What Is Ketosis?

If you’ve been exploring diets and health, you may have bumped into the topic of ketosis and the ketogenic diet. You might be thinking that it has something to do with metabolism, energy, body fat…or something along those lines, right?

Well, you’re on the right track!

In a nutshell, ketosis is a metabolic state that your body switches to when it lacks carbohydrates. This alteration has become a hot topic amongst nutritionists and dietitians because it leads to the body producing less hunger signaling hormones. This means you have an easier time consuming fewer calories per day while maintaining the same level of fullness [1].

So what exactly is happening to your body during ketosis? During this metabolic state, your body is burning more fat for energy and creating molecules called ketones, which your cells can then turn into fuel. The end goal of ketosis is to have your body utilize fat instead of sugar for energy.

Now that you have a better understanding of ketosis, we’ll dig deeper into this highly sought-after metabolic state and the best ways to reach it.

However, if you feel like you need a more in-depth look at what ketosis really is, be sure to check out our article with everything you need to know.

Health Benefits of Keto

Before exploring how one might achieve a state of ketosis, let’s first discuss its wealth of health benefits.

1. Weight loss

The most common benefit of forcing your body into ketosis is to hasten the weight loss process. This happens during a ketogenic diet because your body, which is comprised of about 60% water, is shedding excess water due to extremely low carbohydrate intake. When we indulge in a carb-heavy diet, our bodies naturally retain water.

During ketosis, our insulin levels are also decreased, leading to our kidneys getting rid of the excess sodium. As a result, it is very common to lose a lot of weight quickly in the first few weeks of a ketogenic diet. You’re essentially ridding your body of all of the excess water it has retained over time.

Moreover, ketogenic diets are becoming more common in clinical applications for treating obesity and type-2 diabetes.[4]

2. Appetite suppression

Starving oneself and being overwhelmed with constant hunger pains is rarely a selling point for most diets out there. One of the highlights of a ketogenic diet is that your appetite is naturally suppressed, which is actually a good thing!

During ketosis, your body is relying on fats instead of carbs for energy production. By consuming more fats, your body will naturally feel full for longer, which can lead to weight loss.

3. Insulin and blood sugar level reduction

Especially paired with intermittent fasting, a ketogenic diet is an excellent way to burn fat, increase growth hormone, and reduce insulin levels. By cutting out carbs, your body removes much of its need to produce insulin and also results in your blood sugar levels dropping.

A 2008 study revealed 95.2% of individuals with type-2 diabetes were able to successfully eliminate or reduce their glucose-reduction medication within only six months on a ketogenic diet.[2]

Top 5 Tips to Get You Into Ketosis

1. Cut out those carbs

If you’re serious about experiencing the results of a ketogenic diet, then it’s time to drastically cut out those starchy carbs. To achieve ketosis quickly, you’ll need to cut your carb intake way down.

While the level of restriction can vary somewhat from person to person, people generally need to limit their net carbs (total carbohydrates minus fiber) to 20-50 grams per day. This is a fairly large window, so the easiest and best way to cut out carbs is to simply get rid of any starchy foods in your diet.

If you’re unsure what foods are considered starchy, here is a quick run-through of common food items you will want to cut out of your diet:

  • Pizza
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Bread
  • Oatmeal
  • Potatoes
  • Muffins
  • Beans
  • Most fruits
  • Quinoa

Sticking to a strict diet that cuts these types of starch-heavy foods out will put your body into a ketosis state. To reach ketosis faster, you’ll want to begin the diet by cutting out as many carbs as you can. Eventually, you can begin to gradually add back some of your favorite carbs to your diet.

The goal here is to reach ketosis and allow your body to adapt to it and stay in the state.

2. Pair a ketogenic diet with intermittent fasting

The word “fasting” in the context of diets can often be alarming at first. Before skipping this section, or allowing yourself to become overwhelmed with the absence of food for long periods, fear not!

Intermittent fasting is flexible and can be whatever you want it to be. Some people feel comfortable fasting for a day, a week, or a month, while others happily opt to simply skip a meal per day. Intermittent fasting simply means forfeiting food for a period of time, which results in weight loss from fewer calories.

Whew! Now that we got that out of the way, by combining intermittent fasting with a ketogenic diet, you can quickly get your body into a ketosis state.

By forfeiting food for a period of time, your insulin levels will naturally drop, which will help you reach ketosis much quicker.

3. Increase fat intake

Unlike many diets, the ketogenic diet is all about fat intake. To achieve ketosis, your body needs roughly 60-75% of its calories to come from fat.

While you might have to cut out starchy foods like pizza and burgers, there are plenty of great low-carb fatty foods you can enjoy. A few of these include:

  • Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines
  • Avocados
  • Yogurt
  • Meat and poultry
  • Cheese
  • Butter and cream
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Dark chocolate
  • And much more!

4. Monitor your protein intake

One of the biggest mistakes people make on the ketogenic diet is consuming too much protein. Your body’s protein intake should be just enough to maintain your body’s functions. Too much can delay you from reaching ketosis, so be mindful!

Protein, especially lean protein, leads the body to convert it into glucose. This prevents you from entering ketosis, despite a low-carb diet. Begin tracking your protein intake and do your best to keep it at 20-25% of your total calories.

5. Exogenous ketones

Exogenous ketones are supplements for a low-carb diet and can help you reach ketosis much quicker. This is something taken externally as opposed to being produced naturally by your body. They work by rapidly elevating your blood ketone levels, thus putting you into ketosis.[3]

By supplementing with exogenous ketones, you can reach ketosis faster and speed up weight loss while also reducing the amount of time you experience symptoms of the keto flu.

Some Extra Tips to Take Home

While these are the surest ways to get you to ketosis the quickest, there are plenty more factors you should keep in mind when embarking on a ketogenic diet.

Hydration: Stay hydrated! When you cut carbs drastically, you’ll experience a loss of water weight, so it’s important to make sure you’re sufficiently hydrated.

Sleep: Getting proper sleep is important for the repair of your body as well as hormone function. By skipping out on adequate pillow time, your ketosis can be affected. Try to indulge in at least seven hours of sleep every night.

Test Your Ketone Levels: If you’re truly looking to get into ketosis as quickly as possible, test your ketone levels. You can do this with a urine strip, blood meter, breath meter, or by simply monitoring the symptoms you’re experiencing.

Most importantly, be sure you know how to test your ketone levels. This will ensure you’re on the right track to getting healthy and reaching your weight goals.


[1] Paoli A., Bosco G., Camporesi E. M., Mangar D. (2015). Ketosis, ketogenic diet and food intake control: a complex relationship. Front. Psychol. 6:27.

[2] Westman E. C., Yancy W. S., Jr., Mavropoulos J. C., Marquart M., McDuffie J. R. (2008). The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-glycemic index diet on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Nutr. Metab. 5:36.

[3] Stubbs, B. J., Cox, P. J., Evans, R. D., Santer, P., Miller, J. J., Faull, O. K., … & Clarke, K. (2017). On the metabolism of exogenous ketones in humans. Frontiers in physiology8, 848.

[4] Hall, K. D., Chen, K. Y., Guo, J., Lam, Y. Y., Leibel, R. L., Mayer, L. E., … & Ravussin, E. (2016). Energy expenditure and body composition changes after an isocaloric ketogenic diet in overweight and obese men, 2. The American journal of clinical nutrition104(2), 324-333.