When you start the ketogenic diet, there’s likely to be one question on your mind—how long does it take to get into ketosis? Don’t get too frustrated, but the answer is, it depends!
In order to enter ketosis, you’ll have to find the right balance of optimized dietary macros, supplements, and exercise for you. Once you do, you’ll reach that optimal metabolic state of ketosis when your body switches over to burning fat, not carbs, for energy. First things first, though, let’s define what exactly ketosis is.
What Is Ketosis?
The state of ketosis occurs when you decrease your carb intake to the point where your body must utilize alternate methods to fuel itself. When dietary glucose intake drops low enough, your body begins to break down fat stores to access the glucose in triglycerides. As a byproduct of this process, compounds called ketones are released into your bloodstream. When the level of ketones in your blood crosses a certain threshold, you’ve officially reached ketosis.
Blood ketone levels between 0.5 and 9.8 mmol/L indicate that you’re in the keto zone. And optimal ketone levels for most people range between 1.0 and 2.5 mmol/L. Blood and urine tests, which you can do at home with a blood glucose meter or urine test strips, are the most definitive ways to determine if you are in ketosis.
To hit those levels, you’ll typically need to restrict your carb intake to less than 50 grams per day. In some cases, you may need to limit yourself to no more than 20 grams daily. Our keto macro calculator can help you determine the optimal ratio of carbs, protein, and fats for you.
How Long Does It Takes to Get into Ketosis?
As you may have realized by now, it takes time to get into ketosis. Factors like your body type, activity levels, and baseline diet will influence how long it takes for you. If you’re sticking to your keto diet macros, it should take you between two days and a week.
To ensure you reach ketosis as quickly as possible, you’ll want to keep your carbohydrate intake at 20 grams or less each day and make sure you’re drinking enough water and getting enough exercise.
You can also try intermittent fasting to speed up the process. Intermittent fasting is a great tool for supporting healthy weight loss, and it can benefit your overall wellness in a variety of other ways too.
If you’re doing everything right and you’re still struggling to reach—and stay in—ketosis, first, just know that you’re not alone. For some people, it can take a long time to reap the rewards of eating a super-clean diet and sticking to an exercise regimen.
If you want to pick up the pace, consider trying ketone supplements. Two types of supplements shown to help you enter and stay in ketosis are MCT supplements, which encourage your liver to produce more ketones, and BHB supplements, which contain exogenous ketones like beta-hydroxybutyrate to help raise your internal ketone levels.
8 Ketosis Symptoms to Look For
If you don’t want to purchase equipment to test your ketone levels, or you just haven’t gotten around to doing it yet, look for these 8 ketosis symptoms that indicate you’ve hit the sweet spot.
1. Weight Loss
When you start the keto diet, you may drop several pounds in the first week alone! It’s important to keep in mind that keto comes with both short-term and long-term weight-loss benefits. The short-term weight loss largely results from your body burning up stored carbs and shedding water weight. Weight loss may taper off in the second week, but don’t let that dissuade you! In the long term, following a low-carb ketogenic diet can lead to significant weight loss, per a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition and other research.
2. Dry Mouth
As your body adapts to ketosis, you may find yourself feeling thirstier than usual. In some cases, you might even experience cottonmouth. Fortunately it’s easy to address this unpleasant ketosis symptom by drinking more water, which conveniently enough, ensures you maintain an optimal electrolyte balance. BHB supplements with added electrolyte minerals also keep your body balanced in essential nutrients.
3. Keto Breath
People prefer not to talk about this one, but when your body begins burning stored fat instead of glucose, it can change the way your breath smells. Some think “keto breath” as it’s called smells fruity, but not in the most pleasant way. This ketosis symptom usually clears up on its own within a few weeks. In the meantime, it can’t hurt to brush and floss a bit more.
4. Digestive Upset
Depending on how dramatically you shift your diet in order to adhere to the ketogenic diet, you may experience varying degrees of digestive upset. Unless you were already eating a diet with a fairly limited amount of carbs—especially simple, refined carbs—you may encounter some nausea, constipation, and diarrhea as your body adjusts. A fiber supplement can help regulate things until your body gets used to the keto diet.
5. Short-Term Fatigue
As your body acclimates to a new way of generating energy, you’ll likely experience fatigue due to the drop in glucose levels. If you’re feeling unusually tired, that may be a sign you’ve reached ketosis. You may want to give your body some extra support with natural energy supplements during this period. And once it passes, which typically takes less than a month, you’ll get to enjoy the many health benefits associated with the keto diet.
6. Difficulty Sleeping
Having trouble falling asleep at night? Struggling to stay asleep until morning? The problem might be that you’ve entered ketosis. While keto-induced insomnia doesn’t usually last, it can be a struggle during the early days of this dietary practice. The good news is that following a keto diet tends to result in improved sleep over the long term. So drink some chamomile tea before bed, and before long you’ll be enjoying many peaceful nights of rest.
7. Loss of Appetite
Switching to keto means ramping up your consumption of protein and healthy fats. This retrains your brain to pay attention to the hormones your body releases to signal hunger, rather than responding to carb-related blood sugar spikes and dips. This can help prevent “hanger” attacks as well as overeating.
8. Enhanced Focus
After the first few weeks on keto, you’ll start experiencing more positive aspects of this way of eating, like enhanced focus. The ketones flooding your bloodstream have been shown to have serious benefits for your cognitive prowess, according to this Scientific American article.