Getting into ketosis is the single most important unit that separates keto from other diets.
The changes to calories, the nutrient-focus, and many of the other features are common among different diets but being super-efficient at burning fats is all about ketosis.
Today we’re going to discuss how ketosis works and how you can get into ketosis as quickly as possible. This is going to speed up the process and show off the benefits – as well as some of the challenges – of the ketogenic diet.
Ketosis: A Brief Chat
Ketosis is a pretty unique metabolic setup and it’s not something your body is going to do easily: you’ve been eating carbs your whole life, so getting to ketosis is going to be quite challenging.
There are two types of ketosis – the first is a short-term metabolic state that we reach when exercising. That’s called exercise-induced ketosis.
This is what happens when your body has used up all of the carb-fuel and is forced to rely on fats for producing glycogen.
The second kind of ketosis is the nutritional kind: when you’re not consuming carbohydrates in your diet so your body adapts to use fats for fuel instead.
Nutritional Ketosis is what the ketogenic diet is all about. This is also the cause for keto-adaptation, building the efficiency with which your body uses fat for fuel.
This is the long-term ketosis that’s going to provide you with the benefits associated with ketogenic dieting: better endurance, improved fat-metabolism, and blood sugar control.
Clearly, sticking with your diet is going to be key – and the quickest way to get into ketosis is about consistency, not intensity!
Key Lessons About Ketosis
There’s overlap between the two types of ketosis here. Nutritional ketosis works more effectively when you’re placing bigger energy demands on your body during exercise. You won’t get keto-adapted with just exercise, so the ketogenic diet is an essential component.
Studies show that getting to ketosis and fully keto-adapting can take at least 3 months for the best results to your exercise performance and endurance. You’ll see changes within weeks, but you should plan for a 3-month minimum.
Of course, we’re trying to get the best from the diet and getting into ketosis and keto-adaptation quickly will make the most of your time on the diet!
Quickest Way to Get Into Ketosis
The ketosis state is triggered by using up all your dietary carbohydrates and switching to fat for fuels. That makes step one really obvious…
Step One: Cut Carbs
This is the very simple point of the ketogenic diet and its going to be the key to getting to ketosis. If you’re still eating more carbohydrates than you need (probably around 30g/day), you’re going to stall your own progress.
We think you should ease into a ketogenic diet most of the time, but the quickest way to get into ketosis is to cut your NET carbs way down and rely on fats, proteins, and fibrous veggies.
Step Two: Sub-Maximal Exercise and Ketosis
So, your intake of carbs is way down, but did you know you can store 2000 calories of carbohydrates in the body?
This is nothing compared to the 10,000s of calories you’ve got stored as fat, but it is one of the reasons it takes a while to get into ketosis.
Exercise is the best way to make use of this, burning up stored carbohydrates as fuel with a combination of resistance and endurance exercise. Remember that ketogenic diets favour endurance training, so you’re going to see a small drop in maximum-effort strength.
The hormonal changes caused by exercise are also great for ketosis: they maintain muscle and support fat loss.
Obviously, this isn’t just for getting into ketosis: making the most of ketosis also relies on you continuing exercise during your adapting process, with huge benefits to cardio training as you get better at using fats as fuel.
Step Three: Improve The Type of Fats You Eat
Some fats are better than others.
The better the fats in your diet, the better you’re going to convert to ketosis. Some fats support this by boosting fat-oxidation for use as fuels, while others support heart health, and others just provide great nutrients.
Choosing polyunsaturated fats – specifically omega-3 fats – and high-quality saturates (the kind found in coconut oil) is the way to go.
Omega-3s support mental health, combat inflammation, and support heart health. On the other hand, the MCTs in coconut oil are supportive of fat loss and boost the oxidation of fats, albeit modestly.
On the other hand, low-quality omega-6 fats (called LA and GLA) can promote inflammation and other health problems. These are found in corn and soybean oils and should be limited in the diet - while high-quality CLAs are superior, and may have benefits to building lean mass.
The key with Omega-3 and 6 fats is to keep 3s high, and limit your intake of 6s while choosing the right types. You should be getting these from nutrient-dense, healthy fat sources like eggs - which also provide choline.
Step Four: Handle Your Proteins
This is simple: a ketogenic diet is high-fat and adequate-protein.
For most people, adequate protein is going to feel like high-protein at the start. However, protein intake can improve fat loss and maintain or even build muscle on a weight-loss diet.
It’s a key part of your diet and you should give it as much thought as your carb and fat intakes. You don’t need to focus on huge amounts of protein, but a healthy intake will assist with the ketosis process.
Challenges of a Quick Ketosis
The faster your ketosis, the larger the existing challenges you’re going to run into.
Your body doesn’t do anything quickly – at least not without some sort of protest. This is no different for keto, and the quickest way to get into ketosis isn’t always the best.
This is going to be a challenge.
A ketogenic diet is aimed at building endurance performance: it will keep your submaximal exercise, but your top-end strength won’t be as good.
This is a small price to pay for most people, but if you’re into strength and power sports then it may be better to take a moderate approach. Slower ketosis means less short-term performance loss.
2. Muscle Mass
Ketogenic diets aren’t made to build muscle – they’re made to help you lose fat and get into great shape.
If you want to look like Arnold, this isn’t going to be the one diet for you in the long-term. You can use ketogenic diets, but a fast ketosis is going to make you feel flat early on, since you’re still keto-adapting.
3. Electrolytes and Hydration
The ketogenic diet is a diuretic: you’re going to be peeing a lot.
This means you need to actively think about your hydration! You’re not eating as many carbs, so you’ll have less electrolytes.
Actively consuming electrolytes from a high-quality sea salt or Himalayan salt is a great way to combat this. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water, too!
4. Keto Flu
Tied in with the risks of dehydration and feeling “flat” when you cut carbs, keto flu is a bigger risk on a faster ketosis.
This is a wide set of symptoms from general fatigue to headaches, and it’s because you’re carb-deficient.
You obviously adapt to this, but it’s a process and the best way to avoid it is entering ketosis slowly. When you push for the quickest way to get into ketosis, you’re going to be at a greater risk of keto flu.
You can’t really get around this – make sure to take your vitamins and minerals, eat a wide variety of veggies, and hydrate/electrolyte. These can re
Can Exogenous Ketones Help?
Currently, we just don’t know - the studies have been conflicting.
Exogenous ketone supplements seem to be a good way of accelerating the ketosis process and improving your reliance on fats during the early adaptation process. You’re going to be able to crutch the earlier days of a ketogenic diet, but comments on mental performance seem wishful at best.
On the other hand, the studies are far from final - there are some indications that ketone supplementation should be moderated. Studies have shown that certain ketone bodies (such as acetoacetate - or AA) can increase oxidative stress, associated with aging and cell damage.
This might just be a matter of regulation and proper management, but it’s just too early to tell for certain.
You can incorporate exogenous ketones during the first few weeks of a ketogenic diet, but you should moderate your intake and try not to depend on them. The diet and lifestyle come first - supplementation can speed up the process, but not replace it!
Final Thoughts: Ketosis and Speed
The problem with finding the quickest way to get into ketosis is that it isn’t always the best way.
Your body is an adaptation machine, but those adaptations are slow. Ketosis is best approached gradually, and some of the problems we mentioned above are mostly-avoided during a slower ketosis.
Getting into ketosis might be your priority right now, but it’s going to be a bout the end-product, as well as how fast you can achieve it.
Apply the lessons above – focus on your fat quality, protein quantity, exercise performance, and hydration. A ketogenic diet you can stick with is the most effective, and you should always aim for the quickest way to get into ketosis that you can stick with, safely!
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