Going on the ketogenic diet is simple enough. All you have to do is severely limit your carb intake long enough to get into and stay in ketosis.
Knowing if you’re ketosis, however, is no easy task. In fact, telling what’s going inside of your body can be quite challenging.
I don’t blame you. Ketosis can be an elusive beast. That’s where today’s article comes in handy.
In today’s post, I’ll give you the low-down on the seven obvious signs to tell if you’re in ketosis. But first, let’s delve a little bit deeper into the ketogenic diet and what exactly means to be in ketosis.
What’s The Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet is high fat, moderate protein, and very low-carb eating plan. In general, it consists of 70 to 80 percent fat, 15 to 25 percent protein, and 5 to 10 percent carbohydrates.
The main objective of the ketogenic diet is to get your body into a state of ketosis by limiting carbohydrates intake to 10 to 30 grams per day. During this, the body switches into burning fat as fuel instead of glycogen.
Key-tow-sis is a metabolic state in which the body metabolizes fat instead of carbs to produce ketones, employed by our cell to provide energy to perform their normal function.
Under normal conditions, your body uses carbs fuel its energy needs. But when you drastically cut on your carb intake, ketones are produced by the liver, and released into the bloodstream as a reaction to inadequate glucose in the body.
Technically, the state of ketosis is attained when blood ketone levels are around 0.5 mmol/ L.
Getting Into Ketosis
The best way to get into ketosis—and fast as possible—is to eliminate all major carbohydrates sources in your diet, usually to less than 30 net grams of carbs per day.
The more restrictive your carb intake is during the early stage, the sooner your body will enter ketosis. So it’s goodbye to bread, rice, pasta, peas, fruits, sugary drinks, chocolate and all of that.
Instead, you’ll be eating plenty of healthy fats, moderate amounts of lean proteins, and some vegetables. Sure, this first step seems brutal, but it’s worth every a headache.
Note: Keep in mind that 30 grams of carbs is the equivalent of 3 large carrots, one large banana, or two slices of white bread.
How Fast Can You Get Into Ketosis
If you’ve been on the ketogenic diet for at least a couple of weeks and following the guidelines as strictly as possible, then, you should enter ketosis within three to four days—seven days max.
In general, most people will be able to access a light nutritional ketosis—about 0.6 to 1.0 mmol/L within two to three days. It often takes more than two weeks to get into optimal and steady ketosis of 1.5 to 3.0 mmol/L.
The Main Ketosis Symptoms
Once your body enters ketosis, you’ll more than likely experience a range of symptoms. Here’s what you need to know about these telling signs.
Note—if you don’t know the basic tenets of the ketogenic diet, then I strongly recommend checking my previous post here.
1. Reduced Insulin Levels
When you eat carb-rich foods, your insulin levels spike. But, as soon as start cracking down on carbs, you’ll limit these spikes.
Science backs this up.
According to research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, diabetic subjects on a low-carb diet for two weeks not only normalized their glucose levels but also reduced average blood sugar by 30 mg/dl.
In other words, the ketogenic diet is a fantastic way to help regulate blood sugar levels.
To ensure that low sugar levels don’t interfere with your life, do the following.
Have more meals. Plan to eat every four to five hours once you take your first few steps on the ketogenic path. This will help keeps you satisfied and blood sugar levels in check.
Reach for mineral-rich drinks. Instead of drinking plain water, opt for mineral-rich drinks between meals. These include high-quality electrolyte beverages or organic broths.
Have some Exogenous ketones. These are a great way to train your body to rely on ketos for energy before it’s efficient at producing ketones.
2. Experiencing the Keto Flu
A common unwanted effect at the onset of the keto diet is feeling so rundown that you might think you have the flu, hence the keto flu.
This is what I hated the most about the keto diet during the first few days.
I still remember it vividly. On day three or four I got brain fog, and I was in a hazy state where I’d walk into a room and couldn’t remember why I’d gone in there in the first place.
It was really bad.
Also known as “induction flu,” the keto flu mimics the signs of the flu. It consists of a bout of lethargy and flu-like symptoms experienced the first week or so as your body begins to make the transition from burning fat instead of glycogen.
Think of the keto flu as your body’s carbohydrate withdrawal syndrome.
In most cases, the keto flu kicks at the 48-to 72-hour mark. Symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- Lack of concentration
- Brain fog or confusion
- Trouble falling—or staying—asleep.
Fortunately, the symptoms are not permanent, and it’s a good sign that your body is now burning fat.
Once your body has adjusted, these usually resolve within a few days—and often up to a week.
To ease the keto flu, drink plenty of water, increase your dietary fat intake, and consider opting for a sugar-free electrolyte drink.
3. Your Breath Might Smell
Another strange effect of ketosis is that your breath may smell sweet like nail polish remover.
This is caused, as it’s believed, by increased ketone bodies levels in the body.
More specifically, acetone, which is released in the liver and expelled via the breath. This is also a chemical used in the production of nail polish remover and some paint thinners, and is expelled through urine and breath.
Because of the same reason, some people may notice a slightly metallic, or even fruity, taste in their mouth.
While the bad breath may ruin your mood (or of those you interact with) but, fortunately, it also indicated that your ketogenic diet is going well.
To mask this symptom, brush your teeth more regularly, add essential oils to water, use mouthwash, or chew on sugar-free mints.
Or, simply grin and bear it. It’s, after all, just a question of time since the stinky odor goes away in a manner of weeks.
4. Short-Term Fatigue
Even if you don’t experience all of the symptoms of the keto flu, you might feel tired—maybe just a little bit more tired than usual.
During the first few weeks—not days—you’ll feel as though you have less energy than you usually do when working out, especially when doing high impact cardio sports, such as running.
The initial drop in performance is caused by the reduction in muscles’ glycogen stores, which is the primary and most efficient energy source for all forms of high-intensity training.
While the drop in energy output is a good sign of ketosis, it can be discouraging as it can negatively affect your workouts. It’s actually one of the main reasons beginners—especially the super active— quit the diet before they’re fully keto-adapted.
On average, it may take 10 to 30 days before you’re in full ketosis. Complete keto-adaptation can take up to three months.
During the adaptation period, take it easy. Reduce your training load. Use less weight, fewer reps, take longer breaks between sets, and reduce the length and intensity of your cardio sessions. Add an extra rest day if you need to.
To help get over this initial hump, take electrolytes supplements to help replace those lost in droves. As a rough guideline, aim for 3000 to 4000 mg of sodium, 1000 mg of potassium, and no more than 300 mg of magnesium per day.
5. You Have Digestive issues
Constipation and diarrhea are most likely the byproducts of eating greater amounts of healthy fats than your digestive system is used to dealing with.
As you limit carb intake, you’re also removing a lot of fiber, such as fruit, grains, legume, and cereals, which may result in constipation. On top of that, revving up fat intake may cause diarrhea.
That’s why digestive issues, such as constipation and diarrhea, are like rites of passage for keto initiates.
As we have seen before, most of these issues should subside after the transition period.
To ease your digestive issues, do the following:
- Adding keto-friendly high-fiber foods.
- Consuming plenty of fiber from non-starchy, low-carb, vegetables.
- Getting enough salt or magnesium.
- Drinking plenty of water.
- Cutting on dairy and nut.
Keep in mind that some people have no trouble. So just because you’re not suffering from any stomach issues doesn’t mean that the ketogenic diet isn’t delivering.
Everybody and every BODY is different. That’s why everyone’s digestive system may react differently to a drastic change in diet, such as cutting down on carbohydrates.
6. Reduced Appetite
Not all of ketosis signs are undesirable. Some are quite sought after. This is one of them.
Besides all of these mildly troubling symptoms, there are also amazing, and quite sought after, ones. The best of which is feeling less hungry.
Many people report drastic drops and reduction in appetite while on a ketogenic diet.
Rather, you’ll find that you tended to feel more sated and satisfied with your meals while needing and consuming much less food thanks to the super high-fat content.
Once you’re keto-adapted, expect to go on long periods without feeling hungry. That’s why the practice of intermittent fasting is pretty common among established Keto’ers.
There are a few reseason why ketosis can tame your appetite. On the keto diet, you’ll be, mainly, consuming lots of healthy fats, lean proteins, and fibrous vegetables. These are the most satiating nutrients that affect appetite hormones, which tames your desire to eat.
Because of this, you’ll almost never feel hungry nor the need for grazing or snacking throughout the day.
7. Increased Ketones
The basic premise of the ketogenic diet is a decrease in blood sugar level and an increase in ketone bodies level in the bloodstream.
The main goal of the ketogenic diet, as previously stated, is to force your body to ramp up production of ketones.
Blood sugar levels fall, and the body releases fatty acids into the bloodstream.
Stay committed for the ketogenic diet for a longer time, and ketones will be the main energy provider of the body.
Here’s the good news. You can easily measure levels of ketone in the blood using a specialized meter. This is the most accurate and reliable way of telling whether you’re in ketosis.
More specifically, the meter measures your ketone levels by calculating the amount of beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), which is one of the three primary ketones that get released into the bloodstream once you reach full ketosis.
Technically, a blood ketone level of 0.5 mmol/L is the threshold for entering ketosis.
There’s a variety of devices measuring the presence of ketone bodies in the body, whether in the breath, urine, or blood. This provides an accurate biomarker of your level of ketosis.
According to most experts, measuring ketosis through blood is the most accurate, even though using a glucose meter is more expensive.
This is reliable because it measures both endogenous (created by ketogenic eating, fasting, exercise) ketones and exogenous ketones, such as HVMN ketone.
Nonetheless, this method can be a bit expensive and invasive as it requires a small pinprick to draw blood from your finger. -That’s why most people will only perform one test per week or every another week.
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Ketosis symptoms vary from person to person. But all in all, chances are you’ll find that at least a few of the above ketosis signs hold true for you.
Ultimately, if you’re applying the tenets of the ketogenic eating plan and stay consistent, you’ll, sooner or later, enter the state of ketosis.
The common thread in the above symptoms is that once your body makes the full transition, most—often all of—the symptoms should subside.
Once you make the full transition, your energy level will start to rise, and the keto flu is but a distance memory. Just be patient.
How long will that take depends on your particular case, genes, diet habits, activity levels, and age.
Just keep in mind that these symptoms do not affect everyone, so if you’re still hesitant about giving keto a shot, try it and see for yourself.
In the meantime thank you for reading my post
Keep Training Hard—And Eating Way Healthier