Preparing for Ketosis

Recently, I wrote about Ketogenic eating. If you’re not sure what it is, go and acquaint yourself there, otherwise, keep on reading.

Just like any change in your life, it takes time to adapt, and in this case, particularly for your body.

How long does it take to enter Ketosis?

As with everything biological, it does vary person to person. It could be as short as three days, or as long as ten. Making sure you keep your carbs under 20g a day in the first week is critical. If you make sure your carbs are that low, and fat is adequately high, you can probably expect to be in Ketosis within five days.

As your body needs time to start effectively burning fat again, there will be a few days where you feel sub-par, often referred to as “Keto flu”

What’s Ketoflu? And how long does it last?

Ketoflu is a sort-of carb detox, your body doesn’t have any carbs left to burn, and isn’t yet great at burning fat, so you’ll feel like you have the flu. How poorly you feel and how long it lasts varies, and it’s best to keep hydrated during this time. Many people have reported relief by drinking broth or stock, as sometimes you can feel very, very flat, from a lack of Sodium and Potassium.

Thirst, Hydration, and Salt

When you cut out carbs, your body will stop retaining unnecessary water. Due to this, you will lose weight rapidly in the first week. Another effect of this is that you’ll be going to the toilet a lot more, and intaking more water than you probably would on another diet.

Because of the increased toilet visits, you’ll be losing minerals from your body, so also try and be mindful of how much salt you’re consuming. Remember, the body is very good at telling you what it needs, if you’re craving salt, you probably need it.

Tip: See if you can track down ‘Lite Salt’ as it’s 50% sodium, 50% potassium

Can I exercise in the first week?

Very much so. When coming of a carbohydrate rich diet, your body will have stored Glycogen, which it will burn in preference to fat. Exercise will help the body consume glycogen, and will likely speed up entering ketosis due to this. But as with the above, pay attention to your body. If you don’t feel up for exercise, don’t do it. Remember the sizeable metabolic change your body is undergoing, it won’t hurt to hop to it when you’re feeling better instead.

What exercise is can I do long term?

This is dependent on your goals, and is something you will need to asses. There are a few good books available on low carb life and exercise, such as The Art and Science of Low Carb LivingThe Art and Science of Low Carb Living.

In a general sense, exercise that is not intense is perhaps best, such as cycling, or jogging. Taking your body into high intensity exercise may force you to burn muscle for additional energy.

How can I tell if I’m in Ketosis?

The most telltale sign that you are in Ketosis, is by the presence of Ketones in the Urine. You can test for these using ketostix.

Remember: Even with the presence of Ketones, it is still possible that you are not in Ketosis.

Other signs of being in Ketosis, include the following

  • A distinct, metallic taste in your mouth.
  • Sweet-smelling breath
  • Heightened thirst, expect to consume many liters of water a day
  • Stronger scented sweat
  • Very low alcohol tolerance

How long should I stay in Ketosis for?

Try not to think strictly in these terms, instead, think of the lifestyle changes you’ll have made by giving it a go. However, there are a number of people who find this diet easiest to lose weight on, and once they’ve reached their target, transition to Paleo or Primal, which are not too dissimilar.

The important part, is not falling back into old habits.

Image via carloszk

30 comments on “Preparing for Ketosis”

    • Aaron

      Yes, definitely. You can really move to any diet you want, what’s important is knowing how protein, fats, and carbs, work, so you can make the right decision while on any diet, so just remember that on any diet, you can tweak it, nothing has to be absolutely by the book.

    • Aaron

      The only rule of thumb I had was less than 50g per day and it seems to work for most people, but I am reasonably active, more so now with gym five days a week, but i have no way to test if I’m in or out right now unfortunately.

      Anecdotally speaking, there were times when I’d go for extremely hard bike rides (up mountains) and easily put away 100g on those days with no noticeable effect on ketosis.

  • Ian

    I’m celebrating 50 days on a paleo autoimmune ketogenic diet and I still feel like a truck ran over me and always hungry. Wondering if this is normal?

    • Aaron

      That certainly doesn’t sound normal. I’d personally try and consume more fat to see if that helps, even if it means you have more calories than otherwise desirable for a few days, it’ll at least help find the cause.

  • Nicoline

    So you don’t have to be in k for like a half year to loose weight? It’s just like a kickstart and then you can go over to LCHF for example with just under 40-50 carbs pr day and still loose weight effectivly?

    I’m at my 3. day in keto, and I don’t feel the flu. Could the answer to that be that I’ve done it before? I thought it would be hard after 2 weeks in New York with cake and burgers.

    • Aaron

      That’s right. In a basic sense it will always come to down calories in vs calories out, keto just does it differently and for many people they find it easier. For me I would typically keep it to below 50g a day when ketoing, else below 100g, and it always works.

      When I used to bounce in and out of keto semi regularly I never got the flu that most do, but after living in Asia for a while, going back was hell.

    • Aaron

      Nope, you’ll probably notice some dramatic weight loss in the first week or two, then it’ll stabilize. The truth is that to lose weight you ultimately, eventually, depending on where you’re at, need to eat less calories than you burn on a daily basis. Even eating 40-50g carbs a day you can definitely still lose weight, you don’t have to abide by the internet’s general consensus that over 20g of carbs is blasphemy.

      As far as keto flu goes I think it’s largely dependent on the individual, but I have nothing outside of anecdotes to back this up. I’ve personally never struggled with it, but friends and others have.

  • Melissa

    3 weeks ago I stopped drinking (after being a daily drinker for a while), and this week I’m working on quitting smoking (after almost 20 years with the help of Ecigs) and have started a keto diet. Combined, will my body be able to handle it all?

    • Aaron

      Of the changes that you’ve made, it’s stopping the drink suddenly that can have the greatest negative impact, but if you’ve made it three weeks I’d say you’re through that part. Ultimately, discipline is everything, but if you have concerns about your health you should see a doctor.

    • Brianne

      I just happened across this article and your comment. I smoked for 15 years and after many failed attempts at quitting, I finally quit for good reading a book by Allen Carr. Google him. He was a genius. April 27th 2016 will be my 6 year anniversary. I haven’t so much as touched a cigarette in that time. I consider myself a non-smoker, not an ex-smoker. Hard to explain until you’ve experienced it. And even if this post doesn’t help you, I hope it helps someone reading this.

  • dave

    have been on the keto plan now for aprox. 1 month. starting to have a daily metallic taste in my mouth, which I am told is normal. however it is some what alarming. How long will this last.

  • Thelma Bell

    I been on a lchf diet for 3 weeks now and ive seen body fat changes but very little weight changes. Im using the ketostix which show im in ketosis so why would i not be loosing weight ? Also, im so tired all the time and exercising only 3 x a week .

  • Miranda

    I am oy day 3 of the keto diet and have not felt any symptoms other than a slight headache on day 2 but today have felt shaky. Are shaky feelings normal. I am not sure if I’m in ketosis yet my test strips will be in tomorrow but am wondering if it’s even possible to be into ketosis this fast, prior to beggining this I ate pretty clean but didn’t focus any on macros I was intaking.

  • Jordan Gray

    I’m curious, I tried doing this type of diet before, when I was in high school, 6 or 7 years ago, and I was unsuccessful in sticking with it, mostly because I hadn’t done any research on it, I was just following my dad’s lead, and I wasn’t too motivated. But I remember eating more then. Now I’ve done a ton of research and I’m extremely motivated. According to the ketostix, I am at the darkest color, meaning the strongest presence of ketosis, after a week and a 40 hour fast. What I’ve been finding though is that I’m SIGNIFICANTLY less hungry than I’ve ever been before. Sometimes I can’t even bring myself to eat 3 full meals a day. But when I do eat, it’s always high fat, medium protein, low carb. Is this normal? Or should I be making myself eat more often? I know that SOUNDS like a bad thing, but sometimes it’s necessary, so I was just wondering if you had any information about an issue like this. Thank you!

    And sorry for the length of my post.

  • Angelica

    Soooo, I recently started a low to no-carb diet and didn’t realize that it would effect the way I metabolize alcohol. I am literally 4 days out of the worst hangover of my life but still feel pretty bad. Do you think this could be the keto flu? My symptoms are lethargy, shakiness and brain fog. I am really tired and cannot seem to focus. I highly doubt this is the mother-ship hangover lasting THIS long, but then again the alcohol REALLY did me in!

  • Ryan

    I’m on day 4 of my keto diet now, but I’m not entirely sure if it’s working. My energy levels are considerably lower than they were before starting, and my 2 mile walk today was harder than a three mile run from the first day. Is this normal, and are there any modifications I should make? I think I’m roughly going at 55% fat, 40% protein and 5% carb. Is that too high for protein? What are good alternative fatty foods to incorporate more of?

  • Shelly

    Would it be common to feel keto flu symptoms by the end of the first day? I hurt everywhere and just want to crawl in bed! I’ve actually had almost no carbs today, typically a carboholic.

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