In recent years, the ketogenic diet has found widespread popularity as more people learn about the health and weight loss benefits of ketosis. However, there’s still some confusion surrounding how ketosis works, and how to get into ketosis in the first place.
Below, you’ll learn how to get into ketosis, and how to maintain a fat-burning metabolic state.
What Is Ketosis?
Ketosis occurs when your body has little to no access to carbohydrates, its preferred fuel source. In the absence of carbs, it begins breaking down and burning fat stores for energy instead.
- Curbed hunger and weight loss
- Improved blood sugar and insulin levels
- Better mental clarity and improved energy levels
- Less chance of inflammation
- Reducing risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease
- Decreased insulin resistance and the prevention of type 2 diabetes
How to Get Into Ketosis
The goal of the keto diet is to enter a fat-burning metabolic state known as ketosis. If this is your first time trying the keto diet, follow these steps to help you enter ketosis.
One quick note on transitioning into a ketogenic state: The first time you attempt to enter ketosis, you may experience a few negative side effects known as keto flu. These symptoms can include lethargy, brain fog, headaches, and other short-term symptoms that should go away in about a week.
Step 1: Limit Your Carb Intake
On the keto diet, you will need to drastically decrease your carbohydrate intake. On keto, roughly 5-10% of your daily calories will come from carbs. This comes out to about 30-50 grams of carbs per day, a fraction that you would see in a standard American diet.
On keto, the majority of these carbs will come from vitamin-rich, keto-friendly foods including leafy green vegetables and low-sugar fruits. Be sure to check out the full list of foods to eat on a ketogenic diet.
Step 2: Increase Your Fat Intake
One of the most common mistakes people make when starting the keto diet is underestimating how much fat they’ll need. Other low-carb diets like Atkins encourage a low-carb approach coupled with a high-protein intake. By contrast, keto is a high-fat diet with moderate protein consumption to preserve muscle mass.
On a keto meal plan, roughly 70-80% of your calories need to come from fat in order to boost ketone production. Choose fat sources such as MCT oil (medium-chain triglycerides), olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, avocado oil, nuts, and seeds.
Step 3: Increase Your Physical Activity Level
As you exercise, your body uses up glycogen stores (or stored glucose) for energy. For decades, many athletes followed the “carbo loading” advice of nutritionists, eating plenty of high-carb foods prior to workouts or competition. However, if you avoid eating carbohydrates prior to hitting the gym, you may experience post-exercise ketosis[*].
Step 4: Try Intermittent Fasting
Throughout history, humans were able to go for prolonged periods without food. During these periods, people entered a ketogenic state.
To replicate this evolutionary process, you can experiment with intermittent fasting. New research shows that fasts lasting more than 12 hours, or prolonged periods of a low-calorie diet, can help flip the metabolic switch, putting you in a fat-burning state[*].
Take a look at this guide on the different types of intermittent fasting for more information.
Step 5: Take Exogenous Ketone Supplements
When nutritional ketosis is not enough, sometimes supplements can help you enter a ketogenic state. Exogenous ketones, which are those not produced by the body (i.e. endogenous ketone bodies), are ketone supplements that can increase the number of ketones your body uses for fuel by supplying them directly to your bloodstream via supplementation.
Perfect Keto’s Exogenous Ketone Base can be taken any time of day, helping you increase your blood ketone levels while transitioning into ketosis or after a carb-heavy meal. This supplement contains the ketone body known as BHB (beta-hydroxybutyrate), the most abundant ketone in the body. It’s also the body’s most preferred energy source in the absence of glucose[*].
How to Maintain Ketosis
Keto is not meant to be a short-term diet — it’s meant to be a lifestyle. And part of any healthy lifestyle is making room for real-life situations such as celebrations, special events, travel, and vacations.
If you’re traveling, visiting your family for the holidays, or enjoying a few cocktails at happy hour, you may not be able to maintain a ketogenic state 100% of the time. But if you follow the below tips, you’ll be able to maintain a fat-burning state most of the time and get back into ketosis after a few too many carbs.
Calculate Your Macros on a Keto Diet
Remember the golden ketosis formula: Low carb, adequate protein, and high fat.
The exact amounts of carbs, proteins, and fats can vary per person, so you’ll have to do some experimenting to find out what works best for you.
For a standard ketogenic diet, it typically comes to around 70% fat, 25% protein, and 5% carbs.
To get a more accurate estimate of your individual maco goals (accounting for your body weight, BMI, and physical activity level) use the keto macro calculator to find your personalized macros on keto. That way, you’ll know the exact grams of total carbs, protein, and fat you should consume.
Track Your Carbs to Stay in Ketosis
Carb intake should be kept very low (and your fat intake high) so your body utilizes its natural fat-burning capabilities. You won’t ever reach ketosis if you aren’t diligent about finding the carbohydrate count that is just right for your body.
The best way to determine the exact net carb count that’s right for you is by figuring out your total daily calorie intake. Again, you can use the keto macro calculator for this.
Test Your Ketone Levels
What’s great about ketosis is that it’s not just a diet, it’s a measurable state of metabolism. To truly know whether you are in ketosis, simply test your ketone levels.
- Urine testing: Excess ketone bodies are excreted through the urine. You can use keto test strips (or urine strips) to easily test your ketone levels at home. However, this is not the most accurate method.
- Blood testing: The most accurate (and the most expensive) way to test your ketone levels is with a blood meter. Similar to using a blood glucose meter, you will prick your finger, squeeze out a drop of blood, and use the blood meter to measure your blood ketone levels.
- Breath testing: The ketone body acetone can be detected through your breath. Using a breath meter, such as a Ketonix meter, can measure your ketone levels when you exhale. This is the least accurate method.
A Well-Rounded Approach on How to Get Into Ketosis
The keto diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet where you attempt to enter the metabolic state known as ketosis. Once you are in ketosis, you may experience a number of health benefits including weight loss, improved insulin and blood sugar levels, decreased inflammation, and increased mental clarity.
Knowing how to get into ketosis includes eating plenty of fat while keeping your carb count extremely low. When nutritional ketosis is not enough, you can try intermittent fasting, ramping up your exercise routine, or supplementing with exogenous ketones.
Be sure to routinely check your ketone levels to assess if you are effectively maintaining ketosis. If you aren’t, simply review your eating habits, make a few alterations in your diet, and then retest.
Reaching and maintaining ketosis doesn’t happen overnight, but with patience, tenacity, and solid information, you’ll be able to enjoy a healthy keto lifestyle.