Ketosis is a natural biological process that plays a key role in health.
The process has become particularly relevant in a specific type of diet known as a ketosis diet or a ketogenic diet, which is powerful for weight loss.
While your body is in ketosis it relies on fat as the main source of energy by first converting it to compounds known as ketones.
The ketones themselves are thought to help suppress the appetite and may be a key reason why the diet approach helps with weight loss (1,2).
There are a number of different signs that you are in ketosis and ketogenic diets rely on these and your diet patterns to keep you in ketosis.
But, if you’re going to rely on ketosis, then you have to figure out how to get into ketosis fast – and stay there. Achieving that is absolutely critical to get the health benefits of ketosis and to lose weight.
1. Significantly Decrease Your Carb Intake
More than anything, your carb intake influences whether or not you are in ketosis. This is true when you are first trying to reach ketosis and also as you are trying to stay there.
The reason for this is that the body preferentially uses glucose as its main source of energy. This glucose comes from the carbs that you eat. So, when you are consuming carbs regularly, your body tends to use these as the main source of fuel.
However, if you dramatically decrease your carbs, then your body is forced to switch to other fuel sources. Specifically, this results in the production of ketone bodies, which then act as fuel (3,4).
To decrease your carb intake, you can rely on low carb vegetables and fruits, as well as recipes specifically designed for low carb or ketosis diets. For example, the following lists are great places to begin.
Now, the precise number of carbs that you can consume and remain in ketosis varies from one person to the next. So, many people have to stay under 20 grams of carbs but some others may be able to be able to have considerably more (up to around 50 grams per day).
One of the best approaches is to drop your carbs down below 20 grams until you start to see the signs of being in ketosis. After that point, you can slowly start to add carbs back in and keep an eye on how your body responds.
Doing this gives you the chance to figure out precisely how many carbs you can have per day to remain in ketosis.
It’s also important to note that grams of carbs per day typically refers to net carbs (i.e. the carbs that the body can use). Specifically, you don’t count fiber as part of your carb intake because the body cannot use fiber as fuel.
Nevertheless, there is some debate around this area, as soluble and insoluble fiber are treated differently by the body.
More than anything, your approach should involve paying attention to your body. For example, if you are very sensitive to carbs, then you may need to count total carbs, rather than net. However, if you’re not, counting net carbs may be just fine.
But, either way, decreasing your carb intake and paying close attention to carbs is critical if you want to enter ketosis. Likewise, this is a key aspect of how to get into ketosis fast.
Carb intake is critical for getting into ketosis. Many recommendations suggest getting 20 grams or less (net) carbs, although specific intake varies from one person to the next
2. Increase MCT Intake
Lowering carbs is only half of the equation for how to get into ketosis fast. After all, carbs are a source of energy and, to some degree, you need to replace them.
Typically, a ketosis diet means that you get the majority of your energy from fat while keeping carbs at a minimum. But, the specific fat you eat can also play a huge role in how fast you enter ketosis.
Many recommendations suggest focusing on medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). For that matter, MCT oil has significant implications for weight loss.
MCTs are a specific type of fatty acid and they are metabolized differently. For example, they do not produce an insulin spike and tend to be easily turned into ketones (5,6). Both of these features make MCTs very relevant for health and weight loss.
At the same time, research suggests that MCTs are critical for health outcomes, including weight loss (7), improving physical performance (8), helping with seizure control (9,10) and may even have the chance to help people with Alzheimer’s disease (11).
For people trying to reach ketosis, one of the best sources of MCTs is from coconut oil. In fact, coconut oil is especially relevant because it contains the MCT lauric acid. This type of MCT results in more sustained ketosis (12,13).
There are also some other types of MCT oil out there. Avocado oil is one example and some companies also produce pure MCT oil, which is specifically designed for ketosis diets.
So, as a general rule, you should be increasing your healthy fat intake if you’re trying to reach ketosis and MCT oils are especially important.
However, there is some potential for digestive side effects. As such, it’s worth adding MCT oils into your diet slowly, starting at one teaspoon per day and increasing from there. Having too much too soon can result in diarrhea and stomach cramps for some people.
Medium-chain triglycerides are very relevant to ketosis and increasing your intake of them is an important strategy
3. Increase Healthy Fat Intake
MCTs are important for getting into ketosis fast but simply increasing your fat intake overall is relevant too. After all, you are decreasing the energy you take in from carbs, so you do need to adjust for that change.
This concept can be difficult for some people, as we’ve been brought up with the idea that fat is dangerous.
Yet, the evidence doesn’t suggest that at all.
With a ketosis diet, you’re going to be trying for somewhere between 60% and 80% of your calories from fat.
There are some versions that use higher proportions of fat, up to 90% (14). Yet, the difference doesn’t seem to significantly affect weight loss (15).
Because you are relying on fat so heavily, you also need to intentionally choose healthy fats. There are many examples out there, including the following:
You’ll also notice that most of these oils aren’t heavily processed, which also makes them good for your health.
If you do find the process challenging, there is no shortage of blogs out there that specifically focus on ketosis diets. These can be wonderful places to find recipes that can make a ketosis diet easier to understand and follow.
To get into ketosis, you'll typically need to get between 60% and 80% of your calories from fat. It's also critical that you focus on healthy fats
4. Increase Your Exercise
Increasing exercise is an important component of any weight loss strategy but it is especially relevant for ketosis. Additionally, research suggests that being in ketosis can help to improve physical activity performance (16,17).
However, if you are entering ketosis for the first time, physical activity may end up seeming more difficult (18).
This happens because your body is switching from one energy source to another. Doing so is a major change and it can take your body time to adjust.
That adjustment can mean that you are low on energy for a while and may even make you feel dizzy or light-headed.
Nevertheless, exercise is significant because it helps to reduce the glycogen stores in the body. Normally, those stores would be increased again with carbs. However, if you are on a ketosis diet, the stores stay low.
Exercising when you are fasting can also help you to increase ketone levels faster (19,20).
Some recommendations also suggest specific types of exercises, particularly high-intensity interval training (HITT) and resistance training. Both of these types can be relatively intense and, as such, have the potential to decrease glycogen stores faster.
Increasing exercise can help you burn glycogen stores and is a key answer for how to get into ketosis fast. HITT and resistance training are both particularly powerful options
5. Balance Your Protein Carefully
Protein intake can seem tricky and is somewhat controversial. In particular, some evidence suggests that many people need more protein, despite what common recommendations promote.
But, if you’re trying to reach ketosis, you have to be careful with protein. In particular, you need adequate protein intake but not too much.
One reason for this is that insufficient protein can lead to the loss of lean muscle along with fat, which isn’t a desirable outcome. In contrast, getting enough protein helps to make sure your muscle mass stays in place, even as you are losing weight (21,22). But, excess protein will interfere with ketosis, so you don’t want too much either.
For example, some research suggests that you need to consume around 0.55 to 0.77 grams of protein per pound of lean mass and this can be achieved within a ketosis diet (23,24).
These levels are an important starting point, although you may need to tweak them somewhat simply because people respond differently to dietary changes.
Additionally, this may involve an increase in protein intake for some people and a decrease for others, depending on what you were eating previously.
Now, in theory, you could decrease your protein further to reach ketosis quicker. Indeed, many ketosis diets do recommend dropping your protein intake significantly.
However, losing lean muscle isn’t a desirable outcome nor a healthy one and is something that should be avoided. As such, you’re better off taking a little longer to reach ketosis and maintaining a healthy body composition while doing so.
Getting around 0.55 to 0.77 grams of protein per pound of lean mass is an achievable goal that lets you enter ketosis while retaining your lean tissue
6. Go on a Fast
We live in a culture that is obsessed with food, yet some research suggests that going on a fast can offer some fairly major benefits. In fact, some diets and lifestyles have been specifically designed with this in mind.
The most powerful example of this is a process called intermittent fasting, which is a diet type that involves short-term fasting. There are a number of specific intermittent fasting variations, such as the 16:8 diet, where you eat for 8 hours and fast for 16.
Intermittent fasting may help to boost ketosis and can be an appealing option to try (25,26). Likewise, some research suggests that a straight 24-48 hour fast prior to a ketosis diet can be a good way to reach ketosis faster (27,28).
Of those two methods, intermittent fasting tends to be easier to follow, as most people struggle with a complete fast. Additionally, intermittent fasting can help you to keep in good habits and works well with other parts of this list, like increasing MCT intake and healthy fats overall.
Intermittent fasting or a complete fast are both techniques that can help you reach ketosis
7. Use the ‘Fat Fasting’ Technique
For the most part, advice for how to get into ketosis fast tends to be fairly logical. In fact, most people will already know that you need to cut your carbs down dramatically and increase healthy fat intake.
However, there is one technique that is a little more unusual, which is the idea of a fat fast. I initially found the term on Ruled.me, which is a site that we featured in our lists of 24 Amazing Keto Desserts and 17 Low Carb Pumpkin Recipes. So, it’s clear that Ruled.me does know a lot about ketosis and low carb dieting.
Nevertheless, the actual content seems to be originally from the Atkin’s diet.
This method is only supposed to be used as a way for how to get into ketosis fast or for breaking past a weight loss plateau. At the same time, you need to consider the idea seriously because a fat fast does come with some risks.
In particular, a fat fast involves eating between 1,000 and 1,200 calories per day and 80% to 90% of your calories have to come from fat.
Achieving this can seem tough, especially early on – although your body does start to get used to the process. Additionally, some people find the food choices challenging, as you are pretty limited in what you can eat.
After all, eating 1,000 to 1,200 calories a day is relatively little energy anyway. So, you have to pick food that is going to be high in fat and also somewhat low in calories. You also need to pick food that’s going to keep you somewhat satiated, at least enough to make the diet bearable.
Now, I’m not going to go into a fat fasting technique meal plan here but you can find some information over at the article that Ruled.me has developed.
One other thing to note is that you shouldn’t follow this type of fast for more than 5 days. Ideally, you should just be doing it for 2-4 days. If you follow it for longer than that then your body is going to start turning to lean muscle for energy and that’s not a desirable outcome.
Now, a fat fast is a good method for getting into ketosis quickly. Nevertheless, it is fairly intense and can be fairly hard on your body. So, the approach isn’t something to try lightly.
At the same time, many people simply aren’t going to need to reach ketosis this fast. Realistically, following more basic methods will still let you reach ketosis quickly enough and those approaches are likely to be better for your body.
Getting around 1,000 to 1,200 calories per day, of which 80% to 90% is fat can help induce ketosis faster. Nevertheless, this is a fairly intense approach and isn't suitable for all people or situations
8. Use a Combination of Techniques
With the exception of the fat fast, all of the techniques in this list are typical ways to reach ketosis. Indeed, many people on a low carb diet or a ketosis diet will already be doing many of them.
Independently, these methods can work well but they are most powerful collectively.
For example, the site Start Low Carb promotes something that it calls a 3 Day Rapid Keto Technique. Essentially, the method is a combination of a very low carb diet, along with specific exercises, some high-fat ketosis meals and adding in healthy fats (particularly MCTs).
Combining the various methods like this is the most effective way for how to get into ketosis fast, without the risk that comes with the fat fast method.
Additionally, many of the methods are ones that you will continue to use as part of a ketosis diet. This pattern is beneficial, as it means that you don’t have to suddenly switch from one set of behaviors to another.
You can also rely on tests for ketosis to keep an eye on your progress. There are various options but measuring acetone breath levels is one of the most reliable ways (29,30). You can also test for ketones in your urine, although there is some debate about how accurate this measure is (31).
Along with the signs of being in ketosis, tests can help you see how your body is responding. Doing so would allow you to adjust your approaches based on what works the best.
After all, we are all different and people will tend to vary in how they respond to the same diet.
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Have you tried a ketosis diet? If so, would you recommend it for others?