here’s a quick summary of differences:
|Blood test||Breath test||Urine test|
|Accuracy||Most accurate||More accurate than urine||Not too accurate|
|How it works||Measures BHB (beta hydroxybutyrate) in the blood||Measures acetone levels in breath||Measures acetoacetate levels in urine|
As you can see, getting a blood test is the most effective way by far to determine if you’re in ketosis. It’s more expensive and you do need to prick yourself to get a drop of blood, but it’s certainly worth it!
2. Weight loss
If you notice your clothes starting to get a bit loose, then your keto diet’s working. Rapid weight loss occurs during the first week or so as your body uses its stored carbs. Water weight will also contribute to the initial weight loss. Don’t get complacent though. For long-term weight loss, it’s important to stick to the keto ratio of 70% fat, 25% protein, and 5% carbs.
3. Keto breath
With elevated ketone levels (specifically acetone), you’ll notice your breath turning a bit sour. And no matter how often you brush your teeth, the smell just won’t go away. Well, rejoice because this means you’re finally in a state of ketosis! Fortunately, the smell isn’t going to last forever. Once your body adjusts to ketosis, the smell will eventually go away on its own.
4. Keto flu
Switching over from glucose to ketones can cause your body to experience a few short-term side effects. This includes headaches, fatigue, stomach issues, and brain fog. This doesn’t happen to everyone, but many people say they’ve experienced this so-called flu.
Ready to start your journey towards ketosis? I bet you’re excited! Follow the tips we’ve shared here that teach you how to get into ketosis and reap the health benefits soon!