The first time I heard about the keto diet, I thought “huh, that’s a quirky name,” and moved on. I figured “keto” was probably the name of whoever created the program, and that was that. I’ll admit, being that reporting on the human body and the many trendy ways of eating there are out there is essentially my day job, I probably should have known better. But, come on, friends; I can’t be the only one who had no idea what the heck ketosis was. I mean, even if you follow the keto diet, how do you know your body is in ketosis? Are there obvious signs? Do you get a literal gut feeling? Curious minds (albeit those of us totally out of the loop) need to know.
Look, I know the anticipation of finding out how to know your body has reached ketosis is positively agonizing when you're anxious for results, but hold the phone. Before I break down the physiological details, it’s probably a good idea to start by answering the most basic of questions, aka what is the keto diet?
To begin, “keto” is short for “ketones,” which, according to Jessica Rosen, certified holistic health coach and co-founder of Raw Generation, are “byproducts of the body metabolizing fat for energy when carbohydrate intake is low.” In other words, when you stop eating a ton of carbs and, instead, load up on healthy fats, ketones are formed when your body breaks down those same fats for energy. Therefore, ketosis, Rosen explains, is when your body uses said fats as its main source of fuel.
“Ketosis is all about shifting the way that the body metabolizes food for energy, by restricting one’s daily carbohydrate intake and getting the bulk of your macronutrients from fats and protein,” Rosen tells Elite Daily over email. “This starves the body of glucose so that it is forced to seek out another fuel source.”
So now that you’re all caught up on what it means for your body to be in a state of ketosis, let’s quickly get you up to speed on how fast ketosis can occur. Rosen tells me that, like any diet, the timeline of results is highly dependent on the individual. If you’re someone who works out a lot and often, for example, ketosis kicks into gear faster than it would for someone who isn’t hitting the gym four or five times a week. That being said, after a week or so of eating minimal to no carbs, your body will burn through all of the lingering glucose (aka the sugars extracted from the carbohydrates for energy), and begin to enter a state of ketosis, she says.
That being said, physical activity definitely helps speed the process along, but cutting back on carbs is key. Grace Derocha, a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and certified health coach at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, tells Elite Daily that, if you’re committing to keto, your diet should roughly consist of anywhere between 15 and 50 grams of carbohydrates per day, depending on your calorie intake, of course.
“The biggest changes come from reducing carbohydrates drastically from 40-50 percent of your intake to 5-10 percent, while tremendously increasing your fat intake from 30-75 percent and the remaining amount being protein,” Derocha points out. “Your diet will need to consist of high-fats, adequate-proteins, and very low-carbohydrates to maintain ketosis.”
Unfortunately, I’m sorry to report that the signs your body is in ketosis are just as individualized as the speed in which your body transitions. Though, every body is different, friends, so this really shouldn’t come as that much of a shocker. Luckily, Derocha points out there are a few common signs that your body has reached ketosis, such as bad breath, loss of appetite, increased energy, trouble sleeping, overall fatigue, irritability and constipation. But the most obvious sign your body is in ketosis, however, she adds, is weight loss.
“Weight loss will occur quickly during the first week of the diet, with continued body fat loss over time,” Derocha tells me. But there’s a catch (as always). For this to happen, the body must stay in ketosis, Derocha explains. Meaning, if you make a solid attempt to try to follow the ketogenic diet, but you actually end up increasing you carbohydrate intake overtime, your body will start to then take you out of ketosis, requiring you to go back to square one.
So the takeaway here is, essentially, there’s no one-answer-fits-all to knowing when your body is in ketosis. That is, unless you take global integrative nutrition health coach, keto expert, and author of Clean Keto Lifestyle Karissa Long’s advice and take a test. That’s right, friends, there’s a test for that, and it won’t cost you a trip to your doctor’s office, either.
“The best way to tell is through ketone testing,” Long tells Elite Daily. Most beginners stick with urine strip tests, which “measure excess ketones excreted by the body,” she explains. But, if you’re feeling fancy, “you can also test your ketone levels with a blood or breath meter.” So, the choice is yours: Wait and see if your breath starts to stink, or pee on a stick. Personally, I'd much rather the later, but to each their own, I guess.