If you think getting into ketosis is challenging, this will shake your universe! Now you, too, can get into keto and stay there. These tried, tested, and breath-tested methods will get you into ketosis faster than your bodybuilder neighbor.
The fastest ways to get into ketosis: eat less than 20 grams of carbs a day, increase fat intake to 80% of calories, exercise more, take MCT oil, take exogenous ketones, and fast more—dry fasting can get you in ketosis in 24 hours.
Of course, getting and staying in keto can be a struggle—hey, we’ve all been there!—but getting your ketosis stable and going isn’t as hard as it sounds. It’s just a teeny bit of biology and chemistry mastery, and if that doesn’t get results, you can always throw money at it.
Ketosis and how it works
You were born in the state of ketosis. Breast milk is a ketogenic food, so as infants, you were doing keto inside your mother’s womb. Studies show that infants use ketones for brain growth and energy. Being in ketosis is an optimal way to enhance growth, performance, clarity, and fitness—your brain loves ketones as a source of fuel and sometimes even prefers it.
Ketosis is a natural metabolic process that happens when your body’s primary source of fuel shifts from glucose (from sugar) into ketones (from fat). Your body typically gets glucose from carbohydrates or sugar you’ve eaten. When that’s gone, then you eat into glycogen fuel stores from your liver and muscles. Finally, your body turns towards fat, and fat stores in the liver become glycogen and ketones.
Your liver can make ketones from your fatty acids from your fat cells (or the fat you eat) and increase its production of ketones to feed your brain whenever it needs more fuel. This process is called ketogenesis and results in a quicker, steady stream of energy for your vital body parts, such as your brain and muscles.
Your liver makes three types of ketone bodies:
- Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB)
Acetoacetate is the predominant ketone produced, which becomes BHB or acetone. Excess acetoacetate gets secreted out of your body through your pee—which is how you measure ketone strips. Acetone isn’t stable and is usually secreted by your body with the sometimes unpleasant ketosis breath. BHB is the ketone used to fuel your muscles and brain stores. Whenever you want higher levels of ketosis, it’s the higher levels of BHB you’re looking for.
Your body starts making ketones whenever your body’s levels of insulin and glucose decrease. This happens to some degree when you’re sleeping every night, but just in small amounts. Once you reach a certain level of ketosis, you’re considered to be in nutritional or optimal ketosis, where you enjoy health and weight loss benefits.
The Benefits of Ketosis
The most significant talking point on ketosis is weight loss (as evident from the hundreds of keto diet programs, apps, and recipes popping up). However, many ketoers also enjoy high clarity, focus, and energy when consistently in ketosis. Here are more of the ketosis benefits millions around the world are talking about.
- Weight loss
- Regulating appetite
- Treating and preventing diabetes
- Enhanced athletic performance
- Controlling seizures & epilepsy
- Improves cholesterol
- Increased focus & brain function
- Anti-aging effects
- Reduced inflammation
- Clear skin
- Improves cancer
- Controls polycystic ovary syndrome
- Improves nervous system diseases (Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s)
What is optimal ketosis?
Ketosis isn’t just a one-and-done, there are varying degrees of ketosis, but you should stay above a certain level to get the benefits. This also depends on your end purpose. If it’s controlling epilepsy or seizures, you need to be on the higher end of the ketone count to be optimal, but in most cases, the optimal level of ketosis is when it helps to manage blood sugar control or weight loss.
The numbers below reflect the values when you test blood ketone levels, which can be done by ketones strips, blood test meters, or breath meters.
- Under 0.5mmol/l : Under this value is not ketosis and not yet in a fat-burning state, but if you’re at 0.3, you’re almost there.
- 0.5–3 mmol/l : This is what many call nutritional ketosis, and if you’re often, you’ll be seeing weight loss and metabolic changes.
- 1.5–3 mmol/l: Many consider this optimal ketosis, although not everyone is sure whether you get increased benefits with higher levels of ketones in your blood.
- 3–6 mmol/l: This is higher than you need but still optimal ketosis. You can also get to these levels if you have diabetes and a lack of insulin — which can be a medical emergency.
- 8–10 mmol/ l : These levels usually can’t be achieved by diet and are likely a symptom of diabetic problems, thyroid issues, alcohol abuse, starvation, and ketoacidosis, which can be fatal. The most common reason for ketoacidosis is type 1 diabetes, with a severe lack of insulin. (Another way to attain these high levels safely is through dry fasting, and you can read more in my article Can Dry Fasting Hack Keto?.)
How long does it take to get into ketosis
Your body is used to burning sugar for fuel, so transitioning to a fat-burning state or becoming fat-adapted means your body prefers using fat for energy, which can take time. Some people can transition into ketosis even between meals. It all depends on lifestyle, activity level, body type, and carb intake.
Generally, it can take between 2–4 days of eating between 20–50 grams of carbs to get into ketosis, but this varies, and for some people, it can take up to a week, as seen in this study. Once you get into ketosis, you won’t necessarily stay there. If you’ve been practicing a ketogenic diet and have become fat-adapted—where your body prefers to use fat for fuel, you may be able to eat more carbs without being kicked out of ketosis. But if you’ve just started ketosis or are new to the ketogenic lifestyle, you’ll likely have to start all over, and it could, again, take up to a week.
Let’s say you usually eat a low-carb or moderate-carb diet. In that case, you’ll have an easier time getting into ketosis, as opposed to if you’re on a heavy carb diet or just finished a holiday season (like Christmas with puddings, pies, and desserts). You’ll also likely take longer to get into ketosis, as this study shows. The reason being you need to finish up all your glycogen stores before you can even get into ketosis.
What is the fastest way to get into ketosis?
There are several ways to get into ketosis quickly, and they do depend on your body type, lifestyle, food choices, and exercise levels to begin with. However, here’s a quick summary.
- Fast more
- Do a fat fast
- Reduce carbohydrates
- Eat healthy fats
- Eat moderate protein
- Use MCT supplement
- Use exogenous ketones
- Exercise more
- Measure ketone levels
Almost every kind of fasting will improve the speed at which you get into ketosis. Fasting increases your ketosis mainly because, without food, you’re in a caloric deficit, it’s the most apparent reason because you’re in an energy shortage, and without energy from food, your body quickly burns up its glycogen store.
In addition, every time you fast, you also increase your propensity to get into ketosis faster and more often. This is because your body is adapting to its environment and expects fat to be its predominant source. Our body constantly adapts to change, and in periods of sudden starvation, it knows it needs to start using fat stores.
The more you’re in ketosis, the more likely you are to get back into it quickly and effortlessly, without Keto-flu or all the struggles. Many people talk about snapping out of ketosis after unknowingly eating something with carbs or having a cheat day. Still, your body becomes fat-adapted more easily when you’re fasting more. It will prefer using fat more efficiently than glucose simply from being fasted more of the time.
Fasting is also superior to ketogenic diets in inducing ketosis. Ketogenic diets can increase ketones by 4x but fasting can increase ketones by 20 times more. However, there are the light-weights and heavy-weights in the world of fasting, and different fasts can impact your ability to enter ketosis more quickly. Here are different fasting types and how much they can affect your ketosis increase.
The most popular fasting is intermittent fasting (IF), with the expected duration of practice being 16:8 (water fasting 16 hours, and feeding 8 hours), although 18:6, 20:4 are also practiced. This kind of fasting is easy to include into your lifestyle, and for most people, it simply means skipping breakfast. Some people do OMAD, which stands for One-Meal-A-Day, which is an intermittent fast, of probably 22- 23 hours, after which they eat one meal in an hour or so. The popular 5:2 diet (The Fast Diet) is also a form of intermittent fasting;. However, dieters eat less than 500/600 calories on the two non-consecutive days they fast, so it’s more of a fast-mimicking diet, but it gives you similar benefits.
Intermittent fasting often or every day gives your body ample time to burn off all the glucose and glycogen in your muscles and liver. It also mimics a long overnight fast, so your body can start eating into your fat cells, breaking it down into fatty acids, then converting those into ketones in the liver, and increasing your ketone levels.
Water fasting only water or teas are allowed, but not any food. Intermittent fasting is a form of water fasting but for shorter durations. Water fasting usually means prolonged water fasts of 24–72 hours. It can be done for long durations, however, even up to a month and more, with the longest record being 318 days, but 72 hours (3 days) is which safest duration to carry out water fast to give you the maximum benefits, with the least amount of risk and complications.
Water fasting is one of the best ways to speed up ketosis or increase ketone levels if you’ve hit a plateau. Ketone levels usually make up about 6% of your energy during an overnight fast, but after three days of water fasting, this ketone production increases to more than 60%. If eating a standard or medium carb diet, ketones production will usually spike to a high after 24-48 hours of water fasting.
Water fasting is also the method of alternate day fasting, or 4:3, or simply some people who decide to fast 24 hours a week to maintain their health. Combined with a low-carb diet, water fasting several times a week can be highly effective in getting into ketosis quickly and more often.
You can find out more about how to do water fasting here.
Dry fasting means total abstinence from consumption, fasting without food or water—and the strictest and most intensive form of fasting. Millions of Muslims dry fast during the sunlight hours of Ramadan (10–22 hours, depending on the region).
Dry fasting can be practiced anywhere between 10 hours to 11 days, although the recommended duration for beginners is 12–24 hours. You can also do dry fasting with intermittent fasting, OMAD, or 2 days a week (5:2), alternate-day fasting.
Dry fasting is the fastest way to enter ketosis. Instead of 2–4 days to enter ketosis through a strict ketogenic diet or water fasting, dry fasting gets you into ketosis within 24 hours. This surprising speed that you can enter ketosis happens for several reasons.
Like water fasting (or intermittent fasting), food deprivation during a dry fast means your body taps into glycogen and then eats into your fat stores to make ketones, increasing ketosis.
The second reason is that during a dry fast, your metabolism increases. As insulin levels are lowered, and growth hormone is released, noradrenaline is also released, which spikes your metabolism— which means more ketones must be made for fuel.
The harsh environment of dry fasting, where the body needs water from every possible avenue but can’t release toxins through urine, means every cell also becomes its own little incinerator. These cells burn any useless organelles or pathogens inside it for energy, increasing your body temperature (although this may not show up on a thermostat, many dry fasters report feeling the chills or feverish when they fast). During a dry fast, your metabolism can increase up to 10%.
The biggest reason dry fasting amplifies ketosis? Your body has to make its own water during a dry fast—and it makes this water through the breakdown of your fat cells, which become ketones.
Dry fasting increases autophagy levels, which oxidizes more fat cells and releases more fatty acids into the bloodstream so that they can be made into water by every cell in your body. Every gram of fat makes 110 grams of metabolic water, which means there is an abundance of free fatty acids now that can be readily converted into ketones for more energy— having an impact of ingesting MCT oil.
Dry fasting also has a list of other benefits, including amplified age reversal, skin renewal, weight loss, and is highly recommended as an all-around age and wellness hack. To read more, check out my article 30 Mind-blowing Benefits Of Dry Fasting.
Do a fat fast
A fast-mimicking diet, fat fasting, can be done for 2–5 days and is similar to a ketogenic diet, except higher in fat. You can eat about 1000–1200 calories a day on a fat-fast, 80-90% of which should be from fat. If you’re already on a ketogenic diet and start fat fasting, you can achieve ketosis again anywhere between 2–6 days.
Fat fasting mimics the state of ketosis, puts your body into ketosis faster, and is a way to get back into ketosis after a cheat day or extra carbs. You can also use it to quickly lose weight, although much of that could also be water weight.
Preparing a dry fast or a water fast if you want to enter ketosis quicker is similar to a fat fast. The recommendation is to eat half your caloric intake the day before your fast, which should be a very high-fat meal.
Reducing carbs is key to inducing ketosis faster. A ketogenic diet means that 70%- 80% of your calories come from fat, 15 -20% from protein, and only 5 – 10% from carbs. A ketogenic diet is an optimal way to get your body to switch metabolic pathways because, in the absence of glucose, it has no choice but to burn your fat stores and use the ready fat available to turn into ketones.
Eating fewer carbs improves ketosis for apparent reasons. Your body uses carbs as its primary fuel source, but you want it to shift to using ketones. When you reduce your carb intake, your glycogen quickly gets depleted, insulin drops, triggering your body to release fatty acids from your fat stores to become ketones.
The number of carbs reduction for each person differs, but the rule of thumb is to keep it under 20 grams per day. This is why the Atkins diet induction phase only limits carbs to 20 grams for two weeks so that your body turns to ketosis, and then once you achieve ketosis, you can add more carbs after the phase.
Some people can do up to 50 grams a day, depending on lifestyle, body type, and nutrition. If you can eat more calories, say you’re a ripped athlete with a caloric allowance of 4000 calories per day. You can eat up 50 grams of carbs easily, possibly even 100 grams, and even if you snap out of ketosis, you would quickly get back into it, as your body’s metabolism is so high, and you’re constantly burning energy.
Eat moderate protein
Eating enough protein is also essential to boost your ketone levels. A ketogenic diet is 15–20% protein, and you want to make sure you have enough proteins, so you don’t have muscle breakdown. You’ll also feel more full after eating a protein meal along with the fat, and avoid being more hungry—which is vital to keep at the diet!
However, you shouldn’t overeat protein because excess protein turns into glycogen and sugar, reversing your ketosis efforts. A good way to factor what your daily protein intake is to eat 0.8g per pound of body weight. So if you’re 150 pounds, then aim for about 120 grams of protein a day.
Eat more fat
When it comes to ketosis, fat is a good thing. But it’s not about eating any kind of fat; it’s eating the right type of fat. Transfats are very unhealthy and come with very processed foods. You want healthy monosaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. If eaten in moderation, saturated fat can still be good, along with MCT oil, coconut oil, butter, and olive oil.
You want to aim for monounsaturated fats like olive oil and avocado; these protect the heart and help lower cholesterol. Polyunsaturated fats like those from flaxseeds, walnuts, and fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and herring are full of Omega 3 and Omega 6, which reduce inflammation and help with hormonal regulation and brain, and muscle function. Other great fat choices for a ketogenic diet include eggs and cheese. If you eat a low-carb diet and incorporate these facts, you’ll achieve ketosis quickly.
MCTs are short for medium-chain triglycerides, and unlike most fats, they can be very accessible by your body. In other words, they can become ketones immediately and be used for energy.
One of the best sources for MCTs is coconut oil. Coconut oil contains four types of MCTs, and 50% is made of lauric acid; research shows that higher levels of lauric acid produce more sustainable ketosis because its more slowly burned or metabolized.
Several studies show how MCTs can be highly effective in raising ketone levels, such as this study where MCT successfully increased ketones for Alzheimer’s patients. Another study on epilepsy patients on a high MCT diet with higher carb intake (20% carbs) had the same effects as a traditional ketogenic diet( 5% carbs). This kind of modified MCT ketogenic diet means you can eat more fruits and vegetables. Although not as rich in MCTs as coconut oil, other sources for MCT are palm kernel oil, whole milk, and butter.
You can also get MCT Oil, with C8 MCT Oil (Caprylic Acid) being the most ketogenic MCT and converting straight into beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) used by your body. MCT oil has been extracted from coconut oil and is usually tasteless.
Adding MCT Oil into your food or coffee can increase your ketone levels from 0.5mM to 1.0mM. Remember that MCT oil does immediately get used as energy. So although it does increase ketones in your blood, it doesn’t help if you’re consuming more than your energetic needs, as your body won’t need to eat into its fat stores to keep ketones high.
Also, remember to slowly increase the MCT levels into your diet, as it can cause cramps and discomfort if you have too much too soon.
Take exogenous ketones
Exogenous ketones can be a quick fix. You can get ketone salts, which increase your levels marginally (1mM), or ketone ester drinks, which can quickly get you into deeper ketosis levels.
Ketone ester drinks have been used by the military and professional athletes to give them a source of energy. They can give you better mental clarity, regulate your blood glucose, increase glycogen synthesis. If you want to hyperdrive deep ketosis, this could be an option.
Exercise speeds up ketosis by depleting the body of glycogen stores faster. Once glycogen is finished, the transition to fat burning starts. The more often you exercise, and the more fit you become, the higher your metabolism, which means you can get into ketosis faster.
Taking walks daily, and increasing your exercise in any form you can, is the most natural way to get into keto. Some people believe exercise during keto might deplete you or burn muscle since there’s no glucose to use, but this is a myth. Research shows that exercise preserves muscle mass while on keto and can increase muscle mass when combined with resistance training.
The great part about exercise is, once you’re keto-adapted, your body can tap into your fat stores endlessly, you can keep going—like an endurance athlete. As long as you have fat to burn, you’ll have energy.
Measure ketone levels
If you don’t know where you’re at with your ketones, you won’t be able to improve or make changes. This is why you should consistently check and measure your ketone levels to see how your body is reacting to whichever method you’ve been using to increase your ketone levels.
There are several ways to do this:
This measures BHB in your blood and means you prick your hand for a drop of blood, similar to how diabetics test for their blood sugar levels. It’s one of the most accurate ways of testing ketones. Blood testing strips can also be more expensive, and you’ll need to repeat purchases as they do run out.
One of the most popular and common methods to test ketones, urine strips measure the ketones in your body. They aren’t expensive but not as good for three reasons.
First, they measure Acetoacetate, not BHB, which is what determines your blood’s ketone level. Second, you don’t get a direct reading, just more of an average from the color closest to the chart. Third, as you become more ketone adapted, your kidney handles your ketones differently, so the color of your chart may not be a true reflection of the ketones in your blood.
Urine strips are great because they are cheaper, give you an overall estimate, and get you started on the ketosis journey, but once you’re deeper in, you should probably try another method.
Acetone, a waste product usually exhaled out after the breakdown of Acetoacetate, can be measured with a breath meter. These are instantaneous results and do great for lower blood ketone levels, with a high accuracy rate.
Hopefully, you now know how to hack ketosis so you can start implementing it in your life! But if you want to supercharge weight loss and age reversal with the combined powers of dry fasting and ketosis, sign up for my new video course, 25 Again! The Dry Fasting Lifestyle For A Younger, Slimmer You.
***Disclaimer: I am not a doctor/ physician, and although I have a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Science, I cannot and do not hold myself to be a medical professional (“Medical Provider”). This article does not contain medical /health advice. The medical/ health information here is for general and educational purposes only. It is my opinion, based on my research and personal experience, and not a substitute for professional advice by your health care provider. Please consult with a professional before acting on the information here, and do not disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical attention because of anything you read in this article. THE USE OR RELIANCE OF ANY OF THE INFORMATION ON THIS WEBSITE IS SOLELY AT YOUR OWN RISK.***
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