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This article is part 6 in our Keto Diet Series. If you missed part 5, Troubleshooting the Keto Diet (Part 2), check it out here.
The ketogenic diet can be a powerful tool to burn fat and boost your mental clarity. It’s also a very satisfying way to eat (check out our guide to all the foods you can have on a keto diet).
But if you’ve tried keto before, you probably know firsthand that it can take a couple weeks for your body to switch from burning carbs to burning fat, and that the transition isn’t always fun.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to speed up your transition into keto.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- Why you want to get into ketosis quickly
- How long it can take to get into ketosis
- How to know if you’re in ketosis
- 3 tips to quickly get into ketosis
Basically, because transitioning can be rough. When you first start keto, your body doesn’t yet know how to burn fat for fuel. It still wants to use glucose from carbs for quick energy, but it isn’t getting any. The result is that your energy levels drop, and you can start to experience symptoms of the keto flu: a few days of low energy, lack of focus, headaches, and poor sleep (read this article for tips on how to deal with the keto flu).
The keto flu isn’t dangerous, but it is unpleasant. The sooner you can get through it and start burning fat, the better.
It can take up to two weeks to get into ketosis. The time varies from person to person – but if you want to speed the process, you have a few options.
The easiest way to know if you’re in ketosis is to test your ketone levels. You can do this with a breath analyzer, a blood ketone meter, or urine strips.
The most accurate tool is the blood ketone meter. Start checking your ketone levels after about a week – you’ll want to conserve the blood ketone strips; they’re pretty expensive.
Here’s how to read them:
- Very low ketone levels: 0.5 mmol/L or lower
- Optimal ketone levels: 1.6-2.9 mmol/L
- High ketone levels: 3.0 mmol/L or higher
Staying in or above the optimal range is recommended, but do what feels best for your body.
Measuring your ketone levels are helpful, especially when you’re just starting out. However, many people report that they can simply “feel” the difference. If you suddenly break out of the keto flu and feel a surge of energy and more mental clarity, it’s likely you’re in ketosis.
1. Do High-Intensity Exercise
When you first make the switch to a keto diet, try doing an intense workout like CrossFit or high-intensity interval training (HIIT). An intense workout will deplete your existing carb stores. Without access to carbs for energy, your body will have to switch to keto faster. The workout may be especially hard because you don’t have your usual energy stores. Push through if you can. Short, intense workouts are perfect.
2. Try Fasting
It’s the same idea as above – if you don’t give your body any energy from food, it will burn through your carb stores faster, and eventually start tapping into your fat stores. At that point, you’re in ketosis. Skipping meals for a 24-hour period will help you transition to keto faster. You probably shouldn’t fast on the same day that you do an intense workout, though, unless you’re a keto veteran and you know what you’re getting into. The two together can put a lot of stress on your body and leave you exhausted.
3. Test Your Ketones and Adjust Your Diet
A blood ketone meter or ketone urine strips will give you hard data on whether or not you’re getting into keto. If you find it’s taking you a long time, adjust your diet by decreasing carbs even more and upping your fat. Everyone’s a little different, but once you find your ideal macronutrient ratio, you should make the shift into ketosis in no time.
Do you have any tricks you use to get into ketosis faster? Share them in the comments below.