A complete guide on how to tell if you are in Ketosis and how to easily avoid Keto Flu symptoms so you can reap the benefits of the Keto Diet without fatigue, headaches or brain fog.
The purpose of a Keto diet is to burn fat stores for fuel, and to transition your metabolism from burning glucose (carbs) for energy, which it's likely been doing your whole life, to now burning fat as it's primary fuel source is a pretty big transition.
So you should expect some resistance, some days of low energy and for your body to go through some changes until you are fully fat adapted.
While you've been researching "how to tell if you're in ketosis" you've probably come across several articles that basically list out an overwhelming amount of symptoms that leave you questioning "and why exactly would I want to be in ketosis if these are the symptoms?"
I'll start by saying since going Keto in 2017; I've never experienced "Keto breath," "Keto crotch," or extreme muscle cramps, so there's that…
Should You Test Ketones?
Being in Ketosis is not the end all be all of the Keto Diet. When you feel pressured to test your ketone levels all day every day that just adds this unnecessary stress to “dieting,” Keto should be a lifestyle, not an over complicated diet.
You don’t have to be in ketosis every second of every day to reap the amazing benefits of living a Keto based Lifestyle.
You can usually determine if you are in Ketosis based on how you feel and if you are constantly fighting Keto flu symptoms there are simple adjustments you can make.
From my personal experience and monitoring my client's journeys to becoming fat adapted, I've noticed there are two phases to transitioning to a Keto lifestyle.
From here I'll teach you:
What your body is going through in each phase of Ketosis
What symptoms to expect as you transition your body into Ketosis
How to Avoid Keto Flu Symptoms
How to tell if you are in ketosis/on the right track and discover what foods fuel YOUR body best
PHASE 1 THE TRANSITION TO KETOSIS
What's Going On
When you switch from a high carb diet to a low carb diet, it takes your brain and other organs some time to adjust to using fat as it's a primary fuel source. Your bodies insulin levels will drop, which causes your body to lose a lot of sodium and water.
The good news is you will likely shed a few pounds of water weight, but the loss of sodium and water is also the reason for those "keto flu" symptoms you may experience within the first 1-2 weeks of Keto.
What To Expect
Cravings- When you first start Keto your body isn't fat adapted yet aka it hasn't gotten the memo that you want it to burn fat instead of carbs for fuel. Until your body recognizes it can burn fat stores and all the extra healthy fats you're feeding it for fuel, your body will have carb withdraws and send intense cravings for carbs to your brain!
Low Energy/Fatigue- Same sort of concept as the cravings, you're basically depriving your body of its main fuel source, so you will likely have days of extremely low energy, but this too shall pass once you are fully fat adapted.
Headaches- due to dehydration and sugar withdraws.
What Will Help
Keep it Simple- Don't over complicate "Keto" your just eliminating sugar, processed foods, and starchy carbs like pasta and bread. Follow a Keto food list and use it to put together simple meals like these 14 easy Keto Meals That Don't Require a Recipe.
Don't give in to the cravings- Stay Strong Sista! If you give in and provide your body those carbs, it will, of course, take advantage of that energy source and the progress you made with getting fat adapted starts over from day one and ultimately the longer it will take to reap the benefits of Ketosis.
Stay extra hydrated- you should be consuming at least 90oz of water a minimum; ideally I'd recommend drinking half your body weight in ounces every day and adding in an electrolyte supplement, like Hi- Lyte to replenish your body with a potassium, zinc and magnesium concentrate that replaces electrolytes and is formulated perfectly for a Keto Diet.
Consider supplementing magnesium- Many Magnesium-rich foods like fruits are also high in carbs, which can make it difficult to meet your magnesium needs when following a Keto meal plan without supplementation.
Magnesium helps your body regulate blood sugar levels and will likely help elevate headaches. I recommend Natural Vitality's Calm Anti-Stress Magnesium Drink every night before bed.
Other Helpful Resources for Phase 1:
PHASE 2 MAINTAINING KETOSIS
What's Going On
If you have not given into your carb cravings your body realizes it doesn't have enough carbohydrates to burn, so it's forced to start burning fat for energy (aka Ketosis, yay!)
During this process, your liver produces Ketones, which are released into your bloodstream and converted into energy.
What to Expect
More Energy- Now that your body is on the same page, is using ketones for fuel and not desperately waiting for you to provide it with carbs, your energy levels will be more stable.
Mental clarity and Focus- Your brain functions better when you are burning fat for fuel. According to some studies, "as much as 70% of the brain's energy needs, are met more efficiently than when burning glucose." (*)
Your blood brain barrier protects your brain from things in your bloodstream that isn't allowed to touch your brain. Glucose is one of those things that can't touch your brain, so the glucose (carbs) are circulated through your bloodstream until they’re converted into a usable form for your brain, which is what causes you to feel fog brained throughout your day. (*)
On the other hand, Ketones can be absorbed by your brain as soon as they are produced, so you won't have those afternoon slumps.
Fewer Cravings- When following a Keto Diet, you should be eating more whole foods and high fiber veggies that will keep you feeling fuller longer.
What Will Help:
Find alternatives to your favorite foods- the worst thing you can do is to keep going back to carbs then back to limiting carbs, so instead of giving in to your cravings find Keto friendly alternatives for your favorite ingredients and treats. Use this list of Keto Friendly ingredients, snacks, and alternatives to help.
Track Your Macros- MACROS is short for macronutrients; carbs, fats, protein. When you build your meal plans based on your custom macros, you are eating a perfectly balanced diet. You don't have to track your macros forever, but it is a great way to learn what a balanced Keto diet looks like.
Most of my clients discover that although they thought they were eating a Keto diet (Keto macros are typically 70% fat, 5% Net Carbs, and 25% protein) they were way off. Check out this full guide to Tracking Keto Macros & The Best Keto Food Tracker App.
Monitor your Ketone Levels- You don't have to go out and buy a pricey blood monitor kit, using the urine test strips will do just fine. These Ketone Test strips will tell you if you are in Ketosis or not.
When should you test for ketones? Like I mentioned you don’t need to test your ketone levels all day every day, nor do you have to be in ketosis every second of every day to reap the amazing benefits of living a Keto based Lifestyle.
However, if you have been doing Keto for several weeks and are still experiencing Keto Flu-like symptoms. There may be something you're eating daily that you don't realize is throwing you off and preventing you from getting fat adapted.
How to use Ketone test strips
Before you eat or drink anything, test your ketones. After each meal recheck them. If all of your test strips have indicated there are ketones present, but then after lunch, the test comes back negative for ketones you have narrowed down the culprit and revisit the ingredients list of everything you had for lunch to determine what is preventing you from reaping the benefits of Ketosis
Monitoring your Ketones with keto test strips is a great way to find out what things your body may be sensitive to and the best ways to fuel your body in Ketosis!
Other Helpful Resources for Phase 2:
Don't be scared off by the "Keto Flu" symptoms you've been reading about you can easily avoid those symptoms by understanding what your body is going through when transitioning into Ketosis, what symptoms to expect and how to avoid them by giving your body what it needs when trying to retrain your metabolism to burn fat for fuel.
Hopefully, this guide has been a helpful resource to helping you reap the amazing benefits of the Keto Diet, and you know exactly how to tell if you are in Ketosis.