There are many benefits to being in ketosis – lower risk of disease, are weight loss, increased energy levels, and improved mood.
But while getting there, you will often encounter some unpleasant side effects.
As your body is getting into the state of ketosis, it is going from using glucose for energy, to using fats for energy.
During this transition period, you can end up with flu-like side effects. Known as ’Keto Flu’, the symptoms tend to be dizziness, fatigue, stomach trouble, brain fog, and sugar cravings.
You can skip this unpleasant transition period by getting into the state of ketosis faster.
6 simple tips to get into ketosis fast
This is a short-term plan only to get you into ketosis quickly. Once ketosis is achieved, small amounts of carbs can gradually be added to your diet, as long as ketosis is maintained.
Below are 6 tips you can use today to help you get your body into ketosis quickly.
If you are looking for more help and guidelines on how to lose weight and turn your body into a fat-burning machine, have a look at this 28-day challenge.
1. Cut the carbs
Cutting carbs is the fastest way to reach ketosis – which is why it is #1 on our list.
Your body has been trained over the years to use glucose (or sugar) as its main fuel source.
When you decrease your carbohydrates, your glycogen stores are used up quickly. (Glucose is stored in your liver and muscles in the form of glycogen.)
It then forces your body to look for other sources of fuel. The new fuel source your body will end up using is fat.
Most people underestimate how many carbs they are eating each day.
For this reason, while you’re getting yourself into ketosis, you will want to track your carbs closely. For most people, their limit is 30g of carbs per day.
To help you stay within your carb limit, choose low-carb veggies to serve with your meals. Broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, lettuce, and cucumbers are all high in nutrients and low in carbohydrates. (To make it easier, if the vegetable is green it is most likely low in carbs!)
2. Increase healthy fats
Healthy fats form the biggest part of a keto diet. The emphasis here is on healthy.
As most of your calories will be coming from fat, it is important to use high-quality fat sources, and the right kinds of food to get your fats from.
Eating more high-fat foods can boost your ketone levels (which helps you reach ketosis). It can also help curb your hunger and provides you with energy (but none of the crashes like with sugar).
Your best options in ‘food’ form are fatty meats, avocado, olives, egg yolks, mayonnaise, and full-fat salad dressings. Your best options for oils/fats to add to your meat and vegetables are butter, olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil.
If you are following a keto diet for weight loss, it is important to keep in mind your overall calorie count when increasing your fat. Too many calories will still stall your weight loss efforts, even you have the correct macro-nutrient ratios for a keto diet.
3. Watch your protein intake
One of the difficulties many people have with the keto diet is getting an adequate amount of protein. It is very easy to go over the recommended amount of protein, especially if you are trying to get your fats from fatty meat.
Although protein is limited on a keto diet, it still needs to be high enough to maintain certain key processes in the body:
- Certain cells and organs in your body (such as red blood cells and parts of the kidney and brain) can’t use ketones as fuel. The liver provides glucose to these cells and organs, and requires amino acids from protein to do so.
- Your protein intake must be high enough to maintain your muscle mass (especially if you are in the process of losing weight).
You can work on around 0.55–0.77 grams of protein per pound of lean mass.
Try to avoid lean meats, and use fatty cuts of meat in your meals (cooked in healthy fats).
4. Do a fat fast
I am including this on the list a little hesitantly – it can be potentially dangerous for someone who is not on a weight loss plateau, or who is not metabolically resistant.
If you find you are either:
- Experiencing a weight-loss plateau of 2 weeks or more, or
- trying to kick start ketosis over a very short period,
then you can try a fat fast.
But make sure to not do this for any longer than 5 days. 2 – 4 days is ideal.
When you are on a fat fast, 80% to 90% of your calories are coming from fat, and you will eat between 1000 and 1200 calories a day only.
These 1000-1200 calories are broken up into 4 or 5 small meals throughout the day.
You will very likely be hungry in the beginning, but this will dissipate once your body adjusts to the way you are eating. You will also find that you will lose anywhere between 5 – 8 pounds in around 3 days. This is a combination of fat and water weight.
Once you go back to your normal keto diet, don’t be surprised if put back 2-3 pounds. This is perfectly normal.
Remember to do the fat fast for no more than 5 days.
5. Increase physical activity
If you are not already exercising regularly, introduce this step gradually. Especially so if you have just switched over to a keto or low carb diet.
In this case, rather focus on getting used to following a keto diet, and let your body adjust. In this time period you can do gentle exercise such as walking, or beginner’s yoga.
If you are already used to exercising, or have adjusted to this new way of eating, then exercising more (or changing up your form of exercise) can burn off additional glycogen stores. This can help you get into ketosis faster because your liver increases production of ketones when glycogen stores are low.
Exercise techniques such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT) provide maximum sugar-burning with ‘minimal’ effort. I say minimal because these exercises – while very intense – are quite short.
It has been shown that working out in a fasted state can increase ketone levels, so to kick it up a notch do your workout in the morning before breakfast.
6. Test your ketone levels (and adjust)
As with many things related to nutrition and weight loss, getting into – and maintaining – a state of ketosis is an individual process.
You can keep track of your progress by testing your ketone levels regularly, and adjusting as needed.
There are three types of ketones:
Acetone is found on your breath, and acetone breath levels is a reliable way to monitor ketosis. You can measure acetone through breathing into a ketone breath monitor. This method is quick and simple.
Beta-hydroxybutyrate levels are measured with a blood ketone meter. It works in a similar manner to glucose meter that diabetics use. A drop of blood is placed on a strip, which you then insert into the meter. The strips used are quite expensive though (and not everyone enjoys pricking their finger with a needle!)
The third and last method to test your ketone levels is to check your acetoacetate through a urine test. Urine strips are dipped into your urine, and change different shades of pink depending on your ketone levels.
Whichever method you choose, it is important to be consistent as to when you measure. Ketone levels have been shown to be higher first thing in the morning, and after dinner.