Many people starting a ketogenic diet, or maybe after eating something less than ideal, they often wonder what the fastest way to get into ketosis is.
While I’ll give you my best suggestions that will result in getting you in ketosis as fast as possible, even as short as 24 hours, know that it really doesn’t matter how fast you get into ketosis.
But more about that later.
What is the fastest way to get into ketosis? The fastest way to get into ketosis is by depleting the glucose stored in your liver, also known as your liver glycogen. You can accomplish this through moderate- to high-intensity exercise besides a very low-carbohydrates diet or fasting.
In this article, I’ll discuss the mechanisms on how one gets into ketosis, what ketosis is, how to get into ketosis in as little as 24 hours, and why you don’t need to or shouldn’t really care how fast it happens.
How To Get Into Ketosis?
To explain to you what the fastest way to get into ketosis is requires little basic knowledge., for you to understand why it’s the fastest way to get into ketosis, you must first know what ketosis is and how your body enters this metabolic state.
This way, if you were ever to stop your keto diet for any reason, have a “cheat” meal, go off on a holiday, whatever the case may be… you’ll be able to rest easy knowing that it’s not the end of the world.
So how does one get into ketosis?
To make a lengthy story short, your body has two main reservoirs of carbohydrates. You can think of these reservoirs as storage garages for carbohydrates to be used when needed. These two main reservoirs are:
- Your Liver (Liver glycogen)
- Your Muscles (Muscle glycogen)
Both your liver and muscles act as a storage depot for carbohydrates, almost like a fuel reserve. These stored carbohydrates, referred as glycogen, serves to maintain blood sugar levels and provide energy when needed. 1When glycogen is depleted sufficiently, specifically in the liver, your blood sugar drops and there is a shift in two hormones (insulin and glucagon). It’s this shift in hormones that induces the creation of ketone bodies, referred to as ketogenesis.
So our goal is to deplete liver glycogen sufficiently to induce ketone body formation.
What Is Ketosis?
You know now that liver glycogen must be depleted sufficiently in order for ketones to be produced, but is that enough to be in ketosis?
Yes, and no.
When ketone bodies are produced at a sped up rate, and accumulate in the bloodstream, they refer this to the metabolic state we know as ketosis. However, it’s once there is a high enough level of ketones circulating in the bloodstream that ketosis to “officially” occur.
You can produce negligible amounts of ketones without actively following a ketogenic diet merely through going through periods without eating (I.e. sleep) or for those that practice intermittent fasting without the use of ketogenic diet.
There are many methods to test for ketones including urine test strips, a breath meter, and a blood ketone meter. However, a blood ketone meter is touted as being the most accurate and considered the gold standard of measuring ketone levels.
- Purchase my preferred blood ketone meter here
They say nutritional ketosis to occur once blood ketone levels reach 0.5 mmol/L as shown on a blood ketone meter. 2 3Therefore, ketosis is a metabolic state when enough ketones are produced and accumulate in the bloodstream to reach a level of 0.5 mmol/L as indicated by a blood ketone meter.
Our goal then when referring to getting into ketosis is to reach this blood level as deemed by the scientific community as being in a nutritional state of ketosis.
What To Eat To Get Into Ketosis?
There’s often a question of what you need to eat to get into ketosis. What you should really ask is what SHOULDN’T you be eating to get into ketosis.
A ketogenic diet is a diet that restricts carbohydrates below a certain level. Most people limit their carbohydrate intake between 20 and 50 grams of net carbs per day to induce a series of adaptations we refer to as ketosis.
Notice how I said a ketogenic diet is a diet that restricts carbohydrates below a certain level.
Nowhere in that statement did I mention you having to eat a certain amount of fat, and that’s because fat intake really has nothing to do with whether your body produces ketones.
Depleting liver glycogen below a certain amount does… remember? And your fat intake has nothing to do with that. But that’s a whole other conversation.Just know that you need not eat exorbitant amounts of fat to be in ketosis, only a restriction of carbohydrates.
So what you should eat boils down to any food choices that are very low to no carbohydrate that allow you to stay under your carbohydrate limit each day, regardless of the source.
You can find some ideas of what you should eat in the keto foods list I put together.
What Is The Fastest Way To Get Into Ketosis?
You now know that to be in ketosis you will need to produce a certain amount of ketones (0.5 mmol/L) or more. You also know that to produce a meaningful amount of ketones you must deplete your liver of glycogen (stored carbohydrates).
We can accomplish this by one of three ways:
- Severe carbohydrate restriction
- Moderate- to high-intensity exercise
- A combination of both
In one study, complete depletion of liver glycogen occurred within 48 hours fasting or a very low-carbohydrate diet. 4 5
But again, that is for complete depletion. You may not need to deplete liver glycogen 100% before ketone formation is rapidly increased, but the exact level is also unknown.
Can You Get Into Ketosis In 24 Hours?
While it takes 48 hours of fasting or very low carbohydrates to deplete liver glycogen completely, physical activity may decrease this time dramatically, which is how we could get you in ketosis the fastest way possible.
Possibly under 24 hours.
How To Get Into Ketosis In Under 24 Hours
At night, while you sleep, your liver secretes glucose to maintain blood sugar levels and supply your body (especially the brain) with fuel. By morning, you could easily have depleted up to 80% of your liver glycogen just by sleeping.
It’s not unusual for some individuals to produce ketones after an overnight fast which is just a fancy way of saying the time between dinner the night before and breakfast.
However, in your typical diet that includes carbohydrates, liver glycogen is replenished and stops ketone production.
But that’s where a ketogenic diet comes into play, but how do we get into ketosis under 24 hours using a ketogenic diet?
Remember that to deplete liver glycogen we must severely restrict carbohydrates, whether that be by not eating at all (fasting) or using a ketogenic diet (low to no carbohydrates). In addition, moderate to high intensity exercise can also help to deplete liver glycogen.
In one study, untrained individuals could deplete their liver glycogen stores in 118 minutes while performing moderate-high intensity exercise. Those who were moderate to well trained took 153 minutes to deplete liver glycogen stores. 6Then, If you wanted the absolute fastest way to get into ketosis, it would be to combine fasting with around 90 to 120 minutes of moderate to high intensity exercise.
Depending on your level of fitness, this could be anything from a brisk walk to a moderately paced jog.
This would be my recommendation for those who are interested in the fastest way to get back into ketosis after a carb-up or a “cheat day.”
Why It Doesn’t Matter How Fast You Get Into Ketosis
I mentioned in the introduction that it doesn’t matter how fast you get into ketosis, and that’s because in the big scheme of things, it doesn’t.If you were to just follow a ketogenic diet and limit your carbohydrates, chances are you’ll start producing ketones by the 3rd or 4th day and you wouldn’t have had to starve yourself or physically burn yourself out.
Fat loss is a long game, and just because you got into ketosis a day or two earlier won’t mean you’ll burn more fat or lose more weight. It’s the same way eating one salad won’t make you skinny or eating one “bad” meal won’t make you fat.
It’s what you do over time that will dictate your results. All the little wins each day, all the slight amounts of fat burnt over time are what will equate to a sizeable amount.
Besides, just because you aren’t in ketosis yet doesn’t mean you aren’t losing weight. Many people get caught up in the minor details, but lose sight of the big picture. Weight loss still comes down to burning more calories than you consume over time, not in a single day, week, or even month.
Ketosis may make it easier for some individuals to lose fat, but being in ketosis doesn’t automatically mean you’ll lose weight.YOU CAN GAIN WEIGHT IN KETOSIS.
My advice is that you take it slow, don’t rush the process, and find what works for you in order to be consistent and adhere to your diet. Chances are that looking for quick fixes and trying to get into ketosis in the fastest way possible will end up doing more harm than good for most individuals.
Supplements To Get In Ketosis Quicker
I put supplements at the very end, because they are there to “supplement” your diet, not do the work for you.
In fact, I would say you don’t need 99% of the supplements people recommend, even the ones below. I’m listing them because they are a luxury item, as in they are nice to have but not required.
If you want my take on the best keto supplements to aid your weight loss journey that ACTUALLY work, you can check that article out. The supplements I list here may make your transition into ketosis a lot more smooth and less painful.
These supplements below are simply a way to ease your transition into ketosis.
First, I want to preface this by saying if you’ve seen any advertisements or read anything about exogenous ketones, throw that info out the window.
Companies try to sell people on exogenous ketones, claiming it‘s a way to instantly put yourself in ketosis. Not only do they promote instant ketosis, but they tell you that you can eat carbs AND be in ketosis too.
Have your cake and eat it too will ya?
While there are some benefits to using exogenous ketones, they aren’t any of the above.
Exogenous ketones are just that, they are ketones that originate from outside the body. When you ingest exogenous ketones, blood ketone levels will rise, but it’s only temporary. Soon enough, your blood levels return to baseline and it’s like they were never there.
Now, where it has a place in how it may help you get into ketosis as fast as possible is two-fold.
First, using exogenous ketones may help bridge the gap between not being in ketosis yet and till your body starts producing its own ketones. Doing this can often offset some unwanted side-effects you may experience because of switching from burning carbs for fuel to burning fat and ketones.
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
Additionally, there may be a synergy in introducing exogenous ketones to help “kick start” your own ketone production. Combined with a reduction in carbohydrates (or fasting) and medium to high intensity exercise, you may get into ketosis in less than 24 hours.
Want to have that cup of coffee? Now you have another excuse to enjoy that cup of black gold.
As you know, you must burn stored glycogen (carbohydrates) in your liver low enough in order for ketogenesis to occur. Caffeine may aid the liver in releasing glycogen into the bloodstream, thus allowing you to burn it off more readily.
One way to use caffeine is to take a caffeine pill or drink a cup of coffee 30 minutes to an hour before doing some medium-high intensity exercise. Not only will the caffeine give you a boost of energy, but it’ll help release that liver glycogen for you to burn up.
If you will not be fasting, and you’re a fan of bulletproof or keto coffee, you may be familiar with MCT Oil.
Unlike other fats, MCT Oil breaks down much differently. MCTs are transported straight to your liver where they are used instantly for energy or turned into ketones.
Using MCT Oil is like exogenous ketones in that it may offer a “jumpstart” for your body to produce ketones of its own.
While not technically getting you into ketosis quicker, electrolytes can help offset the electrolytes you will flush out of your system because of following a low-carb ketogenic diet.
Many of the unwanted side-effects associated with people first starting a ketogenic diet are often because of dehydration and an electrolyte imbalance.
When starting a ketogenic diet, it’s not unheard of for people to lose upwards of 5 to 10 pounds in the first week. While part of that weight is some fat, most of that weight is water that is being flushed from your body, and along with that water are those vital electrolytes.
It’s important that you remain hydrated, but it’s also as important that you replace the electrolytes you lose in your sweat and urine, most notably sodium and potassium.
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If you want the fastest way to get into ketosis, you must deplete liver glycogen sufficient to produce an adequate amount of ketones.
The fastest way to deplete liver glycogen is with a no or low-carbohydrate diet (or fasting) combined with medium to high intensity exercise.
Combined with the supplements I listed, you may find yourself with a much smoother transition into ketosis, and possibly under 24 hours.