Following the Keto Diet can be a complicated process at first, but most of that is down to the unknown. Once you know what you’re dealing with, you know what you’re supposed to eat, what you’re supposed to only have in moderation, and what you should avoid, life gets easier. In terms of this diet, life also gets easier after the first few weeks.
The reason for this is that you need to go through a transitional period when you first start following the Keto Diet. We won’t dwell on ‘what the keto diet is’, because you’re reading an article on ketosis, so you surely already know the basics of the diet itself.
Basically, you are forcing your body into a metabolic state which it isn’t used too – you’re turning the fat burning switch on, and by doing this you are forcing your body to produce more ketones in the liver. This process is called ketosis.
The entire keto diet hinges on ketosis being established and maintained. As such, you want to get into ketosis as quickly as possible and maintain it effectively. Ensuring you get your daily macros will help you do that, but there are also some tips which will help you get into ketosis, and stay there.
What is Ketosis? And, Why Is It Important?
Let’s recap on this quickly. Basically, ketosis is the process of burning ketones for energy, which come from your liver. This is a metabolic state which is triggered when you limit the amount of carbs you consume within your diet.
When you eat in a ‘regular’ way, your body turns carbs into glucose, and you would get your energy from that process. Because you are limiting carbs and increasing fat, instead, your body turns to burning fat. This means weight loss, and your existing fat stores are used up. Big bonus!
The problem with ketosis however, is that your brain cannot run on energy from fats, e.g. your diet, and therefore requires something else – ketones. This is the prime reason that ketosis exists – to maintain survival.
The fact that you are changing the way your body is used to running means you are probably going to experience a few side effects to begin with, but these should sort themselves out after a few weeks.
Some people also choose to take supplements on the keto diet, to ensure that they’re not missing out on anything of nutritional value. This is something you might like to consider also.
How to Establish Ketosis
The good news is that it’s pretty simple to establish ketosis. Provided you follow the basic guidelines of the keto diet, and you get the food right on your Keto shopping list, reducing your carbs and upping your fat intake, you should enter ketosis within a few days.
You could also think about testing yourself with keto strips as you enter the first few days of ketosis, to check your levels.
There are two main ways to enter ketosis:
- Fasting for three days – Not recommended, you are literally in starvation mode
- Following the Keto Diet, by restricting your carb intake to less than 50g and eating more fat
We don’t really need to explain why fasting for three days is not a good idea.
When you follow the Keto Diet correctly however, you are giving your body a slow drip of nutrition, which it needs to function correctly, whilst ensuring ketosis is established.
Remember, you should reduce carbs, but it’s not just any old carbs, it’s net carbs you need to keep an eye on.
Most food labels will show these quite clearly, but if not, you can do the math yourself by taking the fiber amount and reducing it from the total amount of carbohydrates.
Also, remember to up your fat intake, to give your body something to burn, and to get your daily protein amount.
The reason fat is important is because you are burning it firstly, but also because it helps to keep ketone production from the liver running smoothly.
Protein is important as an essential nutrient, but always remember to keep this moderate and only to get your recommended amount (varies according to your weight).
How Long Does Ketosis Really Take?
After three days of following the keto diet correctly you should be in ketosis, but in some cases this can take up to seven days. It is possible to boost this and speed things along, by exercising and fasting, but again, fasting isn’t a great idea.
Remember, ketosis is actually a survival mechanism your body employs when it thinks it is going to starve. Despite that, your body is always on the look out for such threats, so it actually stores glucose (the regular burning substance) for drastic situations.
This is enough to keep you going for around one full day (24 hours). That means anything less than a day isn’t possible in terms of getting into ketosis.
The signal to start ketosis wouldn’t kick in until after this stored glucose was used up and nothing else was forthcoming. From there, your body moves to other options, and the ketone production side of things happens usually around the third day of restriction your carb intake.
7 Tips to Fast Track Your Ketosis
If you’re keen and eager to start seeing results on the keto diet, and to get the transitional period over and done with, you’ll need to speed up your ketosis process and get things moving along. There are a few ways you can do that, so let’s explore seven proven ways you could try.
1. Reduce Your Carb Intake Quickly
We mentioned that you should reduce your net carbs to 50g per day in order to enter ketosis within three days. That is the regular advice you will be given on the Keto Diet, however it is possible to reduce your net carbs to around 20g per day, forcing your body into ketosis within two days instead.
If you’re in a hurry, and you’re super-eager to start with the weight loss results coming your way, then this is a good option to get you started. You could then check whether or not you’re firmly in ketosis after a few days, by testing your urine with a ketone testing stick.
2. Do Some Exercise
When you start reducing your carb intake and you exercise at the same time, you are sure to enter ketosis much faster. The reason for this is because when you exercise, you use up glycogen in the muscles and in the liver faster than if you were sedentary.
By using this up, you are forcing your body to notice the lack of glucose and therefore ketones will start to be produced by the liver – your body thinks ‘hang on, we’re going to starve’ and kick-starts its plan B.
If you’re going to exercise at the very start of your Keto Diet endeavours, it’s a good idea to try and consume a little protein and a very small amount of carbs before your workout, to help protect your muscles.
3. Try Taking an MCT Oil Supplement
Many people who are following the keto diet swear by different supplements, basically to put back what they might be losing or not getting from their diet.
Keto isn’t a hugely restrictive diet compared to some, but there are many things you can’t have too. This could lead you to be deficient in certain nutrients. In this case, you could consider taking MCT Oil at the start of your diet, which will help force you into ketosis faster.
The reason for this is because MCT Oil is made of medium chain triglycerides. These are absorbed directly to the liver, without needing to be digested first. All of this aids ketone production and makes ketosis happen much faster.
4. Avoid Eating Breakfast/Intermittent Fasting
This isn’t the usual advice, and once you are firmly in ketosis, it’s a good idea to ensure you always eat breakfast, but in terms of getting you into the metabolic state faster, skipping breakfast via intermittent fasting is an effective way to do it.
Some studies say that skipping breakfast might actually be a beneficial route, but in terms of ketosis, not eating what is considered the ‘most important meal of the day’ causes the state to be achieved and also helps to reduce your appetite.
5 – Try Taking Exogenous Ketones
There are a few different kinds of ketones found within the body, but exogenous ketones are the ones you should focus on here.
You can find supplements which contain endogenous ketones and these can help to speed up the general metabolic state being achieved, but can also help to reduce and stop several well known side effects of the first phase of the diet, e.g. the transitional period.
Exogenous ketones have been shown to help reduce the rather upsetting effects of Keto flu, something which many newbies to the diet fall foul to in the first week or two of ketosis.
It is also thought that if you take exogenous ketones, your body will also adapt to ketosis much faster over the long-term, and keto adaptation will occur much faster too.
6 – Increase Your Fat Intake
Of course, you should be eating a good amount of fat in your diet as part of the keto way of life anyway.
However if you’re noticing a slow transition into ketosis, it could very well be that you’re not eating enough fat, and your body is on the cusp, not quite tipping over into ketosis itself.
A way to battle this is to make sure you are getting enough of the healthy types of fats every single day. This helps to boost ketosis production, because ketones come from fats, and also, fatty foods (good fats, not bad ones) help to reduce your appetite, because they’re more satisfying overall.
7 – Test Your Progress
It could be that you have no idea if you are in ketosis at all, and you might be following the wrong advice. Making sure you follow the diet properly means you should move into ketosis within the three day window, but it could be slower if you’re not sure what you’re doing.
To be certain that you are actually in ketosis and not doing something very wrong, you could try using ketone testing sticks. Basically, these are strips which test your urine to find out the concentration of ketones.
If the testing stick turns dark purple (most products go with purple), you’re in ketosis. Do check with the actual product however, as it might not be purple you’re looking for!
Why Would You Want to Speed Up Ketosis?
We’ve just talked about seven ways to help you get into ketosis a little faster than the regular 3-7 day window your body works with. Despite that, you might be wondering why you would want to speed it up anyway; surely your body knows what it is doing?
Well, yes, but the faster you’re in ketosis, the quicker you can get over the transitional period, and the less time you have to deal with side effects. You are also going to notice the benefits much faster, the quicker you get into ketosis and get the show on the road! You’ll no doubt have heard of the dreaded Keto flu, and whilst it’s not guaranteed that you’ll suffer from it, many people who start the Keto Diet do. In this case, getting into ketosis quicker and establishing it as a new normal, means you have to suffer for much less time.
Remember, the Keto Diet is a very effective diet when followed properly, but always follow advice and guidance to ensure that you are working within the boundaries of the diet.
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