If you’ve just started the keto diet you will want to know if you are doing everything correctly and that you’re on the right path. Each person will respond differently but there are some common signs that you’re in ketosis.
By listening to your body you can very often get a good idea if you’re in ketosis or not. This is something that becomes easier the more times you enter ketosis.
You will come to recognize and enjoy the feeling that ketosis will bring you.
What is ketosis?
The keto diet is a low carb, medium protein and high fat diet. Carbs are kept to below 20g net per day.
This is a lot lower than you would normally eat on a standard western diet.
Your body will always choose to metabolize carbs first as this is the easiest way of converting the food you eat into the energy you need.
When your body has insufficient carbs for its immediate energy needs it will switch to its second metabolic pathway.
This will cause your body to use your fat stores for energy. While doing this your body will produce ketones, which gives the keto diet it’s name.
It is while being in this state of ketosis that you will be able to access the weight loss and health benefits of the keto diet.
How long does it take to reach Ketosis?
Each person is different, and some will be able to reach ketosis more quickly than others.
Anywhere from about 3-4 days to more than a week would be possible when carbs are limited to under 20g each day.
If you have been on a keto diet before, you will be more fat adapted than someone trying the diet for the first time.
When you are fat adapted your body is able to burn fat quite quickly once your glucose stores have been depleted.
For a first time keto dieter, any time up to a week would be more usual.
Read How long does it take to go into ketosis for a more in depth look at the time needed for ketosis.
What are the common signs you’re in ketosis?
There are many signs of ketosis and as you become more familiar with the keto diet, you will recognize these in your own body.
While most are beneficial, there are a few that are negative, but not detrimental to your health.
Not everyone will experience them all, and for that reason only the most common ones are discussed here.
When most people think about the keto diet, the words “Bad Breath” are usually not too far away and with good reason.
Almost every one who is starting the diet will experience this sign. This can be a big problem for many keto dieters, especially in the first few days.
Very often this is an issue that becomes less obvious after you have been on the keto diet for a while.
Thankfully, there are a few effective things that you can do.
Keto bad breath is different from regular bad breath. With the regular BB the culprit or culprits are normally poor dental hygiene, gut problems, some medications, dry mouth or an infection.
Keto bad breath is characterized by a fruity smell or a smell close to nail varnish remover.
Initially bad breath can also be caused by dehydration, which can be a problem during the first few days on the keto diet.
Dehydration can be caused due to the fact that the fat cells which are being used for energy also contain a lot of water.
This water loss is what will cause you to visit the bathroom more often.
If you don’t make sure you’re drinking more than usual you may find you become dehydrated.
Aim for a few more glasses of water than you would normally drink.
The other two reasons are both to do with being in ketosis, which is a good thing – although the outcome is not so great!
As the extra ketones are removed from your body they will produce acetone, which gives your breath its distinctive smell.
To a lesser extent, ammonia is also a culprit. This is produced as your body digests proteins.
Make sure you are eating the recommended amount of protein only. There is no need to eat more protein than you need.
This is about 56g per day for men and 46g per day for women.
Increase the amount of time you spend cleaning your teeth, and consider using a tongue scraper. The tongue is a major source of bacteria in the mouth.
So by taking care of these things, you should be able to deal with bad breath:
- Make sure you are drinking enough
- Don’t go over the recommended amount of protein – check your macros with this calculator
- Increase the amount of time you spend cleaning your teeth
This is a surefire way to know that you’re in ketosis. It’s also one of the positive effects of the keto diet.
The keto diet recommends that you get about 75% of your daily allowance from healthy fats.
Fats are very satiating, and will cause you to feel full for longer.
The diet will also stabilize your blood/insulin levels, and this will reduce the amount of times that you feel hungry.
Chronically raised insulin levels can cause leptin resistance. Leptin is a hormone that reduces your appetite.
It is completely normal to notice a big decrease in your appetite once you’re in ketosis.
Increased focus and feeling of well-being
This is a very common feeling when in ketosis. Indeed, it is a major reason for many people to remain on the keto diet even when they have reached their weight loss goals.
Most people feel very much more alert and with sustained levels of energy throughout the day once they’re in ketosis.
This is not surprising as the keto diet has been found beneficial for many neurodegenerative diseases.
Some people have also noticed a decrease in their anxiety and level of depression.
This may seem obvious, but weight loss follows a pattern with the keto diet.
A lot of weight is lost during the first few days, but this is mainly water which is released from the fat cells.
Once the first few days have passed, weight loss should steady but still be significant even though you are eating much more fat than normal.
It is when you notice this slowing down of weight loss, but still losing weight that you will most probably be in ketosis.
This is normal, and you should not aim to lose weight too fast.
If this is happening to you then you need to increase the amount of fat you’re eating until weight loss slows.
High ketone levels
This is what you are aiming for and you should be strict about keeping within your carb macros and never eating more than 20g net carbs each day.
At this level just about everyone will reach ketosis.
It’s worth mentioning that some people can increase this significantly, but you would need to be testing your ketone levels while you tried to work out your own personal carb limit.
The only way to accurately know if you are in ketosis is to use a meter and test your blood.
Read here for more information about the keto mojo meter which is one of the most popular meters on the market.
Other ways of testing your ketone levels are with urine strips or with a breath meter. The breath meter works by measuring the levels of acetone in your breath.
Both of these methods tend to be cheaper than blood tests, but are less reliable.
The take home message
The early days on the keto diet can make you feel tired and lethargic as your body adjusts to using fat for fuel.
It is at this stage that you can feel some negative effects of the keto flu.
This stage does not normally last past the first week, and you should start to experience some effects of being in ketosis.
If you are keeping to under 20g of carbs and are feeling relaxed, focused and energetic, it is almost guaranteed that you have reached ketosis.
As you become more used to the diet, you will reach this stage sooner.
The only way to tell for sure is by using one of the meters available and to test your blood. This will also tell you just how far into ketosis you are.
A meter is not essential if you are following the diet correctly.
However, if you want to find out what your personal carb limit is you will have to test regularly.
This way you’ll be able to see the effects of any increase in your carb allowance, and adjust until you reach your own best level.
This can be very useful if you want to be in ketosis, but want to be able to eat the maximum amount of carbs.
Once you’re in ketosis you will know that you’re doing the diet well, and can look forward to reaching your weight loss and health goals in the quickest possible time.
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