The keto diet is one of the most famous low-carb diets in the world.
Despite its recent popularity, this diet has actually been around for over 100 years.
At first, its purpose was for medical purposes. Before there were anti-epileptic drugs, the ketogenic diet was introduced as a therapeutic eating plan to help treat children with epilepsy.
Today, this very low-carb diet is used primarily to promote weight loss and regulate blood sugar levels.
The goal of the ketogenic diet is to enter ketosis, which is achieved by limiting carbohydrate intake, moderate protein consumption and increasing calories from fat. (1)
Limiting your body’s carbohydrate intake and increasing your calorie intake from fat helps your body switch its primary fuel source from glucose—a type of sugar—to ketones, or compounds produced when fat is broken down, to serve as an alternative fuel source. ( 2 )
The result is a metabolic state in which the body prefers fat as its primary fuel source.
Although fans of the keto diet believe that its health benefits are enormous, including weight loss, increased levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, and decreased levels of blood sugar, insulin, and triglycerides, there are also downsides to this diet that must be considered. .keep in mind before you try. (3) (4)
The time it takes to enter ketosis, or the metabolic state associated with using ketone bodies as fuel in the body, can vary from person to person.
What’s more, many people have trouble getting into ketosis.
This article explains how long it takes to enter ketosis and why it may be more difficult for you.
How long does it take to enter ketosis?
In order to reap the benefits of a ketogenic diet, your body must enter a state called ketosis.
It’s a metabolic condition in which your body converts fat into molecules called ketones, which it uses as its main source of energy when glucose – a type of sugar – is in short supply.
The best way to achieve ketosis is to drastically reduce your carbohydrate intake.
In the digestive tract, carbohydrates are broken down into sugar molecules – such as glucose – so they can travel through the bloodstream and be used for energy. If your body has excess glucose, it can be stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen.
By drastically reducing your carbohydrate intake below about 50 grams per day, your body is forced to use its glycogen stores for energy—and eventually switch to using ketones for fuel. (5)
The time it takes to enter ketosis varies from person to person. (6) (7)
In general, it can take 2-4 days if you eat 20-50 grams of carbohydrates per day. However, some people may find that it takes a week or more to reach this state. (8)
For example, people who typically eat a high-carb diet before starting a keto diet may take longer to get into ketosis than those who typically eat a low- to moderate-carb diet. This is because your body needs to deplete its glycogen stores before entering ketosis. (9)
How to know if you are in ketosis
As your body transitions into ketosis, you may experience several symptoms — sometimes known as the “keto flu.” These include headache, fatigue, nausea, bad breath and thirst.
Although these symptoms may indicate that your body is in transition, the best way to tell if you are in ketosis is to test your body’s ketone levels.
Ways to measure ketone levels
Testing your body’s ketone levels is the best way to determine if you are in ketosis.
There are three types of ketones—acetoacetate, acetone, and beta-hydroxybutyrate—that can be measured in urine, breath, and blood.
The level of acetoacetate can be measured in the urine with a urine strip that turns different shades of pink or purple depending on the level of ketones in the urine. Darker colors usually mean your urine contains higher levels. (10) (11)
Urine test strips are a cheap and easy way to find out if you are in ketosis. However, they are not as accurate as other tools.
Acetone levels can be measured with a ketone breathalyzer such as Ketonix. This meter flashes color to let you know if you are in ketosis and how high your ketone levels are.
Studies show that breath ketone meters are quite accurate. ( 12 )
Beta-hydroxybutyrate levels are measured with a blood ketone meter, which works similar to a glucometer, an instrument for measuring blood sugar levels. ( 13 )
To use a blood ketone meter, simply use a small companion needle to draw blood, then let the tip of the strip come into contact with your blood.
A blood ketone range of 1.5–3.0 mmol per liter is ideal for maintaining ketosis. ( 14 )
Tools that measure ketone levels should give you an accurate idea of whether you are in ketosis. This tells you if you need to make adjustments to enter or stay in that state.
Why do some people take longer to enter ketosis?
There are many reasons why some people take longer to enter ketosis.
Many factors, including your age, metabolism, level of exercise, and current intake of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats can play a role in how long it takes to enter ketosis.
In most cases, the longer time it takes to enter ketosis is the result of accidentally eating more carbohydrates than recommended for a ketogenic diet. If you eat too many carbohydrates, your body can stop producing ketones.
In a recent clinical trial looking at the health benefits of the keto diet, researchers advised patients to consume less than 20 grams of carbohydrates per day, although other research suggests that a person on a keto diet can consume between 20 and 50 grams of carbohydrates per day . day (15) (16)
Therefore, you may need to further reduce your carb intake if you struggle to enter ketosis.
Another common mistake is not consuming enough fat on the ketogenic diet. In general, people should aim to consume about 55-60 percent of their daily calories from fat, 30-35 percent from protein, and 5-10 percent from carbohydrates. ( 17 )
Additionally, eating too much protein on a keto diet can make it harder to enter ketosis because it can encourage your body to use gluconeogenesis, the process that converts amino acids from protein into sugar. Too much sugar can prevent the body from producing ketones. ( 18 )
In addition to diet, lifestyle, including exercise, sleep and stress, can affect the time it takes to enter ketosis.
What do you need to know before trying keto?
“Going keto” is considered a trendy way to lose weight, but there are certain risks and disadvantages associated with the diet that should be considered before trying it.
While people on a ketogenic diet typically lose weight quickly at first—up to 10 pounds in 2 weeks—this may be due to the diet’s diuretic effect.
Although low-carb diets are associated with reduced sugar intake, which may reduce an individual’s risk of obesity, diabetes, and other metabolic disorders, there are some concerns.
One of them is that the long-term health effects of the keto diet are unknown.
Long-term health complications of the keto diet
Long-term side effects include fatty liver, kidney stones, inadequate protein levels and vitamin deficiencies, but more research is needed to fully understand the implications.
Another challenge associated with the keto diet is the reduced consumption of fruits and vegetables and increased consumption of fat.
Long-term low-carb, high-fat diets can cause inflammation and oxidative stress, and even accelerate aging. ( 19 )
Also, due to the strict restrictions, following the keto diet can be challenging and even unbearable for many people.
Finally, people living with diabetes who take insulin or oral hypoglycemic medications can experience severe hypoglycemia if the medications are not properly adjusted before starting this diet. Individuals who have pancreatic or liver disease or metabolic disorders should also consult their doctor before trying this diet.
If you’re wondering how ketosis might work for you, ask your doctor if the keto diet is right for you.
Tips for achieving ketosis
If you’re struggling to get into ketosis, here are some tips to help you get there:
- Eat 20-50 grams of carbohydrates per day. This can stimulate your body to produce ketones. People who have trouble getting into ketosis may need to stick to the lower end of the scale.
- Monitor your carbohydrate intake. This can help you make sure you’re eating 20-50 grams of carbs per day and not underestimating your carb intake.
- Limit eating at restaurants. While there are plenty of keto-friendly restaurants, eating out can make it difficult to track your carbs.
- Be aware of hidden sources of carbohydrates. It’s easy to overlook seasoning ingredients, but many sauces and dressings are high in carbohydrates.
- Increase your intake of high-quality fats. Aim to get at least 55-60% of your calories from healthy fats such as nuts, nut butters, extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, avocados, meat, eggs and fatty fish such as salmon.
- Try intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting can help your body switch its fuel source from carbohydrates to fat while maintaining energy balance. (20)
- Exercise more. Physical activity can deplete your body’s glycogen stores, prompting your liver to increase ketone production. Studies show that exercising on an empty stomach can help increase ketone levels. ( 21 )
- Check your ketone levels regularly. Testing your ketone levels can help you determine if you’re in ketosis – allowing you to adjust your diet.
The keto diet isn’t for everyone, but it can help with short-term weight loss goals.
In general, it should take 2-4 days to enter ketosis.
However, some people may find that it takes a week or more. The time you need depends on various factors such as your age, metabolism, exercise level and current intake of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
The best way to find out if you are in ketosis is to measure your ketone levels with a breath, urine or blood ketone meter.
If you’re having trouble getting into ketosis, try watching your carb intake, increasing your exercise, or following some of the other tips above.
If you’re interested in trying the keto diet or have trouble getting into ketosis, ask your doctor if ketosis is right for you.