Eating a high-fat, low carb diet can help you get into ketosis, but if you are having trouble, trying one or more of the tips below can help ensure you are actively in ketosis and that you are gaining all the benefits that come from this state:
Watch out for Sneaky Carbs
You’re limiting your carbs already, but you could be consuming more than you think. Many ketogenic diets suggest that you limit carbs to 20 per day, but if you don’t read labels and watch everything you eat, some carbs could be slipping in. Some common culprits include:
- Milk and dairy, particularly for coffee drinkers
- “Low carb” diet and energy bars
- Sugar free energy drinks (some have up 6 grams of carbs per can)
- Sugar free candy
- Salad dressing
- Nuts and seeds (some are surprisingly high in carbs)
- Head to the Gym
Calorie restrictive diets make you tired, but a ketogenic diet can actaully boost athletic performance and energy for some individuals. Upping your activity level at home, by walking more or by going to the gym can also help you get into and stay in ketois. As you exercise, you use up the glycogen present in your body – when these levels are low, your body produces ketones for energy instead. Working out accelerates the process of ketosis; adding a workout to your day can help if you have been struggling to get into or stay in ketosis.
Boost your Fat Intake
If you have never tried a ketogenic diet, you may be tempted to shy away from incorporating fats into your diet. Since ketosis happens when you replace carbs with fat, you’ll need to make sure you are consuming enough fat to make a difference. Depending on the reason you choose a ketogenic diet, your daily food intake should be anywhere from 50-80% or more from fat.
Consuming fats like coconut oil, olive oil and butter and foods that are naturally high in fat like bacon, eggs and cheese can help you achieve ketosis quickly.
Try a “Fat Fast”
A short fast – not eating at all – or a “fat fast” eating mostly fat for a set period, usually a day, can help you get into ketosis if you have been stalled. Fat fasting is an ideal approach, because you can rocket into ketosis quickly without feeling hungry or starving yourself.
For a fat fast, shoot for consuming about 1,000 calories in the day – 90% of which are fat. The low calorie, high fat day will swiftly push you into ketosis. A fat fast is a short-term method to help you get into ketosis, it should not be followed for more than a day or so. You can do fat fasts occasionally to ensure you get into and stay in ketosis.
Eat the Right Amount of Protein
You’ll need to properly balance your protein intake; the right balance of protein and fats will help you get into ketosis. While a ketogenic diet is heavy on fat and lighter on protein, you can’t eliminate protein entirely. If you do too low, you’ll lack energy and even lose muscle mass. Research studies on the amount of protein needed on a ketogenic diet have shown that consuming about 30% of your calories in protein form can help you get into ketosis and lose weight.
How can you tell if you are in ketosis or not? There are a variety of testing methods that can determine if ketones are present in your body. It is more important to determine that ketones are present than to find out what your specific or exact numbers are. There are three ways to learn if you are truly in ketosis; each can be done at home, but some methods are more expensive than others. If you want to find out definitively if you are in ketosis, try one of the following:
Blood test: Like the testing equipment used by to measure blood sugar, a monitor can measure the amount of beta-hydroxybutyrate present in a drop of your blood and let you know that you are in ketosis. This is very effective, but the strips for testing are expensive and you’ll need to lance your fingers regularly to access blood for the test.
Breath test: When you are in ketosis, the amount of acetone in your breath goes up; breathing into a monitor can reveal your ketone levels in a second. The monitor is moderately expensive but fast and easy to use.
Urine: When you go into ketosis, your body sheds acetoacetate in your urine; inexpensive paper testing strips can be used to verify you are in ketosis. You won’t get an exact number, but you will be able to verify your ketogenic diet is working.
By eating the right balance of foods, measuring your ketones and even boosting your activity levels, you can be sure your ketogenic plan is working and that you are truly in ketosis.