It seems that these days we hear more and more about the famous ketogenic diet and its ability to induce a state of ketosis, whatever that means. What exactly is ketosis? Am I in ketosis right now? Yes, it can be rather tricky to determine this on your own, especially if you have never tried to induce the state of ketosis on your own before.
And that is exactly what brings us here today! We will look closely at what ketosis really represents and how to induce this state for the benefit of your weight loss process and your overall health. We will share five positives and five negative effects that indicate that you have successfully reached the state of full ketosis.
What exactly is ketosis?
Ketosis refers to a metabolic process during which the body burns fat, in the absence of carbs, as a primary energy source. Throughout the process of ketosis, the liver produces special chemicals called ketones. As you may now, normally it is the carbs that serve as a primary energy source, however, now that you are eating fewer carbs, your body has to produce ketones in order to burn the stored fats and produce enough energy to support the functioning of your body (1).
But in order for anyone to experience ketosis, there are many things that have to be changed. The ketogenic diet, or the keto diet as it is also known, aims to induce ketosis. In order to do so, it requires you to reduce your carb intake to around 50 gr per day, while instructing you to increase your protein intake to around 1.5 gr of protein per kg of body weight. As you can see, we are talking about a low-carb, high-fat, high-protein diet.
This diet plan, with the help of the process of ketosis, is thought to help not only with the weight loss process but also to help improve your overall mental and physical health. Some of the potential health benefits include improved heart health, improved skin health with fewer acne breakouts, improved blood sugar levels, reduced risk of certain cancers, and improved brain function, among many other health benefits (2, 3, 4, 5).
As with any other diet plan, sometimes it can be rather frustrating to wait for any results to show. The same goes for the ketogenic diet, trying to induce ketosis. One thing that you need to remember is that everybody is different and so their bodies, eating habits, level of physical activity, health status, etc. are different as well. All of these factors have a certain influence on the process of ketosis.
The general rule is that your body will not enter the state of ketosis as long as there are enough carbs that can be burned in order to produce energy. These carbs can come either from the diet or from the stored glycogen in the body. As long as you keep eating carbs, you will not be able to induce the process of ketosis. And even if you have started following the keto diet, it may take anywhere from a day to a week for your body to enter the process of ketosis.
Five positive signs that you are in ketosis
Determining whether or not your body has entered a state of ketosis can be hard, especially if you are trying the keto diet for the first time. But with some patience and time, the results will turn out eventually.
However, you do not have to wait to see a change in the numbers on the scale to know that you have finally induced ketosis and that it is working for you. You can simply take a moment and notice if any positive or negative effects are present instead. And yes, ketosis can have some positive, but also rather negative effects that can point out when it is time to take a step back and reconsider your eating habits. But first, let’s look into these five positive effects that happen thanks to ketosis.
Rapid weight loss
We will start off with the most beloved positive effect, of course. Noticing that the number on the scale is going down is a clear sign that you have entered the state of ketosis. As dozens of scientific studies have shown so far, a low-carb, high-protein diet in combination with regular exercise is the perfect combination that results in both short- and long-term sustained weight loss (6, 7).
Do not be surprised if you experience rapid weight loss at the beginning of the keto diet and notice that your weight loss process is slowing down as you continue following this path. This is considered to be normal since, in the beginning, your weight loss results happen due to the loss of stored carbs and water (8). Not to worry, though – as you continue following the keto diet, you will start burning fat and finally get rid of that annoying belly fat that has been adding over the years.
Visible fat loss
It is once you enter the second and third week of your keto diet, and with that, the state of ketosis, that your body will have no choice but to burn through the stored fat in order to assure that there is enough energy to keep you going. And this is exactly what we have been waiting for to happen.
Once again, do not get discouraged if you start losing less weight during your second and third week. This is normal and expected, and after all, it is a sign that your body is telling you that you will finally be free from your belly fat once and for all.
Boosted energy levels
Often we feel trapped by chronic fatigue that prevents us from enjoying life to the fullest. Your low energy levels are probably caused by your common blood sugar and insulin fluctuations. But now that you are following a keto diet, all of those negative effects are off the table in your case.
You will notice as you are gaining more and more energy as your blood sugar levels become more stable and within their low levels. In addition, the ketones that your liver will start producing, also serve as an excellent energy source as well. And that is not all. As your body burns ketones, less free radicals will be produced as a part of the process. Free radicals are linked to increased inflammation in the body, inflammation that is linked to a long list of negative health effects that you would like to avoid (9).
Improved cognitive function
People who follow the keto diet in the long-run often report improvement regarding their cognitive function. You will feel as your concentration and focus are improving, which will reflect greatly on your overall daily activity in work, school, and life altogether.
We mentioned ketones serving as a good energy source, but they also serve as a potent fuel source for your brain as well, now that you lack the needed carbs that have been doing the same thing in the past. So it is no surprise at all that the keto diet, and with that, the process of ketosis will help you boost your overall cognitive function and mood (10, 11)
Another positive effect that will reflect greatly on your weight loss process is the reduced hunger and cravings that you will experience thanks to the process of ketosis. A diet such as a keto diet will help lower the levels of the hunger hormone – ghrelin while boosting a peptide, called cholecystokinin (CCK), which makes you feel full (12).
Five negative signs of ketosis
Although there are plenty of positive effects thanks to the process of ketosis that we need to be thankful for, there are some side-effects that you need to be aware of. Keep in mind that most of these negative effects are short-term.
Think of them only as a transition period during which your body is getting used to your new eating habits and the calorie deficit that you have been relying on lately. However, if any of these negative interrupt with your everyday life, please do consult a doctor as soon as possible.
Bad breath is a commonly reported negative effect once a state of full ketosis has been reached. It is not unusual to notice your breath smelling a bit fruity. This is due to the elevated ketone levels in the body, specifically acetone, a ketone that is found in your breath and urine. You might notice your urine having a rather unpleasant smell as well (13).
When you first reduce your carb intake, rather drastically, you might find yourself struggling with insomnia in the middle of the night. Think of sugar as quite an addictive substance. Insomnia can be explained as one of the withdrawal symptoms that your body is experiencing once you cut sugar from your diet. Not to worry though – your insomnia will get better in a matter of weeks, and you may end up surprised sleeping better than ever before now that you have reached full ketosis (14, 15)
Diarrhea and constipation are common digestive issues that are often present within the first weeks of ketosis. This is normal though, thinking about all of the changes that you are introducing regarding your diet. The main reason for this is the inadequate fiber. Up until now, you have been using oranges, bananas, sweet potatoes, and blueberries to satisfy your fiber requirements. However, now that you are following the keto diet, you are required to reduce your intake of these foods since they are also rich in carbs as well.
This might as well be the reason for your common digestive issues, especially at the beginning. If you do experience any digestive issues, make sure that you drink lots of water and eat low-carb veggies, which are filled with helpful fiber and are still low in calories and carbs because after all, you cannot forget about the importance of fiber.
If you find yourself experiencing muscle cramps while on the keto diet, do not be afraid. What you have been experiencing are the side-effects of dehydration and/or depleted electrolytes, which are both easily fixed (16). Focus on drinking enough water and take a high-quality electrolyte supplement that will help satisfy your daily requirements for magnesium, sodium, and potassium.
Another common withdrawal symptom that occurs due to the lower carb intake is headaches. Before you experience better sleep, improved cognitive function, and high energy levels, unfortunately, you may have to deal with some mild to more severe headaches. These headaches can last anywhere from one day to one week, but they are bound to leave you alone at some point between these time periods and let you enjoy the multiple positive effects that we discussed now.
In fact, the keto diet is thought to be a cure for episodic and chronic migraines, according to a 2017 study (17), whereas another 2018 study has suggested the keto diet as a treatment method for those who are struggling with cluster headaches whose headaches are drug-resistant (18).
One of the most accurate methods to determine whether or not you are in a state of full ketosis is to get a simple blood test. The blood test will help measure the levels of ketones and blood sugar levels in your blood. If you are in a state of ketosis, your blood sugar levels will be reduced, while your ketone levels will be elevated, which is just the effect that we have been looking for. You can additionally discuss your results with a medical professional.
Reaching the state of ketosis will help you to lose weight and finally get rid of all that stored fat, especially around your waist and belly. It will also help boost your memory and overall brain function while increasing your energy levels and improving your mood.
But nobody said that it would be easy. You might find yourself dealing with the negative effects at the beginning of the first week until you finally join the millions of people who have been enjoying the many positive effects of the keto diet and the process of ketosis.