If you’re just starting the keto diet, chances are you’re wondering how to get into ketosis — fast.
But it’s important to know that nutritional ketosis is a metabolic state, and not one that your body will magically jump into within a 24-hour time span. Your body has been burning glucose from carbs for fuel your entire life. You’ll need time to adapt to burning fatty acids instead.
While you can get into a state of ketosis through exercise, intermittent fasting, and eating a high-fat, low-carb diet, when those methods aren’t working as quickly as you’d like, you can turn to supplements. Those supplements are known as exogenous ketones.
Exogenous ketones help your body enter ketosis safely and quickly when other approaches are not enough.
Below, you’ll learn how to get into ketosis naturally, and why you might want to consider supplements if these methods aren’t enough.
While the ketogenic diet might seem new, ketosis is a natural metabolic state that’s been around as long as humans have existed[*]. When your body burns through its glycogen stores, it will start burning your fat stores for energy. This happens naturally in periods of fasting or physical exertion — which is exactly what you mimic to enter ketosis.
Ketosis is linked to a wide range of health benefits, including lower blood sugar levels, weight loss, healthy insulin levels, and a decreased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes[*]. To gain access to these positive side effects, try the following strategies:
#1: Follow a Low-Carbohydrate Diet
When given the choice between burning sugar (glucose) and burning fat, your body will choose sugar first every single time. Therefore, if your goal is to enter a fat-burning state, your first step is to limit your sugar and carbohydrate intake — thereby “forcing” your body to burn fat instead of sugar.
Most people on the keto diet will limit their net carb intake to 20 grams of carbs per day (if you never calculated your net carbs before, simply take your total carbohydrate consumption minus the amount of fiber consumed). If you break down your food consumption between carbs, fat, and protein, a keto meal plan should be made up of 70–80% fat and 5–10% carbohydrates.
While most keto dieters keep protein intake around 20-25% of calories, the idea that too much protein kicks you out of ketosis is outdated. Instead, calculate the right amount of protein for your body and aim to get at least 20% daily, and more if you’re active.
If the above paragraph has you rubbing your forehead, don’t worry. Use the Perfect Keto handy macro calculator to calculate exactly how many macros you should consume in a day to enter ketosis.
#2: Eat Lots of Fats
One of the biggest mistakes people make when starting the keto diet is not eating enough fat.
All you really have to do to enter ketosis is avoid carbs. But you still have to get a healthy amount of calories, so upping your protein and fat intake is a must on the keto diet.
So while it sounds counter-intuitive, you may need to eat more healthy fats to start burning body fat.
Getting your calories from high-fat, keto-friendly foods like coconut oil, olive oil, fatty fish, avocados, nuts, seeds, and MCT oil (medium-chain triglycerides) help to keep you full and satisfied as you limit your carb intake.
Replacing carbs with healthy fats and protein is what helps your body make more ketones — those little compounds of energy that your body wants once you’ve run out of glucose and glycogen stores.
Ketones, or ketone bodies, are compounds made in your liver as a byproduct of your body breaking down fatty acid stores. There are three types of ketones: acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyric acid, and acetone[*]. Beta-hydroxybutyric acid (BHB or beta-hydroxybutyrate) can be consumed in supplemental form and makes up the foundation of Perfect Keto’s Exogenous Ketone Base.
#3: Up Your Level of Physical Activity
Adequate exercise is a core component of any diet — not just the keto diet. It helps burn fat, prevents insulin resistance, and prevents obesity and a wide range of chronic diseases[*]. But exercise has an additional benefit for those trying to enter ketosis.
When you exercise, your body uses up its glycogen stores (stored glucose). If you don’t replenish your glycogen levels after exercise, your liver will increase its ketone production. In various studies, exercise has been shown to increase blood ketone levels in the blood up to 300 times their regular rate — regardless if the person ate before or after exercise[*].
#4: Try Intermittent Fasting
Before people had grocery stores, refrigeration, and cupboards full of snacks at their disposal, they regularly went without food for prolonged periods. These semi-sporadic periods allowed them to enter a fasted state, which can trigger ketosis..
If you’re struggling to enter ketosis, then intermittent fasting may help you get there. By entering periods of low-calorie or no-calorie consumption for several hours (or even several days), you are completely depleting your blood glucose levels and increasing the likelihood for entering ketosis[*].
A low-carb, high-fat diet, exercise, and periods of fasting will be enough to increase ketone production. However, if keto test strips show your ketone levels are not where they should be, you may need to try an alternative strategy. If you’re struggling entering ketosis, supplements might be able to help.
Exogenous ketones may help you enter ketosis quickly, whether you just ate a carb-laden meal or you’re entering ketosis for the first time. Below, learn why you might want to incorporate them into your ketogenic diet efforts:
Help With Symptoms of Keto Flu
If you’re just getting into ketosis or you splurged on pizza and got out of ketosis over the weekend, exogenous ketones can help.
Along with testing your ketone levels to better understand your body’s response, exogenous ketones lead to a temporary increase in blood ketones. This can help relieve any keto flu symptoms or just generally give you the energy you need to get back into ketosis.
A Secret Weapon During Travel and Busy Days
As mentioned above, sometimes sticking to a full ketogenic diet won’t be realistic. While there are many benefits, it’s also a restrictive diet and can be hard for some people to follow while traveling or during busy work days or holidays.
Exogenous ketones offer some energy and mental clarity, even if you don’t always eat within the macros of the keto diet 24/7.
Help Provide Mental Clarity
Just like exogenous ketones can provide extra physical energy for your body when you need it, they can also help act as extra brain fuel.
Your brain uses up to a quarter of your total energy each day. Ketones can provide up to 70% of your brain’s energy and are more efficient than carbohydrates[*].
Energy substrates like glucose and ketones can’t directly cross over the blood-brain barrier, which are there to protect the brain from things that will disrupt its function. When you eat carbs (glucose), the GLUT-1 transporter can reduce the available energy that’s able to cross the blood-brain barrier, leading to dips in energy and mental fog.
This is not the case with ketones, which are transported by the MCT1 and MCT2 transporters to cross the blood-brain barrier and supply energy to the brain[*].
Unlike GLUT1, these transporters become more efficient when you have more substrate (ketones) available. That’s how exogenous ketones — especially on an empty stomach — can help provide mental energy while forgoing the brain fog[*].
Help Improve Your Physical Performance
For aerobic exercise, exogenous ketones can act as an additional fuel source before you need to refuel and they also enhance fat-burning for fuel.
For exercise that requires quick bursts of energy, like sprinting or lifting maximal weights, your body utilizes energy stored in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), a high-energy storage molecule[*].
When your body runs out of this limited ATP store, it switches to glucose and glycogen or fat oxidation to provide mitochondria (the powerhouses of your cells) with energy and restart the ATP creation process. Taking exogenous ketones can help lower the amount of oxygen needed to replenish ATP and fuel prolonged activity.
Most people will successfully enter ketosis through a low-carb, high-fat diet and exercise. When diet and exercise fall short, experimenting with intermittent fasting can get you the results you need.
But for others, the combination of diet, exercise, and fasting are not always enough to enter a state of ketosis. You may just need more energy or something to help with those nasty keto flu symptoms. In those cases, exogenous ketones are a game changer.
Exogenous ketones come with a wide range of benefits past simply increasing your blood ketone levels — they can boost mental clarity, increase your physical performance, and are easy to bring along during travel.
When shopping for keto supplements, be sure to look for those made with beta-hydroxybutryate (BHB), as is found in Perfect Keto Exogenous Ketone Base and BHB Capsules. For more tips on entering ketosis, be sure to read our Ultimate Guide to Ketosis.