The keto diet is an incredible low carb, high-fat diet that provides several health benefits, and those benefits come from a normal metabolic process called ketosis.
During ketosis, a body converts fats into ketones. These compounds are then used as a body's primary source of energy.
Studies have shown us that a ketogenic diet is very beneficial for weight loss, partially due to their appetite-suppressing effects. Recent studies also show that ketosis may also help with neurological disorders, type 2 diabetes, and other diseases.
For an excellent source on the keto diet, the Body Reboot book provides a helpful summary and more on what to expect.
So after you've decided to take the plunge and try the keto diet, how do you reach ketosis? For starters, check out these tips:
Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE, from Healthline, mentions the most obvious yet essential way to enter ketosis, which is significantly decreasing your carb intake. Do this, and in time your body should adjust to burning fat as opposed to carbs, pushing it into ketosis.
Eating a very low-carb diet is by far the most important factor in achieving ketosis.
Normally, your cells use glucose, or sugar, as their main source of fuel. However, most of your cells can also use other fuel sources. This includes fatty acids, as well as ketones, which are also known as ketone bodies.
Your body stores glucose in your liver and muscles in the form of glycogen.
When carb intake is very low, glycogen stores are reduced and levels of the hormone insulin decline. This allows fatty acids to be released from fat stores in your body.
Your liver converts some of these fatty acids into the ketone bodies acetone, acetoacetate and beta-hydroxybutyrate. These ketones can be used as fuel by portions of the brain (5, 6).
The level of carb restriction needed to induce ketosis is somewhat individualized. Some people need to limit net carbs (total carbs minus fiber) to 20 grams per day, while others can achieve ketosis while eating twice this amount or more.
Franziska also mentions that some people may be able to induce ketosis on more than 20 grams per day, but we recommend eating around 20-30 grams of carbs per day for the best results. However, if you're unsure what daily carb intake is best for you, see how you feel and adjust your carb intake accordingly.
Writer Franziska on Healthline also mentions that eating coconut oil can speed up the ketosis process since it contains MCTs.
Eating coconut oil can help you get into ketosis.
It contains fats called medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs).
Unlike most fats, MCTs are rapidly absorbed and taken directly to the liver, where they can be used immediately for energy or converted into ketones.
In fact, it's been suggested that consuming coconut oil may be one of the best ways to increase ketone levels in people with Alzheimer's disease and other nervous system disorders (11).
Although coconut oil contains four types of MCTs, 50% of its fat comes from the kind known as lauric acid.
Some research suggests that fat sources with a higher percentage of lauric acid may produce a more sustained level of ketosis. This is because it's metabolized more gradually than other MCTs (12, 13).
MCTs have been used to induce ketosis in epileptic children without restricting carbs as drastically as the classic ketogenic diet.
In fact, several studies have found that a high-MCT diet containing 20% of calories from carbs produces effects similar to the classic ketogenic diet, which provides fewer than 5% of calories from carbs (14, 15, 16).
When adding coconut oil to your diet, it's a good idea to do so slowly to minimize digestive side effects like stomach cramping or diarrhea.
Start with one teaspoon per day and work up to two to three tablespoons daily over the course of a week.
The Daily Nutrition claims it's all about increasing your healthy fat intake because by eating more fats and fewer carbs you'll force your body to reach ketosis a lot faster.
For any keto diet, you’re going to be consuming a lot more fats. Contrary to popular belief, you actually need to eat fat to lose fat. I know this sounds a bit weird, but trust me, that’s how it works.
You need to make sure that you are consuming the healthy fats though. The ones you get from butter, olive oil, and coconut oil.
Avoid the processed oils since they have a lot added to them that you don’t need.
More fats and fewer carbs mean you’re on your way to a fatless body.
But while you're eating more fats and fewer carbs, be wary of overeating protein…
Since you’re consuming very many carbs at all, it can be fairly easy to go a bit overboard with the protein. This is something that, although may sound good, can harm you in the long run.
When you consume too much protein, that excess amount is going to convert into glucose, which will put you back at square one again.
You need to make sure you have a healthy balance of proteins in your diet.
Without this balance, you could experience higher levels of insulin in your body, which encourages fat storage, the opposite of what we want to be happening at this moment.Of course, let's not forget about exercise and fat fasting, which the Nutrient Hero says will get your body keto adapted in no time at all.
Exercise intensity plays a significant role in how quickly you can enter ketosis. The more you exercise, the more you deplete glycogen reserves.
Intense exercise combined with ketogenic diet can speed up the process and put you in ketosis as fast as 24 hours.
Fat fasting is a type of fasting where you eat at a large deficit (1000-1200 calorie) per day and 80%-90% of calories come from fat, 5% from carbs, 15% from protein.
You can prepare fat bombs, eat cream cheese, drink coffee or water. If you do it for 2-3 days, you will most definitely reach ketosis.
A writer on Kiss My Keto adds to the fast fasting thoughts above by further explaining how fasting can speed up the process.
Fasting to get into ketosis is quite popular among ketoers. It takes anywhere between 24 hours and 3 days for your body to enter ketosis when fasted. However, complete fasting is unnecessary and can even be dangerous for people with diabetes and chronic kidney diseases.
One study compared the timing of ketosis during fasting and on a keto diet . The study concluded that both keto and fasting led to ketosis within a similar time frame – around 17-48 hours. That means that you don't really need fasting to get into ketosis, but it is helpful.
What many keto-ers do is use fasting alongside a keto diet. This enhances the diet’s efficiency and provides added health benefits. You'll enter ketosis sooner when combined with a fast. Fasting while on keto also reduces your risk of complications like hypoglycemia and severe electrolyte imbalances.
The most popular fasting method among keto dieters is intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is also gaining momentum in wellness and science communities. That's not surprising given how easy, convenient, and helpful it is.
In closing, KetoDash offers an excellent summary of what we just covered above and a few other ways on how to reach ketosis. Keep in mind that every person is different so how you reach ketosis may not work for another person.
Restrict your carbohydrates: Because you can't reach ketosis when your body still has a supply of glucose to burn you need to restrict your net carb intake to 20g or less than a day.
Restrict your protein: Protein is a sneaky one in this diet because if you eat too much it ends up being converted into glucose which will keep you out of ketosis.
Stop worrying about fat: To lose fat on keto you need to consume healthy fats so you have to get rid of the mental block you have regarding it. You don't lose weight on keto by feeling hungry all of the time.
Drink water: Water is a huge deal on keto. You need to consume a lot of it. You need to stay hydrated and be consistent with the amount of water you drink. To make it easier, consider drinking water with fresh lemon in it or grab some MiO with Electrolytes.
Careful with snacking: One thing you have to keep in mind is that even while eating keto you can suffer from small insulin spikes. Less snacking means less of those giving you a better chance of losing weight.
Consider fasting: Fasting in this case means intermittent fasting. Instead of eating throughout the day, you block off an 8-hour window and in that window you eat all of your meals.
Add exercise: A simple 20-30 minute walk everyday can help regulate weight loss and your blood sugar levels. An increased workout routine usually means an adjustment in macros so just because keto gives you more energy don't assume that things can stay the same when you run a marathon.
Look at supplements: Supplements can help you reach ketosis quicker but they aren't necessary.
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