The ketogenic diet is a low carb high fat way of eating that offers certain health benefits like efficient weight loss, reduced blood sugar and insulin levels as well as other benefits
To enjoy these to the fullest, you need to be in a metabolic state called ketosis. As a matter of fact, it is a major pillar in the ketogenic world. On keto, you are required to achieve and maintain that state of ketosis
This guide shows you how to eneter ketosis quickly and easily on the keto diet and how best to go about it.
But first, what exactly is this “ketosis”?
What is ketosis?
Your body has energy needs that needs to be met and in our case, this happens through food intake. The body can get energy from 2 major sources.
Carbohydrates, when eaten are broken down and converted into glucose to be used for energy. For someone eating foods high in carbs, majority of that person’s energy requirements are met by carbs.
When the amount of carbs eaten or available are not enough to cover majority of your body’s energy needs, it switches to utilizing its next main source of fuel, which is fats.
Fats, when eaten are broken down into certain molecules called ketones, which your body uses as its alternative in the absence or shortage of glucose. Ketosis is a metabolic state in which your body breaks down and utilizes fats as its primary source of energy rather than carbohydrates.
When your body produces enough ketone bodies to fuel a large percent of its functions usually in the shortage or absence of glucose, you can be said to be in the state of “ketosis”.
There are actually certain health benefits associated with ketone production such as
- Reduced cravings
- Better weight loss
- Increased energy
- Reduced risk of diseases
- Lower blood sugar
These benefits are experienced when you enter ketosis through healthy and proper ways, without needing to starve yourself. A good way to achieve this is with the keto diet. which makes ketone production easy and sustainable.
So then, how do you get into ketosis?
How to enter ketosis with the keto diet
You can get into ketosis by either reducing your carbohydrate intake and eating nutritious foods high in healthy fats and moderate in protein like on the keto diet, or through starvation.
When you starve, your body lacks energy and nutrients in general and switches to burning body fat for energy. This is not a recommended way to achieve ketosis.
The ketogenic diet makes the whole concept of ketosis easy and possible without needing to starve yourself or lack any important nutrient.
This is because to trigger fat metabolism for energy (ketosis), you mainly need to reduce your carbohydrate intake to the point where your body turns to its alternative fuel source being fats, for energy.
The ketogenic diet allows you to eat highly satiating, nutrient filled low carb foods so you get your essential and healthy nutrients and still enjoy the benefits of being in ketosis.
Although there are many factors that can affect ketone production, the primary way to get into ketosis is to reduce your carbohydrate intake to a certain point where your body begins breaking down fats for energy.
This can easily be done by following the keto diet macro ratios.
Your keto diet macros for ketosis
Macronutrients are nutrients needed by the body in large proportions to function properly. They are fats, protein and carbohydrate. The macronutrient ratios for ketosis on the ketogenic diet are
- Fats (about 70%)
- Protein (20 – 25%)
- Carbohydrates (5 – 10%)
Meaning 70% of your calories comes from fats, 20 – 25% comes from protein while the remaining 5 – 10% comes from carbohydrates. The percentages are not precise because it differs from person to person based on your age, BMI, activity levels, etc.
But in simple term of carb reduction on a standard ketogenic diet, it translates to under 50g of total carbs per day and under 35g of net carbs per day.
Net carbs are gotten from subtracting fibre from the total carb content. Net carbs are the ones that more seriously determine ketosis.
Net carbs = total carbs – fibre
Most fibre plays an almost insignificant role in ketosis and can be ignored. But it’s still advisable to keep total carbs (net carbs + fibre) under 50g per day.
Other things like protein can play an important role in ketosis too. Although it is still a huge subject of debate, it is believed that excess protein can affect ketone production negatively.
One way to know the ideal amount of each macronutrient per day to take is by using a keto calculator. A keto calculator helps you determine your ideal amount of each macronutrient based on your body goals, weight, activity levels and age among others.
Here is a keto calculator we recommend
So all in all, by following the keto macro ratios and keeping your net carbs below 35g and total carbs below 50g, you should be able to enter ketosis
How long does it take?
It usually takes between 3 – 7 days to enter ketosis on the ketogenic diet. This is because your body will first use up its other sources of glucose such as your glycogen stores.
After glycogen is depleted, ketone production can commence.
Food to eat to enter ketosis
For you to be able to enter ketosis easily, you need to eat foods that support your keto macronutrient ratios. Meaning you have to eat foods that are high in healthy fats, moderate in protein and low in carbs.
Here are the foods to eat
Foods to eat
- Nuts and seeds
- Leafy green vegetables
- High fat dairy
- Healthy Fats and oils
Foods to avoid
- sugary foods – donuts, maple syrup
- grains – rice, wheat , corn
- most fruits – bananas, oranges
- root vegetables – potatoes, carrots
- low fat products
- unhealthy fats
What to drink
- Unsweetened tea
- Some alcohol – dry wine, Tequila, whiskey, vodka
- lemon juice
This is just a quick summary of the types of keto friendly foods to eat. To see a more comprehensive list, check out our keto food list here.
Reasons you are not in ketosis
Even though achieving ketosis may seem simple, some people may still have issues with it. Certain mistakes on keto can prevent you from being able to achieve the state of ketosis.
So what are they?
Too much carbs
This is pretty obvious yet it goes unnoticed by many. On the ketogenic diet, you are meant to limit your net carb intake to less than 35g per day. The figure may vary for some people.
As I said earlier, our bodies are different. The same applies to our carb limit.
For example, someone could find it easy to enter ketosis with just a 35g net carb intake while another person would need less than 30g or 25g of net carbs daily to be able to achieve the state of ketosis.
Plus, if you are not measuring and keeping track of your daily carb intake, odds are you might be going over the limit without even realising it. It is important to always keep track of your macronutrient intake.
A good way to keep track of your daily carb intake is by using a meal planner or carb tracker. Our free low carb meal planner allows you to set carb goals and keep track of your total carb consumption for the day. You can get it here.
Keeping track of your carbs is a good way to make sure you don’t go above your limit unknowingly
Too little fat
To become fat adapted, your body needs a good signal that there is a high amount of its alternative energy source. When trying to achieve ketosis, if your body doesn’t get a good amount of fats, it will struggle harder to reach ketosis.
Also, for someone used to the high carb way of life, there tends to be a certain phobia at first towards eating lots of fat, some people think if they eat fatter, they won’t be able to lose weight and would gain weight instead.
But it’s not that simple. Regardless of whether you eat fat or not, if you consume more calories than you need to maintain your weight, you will gain weight. So also, if you consume less calories than you need to maintain your weight, you will lose weight.
One good thing about the keto diet is that it allows you to consume fewer calories without even realising. That’s why it works so well for weight loss. But if you are not taking enough fat, you will find it harder to reach ketosis.
Although this contributes to too much carbs, this is a special situation on its own. Nowadays stores are filled with all manner of foods termed “low carb”.
Although that’s not a bad thing, but a lot of times, some of these foods contain hidden sugars that add to the carb count of that food.
When this happens, you’ll end up consuming more carbs than you need without even noticing it. Eating more carbs than required on keto will hinder you from entering ketosis.
Your Stress levels
Stress and ketosis are like water and oil. They do not just mix. When you are stressed, your body releases more of the hormone cortisol, usually known as the stress hormone.
This causes a fight or flight response causes glycogen to be released and for you to be in ketosis, your body needs to be burning fat. Excessive levels of stress can prevent you from entering ketosis.
Your protein intake
On the keto diet, your protein intake needs to be adequate, meaning not too small and not too big. If your protein intake is too little, you will lose muscle mass as well as suffer the results of protein deficiency.
Also, protein plays a role in a process called gluconeogenesis, which helps provide glucose to cells that can’t run on ketones. So it’s good to eat enough protein. Eating too much may also affect ketone production, so the proper amount is important here.
Check out our article on protein on the keto diet for more information.
Extra tips to help you get into ketosis
Following the keto macro ratios by eating keto friendly foods is a nice way to enter ketosis. But for some reason, you might want to quicken things up a bit.
Or maybe you may have been following the general rule but quite can’t seem to properly get into ketosis. Here are some tips to help you out and make things easier for you
1. Increase physical activity
An increase in physical activity can actually help you get into ketosis quicker. This is because when you engage in physical activity, you use deplete your glycogen stores. When glycogen stores are depleted, ketone production can then commence.
Physical activities like jogging, running and some HIIT exercises can help deplete glycogen stores faster and get you into ketosis.
2. Take MCT oils
MCT stands for medium chain triglycerides. They are a special type of fats and are found in some fatty foods we eat although in varying amounts. Don’t worry about big names.
The thing about MCTs is that they are easier to burn for energy than your regular fats. Once you ingest them, they go straight to the liver for digestion and are converted to ketones whereas most other fats take a longer route before they are converted into ketones.
So taking MCTs can help you get into ketosis quicker and easier
3. Try fasting
Fasting, preferably short term can help you get into ketosis quicker. The absence of food further pushes your body to turn to its alternative source for energy.
A good approach is intermittent fasting, where you fast for a certain hours while allowing yourself to eat freely during the rest. Check out how to do intermittent fasting on keto here
Fasting on keto is generally easier because of the combined satiating effect of fats and protein.
4. Take more healthy and high quality fats
On keto, fats are required to make up about 70% of your calories. Eating the best quality healthy fats can help you get into ketosis quicker.
Considering your body is about to adapt to burning fats for fuel, it’s best to take in good fats and also in the right amount. No need to be afraid of consuming too much fat as long as it’s within your macro ratios and it’s healthy and of good quality.
For more on the kind of fats to eat, check out our guide to fats on he keto diet
5. Reduce carb intake where necessary
This is recommended if you are having trouble getting into ketosis. Please note it is stated “where necessary”. That is because there are other things to troubleshoot as well if you are having problems getting into ketosis.
But generally, if your carb intake is relatively high, reducing it can help you get into ketosis quicker. You can try going as low as 25 or even 20g of net carbs per day depending on what is more favourable for you.
6. Watch out for hidden carbs
Like I said earlier on, products with hidden carbs will add to your daily carb intake and can hinder you from entering ketosis. Always ensure to check the labels for hidden carbs.
Generally, if there is an unprocessed version of that product that you can use effortlessly, then go with it. Raw and unprocessed foods generally have fewer carbs and won’t contain “hidden carbs”
How to know if you are in ketosis
Now that you know what to do to achieve ketosis, how can you tell if you are in ketosis? It’s important to know if you are in ketosis or not. After all, you need to know if your efforts are paying off or not.
There are certain signs you might notice which will indicate that you are entering ketosis. They are;
- Rapid weight loss
- The keto breath
- Increased and better energy levels
- Reduced hunger cravings
- Short-term fatigue (transition period)
These are little signs you might notice. But they are just signs and other factors could cause some of these factors. A more trustworthy way to know if you are in ketosis is by measuring it. You can measure your level of ketosis using 3 main methods
- Breath testing – this involves using an instrument called the breathalyser to measure the amount of ketones in your breath
- Urine testing – urine testing involves measuring the amount of ketones your body removes through your urine. This can be done with a ketone strip which shows you different colours based on the concentration of ketones in your urine
- Blood testing – this works by using a blood ketone meter and a lancet to measure the amount of ketones directly in your bloodstream.
To find out more on how to measure ketosis, check out our guide on measuring ketosis
The ketogenic diet is really promising. But to reap the benefits in full, you are required to be in the state of ketosis
This can be achieved by sticking to your macros and keeping your total carb consumption under 50g and net carbs under 35g per day. To know how much of each macronutrient you need, you can use a keto calculator.
Certain reasons can prevent you from entering ketosis like excessive carb intake, stress and low fat intake. It’s important to know and avoid anything that will prevent you from entering ketosis.
And by following few tips, you can get into ketosis quicker and easier.
You can check out our keto resources and keto diet recommendations to help you with all you need to succeed on keto. If you loved this, feel free to spread the keto love and share it wih your friends.
- The metabolism of fats – Wikipedia
- Fasting diets – Webmd
- Health benefits of low carb and keto diets – Healthline
- Effect of MCTs on weight loss and body composition – NCBI
- Lauric acid-rich MCTs and cooking oils – NCBI
- Tips to help you get into ketosis – Healthline
- Acetone in breath as a way to measure ketosis – NCBI
- Fat utilization during exercise – NCBI
- Understanding the factors that effect maximal fat oxidation – NCBI