Being in nutritional ketosis is the most important aspect of the keto diet and the main reason for its many advantages.
Ketosis is a metabolic state that is completely normal for the human body. It occurs when you severely limit your supply of carbs. As a result, your body switches to burning fat instead of glucose and produces ketones to supply energy.
The fat you’re burning when you are in ketosis is both the fat your body has stored and the fat you’re eating. This is why the keto diet is so effective for weight loss.
Ketosis makes it easier for your body to access fat and burn it off, rather than rely on carbs for your immediate energy needs.
If you’ve been following or researching about keto for a while, you probably know all the health benefits of being in ketosis. So now, the question becomes:
What are the fastest, proven and most effective ways?
Below are different ways you can try to get into ketosis. These will help you make sure your body will use fat for fuel.
#1. Limit Carbs
The first and most important step towards reaching ketosis is limiting your carb intake to 20-25 g net carbs daily. We recommend limiting your carbs at once, instead of slowly lowering them day after day, as it will help you get into ketosis much quicker and the adaptation will generally be easier and take less time.
Eating 20 to 25 g net carbs is a kind of a safety net that will work for everyone. Your limit might be a bit higher, but we recommend experimenting with it only after you pass the adaptation phase.
#2. Move More
In order to reach ketosis, you need to first burn off the glycogen that is stored in your liver and muscles. In fact, glycogen will be used for the energy needs of your body before it starts using the fat.
One of the ways to speed up glycogen consumption is to simply move more to burn more energy.
You could either work out in the gym or simply do your preferred type of exercise, or even go for a walk or do some jogging.
Of course, a single walk won’t burn all of your glycogen, but it will speed up the process. In order to reach ketosis quickly, make sure to move a lot.
Small movements add up. You can burn more glycogen by chasing the kids around, parking farther away from the grocery store, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Try to limit the amount of time you spend sitting and you’ll be surprised how quickly you burn through glycogen.
#3. Exercise on an Empty Stomach
Working out on an empty stomach will force your body to use up the stored glycogen and then fat, instead of the food you have eaten prior to that.
Weight training that engages the big muscle groups (legs, back, shoulders and arms) is especially beneficial if you want to deplete glycogen stores.
Exercising on an empty stomach is generally tolerated well by most people, but if you have the feeling it might be a challenge, or if you have never done it before, you can always pack a small snack and reach for it if you feel faint.
Most people find that the best way to exercise on an empty stomach is to do it first thing in the morning. If you’re not a morning person, this might take a bit of work on your part to get out of bed.
#4. Do Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting will help your body use up the glycogen faster, as it will not be relying on the food you’re eating to sustain itself.
If you have never done intermittent fasting on keto diet before, you can start by having breakfast later than usual, or skip it altogether.
For example, you would eat dinner at your normally scheduled time. After dinner, you would not eat again until lunch the next day. You can still have black coffee in the morning, but try to avoid calories.
If you feel tired and weak, then you should eat something, but most people tolerate skipping a meal rather well. If you’re a woman, check this intermittent fasting guide for women.
#5. Consume Enough Fat
Consuming enough healthy fats, while limiting your carbs, will help your body transition to burning fat easier. Fat will be transformed into ketones in order to be used up for energy.
Remember to not go overboard with it, though – calories still matter. You can allow yourself to not limit calories too much in the first couple of days, in order to help your body switch to ketosis faster, but the keto diet is still not a free pass to eating all the fat.
Some of the best types of fat for keto are coconut oil, avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil, butter, and ghee, among others.
#6. Consume MCT Oil
MCT (short for medium chain triglycerides) oil helps with ketone production and is very easily absorbed for instant energy.
MCTs are contained in coconut oil and, to a lesser extent, in animal fats, such as butter. However, you can buy MCT oil directly, both in powder and liquid form.
MCT oil is an excellent pre-workout that will easily be transformed into ketones and will give you an energy boost.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Does It Take to Get Into Ketosis?
It should take between 2 and 7 days, depending on your previous diet and on how physically active you are. If you drink alcohol, your body will try to get rid of the alcohol first before it starts to burn the carbs and glycogen.
Remember, the most important thing to do in order to reach ketosis is to limit your carbs. This is the quickest and the official way, especially if you are having trouble getting into this metabolic state. If you don’t do that, the rest will not help you get into ketosis (except for short periods of time).
When you limit carbs, it’s important to give your body enough fuel to function, and this is typically achieved by upping your fat intake while making sure your protein remains adequate.
Also, don’t forget to get enough electrolytes.
If it’s your first time doing keto, you might experience some side effects when you reach ketosis. This is known as keto flu and will soon disappear.
If you’ve been in ketosis for a very long time before you got out of ketosis, and you combine a few of the methods above, you might be able to throw your body back into ketosis within 24 hours or a little bit longer and up to 3 days.
Some people might find the process easier and quicker compared to others. There are also signs to tell if you’re in ketosis.
How Do I Know If I’m in Ketosis?
The most accurate way to know whether you’re in ketosis would be to measure ketones in the blood. However, this isn’t very practical, so instead, you can simply watch out for ketosis’ signs and symptoms. Once you get enough experience with keto, it’ll become very easy to tell if you’re in ketosis.
There are a few of them:
- Rapid loss of water weight
By far, this is the most obvious sign. Each molecule of glycogen is bound to 3 molecules of water. When you use up your glycogen, you’ll notice a quick loss of lots of water weight. You’ll pee a lot and you’ll drop anywhere between 5 and 10 pounds in a matter of a day or two.
- Decreased appetite
If food suddenly feels less appealing than before for no other obvious reason, it’s likely that you’re in ketosis. In fact, this is one of the reasons why it’s easier to stay on track when you’re doing keto – your hunger naturally decreases.
- Fruity or acetone-smelling breath
Before your body adapts to being in ketosis, excess ketones can be easily detected in your breath, sometimes making your breath smell fruity. Especially if it’s your first time doing keto, your chances of having an acetone-smelling breath are rather high.
- Increased energy
Do you suddenly feel much more alert and energetic? Yeah, that’s one of the awesome effects that ketosis can have. Unfortunately, this might sometimes translate into a less desirable effect:
Some people find it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep when they’re in ketosis, and especially in the beginning. This will get better with time. Check this keto insomnia guide for more tips!
- Decreased physical performance
If you suddenly feel weaker in the gym and struggle with lifting your usual weights or completing your normal routine, this might be another sign that you’re in ketosis. This is also temporary, and you’re more prone to it if it’s your first time maintaining the state of ketosis.
Why Can’t I Get Back Into Ketosis?
If you are struggling to get back in ketosis, it’s best to start tracking to make sure you are really staying under the 20g carb limit. Many people assume they are eating under the daily carb limit without weighing what they eat and tracking.
Sometimes, it’s not always accurate to eyeball portion sizes, especially some foods might have hidden carbs and sugar. Start tracking what you eat by using a food tracking app to help you find out what’s really going in your diet and how to adjust your meals to achieve your outcome.
How Much Weight Can You Lose in Ketosis?
It depends. Once you find out your personal macros and follow keto strictly, the weight loss will come.
If you have more weight to lose, you’ll drop the weight quicker compared to those who only have 10-20 lbs to lose. For more details, check our weight loss on keto guide!
Does Taking Exogenous Ketones Help with Ketosis?
Exogenous ketones are external ketones supplements (Beta-Hydroxybutyrate or BHB salts) you drink. After drinking it, if you test your blood ketone levels, it will show a presence of ketones (usually within 30 minutes to 2 hours).
However, having ketone presence in the blood is NOT always the same as being in the nutritional state of ketosis (which is what you really want).
Exogenous ketones might help with the transition to ketosis and overcome the keto flu but it shouldn’t be your primary way to get into ketosis.
Your best way to get into the nutritional state of ketosis is always by eating real keto foods.
We wrote a comprehensive review about exogenous ketones supplements, including what it is, how it works, the benefits, side effects, when to use and not to use as well as what to avoid when it comes to exogenous ketones. You can read it here!
How Do You Get Back in Ketosis After Cheat Days?
If you cheat while doing keto, meaning that you eat a lot of carbs at once, you will be kicked out of ketosis.
The amount of carbs that will kick someone out of ketosis will vary from person to person, depending on their metabolism and insulin sensitivity, but it’s generally accepted that it’s around 50-100 net carbs.
If you cheat, don’t panic. You will likely experience some side effects, but the most important thing to do is to go back to keto, without using your cheat meal as an excuse to stuff your face with (even more) carbs.
We have previously covered the cheating on keto diet topic and how to get back on track, so make sure to check out our article here!
There are a few things that you can do after a cheat meal, which will help put your body into ketosis quickly. Let’s check them out:
1. Go back to keto – by far, this is the most important thing to help you stay on track. Do not let a cheat meal turn into a cheat day or week. Get back to your keto plan immediately after the cheat meal.
2. Exercise – as a bonus, you’ll be able to use the newly stored glycogen for a killer workout session, if you like going to the gym or doing high-intensity sports. Otherwise, you can go for a brisk walk, or a jog, or hop on your bike.
3. Fast – fasting will allow your body to burn the stored glycogen for its energy needs, instead of relying on the food you are eating.
You don’t need to punish yourself for cheating, as this will make keto seem unpleasant and difficult to follow. If you decide to exercise or fast, do not interpret these things as a form of punishment, but rather as something positive that you are doing for your own sake. Be gentle with yourself. Accept that mistakes do happen, and just go back to keto as soon as possible.
Reaching a state of a sustained, long-term nutritional ketosis is one of the most important transformations that your body will undergo when you start doing keto, and also one of the main reasons why this way of eating works so well – your body has a much better access to your fat stores.
In order to get there, the single most important condition is to limit your net carbs to 20-25 g daily. However, there are a few other things that can help you reach ketosis faster, such as fast, exercise, and make sure your fat intake is adequate.
What is your experience with the above strategies? Do you have any other tips on how to reach ketosis faster? Let us know below!
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