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If you’re like most people who are just getting into keto dieting to lose body fat or for other health benefits (like stabilizing your blood sugar), you’re probably itching to see and feel immediate results. You may even be obsessively eating healthy fats, monitoring your carb intake, and testing your blood glucose and blood-ketone and levels with a ketone meter and wondering why the test results fluctuate so often and so dramatically or why you’re not seeing instant drops in your blood sugar levels/blood glucose levels and rises in your blood ketone levels.

To this we say: have patience! One of the biggest hurdles to success for new keto dieters is a mindset that you’re “supposed to be” further along on achieving your goals or more in a state of ketosis than you are. Plus, every single person reacts differently to a high-fat diet or any diet, so there’s no need to compare. 

Retraining Your Body

Getting into ketosis doesn’t happen immediately. It takes your body anywhere from 2 to 7 days to get into ketosis, depending on a variety of factors, including your unique body, health, activity level, and dietary choices.  

Why does it take so long? Because you’re retraining your body! Ketosis is a natural metabolic process, where your body uses fat stores as its primary fuel source rather than glucose (carbohydrates). To activate this process and change your body’s preferred source of energy and metabolic state, you need to deprive your body of  its usual go-to fuel by drastically lowering your carbohydrate intake and upping your fat intake (i.e. a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet with moderate protein intake). Then you need to give your body time to adjust and your liver time to convert fat from your food and your body (adipose tissue) into ketones which will be used for energy.

What You Eat & In What Ratio

Regardless of how long it takes you specifically, getting into nutritional ketosis has everything do with what you do and don’t eat. General guidelines for a ketogenic diet are to consume 70 to 80 percent of your daily calories from fats, 20 to 25 percent from protein, and 5 to 10 percent from carbohydrates, give or take depending on your lifestyle and other personal factors. 

As long as you’re eating within your optimal macros (find out more about those here) and following the keto low-carb diet, you’re on your way and will reach ketosis. So rather than pushing yourself to the result, aim for the journey. The first month or two on keto is a learning experience, where you’re getting to know the diet, discovering how your body reacts to various foods, finding your pain points, and physically adjusting to burning fat rather than carbs for energy. You may experience keto flu symptoms, including keto breath (it smells like acetone) and find that physical activity allows you to consume a few more daily net carbs as you retrain your body to burn fat. If you don’t see results as quickly as you like, don’t be discouraged. Just remind yourself you’re embarking on a new, fat-burning, healthy lifestyle and keep on the path of low-carb living. In time, the results will come.

How To Jumpstart Ketosis

Practicing fasting or intermittent fasting may get you to enter ketosis faster, but it’s not necessary and it may be a bit more than you want to take on right out of the gate. (Learn more about fasting here.)

So, whether you’re exploring the keto diet and ketone bodies for fuel for fat loss, weight loss, or other health reasons, be kind to yourself during this transition. Move through the expected side effects, make sure you get enough electrolytes to mitigate them, and soon you will be thriving on the keto diet.

MORE: Learn about testing ketones and why a blood ketone meter is better than urine test strips.

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