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How do you put yourself into ketosis?

by (1683)
Updated about 14 hours ago
Created December 19, 2011 at 1:05 AM

Everyone says "eat less than 60 g of carbs a day"...I get that, but how do you go about getting there, realizing youre there, and maintaining it?

What I mean is, what do you eat when youre trying to get into ketosis? Without carbs I feel deprived and when I tried eating no carb/VLC (under 30 g a day) I felt awful. I went 2 weeks like this before I gave in and started eating carbs again.

Also, how long does it take you to get into ketosis (fasting/eating fat/sleeping for x amound of hours)? What do you feel like when youre in it..because I felt like crap after 2 weeks of no carbs and I was wondering if other people felt ever like that?

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418 · August 07, 2013 at 8:52 PM

There's only 2 reasons you need to lose weight quickly 1)A Medical emergency/procedure and 2) You're a wrestler/fighter. And the 2nd one is usually through unhealthy/controversial ways.

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418 · August 07, 2013 at 8:51 PM

You're almost certainly NOT in ketosis. You're high protein intake is most likely being converted into glucose (carbohydrates) through gluconeogenesis. So, technically you're not on a zero carb diet, all that protein is just being converted to carbs by your body. You have no fat in your diet outside the eggs as well, which, as probably obvious, is the OTHER vital macronutrient besides protein.

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943 · January 28, 2013 at 7:19 PM

If that's really what you're eating then its no wonder you're like shit, you're only eating protein. This is exactly what is meant by rabbit malaise.

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427 · August 28, 2012 at 2:46 PM

I love Pokemon.

194d8e8140425057fe06202e1e5822a7
3979 · August 28, 2012 at 5:06 AM

neutral for misuse of the word "literally"

88721bda318289a6e6efb215cd6ba2cd
78 · August 28, 2012 at 4:26 AM

Up for awesomeness.

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78422 · July 31, 2012 at 3:37 AM

If you eat fruit before bed time you can easily "live off" liver glycogen over night...

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2227 · July 18, 2012 at 7:01 PM

I second Canis Minor.. that just sounds like a crash and burn diet. Learn to love all foods and give yourself at least 3 months to loose the weight!

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4218 · July 18, 2012 at 6:27 PM

Neither paleo nor ketosis are fast-weight-loss solutions, though they have been marketed as such by the latest dieting headline-starved trends. If you are truly interested in the paleo way of eating, my advice is to browse this site for all the excellent advice on getting healthy and sustainable results.

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0 · July 18, 2012 at 6:16 PM

cutting out 100% of carbs is something im willing to do to lose weight!! Did you also cut out cheese and veggies and only eat meat for three weeks?? Please help THANK YOU

Medium avatar
211 · June 28, 2012 at 3:31 AM

I'm surprised no one has commented on how wrong this answer is.

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24271 · June 28, 2012 at 2:13 AM

Welcome and great job Rick! It gets easier and easier. All you have to do is hang on. I've been getting back into ketosis this past week and it's been pretty brutal. Have not suffered like this in a very long time. I'll be glad when its over.

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813 · December 20, 2011 at 2:16 PM

muscle gain really depends on your physical structure when you begin - I've spent the last 2 years powerlifting and carb-loading; so it's no surprise at all that going paleo has caused me fat loss rather than muscle gain (the reverse would be true of underweight un-trained individuals). Body recomp takes time; if you're muscles are growing that's most definetely a good thing, I'd keep on doing what you're doing for the time being. To quote Mark Sisson paleo is all about positive gene expression. Let your body do its thing :)

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1683 · December 20, 2011 at 1:55 PM

its funny you say that because ive put on 6 ish pounds of muscle since going paleo but havent lost an ounce of body fat whatsoever...so im resorting to more drastic measures

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2890 · December 19, 2011 at 10:34 PM

Apparently ketosis hurts your sense of humour too.

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218 · December 19, 2011 at 8:06 PM

You can buy them at CVS or Walgreens, etc. Just near the pharmacy. However, they do not test for all types of ketones. See Rose's link posted above: http://paleohacks.com/questions/56190/yoyo-ketosis-and-bad-feelings/56192#56192

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1683 · December 19, 2011 at 6:41 PM

where can i get ketostix?

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3499 · December 19, 2011 at 6:24 AM

You were almost certainly in ketosis. I think you may be wondering how you become ketoadapted, which means you can be in ketosis continuously without feeling the "carb flu" from excess ketones. The conventional wisdom is to eat more fat and drink water to help you flush those excesses. It's important not to calorie restrict yourself during this period; eat yourself satisfied. You can reduce your intake later, after you're adapted.

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2890 · December 19, 2011 at 4:44 AM

Don't listen to Kasra, misery is beauty. He fears greatness. (I'm kidding).

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2890 · December 19, 2011 at 4:31 AM

There are lots of references, gotta catch 'em all!

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113 · December 19, 2011 at 4:28 AM

Voted up just because you worked a T.S. Eliot reference in there. Mad props! :)

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6087 · December 19, 2011 at 4:10 AM

Anything that makes you feel awful is a decidedly bad route to lowering your body fat.

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37187 · December 19, 2011 at 2:03 AM

@Michelle, since I eat fruit and salads, etc., I probably only drink about a liter of water/beverages on a typical day. When I fast, I try to drink that plus at least 1 extra to compensate for the fruit/salad. If you already drink a lot and don't normally eat fruit/salads then you're probably fine. But sudden ups/downs are almost always water movement rather than release of stored BF.

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1683 · December 19, 2011 at 1:52 AM

@nance i actually drink a lot of water (usually 2-3) liters a day regardless of my fasting or eating schedule...maybe i need more than that when fasting? im not really sure but i feel like much more than that would be too much

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5332 · December 19, 2011 at 1:51 AM

Oh yeah, if I eat at the end of the day I really don't see much overall effect. Going to bed and keeping the burn up through the second night is well worth trying. Also, I'm usually really careful on that day to not over-compensate by eating too much.

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1683 · December 19, 2011 at 1:47 AM

I was planning on fasting until tomorrow night...maybe ill push it into the next morning and see how I feel. as for the steak and sweet potato thing, for some reason that starchy potato with steak will leave me full for 24 hours but if i eat a piece of meat with something leafy ill be hungry much much sooner...also seems to help me with sugar binges...

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37187 · December 19, 2011 at 1:47 AM

@Michelle, if you drop a pound during your fast and immediately get it back when you eat, I'd bet that's just water weight. I always drink more water than usual during a fast because I'm not eating fruit and I'm not eating salad or vegetables. Dehydration doesn't help so keep drinking! I'm one who does get an energy boost, which is only obvious if I exercise. I'm strong and really enjoy activity when fasted.

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5332 · December 19, 2011 at 1:40 AM

well like I said, without the details of your diet there's not much more we can do, other than point out that the first 24 hours are typically the hardest and it may be instructive to just push through that some time, while asleep if possible, and see how you do. Definitely won't work well if you're concerned or stressed about it though. Or you could remain satisfied and keep eating steak and sweet potato. Writing the word 'never' in capitals suggests you may be living a self-fulfilling prophesy.

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1683 · December 19, 2011 at 1:35 AM

honestly a day of IF may put me down 1 pound...but thats if I have the will power to go the full 24 hours (usually every 10 days or so) but the second i eat again im right back at my ususal weight. the energy boost only happens if ive had green tea during my fast, and it only happens after i feel like im going to puke my stomach up first...i think that boost may be more from caffeine from the tea than from anything else. i dont really feel better eating nothing than when i eat LC because no matter what I feel deprived of something, im NEVER satisfied unless i eat a steak and sweet potato

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5332 · December 19, 2011 at 1:26 AM

So you do feel better eating nothing than eating low-carb? What impact does a day of IF have on your weight? And how does going off like a rocket and running a marathon not suggest an energy boost?

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5332 · December 19, 2011 at 1:25 AM

Do you feel awful? And what impact does it have on your weight?

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1683 · December 19, 2011 at 1:23 AM

i never get the energy boost but i dont feel terrible either...i just feel the same. now if i drink green tea while fasting ill get a feeling like im going to vomit then ill drink a little water and im off like a rocket and could run a marathon...but idk if thats the caffeine

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1683 · December 19, 2011 at 1:22 AM

i can comfortably go 8 hours or more without eating but i dont feel high energy...but i dont feel weak and famished either. i play with IF and can usually go 24 hours, but i never get the energy boost.

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1683 · December 19, 2011 at 1:18 AM

im trying to lower my bf

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4393 · December 19, 2011 at 1:15 AM

is there a particular reason or reasons that you want to be in ketosis?

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16 Answers

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7
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11986 · December 19, 2011 at 1:48 AM

In The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living, authors Phinney and Volek take great care to make the point that eating high fat is critical to being able to tolerate the first few weeks of ketosis, as is being hardcore about restricting carbohydrate intake. "Yo-yoing" your carb intake is likely to prolong the period of adaptation.

Phinney has done a lot of research on ketogenic diets and athletic performance. Here he writes:

There are to date no studies that carefully examine the optimum length of this keto-adapataion period, but it is clearly longer than one week and likely well advanced within 3???4 weeks. The process does not appear to happen any faster in highly trained athletes than in overweight or untrained individuals. This adaptation process also appears to require consistent adherence to carbohydrate restriction, as people who intermittently consume carbohydrates while attempting a ketogenic diet report subjectively reduced exercise tolerance.

As far as how long it takes just to get into ketosis (not adaptation), not long at all. It's my understanding that no matter what kind of diet you eat, you'll go into ketosis during your sleep cycle, unless you're sleep-eating. So you should be ketotic pretty much right away, although not keto-adapted.

There's more about keto-adaptation here: http://paleohacks.com/questions/56190/yoyo-ketosis-and-bad-feelings/56192#56192

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78422 · July 31, 2012 at 3:37 AM

If you eat fruit before bed time you can easily "live off" liver glycogen over night...

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2890 · December 19, 2011 at 4:09 AM

I too would like to know how to achieve ketosis.

I am told it is a brave new world where fat literally melts off, the opposite gender begins swoons at the very scent, and one always manages to find a parking spot!

Pray, share whatever knowledge you acquire in your quest that you might help others achieve this rare dove of a goal.

Be quick, Michelle, ere the insulin rob you of what little life you have left to find you buried in sepulchre by the sea, where mermaids sing (each to each), and your too, too sullied flesh festers over like a blister in the sun.

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113 · December 19, 2011 at 4:28 AM

Voted up just because you worked a T.S. Eliot reference in there. Mad props! :)

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2890 · December 19, 2011 at 4:31 AM

There are lots of references, gotta catch 'em all!

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2890 · December 19, 2011 at 10:34 PM

Apparently ketosis hurts your sense of humour too.

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3979 · August 28, 2012 at 5:06 AM

neutral for misuse of the word "literally"

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427 · August 28, 2012 at 2:46 PM

I love Pokemon.

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78 · August 28, 2012 at 4:26 AM

Up for awesomeness.

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37187 · December 19, 2011 at 1:17 AM

I'm sure you'll get many answers but for me, the longer I go between meals the easier it is to switch back and forth between burning glucose and burning fat (releasing and burning stored fat.)

You know you're in ketosis when you haven't eaten in at least 8 hours and you feel strong and high-energy (rather than weak and famished.) Nowadays I go into ketosis every night because I don't normally eat after 4 pm.

When I first started an ancestral eating program, I'd wake up in the weak-and-famished mode. I didn't do anything crazy, I just tried to wait an hour or two and then I'd eat a breakfast high in protein and fat, such as beef, bacon and eggs. I'd wait as long as I could before eating a second meal and would eat as much as I wanted.

By doing that, each morning I felt better and better and pretty soon it didn't matter if I ate breakfast or waited for lunch or even supper.

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5332 · December 19, 2011 at 1:26 AM

So you do feel better eating nothing than eating low-carb? What impact does a day of IF have on your weight? And how does going off like a rocket and running a marathon not suggest an energy boost?

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1683 · December 19, 2011 at 1:52 AM

@nance i actually drink a lot of water (usually 2-3) liters a day regardless of my fasting or eating schedule...maybe i need more than that when fasting? im not really sure but i feel like much more than that would be too much

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5332 · December 19, 2011 at 1:51 AM

Oh yeah, if I eat at the end of the day I really don't see much overall effect. Going to bed and keeping the burn up through the second night is well worth trying. Also, I'm usually really careful on that day to not over-compensate by eating too much.

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1683 · December 19, 2011 at 1:23 AM

i never get the energy boost but i dont feel terrible either...i just feel the same. now if i drink green tea while fasting ill get a feeling like im going to vomit then ill drink a little water and im off like a rocket and could run a marathon...but idk if thats the caffeine

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1683 · December 19, 2011 at 1:22 AM

i can comfortably go 8 hours or more without eating but i dont feel high energy...but i dont feel weak and famished either. i play with IF and can usually go 24 hours, but i never get the energy boost.

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37187 · December 19, 2011 at 2:03 AM

@Michelle, since I eat fruit and salads, etc., I probably only drink about a liter of water/beverages on a typical day. When I fast, I try to drink that plus at least 1 extra to compensate for the fruit/salad. If you already drink a lot and don't normally eat fruit/salads then you're probably fine. But sudden ups/downs are almost always water movement rather than release of stored BF.

Dfada6fe4982ab3b7557172f20632da8
5332 · December 19, 2011 at 1:40 AM

well like I said, without the details of your diet there's not much more we can do, other than point out that the first 24 hours are typically the hardest and it may be instructive to just push through that some time, while asleep if possible, and see how you do. Definitely won't work well if you're concerned or stressed about it though. Or you could remain satisfied and keep eating steak and sweet potato. Writing the word 'never' in capitals suggests you may be living a self-fulfilling prophesy.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247
37187 · December 19, 2011 at 1:47 AM

@Michelle, if you drop a pound during your fast and immediately get it back when you eat, I'd bet that's just water weight. I always drink more water than usual during a fast because I'm not eating fruit and I'm not eating salad or vegetables. Dehydration doesn't help so keep drinking! I'm one who does get an energy boost, which is only obvious if I exercise. I'm strong and really enjoy activity when fasted.

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5332 · December 19, 2011 at 1:25 AM

Do you feel awful? And what impact does it have on your weight?

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1683 · December 19, 2011 at 1:47 AM

I was planning on fasting until tomorrow night...maybe ill push it into the next morning and see how I feel. as for the steak and sweet potato thing, for some reason that starchy potato with steak will leave me full for 24 hours but if i eat a piece of meat with something leafy ill be hungry much much sooner...also seems to help me with sugar binges...

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1683 · December 19, 2011 at 1:35 AM

honestly a day of IF may put me down 1 pound...but thats if I have the will power to go the full 24 hours (usually every 10 days or so) but the second i eat again im right back at my ususal weight. the energy boost only happens if ive had green tea during my fast, and it only happens after i feel like im going to puke my stomach up first...i think that boost may be more from caffeine from the tea than from anything else. i dont really feel better eating nothing than when i eat LC because no matter what I feel deprived of something, im NEVER satisfied unless i eat a steak and sweet potato

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388 · December 19, 2011 at 2:51 AM

I can kick myself into ketosis if I work out in a semi-fasted state. By "semi-fasted" I mean having had a 100% fat pre-workout snack - usually a cup of coffee with cream and coconut oil. My workout is usually some type of high intensity intervals like sprints mixed with some weight lifting. I find that by the end of that kind of workout I am in ketosis, which I recognize by the acetone smell in my nostrils when I breathe through my nose.

It might take this kind of routine to kick your metabolism into a fat-burning one. I recommend trying HIIT training in a semi-fasted fats-only state to see if you can induce ketosis.

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6709 · December 19, 2011 at 6:23 PM

You can check to see if you are in Ketosis by buying Ketostix and testing. Once you are urinating ketones, your in, no need to constantly test yourself as the amount you excrete in urine changes pretty constantly.

Once in ketosis, remember, its not that eating dietary fat makes you burn fat, but rather the LACK of carbohydrate that has you burning fat. Therefore, to lose weight, while in ketosis, you must eat less calories overall than you burn.

If you eat more fat than you burn, you will gain fat, so shoot to eat less. Put another way, your only going to burn stored bodyfat AFTER you burn any dietary fat.

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218 · December 19, 2011 at 8:06 PM

You can buy them at CVS or Walgreens, etc. Just near the pharmacy. However, they do not test for all types of ketones. See Rose's link posted above: http://paleohacks.com/questions/56190/yoyo-ketosis-and-bad-feelings/56192#56192

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1683 · December 19, 2011 at 6:41 PM

where can i get ketostix?

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211 · June 28, 2012 at 3:31 AM

I'm surprised no one has commented on how wrong this answer is.

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10 · June 28, 2012 at 1:39 AM

I started a zero carb intake and on my third day. My first day was bad. I didn't feel like myself. The second day was better. The third day, funny because I didn't feel hungry until after I ate. Breakfast was ok, just dinner which was a grilled chicken breast and a jalape??o pepper. After I ate this, I started feeling hungry. Been feeling a little tired but otherwise good!

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24271 · June 28, 2012 at 2:13 AM

Welcome and great job Rick! It gets easier and easier. All you have to do is hang on. I've been getting back into ketosis this past week and it's been pretty brutal. Have not suffered like this in a very long time. I'll be glad when its over.

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5332 · December 19, 2011 at 1:17 AM

How much were you eating of other things during that time? You may simply have been lacking enough food or nutrients overall. If you fast, you can expect to feel bad or hungry for a couple of days if you're used to eating lots of carbs. Things should start to improve then, though ketone production continues increasing for several weeks to reach 'full ketosis'. However, you're in and out on ketosis all day, there's no magic trick to achieve this zen-like state.

We could spend a lot of time hacking your meal plans and activity levels and everything else, but to be honest the simplest test if you are interested is to go the water fast. Say once a week, starting with skipping meals, then going a whole day, then 2 or 3 if things are going ok. If you don't eat for a week and feel fine, then you know it's not carbs per se that were the issue. Some would consider a brutal experiment though, so if you don't have a good reason then why not stick with a nice level of carbs?

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0 · August 05, 2013 at 4:09 PM

When you look at carbs--normallyou would subtract out the fiber bc it doesn't get absorbed--is that the same for keto..So if the nutrition says 13g carbs, 10 gr of fiber--it's really only NET 3 CARBS?

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0 · January 28, 2013 at 3:52 PM

I am on day 8 of ketosis, and I feel great. I havent consumed many carbs at all, but gave myself 2 carb desert last night, it was delicious...:-) But after day 3 i was in full blown ketosis and went through the withdraws of sugar, migrane for a whold day, but now I feel great!! lost 6 pounds and I am not hungry but make myself eat. I do have the Diet dr.pepper, taste pretty good lots of fluids. I am on a roll and determined, ....good luck to all

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0 · November 19, 2012 at 1:47 AM

Can someone tell me how long this "smell" lasts in ketosis? Everyone on this forum mentions it so what do you do about it?

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0 · October 19, 2012 at 6:23 AM

When I entered ketosis it was because I abstained from all carbs and ate the proper proteins and fats diligently. I lost an insane amount of weight and was a stickler with hydration (water and tea). I actually did not experience any mood swings although it was difficult to sleep well. I easily fixed that with a sleep aid per a doctors advice. I guess if you did see a doctor you could also ask for a mood stabilizer if it was really bad. The only other "drawback" was a person close to me noticed a 'smell'. Additionally I was cold quite a bit. I didn't really care because the overall feeling of health and my physical apperance was satisfying enough to stick with it. Additionally while in ketosis my skin became the most suple it had ever been. Eventually, due to self sabatoging ways I let up and went back to being a glutten! Know this, after what I discovered, I look forward to re-entering the carb restricted life soon. It was the only thing close to "magic" that I have tried. But this leads to the main problem: as astongishing and great as it is to go into ketosis and have the benefits you can just was easily see it dissapear. Don't stay far away or else you will find yourself back at square one or even worse.

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0 · August 28, 2012 at 4:11 AM

I have been in ketosis twice, and I usually get there by doing a near-100% fast (maybe with some coffee, artificial sweetener, and creamer). In my opinion, it requires about 3 days' worth of caloric restriction to achieve it. So I can either fast completely for 3 days, or work out very hard for 2 days (roughly 1000 cal/day of workout) to achieve ketosis (in my case, it requires 6000 cal of total caloric restriction, period.) I have never eaten fat and protein to get into ketosis.

You can tell you're in ketosis because you aren't hungry at all and you smell weird - even to yourself. I find, however, that going from the 3rd to 4th day can sometimes be impossibly hard, so I have to play games with my schedule to avoid locations (such as home) where it's easy to break the ketogenic fasting, and snack on carbs, and maybe on the 3rd day go to an extra workout to get into the ketosis state right before bedtime, before my willpower is overcome by the discomfort.

Some body builders inject insulin to metabolize all their glucose and enter ketosis faster. A more natural and safer way to promote ketosis is to take Leucine - see http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=113801571

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0 · July 30, 2012 at 5:33 PM

I'm on day 8 of a zero carb diet, I'm literally living off pure whey protein shakes and eggs and tuna. I was 11 and half stone and I've lost 7lbs in 8 days. However, I've had 2 days in the past weeks where I've felt sick and I'm tired, aching muscles and bad mood swings. From what people say I'm in ketosis and it's hell up to now but I'm desperate to lose another stone. I'm feeling so tempted to give up but I'm hanging on another week or so to see if there are any more gains and if so I'll stick with it. Just hope the mood swings go, this diet is mentally challenging!I personally believe to lose weight you need zero carbs in order for your body to burn it's fat rather than carb stores.

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943 · January 28, 2013 at 7:19 PM

If that's really what you're eating then its no wonder you're like shit, you're only eating protein. This is exactly what is meant by rabbit malaise.

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418 · August 07, 2013 at 8:51 PM

You're almost certainly NOT in ketosis. You're high protein intake is most likely being converted into glucose (carbohydrates) through gluconeogenesis. So, technically you're not on a zero carb diet, all that protein is just being converted to carbs by your body. You have no fat in your diet outside the eggs as well, which, as probably obvious, is the OTHER vital macronutrient besides protein.

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0 · July 18, 2012 at 6:08 PM

I need to lose weight quickly!! Im on my second day of low carbs and feel pretty good. should I cut out cheeses and veggies and just eat meat for a few weeks to get a good jump start? please advise thank you

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4218 · July 18, 2012 at 6:27 PM

Neither paleo nor ketosis are fast-weight-loss solutions, though they have been marketed as such by the latest dieting headline-starved trends. If you are truly interested in the paleo way of eating, my advice is to browse this site for all the excellent advice on getting healthy and sustainable results.

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2227 · July 18, 2012 at 7:01 PM

I second Canis Minor.. that just sounds like a crash and burn diet. Learn to love all foods and give yourself at least 3 months to loose the weight!

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418 · August 07, 2013 at 8:52 PM

There's only 2 reasons you need to lose weight quickly 1)A Medical emergency/procedure and 2) You're a wrestler/fighter. And the 2nd one is usually through unhealthy/controversial ways.

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0 · July 02, 2012 at 5:41 PM

My experience...

For best results cut out 100% of carbs from your diet. I'm talking if the box/bag/container says "0.5 carbs," don't buy it. If you stick with straight chicken, beef, bacon, and fish only with diet zero carb soda, diet green tea, and water -you will lose weight INCREDIBLY fast. I lost 30 lbs in 3 weeks (21 days) following that method (NEVER CHEATING). If you introduce carbs into your body it decreases the effects if the Ketosis/Atkins. This is the only diet that I found that works for me for instant results. BTW you can eat as much meat as you want. Seriously, go nuts (if you're hungry), it will all get passed through you and you will burn fat like crazy.

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0 · July 18, 2012 at 6:16 PM

cutting out 100% of carbs is something im willing to do to lose weight!! Did you also cut out cheese and veggies and only eat meat for three weeks?? Please help THANK YOU

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813 · December 19, 2011 at 10:44 AM

I find it takes me about 2 weeks the first time to hit it. And yes, going keto drives you insane - I shaln't ever be doing it again.

You can use keto sticks (urinalysis) to check, but its very very hit-and-miss. I don't know if this was true of others - but I could always tell because my pee would smell like mayonaisse :| Not great.

Just stick to paleo - I've lost just as much weight on this without even trying to limit calories.

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813 · December 20, 2011 at 2:16 PM

muscle gain really depends on your physical structure when you begin - I've spent the last 2 years powerlifting and carb-loading; so it's no surprise at all that going paleo has caused me fat loss rather than muscle gain (the reverse would be true of underweight un-trained individuals). Body recomp takes time; if you're muscles are growing that's most definetely a good thing, I'd keep on doing what you're doing for the time being. To quote Mark Sisson paleo is all about positive gene expression. Let your body do its thing :)

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1683 · December 20, 2011 at 1:55 PM

its funny you say that because ive put on 6 ish pounds of muscle since going paleo but havent lost an ounce of body fat whatsoever...so im resorting to more drastic measures

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