How to Tell if You’re in Ketosis: The Complete Guide

Each year it’s estimated that 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes. Treatment of this disease usually consists of medicinal treatments, such as insulin or other medications.

Although insulin is the primary approach to treatment, many people have begun noticing the benefits of treating diabetics with the keto diet. 

The increased interest in the diet, as a form of treatment, has sparked curiosity amongst other medical communities. Some communities, such as those with epilepsy and metabolic disorders, are already seeing promising results.

This guide focuses on teaching those who are interested in the keto diet how to tell if you’re in ketosis when first starting out.

What Is Ketosis?

During the metabolic state of ketosis, your body produces ketones, in place of carbohydrates, which are used to fuel the body. This process is achieved through a low-carb, high-fat diet, and moderate consumption of protein.

Typically, you receive your energy by burning off glucose stored in the liver. With a low-carb diet, glucose levels begin to deplete, forcing the body to resort to other sources of energy. 

At this point in ketosis, your liver begins to produce ketones from fats you have ingested as well as your own body fat. The body is then signaled to produce more ketones in place of the glucose in order to provide sufficient energy for your brain.

Eventually, the ketones in your blood reach a maximum threshold and you are now considered to be in ketosis.

How to Tell if You’re in Ketosis

You may start to notice some signs of ketosis as soon as a week after beginning your diet. The number of symptoms, and their intensity, differ from person to person however, odds are you will develop one or more of them during the diet’s initial phases.

Increased Ketone Levels

Tracking the ketone levels in your blood or urine is the most effective way to determine if you are in ketosis. Monitoring your ketone levels while progressing through your diet is most easily achievable through the help of ketone testing strips. These are available at most local drugstores.

It is recommended that your ketone levels stay within 0.5 to 3mM for optimal diet results.

Reaching ketone levels higher than 3mM may indicate starvation or nutritional deficiencies. Frequent monitoring of your ketone levels will help prevent your body from reaching these states and ensure you are managing your diet in a healthy manner.   

Weight-Loss 

The ketogenic diet is known for helping people lose weight in short and long-term periods. Initially, you may experience a rapid decrease in body weight due to the diet’s diuretic effect.

The weight you burn within the first week is mainly water weight. For this reason, it is important to remain sufficiently hydrated throughout the entire diet.

After the initial weight-loss period, your body will then turn your ketones into fuel and begin the process of fat loss. Sticking to a calorie deficit diet speeds up this process, however, you may not experience significant fat loss for several weeks.

Bad Breath  

Bad breath, or ‘keto breath’, is one of the least pleasant symptoms of ketosis. The fruity, metallic smell that you develop is a sign that your body is producing ketones at an increased rate. 

When producing these ketones, the body initially makes more than it needs. As a result, ketones are expelled from the body through breath and urine. As your body progresses deeper into ketosis, your bad breath will subside as the ketones are now being used for energy.

Additionally, chewing gum is a great resource for starting on the keto diet. Having a pack of gum with you at all times helps to mask the temporary and unpleasant smell that is keto breath.

Improvement in Mental Clarity

During the first bit of the ketogenic process, it is possible to experience slight brain fog or occasional headaches- however, after a few weeks, you will begin to notice an improvement in concentration.  

This is due to the positive feeling the brain gets from the long-term increased production of ketones.

It has also been observed that the keto diet promotes an overall improvement in mood and a decrease in anxiety-related symptoms.

Disruption of Sleep

Getting a decent sleep while in ketosis has shown to be somewhat difficult in the early stages of the diet. For some people, their REM sleep stages, in which you typically get the most restorative sleep, are shortened.

In most cases, sleep disruption is only temporary. You can expect to return to your regular sleeping patterns within a few weeks into your diet. 

Decreased Appetite

In a state of ketosis, the body decreases the production of hormones, known as ghrelin and cholecystokinin, while increasing ketones. These hormones are responsible for producing feelings of hunger and regulating your appetite. 

Feeling less hungry between meals and experiencing less sugar and processed food cravings is a good indication that you are in ketosis. If you start to feel your appetite increasing, it may be a good idea to check your ketone levels again- you might be slipping out of ketosis! 

Muscle Cramps

In ketosis, the body produces less insulin than it normally would due to its low-carb intake. With the production of less insulin, the body then signals the kidneys to begin producing more sodium- leading to an imbalance in essential electrolytes. 

As a result, your body may experience muscle cramping however, this is only temporary. 

Similarly to other ketosis symptoms, you can resolve this issue with one simple step. Adding Himalayan salt to water will help balance your electrolytes and relieve any uncomfortable cramping. 

Staying Motivated

Although some of the short-term symptoms of ketosis are less than ideal, the long-term benefits more than makeup for them. Sticking to your diet and knowing how to tell if you’re in ketosis are two ways you can get the most out of the ketogenic diet.  

So the next time you ask yourself, ‘Am I in ketosis?’, be sure to refer back to this article or check out some of the other health-related articles on our website.

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