Many people, as explained in the Body Reboot book, are going on the ketogenic diet to improve their health. The keto diet, a high fat, low carb diet, has many benefits ranging from possibly treating disease to dieters experiencing weight loss. When following the keto diet correctly, it will raise blood ketone levels, which leads to being in ketosis. When a body is in a state of ketosis, it is burning fat, which is the ultimate goal of the keto diet. Thinking about going on the keto diet? Knowing which signs to watch for after taking the plunge and cutting back on the carbs is a good idea. To have a good idea whether you’re in ketosis or not, we’ve outlined 8 signs and symptoms to watch for.
1. Rapid weight loss
One of the most incredible, and fantastic signs that you’re in ketosis is you’ll experience rapid weight loss. Perfect Keto explains how and why you lose weight more quickly when you first cut back on carbs. Even though you may initially lose a lot of weight, that isn’t an indication you may or may not lose that many pounds moving forward. However, if you stick to it, you should continue to get positive results.
You’ll probably lose significant weight in your first couple weeks of keto.
It won’t be all fat loss (that comes later); it’ll mostly be water weight that you lose when you burn through your glycogen stores. Glycogen is your body’s stored form of glucose (sugar), and on keto, you don’t need much of it.
When you’re in a calorie deficit on keto, your body turns to stored body fat instead.
Glycogen is mostly water — three molecules of water for every molecule of glucose — so when you burn through your glycogen stores and don’t refill them by eating carbs, you lose several pounds of water weight.
If you’re on the keto diet for fat loss, don’t worry: that happens next.
2. More ketones in your blood
Healthline explains how measuring how many ketones are in your blood will reveal whether you’re in ketosis or not. There are a few ways to measure your ketones and if you’re wondering how deep you’re into ketosis doing this is a good predictor.
One of the hallmarks of a ketogenic diet is a reduction in blood sugar levels and an increase in ketones.
As you progress further into a ketogenic diet, you will start to burn fat and ketones as the main fuel sources.
The most reliable and accurate method of measuring ketosis is to measure your blood ketone levels using a specialized meter.
It measures your ketone levels by calculating the amount of beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) in your blood.
This is one of the primary ketones present in the bloodstream.
According to some experts on the ketogenic diet, nutritional ketosis is defined as blood ketones ranging from 0.5–3.0 mmol/L.
Measuring ketones in your blood is the most accurate way of testing and is used in most research studies. However, the main downside is that it requires a small pinprick to draw blood from your finger.
What’s more, test kits can be expensive. For this reason, most people will just perform one test per week or every other week. If you would like to try testing your ketones, Amazon has a good selection available.
Natural Force further explains what ketones are and why they’re essential to learn about when you’re on the keto diet. As you just read, there are certain levels to look out for, and we further discuss this below:
Ketones are molecules your body produces as an energy source once you cut out most carbs and replace them with healthy fats. The ketogenic diet is different than other “low-carb” diets because there are specific measurements of blood ketones that signify when you’re in fat-burning ketosis.
If and when you’re ready to test, look for ketone levels above 0.3 mmol/L. If you’re at or above this number, you’re technically in ketosis; although many experts consider optimum ketosis to be between 0.5 and 3.0 mmol/L.
3. Reduced hunger
When you’re in ketosis, you’ll also likely be less hungry, as you will feel fuller eating fat and protein as opposed to carbs. Diet Doctor discusses why experiencing less hunger can significantly benefit your likelihood of losing weight.
Many people experience a marked reduction in hunger on a keto diet. This may be caused by an increased ability of the body to be fueled by its fat stores. Many people feel great when they eat just once or twice a day, and may automatically end up doing a form of intermittent fasting. This saves time and money, while also speeding up weight loss.
4. Feeling thirsty
If you’re feeling thirsty, it turns out, according to Medical News Today, that that may mean you’re in ketosis! Since you’re secreting salt at a much faster rate, you need to stay hydrated, even if you’re feeling a lot more thirsty.
Ketosis may cause some people to feel thirstier than usual, which may occur as a side effect of water loss. However, high levels of ketones in the body can also lead to dehydration and an electrolyte imbalance. Both of these reactions can cause complications.
Research into ketogenic diets for sports performance lists dehydration as a side effect of ketosis. Athletes may also have a higher risk of kidney stones, which is a complication of dehydration.
To avoid dehydration, drink plenty of water and other liquids. See a doctor if symptoms of dehydration, such as extreme thirst or dark-colored urine, occur.
5. Bad breath
Did your significant other just inform you that you have bad breath? Don’t be offended — Healthline tells us that this is actually a good sign! Bad breath means you’re in ketosis, so if that’s the case, it’s time to get out the mouthwash.
People often report bad breath once they reach full ketosis.
It's actually a common side effect. Many people on ketogenic diets and similar diets, such as the Atkins diet, report that their breath takes on a fruity smell.
This is caused by elevated ketone levels. The specific culprit is acetone, a ketone that exits the body in your urine and breath.
While this breath may be less than ideal for your social life, it can be a positive sign for your diet. Many ketogenic dieters brush their teeth several times per day or use sugar-free gum to solve the issue.
If you're using gum or other alternatives like sugar-free drinks, check the label for carbs. These may raise your blood sugar levels and reduce ketone levels.
As you increase your fat intake, you may experience constipation. Men’s Health reveals that this isn’t a fun side effect of the keto diet, but there are some high-fiber foods you can eat to counteract this possible side effect.
Keto dieters are typically constipated for two reasons. First, they're not consuming fiber-filled foods, like oatmeal, that are carb heavy but keep you regular. Second, carbohydrates are converted into glycogen — which has high water content — to be used as energy; when you're not eating carbs, the amount of water in your system is decreased, making it harder to poop.
The best way to combat this is by making the most of the carbohydrates you do consume.
“You should be getting carbohydrates from non-starchy vegetables and things that have lots of fiber,” Boehmer says. Cauliflower, broccoli, and leafy greens are all good picks.
Boehmer says the best way to minimize these unpleasant side effects is by staying consistent.
“If you’e going to commit to this, you need to fully commit,” she says. “Keep your carbs between 20 and 30 grams [per day].”
7. Muscle cramps
Another sign you may be in ketosis if you’re suddenly experiencing muscle cramps. There’s no need to panic — Medical News Today explains this is because you have less salt in your system. You may also be experiencing the keto flu, which means you’re not getting enough liquids. Stay hydrated and lose weight simultaneously!
Dehydration and electrolyte imbalances can cause muscle cramps. Electrolytes are substances that carry electrical signals between the body's cells. Imbalances in these substances lead to disrupted electrical messages that may cause muscle contractions and spasms.
People following the ketogenic diet should ensure that they are getting enough electrolytes from the food they eat to avoid muscle pains and other symptoms of an imbalance.
Electrolytes include calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium. A person can get these from eating a balanced diet. However, if symptoms persist, a doctor may recommend supplements or other dietary changes.
It’s exciting going on the keto diet for the first time, but you may have a lot of questions. This brief overview explained how to get into ketosis, but there are many other signs to watch out for as well. We explain the many benefits of the keto diet and how to get and stay in ketosis in the Body Reboot book. For a free copy of the book simply help us cover shipping. Visit this page to snag your free copy today!
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Discover how to activate your body's “Reboot Switch” that flips on a fat burning inferno so you can finally achieve your weight loss goals!