Generally, people on a low-carb, high-fat diet like the ketogenic diet can expect ketosis to kick in after 2-4 days. It can be sooner for some and longer for others, depending on their diet, lifestyle, age, and metabolism. You can also achieve ketosis faster with a few easy science-backed tips, which we discuss in this blog. It is also important to know about a rare side-effect of ketoacidosis and how you can reduce the risk of developing it. Let's dive in!
Three Ways to Achieve Ketosis Quickly
Watching what you eat, fasting, and exercising can help your body reach ketosis faster.
Following the Right Diet
Low-carb diets are linked to weight loss and numerous health benefits, including higher levels of good cholesterol, improved hemoglobin A1C, and decreased plasma triglyceride levels. When your body gets less carbs from food, it burns the stored fat for energy and releases compounds called ketones into the blood to fuel your brain and muscle cells. As the body burns fat efficiently, losing weight becomes less challenging. The trick, of course, is to achieve ketosis and maintain it over short periods. This can be an issue in the following situations:
Eat more Carbs than Recommended
A low-carb diet like keto limits carb intake to 5-10% of total calories. Any more can potentially prevent you from achieving ketosis fast. Quite often, this results from unintentionally consuming hidden sources of carbs. For example, one tablespoon of ketchup is Keto-friendly, but any more and the carbs will add up quickly. Dijon mustard has negligible carbs, but honey mustard dressing packs more of them. A quick review of your pantry's condiment labels should clarify things.
Eat Less Fat
On a low-carb diet, the standard advice is to get an average of 70-80% fat from total daily calories. Aim for high-quality fats like nuts, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and fatty fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel. If you enjoy eating eggs, they can also form a part of your diet. While eggs contain some saturated fat, which raises cholesterol levels in the body, they also happen to be a source of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (MUFAs and PUFAs), which improve blood cholesterol levels and help regulate insulin levels.
Track your carb and fat intake. Counting carbs becomes easy once you get into the habit of checking food labels. Also, pay attention to the type of fats you consume, prioritize healthy MUFAs and PUFAs, and eliminate unhealthy saturated fat.
When you exercise, your body's carb reserves deplete quickly. Your body then metabolizes fat for energy. So, working out is a simple way to achieve ketosis.
You may be aware of intermittent fasting, a fasting schedule over a short period followed by regularly eating again. This eating pattern can help you reach a state of ketosis.
Intermittent fasting usually lasts 12-40 hours. Avoid abstaining from eating for over 24 hours if you experience side effects like fatigue, headaches, lightheadedness, digestive issues, sleep disturbances, or irritability, which can affect your personal or work life. Stay hydrated with water, herbal teas, and coconut water throughout the day.
Exercise could boost results from intermittent fasting for ketosis. A study by Brigham Young University published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise found that it is important to exercise intensely at the start of a fast can help with ketosis. In the study, 20 healthy adults completed two 36-hourfasts, first without exercise and following a treadmill workout. When exercising, they entered ketosis on average three and half hours earlier in the fast. Without exercise, they achieved ketosis 20-24 hours into the fast.
Nutritional Ketosis vs Ketoacidosis
Inducing ketosis with a low-carb, high-fat diet, known as nutritional ketosis, is different from ketoacidosis, a condition in which the ketone levels of the body surge to dangerously high levels and enter your bloodstream and urine. Ketoacidosis is a rare complication of type 1 diabetes and can cause coma, swelling in the brain, or even death. Rarely, ketoacidosis can occur in non-diabetics on a low-carb diet.
On a low-carb diet, it is pretty normal to have blood ketone levels in the range of 0.5-3.0 millimoles per liter (mmol/L).You can quickly check for ketones in urine using KetoNOX urinalysis test strips. The strips have reagent pads that produce a color change to indicate safe or high ketone levels in the body. At-home testing using KetoNOX is quick and cost-effective. You can stay on top of your keto diet while remaining in the optimal range for nutritional ketosis.