How Long Does it Take To Get Fat Adapted?

Published: September 27, 2019

How Long Does it Take To Get Fat Adapted?

Hey, so how long does it take you to really get fat-adapted? Does it take a couple days? A couple weeks, couple months? Well, there are so many different variables. I mean really. Environmental variables, genetic variables, sex variables. So many different things. But if we look at how the body works, and how ketones essentially get in to the cell, then we can start understanding, hey, this might just be how long it takes. I’m Thomas Delauer with Keto-Mojo, and I’m going to hopefully ease your mind a little bit, so you can get a little bit of I don’t know, some answers surrounding the world of why your ketones are going up and down and why you may sometimes feel energetic and sometimes not.

What is Fat Adaptation?

So the first thing I want to talk about is when you look at fat adaptation, there are different ways that we can essentially measure it. We can measure how long is it taking for the cell to get accustomed to utilizing fat a little bit easier as far as mitochondrial density goes. But then we can also look at things like uric acid. Uric acid competes with ketones for excretion, which I’ll explain in a little bit. But we can also look at how long it takes for our body to naturally start restoring glycogen. All of that sounds a little bit complex, so let me break it down in a really simple form. I’m going to start with the mitochondria. The mitochondria is a big, scary word at first. But, all it is, for the essence of this video is the energy powerhouse where we create energy. We take fats or ketones, and we convert them in to energy. Well, mitochondrial biogenesis is the process in which the mitochondria essentially dies and recycles. Now, the half-life of mitochondria is one to two weeks. So that means that every time the mitochondria dies and new mitochondria comes in, or is recycled, we have a half life, meaning it changes ever so slightly. So, if it’s getting exposed to ketones, or fats, its getting a little bit used to it one at at time. And then that generation dies, and the next generation evolves with a little bit more affinity for ketones. Then that generation dies, and the next generation comes through with even more affinity. Now it’s said that it takes about five to six overall half-lives before the mitochondria reaches what is called equilibrium. Meaning a whole new generation to the point in which it is absolutely accustomed to utilizing fats. So if we do the math, if mitochondrial biogenesis ends up taking one to two weeks, and we need five half lives, we’re looking anywhere from five to 10 weeks for us to get overall fat-adapted at a cellular level. So there’s a very simple answer. We’re looking at five to 10 weeks.

Understanding Uric Acid Levels

But let’s expand on this a little bit more. If we look at some other studies that measure uric acid, we might see that it takes a little bit longer. See, uric acid levels tend to be higher in the urine when someone first starts ketosis. What that means is that when we start ketosis, those ketones compete with uric acid for re-absorption. So, because we have a bunch of ketones when we first start keto, our kidneys say, go ahead and get rid of all the excess uric acid and reabsorb the ketones. But then, over time, as we get adjusted to ketosis, the body gets a little bit more relaxed with it and says okay, we can start releasing some ketones too, so uric acid levels come down. So studies have shown that it takes about 10-12 weeks again for that to occur. For the uric acid levels to come back down. Which again implies even at sort of an organ level, at a kidney level, it’s taking about 10 or 12 weeks. So we know it takes a good amount of time, right? But, the cool thing is, studies are now starting to show that fat adaptation can continue on long beyond just that black and white line of the cell using it.

Journal of Metabolism Study

In fact the Journal of Metabolism published a study that took a look at resting glycogen stores of athletes. And they found that even after a year and a half of being on a ketogenic diet, they were still increasing their overall stores of glycogen. What this implies is that the body, after even a year and a half, is still getting even better at storing glycogen from other energy substrates. Because we do store glycogen, muscle carbohydrates from proteins. And a little bit from fats, through glycerol. So what that means is that even after a year and a half, our body is improving at the efficiency of storing glycogen through other substrates, which implies, again, or quite honestly proves, that we are still getting fat adapted even at a year and a half in.  So when you measure your ketones using your Keto-Mojo meter, you are looking at what is readily available for the cell to use, but it’s not necessarily telling you how efficiently your body is using it at that time.

Now, one thing I do want to mention is you might notice that as you get fat adapted, your ketone levels are a little bit lower when you measure them. But that’s okay, because that is an indicator that your body is more efficient, doesn’t need to create as many, and it’s utilizing them more. What’s important is that you’re measuring apples to apples. Don’t measure your ketone level today, compared to a ketone level a year ago, because you could be an entirely different fat user. You want to measure in smaller increments. What does a 7:30 a.m. measurement look like compared to a 7:30 a.m. measurement a week ago, or a month ago? I don’t recommend going beyond that, because if you look at a month, you can get a general scale that’s a little bit more accurate. So as always, leave the guesswork out of the equation. Stick to facts, to science, and your own bio-individual data from the Keto-Mojo meter. As always, I’ll see you in the next video, and thanks for watching.


Not on our mailing list?
Sign up and get 5 Fabulous French Recipes! Oui s'il vous plaît!

At Keto-Mojo, we believe in sharing—sharing important keto community news, science and studies, great keto recipes, products we love, and profiles of people that inspire us.

Join our community now and fall in love with 5 new French recipes!