While everyone may need to fine-tune their ketogenic diet every now and then, sometimes life calls for a complete overhaul.
Whether occasional slip-ups have turned into everyday events, or you’re just looking for a further weight loss boost, following this comprehensive guide to resetting your keto lifestyle will get you back on track quickly and painlessly.
When you start any new diet, the excitement and promise of something new can energize you to feel like you can do anything. It’s not uncommon to go in with the perfect meal plan and workout, feeling like you’re on top of the world.
And then reality kicks in.
Those morning workouts start to feel like a chore, the food prep becomes monotonous, and saying no to your old favorites may start to wear on you.
When this happens, it’s easy to fall off your plan altogether. The better option? Do a keto reset diet.
Here are a few very common circumstances where a keto reset may be in order:
- You’ve been following your keto diet to a T, and then you have a cheat day. Maybe it’s your birthday, a holiday, you were on vacation, or your mother sent you a package of those cookies that bring you back to your childhood. Whatever the reason, with keto, it only takes one cheat day (or meal, really) to kick you out of ketosis.
- You’ve been following a keto diet for a while, and you’ve slowly begun to notice that you no longer feel all of the benefits. It’s not uncommon to hit a plateau with keto and maybe even notice that your body fat percentage is creeping up. This can be due to metabolic shifts, or it can be due to the fact that you’ve slowly fallen off your routine. If you aren’t consistently tracking your ketones, it’s easy to slip out of ketosis without realizing it.
- You tried keto a while ago, but you gave up on it because life got hectic, or you just needed a break. Getting back into the keto lifestyle can seem daunting when memories of keto flu come rushing back. Not to mention the disastrous effects of carbohydrate dependency and the Standard American Diet.
Doing a keto reset allows you to start fresh with a renewed sense of energy that you can put towards your diet.
Whether you’ve already been following the diet or you’re starting from scratch, the following guidelines will set you up for a metabolism reset to help make your transition back into fat-burning mode seamless and enjoyable so you can start enjoying better health as soon as possible.
Follow the step by step guidance below to get back on track with your keto lifestyle.
#1 Dietary Guidelines
If you want to be in full nutritional ketosis, you first have to commit to full ketogenic eating.
Many people think that the keto diet is full of challenging restrictions, but the truth is that eating keto means you’re packing your plate with high-satiety foods.
Generally speaking, the keto diet is made up of high fat, moderate protein, and low-carb foods.
If you’re a seasoned keto dieter, you should already know what works for you — but here are some guidelines to keep in mind[*]:
- Focus on healthy fats, which should make up around 55-60% of your caloric intake (no vegetable oils or other low-quality fats)
- Make sure your plate is full of high-quality protein, which should make up 30-35% of your daily caloric intake
- Minimize carbohydrates to about 5-10% of your daily caloric intake. Keeping carbs low is especially important during the beginning phases of getting back into ketosis because it allowed you to really chip away at those glycogen stores. Once you’re up and running on ketones, you can start to play with adding in small amounts of carbs like berries — but give your body the chance to jump back into keto first.
Exercise is crucial for accelerating your journey back into ketosis. Remember — in order for your body to get back into fat-burning mode, you have to tap into and use up your glycogen stores, so your body is triggered to turn to ketones for energy.
If there’s still glucose available, your metabolism will continue to rely on it, and the hormonal shifts that need to take place to enter ketosis won’t be initiated[*].
One of the most effective ways to use up your glycogen stores is through exercise. Scientific research shows that high-intensity exercise is especially effective at using up glycogen as glucose can be rapidly liberated from storage and serve as a fuel source during intense bouts of activity[*].
Although any movement will help, if you really want to drain those glycogen stores go for exercise like HIIT (high-intensity interval training) or sprinting.
#3 Manage The Keto Flu
Depending on how keto metabolically flexible you are, you may or may not experience symptoms of the keto flu when you start your keto reset. If you had a hard time with the keto flu your first go-round, don’t let this deter you from jumping back in. There are a handful of tricks that you can use to ease the transition back into ketosis that you can rely on.
As you transition back into ketosis your body is going to go through a significant metabolic shift. When you start using ketones again, it may take a few days for your cells to recognize them as a fuel source, which means a portion of them are going to be excreted in your urine. When ketones go, they take along electrolytes when they — leaving you feeling a bit off balance[*].
The most straightforward way to handle the electrolyte loss that inevitably comes with transitioning back into ketosis is to replace them through supplementation. It’s incredible what a good electrolyte supplement can do for your clarity, energy, and a general sense of wellbeing.
If you’ve grown accustomed to getting your fuel from glucose it may come as a shock to your body when this readily available energy source is no longer, well, readily available.
MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides) offer an excellent alternative to glucose as they are absorbed rapidly by your gut, and sent directly to your liver to be packaged as fuel. You can think of MCTs as “glucose” of fats — it’s easily absorbed and provides near immediate energy without any of the blood sugar nonsense[*].
The goal of ketosis is to shift your metabolism so that you have a constant supply of energy, regardless of when your last meal was. Exogenous ketones offer a fantastic crutch for transitioning back into ketosis because they can supply your blood with ketones, even if your body isn’t fully keto-adapted yet.
If you’re feeling sluggish and tired and unable to focus — do yourself a favor and take some exogenous ketones to get your energy flow back online.
By fueling up your body with exogenous ketones while you transition into ketosis you’ll also be giving your body the gift of reduced oxidative stress and inflammation[*].
#4 Try Fasting
Since no fuel is coming in when you fast, your body has no choice but to turn to your stored glucose for energy. Add a workout on top of it, and you’re in glycogen-burning heaven.
If you’re new to fasting, start slow with a 14-hour or 16-hour fast. This could look like finishing dinner by 7 pm and then holding off for breakfast until 9 am or 11 am.
If you’re seasoned at fasting, you could extend your fasting window to 24 or even 36-hours.
Whatever fasting technique you choose, make sure you’re mentally and physically prepared to go without food for an extended period of time.
And if the thought of fasting intimidates you or turns you off, then skip it altogether, or just do an overnight fast with a quick HIIT workout in the morning to kick start your glycogen depletion.
#5 Circadian Rhythm
Getting your body on a healthy circadian rhythm can ease your transition back into ketosis by aligning your daily rhythm with the hormones that control your appetite and sleep.
When your internal clock is off-balance, one of the most common side effects is poor sleep.
Transitioning into ketosis is an energetically expensive process, so you’ll want to make sure your body is up for the task by setting yourself by optimizing your sleep schedule.
Furthermore, one of the classic side effects of sleep deprivation is hunger and cravings, which won’t be very helpful when you’re on your journey back to healthy eating[*].
One of the most effective ways to get your circadian rhythm back on track is to focus on your sleep cycle. If you like to stay up late, this may mean going to bed an hour earlier. And if you, like many people, turn out the lights but then spend hours tossing and turning, it may be time to assess your electronics exposure.
Electronic devices like TVs, computers, and cell phones all emit EMF (electromagnetic frequencies), which are known to disrupt melatonin synthesis — the hormone that tells your body it’s time to go to bed[*].
Support your body’s natural rhythm by committing to putting away your electronics an hour or two before bed, and you’ll be amazed at the difference in your sleep cycle.
The journey back into ketosis is going to look different for everyone. Depending on how glycogen-repleted you currently are, your metabolic flexibility, and the state of your metabolism, it could take anywhere from a day to two or three weeks.
Most likely, if you’ve been in ketosis before, it won’t take more than seven days, but since no one’s body is the same, it’s hard to predict exactly how long it will take for each individual.
If you’re just trying to bounce back from a cheat day or two, you’ll likely find your way back into ketosis within a couple of days. If you’ve been off your keto regimen for weeks or months, it may take more time.
With that being said, practices like exercise and intermittent fasting will speed up the process no matter where you’re starting from.
An important aspect of the keto reset diet is to make sure you’re in the right mindset.
If it’s been a while since you were in ketosis, it may seem like a big leap to jump back into keto, so this is where positive reinforcement can come in huge.
Make a list of all the wonderful things that are pushing you to jump back on the keto bandwagon. How did you feel the last time you were in ketosis? Did your inflammation subside? Were you extra productive? Have more energy? Feel lighter and more fit?
Also, consider your long term goals of following a keto lifestyle. What do you want your health to look like in 10 years? 20 years? How will committing to eating healthy today reward you in the future?
Keeping all the positives in mind can give you a boost of confidence and willpower if things start to feel overwhelming.
And along the same lines, if there is any guilt you’re carrying for falling off your keto diet, now is the time to let that go. You’re human, and your body was made to be flexible. That’s the beauty of keto — it’s always there for you when you choose it. Instead of beating yourself up for “falling off” your diet, celebrate the fact that you have the authority to go on and off as you please.
The truth is, following a healthy diet benefits you whether you do it all the time, part-time, or only some of the time.
Many health enthusiasts believe that the ketogenic diet is one of the greatest nutritional breakthroughs of our time. In addition to being an effective weight loss strategy, people following a keto diet show improved energy, focus, and lipid markers[*][*].
With all that being said, it can be hard to follow one specific diet for the rest of your life. Although it’s certainly not impossible, as humans, we often go with the “variety is the spice of life” mindset. For this reason, you can think of the keto diet as a lifelong tool that you can keep going back to.