This is the million-dollar question that everyone who is considering the ketogenic diet asks. “How long will it take to get into ketosis?”
On the surface, this is a diet that is known for having massive results but results that are accompanied by a challenging price tag. For many people, it may seem complicated and uncomfortable to get their body to switch from using glucose for fuel to ketones. We hear of things like the keto flu, which in itself sounds brutal. Anyone who has had influenza, certainly doesn’t want to go through it again- even if it is a different version with a healthier outcome. But for those who are willing to try, knowing how long it will take and how long they will have to suffer before seeing positive results is a crucial question.
What is the ketogenic diet?
Before understanding how to get there, we need to know where we are going. So, what is the ketogenic diet? The ketogenic diet has been popularized by celebrities and health and fitness enthusiasts the world over. Aimed at putting the body into a metabolic state called ketosis, this is a diet that is low-carb and high-fat based with several similarities to Atkins and other low-carb diets. The drastic reduction of carbs means that the body is forced to burn fat for fuel. It also can turn fat into ketones, which then, in turn, supply the brain with energy.
The goal of the ketogenic diet is to put the body into ketosis, however, is this just for weight loss? Or are there other reasons that could make this diet worthwhile?
What are the benefits of keto diet?
There are numerous health benefits to a well-planned out the keto diet. One is the reduction in blood sugar, help with insulin sensitivity, weight loss, and even increased energy and mental focus. Although similar to a low-fat diet, keto has more benefits because of its emphasis on protein and fat intake.
The keto diet has also shown to improve symptoms that are often associated with heart disease, cancer, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, PCOS, Alzheimer’s, and even acne.
What does it mean to be “in ketosis”?
As mentioned, the goal of the ketogenic diet is to get the body into ketosis as quickly as possible and keep it there in order to burn fuel or fat effectively. When you are “in ketosis” your body is burning ketones for fuel.
How long it takes to get there (into ketosis)?
This is not an easy answer. It definitely depends on each person’s individual body makeup and their commitment to the diet.
If you were to drastically reduce your carb intake to under 40-50 grams per day, your body would be forced to use its glucose stores for energy. Eventually, this would lead to using ketones as fuel. In general, two to four days of eating like this should put the average person into ketosis. However, this is not a hard and fast rule. For other people, it may take up to ten days or longer.
It also depends on your daily protein intake, how much or how little you exercise, your age, and metabolism. If you ate a very high carb diet before starting keto, it would take you longer to get into ketosis as your body will have more storage of glucose to burn through first before getting to the ketones.
The idea of ketosis is that this state supercharges your body and puts it into that optimal fat-burning zone. It also gives you long-lasting energy, focus, and mental cognition and weight loss. Another significant side effect is that being in ketosis is a mood stabilizer. Sugar highs are always followed closely by lows, and this roller coaster effect has an impact on mood swings. Being in ketosis keeps you at an even-tempered level due to the stability of your blood sugar levels.
What are the drawbacks or side effects of the keto diet and ketosis?
When first beginning a keto diet, there are some side effects that most people will notice. For some, it will be several, others just a few, but almost everyone will feel the shift.
- Difficulty Concentrating
- Bad Breath
- Sugar Cravings
- Keto Flu – all the above can be felt separately or all together and be linked with what’s known as the “keto flu”. Keto fly typically lasts about a week, and it’s a sign that your body is transitioning from running on sugar to running on fat. You will be in ketosis just simply not used to it yet, so you may actually feel worse rather than better.
When you lower your carb intake, it forces the body to burn ketones for energy when they can’t burn glucose. The result of this is often a week or so of keto flu. Once the body is in ketosis, the diet is working, but it does take some getting used to. As the body breaks down fat, it produces ketones, which are then removed from the body through urination, which sometimes leads to dehydration.
To help with this, drinking more water and Keto Coffee can help. Check out our article on Keto Coffee to learn why you should try it and how to make it easily at home!
Why does it take some people longer to get into ketosis?
As previously mentioned, for some people, it takes longer than others. This could be due to everyone’s individual starting point but also the fact that we all have different metabolisms.
There are ways, however, to speed up the process. Stricter carb restrictions and even keto supplements have been proven as ways to speed up the process. If you have your carb restrictions set at 40grams and you find it’s taking too long, simply restrict them further. Taking them down to 30 grams usually does it for most body types.
Tips to get into ketosis faster
- Test your ketones levels (home kits are sold online)
- Consume 20-50 grams of carbs per day
- Track your carb intake
- Plan your meals (aim to cook your own meals more than choosing take out or dining out-this way you know exactly what is going into your meal)
- Increase your intake of high-quality fats
- Try intermittent fasting (start slow as this can be overwhelming to do keto and iF at the same time)
- Use MCT’s (this can be done in your coffee every morning!)
What should I eat to get into ketosis?
There are many sample diets that you can use to start your keto journey, but overall the rules are relatively simple. Reduced or eliminate carbs and sugar -both natural and most definitely artificial. Lean proteins and vegetables should be the staples of the diet with high healthy fat content from foods such as avocados, nuts, and seeds, etc…
Here are some examples of foods that will get you on the right track and into ketosis as quickly as possible.
- Meat: Steak, ham, sausages, bacon, turkey, chicken, lamb
- Fatty fish: Salmon, tuna, trout
- Eggs: Specifically, Omega 3 is a good choice
- Butter and cream: Grass-fed only though
- Unprocessed cheeses: Cheddar, Mozzarella, Goat, Cream and Blue Cheese
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts and flax, pumpkin and chia seeds
- Healthy oils: Extra Virgin olive oil, coconut or avocado oil
- Avocados: lots of avocados for healthy fats!
- Low-carb veggies: Green vegetables as well as tomatoes and onions
- Salt, pepper, and herbs and spices to flavour your meals!
Notice the lack of fruits? Even though fruits are healthy, they are filled with natural sugars. And sugar no matter what form it comes in is a no -go for keto. However, this doesn’t mean giving up fruit for good. Some fruits are acceptable as they have low sugar counts. Berries, for example, would be a good option. Not too many but just a few every now and then would be an acceptable part of keto.
Cheating on keto
Many people want to know if they can occasionally cheat on their keto diet and how quickly it will knock them out of ketosis. Once again, just like getting into ketosis, there are many factors.
First up, it’s important to answer the following questions.
- How long have you been following the keto diet and know you were in ketosis before you had your cheat meal or cheat day?
- What did you eat during this cheat?
- How often do you exercise?
- Was it easy for you to get into ketosis the first time you tried it?
- Is IF (Intermittent fasting) a part of your keto routine?
Most people can get back into ketosis after about 24 to 48hrs of getting back on the diet. Especially if the following is true for you:
- Before cheating on the diet, you had previously been in ketosis for a month or longer consistently.
- You exercised on the day that you cheated or the following day.
- It was easy and quick to get into ketosis the first time you tried it.
- Although you may have cheated, you didn’t go too overboard with the carbs.
- You tried to counteract your cheat meal or day by doing an extended intermittent fast right afterward.
Basically, if getting into ketosis was initially a struggle or if you are in general too sedentary or have cheated for too long, it will take longer than just a day or so. These guidelines are only estimates; once again, each person’s body is different and will adapt in different ways. Some people will get back into ketosis between 12-16 hours after their last cheat meal, while others may need a couple of days.
Although ketosis is a natural metabolic state that the body can fall into between meals, and without trying, it’s not for everyone. Especially in a prolonged state. Ketosis that is planned and monitored is excellent for weight loss, managing type 2 diabetes, or aiding with heart health. However, people with type 1 diabetes should not go into ketosis as it could be life-threatening for them. Certain adverse effects can happen if you remain in ketosis for too long, so always check with a doctor before trying it out.
Basically, it comes down to a few simple things. The ketogenic diet has had proven results physically and mentally. Under medical supervision, it has been shown to improve symptoms of some incredibly debilitating diseases. Some even believe it can protect against disease when used long term. So, is it hard to get into ketosis? For some people, yes and for others no. It really does depend on your previous lifestyle. Will you feel awful for a long time? Maybe a day or two, a week tops, but the other side of that will bring you to rapid weight loss, improved health, and mental cognition. There’s nothing worth having that doesn’t take a little sacrifice, and ketosis is no different. So why not take the plunge and improve your health by trying it out!