The ketogenic diet is one of the most popular diet today, all thanks to its effectiveness in carving off the excess fat.
However, moving from a traditional American diet to a very low carbohydrate intake can be rough (1).
The body usually doesn’t like being thrown out of balance.
The good news is that if you’re thinking about giving the keto diet a try, there are fast and easy methods to make the transition less painful and more enjoyable.
In fact, you can be in ketosis in as little as 24 hours and on your way to meeting your weight-loss goals.
Getting into ketosis fast is important because it reduces hunger and cravings that are typical signs of a low carb diet like the keto diet (2).
Hunger is the kiss of death when it comes to losing weight, so feeling full and satisfied will go a long way towards helping you look and feel your best.
Elevated insulin levels return to normal, blood triglycerides go down, allowing the brain and body to begin to work together better (7).
The usual low-carb approach requires you to eat 20-net carbs during the first two to four weeks of the diet.
This helps you to ease into the state of ketosis and gives you time to adjust to your new food choices, as well as the many physical changes going on.
For many people, this is an ideal approach.
But for those who need a faster route, getting into ketosis in 24 hours might just be the right thing to do.
The fewer the carbs you eat, the less hunger and cravings you’ll have, and the less likely you are to cheat.
This is why the following keto kickstart plan takes a nearly zero-carb approach.
How to Get Into Ketosis Fast?
Ketosis is the metabolic state that occurs when the body is breaking down triglyceride into fatty acids for fuel (8).
This state is a result of carbohydrate restriction rather than fat intake.
Carbohydrates are not necessary for survival, so you can safely take them down to extremely low levels.
The body will simply compensate for the lack of carbs by using alternative sources of fuel and move you into the state of ketosis, where fat burning is predominant (9).
Ketosis occurs when your glycogen reserves, the storage form of carbohydrates, begin to run low.
In most people, the liver can store about 80 to 100 carbs worth of glycogen, so you only have to use up about 300 to 400 calories worth of glucose before ketosis is triggered (10).
With very little carbohydrates intake, the liver will convert more of its stored glycogen into glucose and use that to keep your blood glucose level steady.
Increase in blood glucose is how the brain, muscle and other body cells get enough supply of glucose they need to function.
When insulin binds to receptors on the surface of body cells, the cells begin to pull the glucose inside. This lowers your blood glucose level (11).
Once glycogen reserves reach a certain point, the liver will mobilize your fat stores to compensate for the lack of glucose. At this stage, the liver cannot use glucose to fuel its activities; it uses fatty acids.
This is useful for ketogenic dieters because the fewer carbs you eat, the faster you’ll get into the state of ketosis.
Taking your intake of carbs down to biologically zero gets you into ketosis faster than anything else.
How to get into ketosis in 24 hours?
You’ll need to stay active, drink plenty of water, keep your food consumption practical, and watch your intake of electrolytes.
To help you do that, here are some practical tips for getting into ketosis within 24 hours, or less:
1. Focus on Food Basics
Realistically, a low-carb diet is a meat-and-vegetable diet, so if you trim the frills and eat only the basics, you can get into ketosis much faster.
The basics include:
- high-quality protein sources.
- assorted greens, with a few raw vegetables.
- low-carb condiments.
- herbs and spices without sugar.
High-quality proteins contain all of the 8 essential amino acids for life, such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and hard cheeses like cheddar (14).
To trim the diet further, you can ditch most of the condiments and create really simple meals.
Save the keto recipes for after you enter the state of ketosis.
Don’t worry about calories right now, and try to eat just enough to keep hunger away. Many people eat out of habit, rather than hunger, so avoid that, if possible.
The aim here is to deplete your glycogen stores quickly. To do that, you can use the following keto diet plan:
Enjoy bacon or ham and eggs for breakfast.
Sausage normally contains carbs, so save that for later.
If you don’t like bacon or ham, you can substitute any type of meat you like. There’s nothing wrong with eating baked chicken or a piece of fish for breakfast.
Whip up a nice lettuce salad with a good protein source for lunch, and top it with your favorite sugar-free salad dressing.
The dressing should not contain more than a carb or two per serving.
Keep the salad light. Don’t load it up with lots of raw vegetables. Use mostly lettuce and a little bit of extras.
This will keep your carbs super low.
For dinner, have your favorite protein source and another lettuce salad.
2. Stay Active
Liver glycogen is used to keep your blood glucose level steady, but muscle glycogen is used during activities (15).
Muscle glycogen is what’s called a closed system. Muscles do not share their glycogen with the liver when liver glycogen runs low.
When muscle glycogen is depleted during activity, the muscles pull glucose in from the bloodstream which causes your blood glucose level to go down (16).
Insulin levels also fall which signals the liver that your blood glucose level is too low.
The liver then converts glycogen into glucose and dumps the glucose into the bloodstream to bring your blood sugar back up.
The more active you are, and the more you stand up and move throughout the day, the more glycogen you’ll use and the faster you’ll get into ketosis.
3. Drink Plenty of Water
Water is important for digestion and elimination of toxins. It transports nutrients to the body’s cells.
When you don’t drink enough water, kidney functions also get affected.
The body has a backup system for times of drought and dehydration, but it requires the liver to step in and fulfill some of the kidney’s functions.
When the liver does this, it can’t mobilize fat as quickly, so you’ll burn less body fat.
The liver also can’t produce ketones as quickly since ketones are a by-product of breaking down triglyceride into fatty acids.
The ketogenic diet is dehydrating in nature. You’ll need to drink more water than a standard low-calorie diet (19).
A good rule-of-thumb is to drink one half of your current body weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 180 pounds, drink at least 90 ounces of water per day.
To help you drink enough, you can space out your liquid intake throughout the day.
Fill a 32-ounce drinking cup with water and drink one glassful in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one in the evening. This comes to 96 ounces of water.
If water isn’t your thing, add a slice of lemon or lime to make it tastier. Drinking diet soda is fine, but diet products should be on top of the water you need to help the liver process fat.
4. Keep Food Intake Practical
Don’t snack during the day unless you are honestly hungry.
To get into ketosis faster, you want to provide the body with as little glucose as possible.
If you’re eating throughout the day, your insulin level won’t normalize. Neither will your blood sugar.
Don’t worry about calories right now. The hunger will go down once you enter into ketosis.
However, if you’re hungry, just make sure that you reach for keto-friendly options that contain protein and fat.
The best snack to eliminate hunger is to mix a small can of tuna with some mayonnaise.
But homemade cheese sticks can also work well if you’re rushed for time or don’t like fish.
On the other hand, you’ll want to make sure that you don’t compensate for the lack of carbs by increasing your normal portion sizes.
Even though carbohydrate restriction is what drives ketosis, you’ll sabotage yourself if you replace those missing calories with something else.
Your food choices need to be practical.
5. Don’t Ignore Electrolyte Intake
On a low-carb diet, the kidneys have a tendency to flush salt, potassium, calcium, and magnesium out of the body along with all of the water you lose during the first few weeks (20).
These four minerals are called electrolytes.
The dumping causes serious electrolyte imbalances, which can lead to many uncomfortable symptoms:
- tiredness and exhaustion.
- leg cramps and twitches.
- fogging thinking.
- mood swings.
- kidney pain, and
- flu-like symptoms.
To get relief from the above symptoms, the missing electrolytes must be replaced, so don’t skimp on salt.
While it’s trendy to talk about reducing your sodium intake, for a low-carb diet, reducing salt might never get you back into ketosis.
When you are on the keto diet, your body needs more sodium. You also need to make sure that you are getting enough potassium (21).
The lower in carbohydrate your diet is, the less potassium you’ll be getting in your diet.
Replacing potassium isn’t that hard. You can either use a potassium supplement or incorporate a brand of lite-salt on the ketogenic diet.
Lite-salt is a mixture of sodium and potassium salts, so it’s not as bitter as a completely no-salt product might be, and can be used to cover both electrolytes in a single product.
Calcium and magnesium are a bit more tricky because some forms of calcium and magnesium are not absorbed very well.
In fact, too much magnesium will cause digestive issues (22).
While many keto-friendly foods do contain magnesium, you can also take a smaller dose and space it out over the course of a day for better absorption.
How Ketosis Works And Testing for Ketones
The state of ketosis begins when your glycogen stores run low and the liver starts to ramp up ketone production to compensate.
But producing enough ketones in a high enough concentration that they are actually detectable in the blood and urine takes time.
More time than it takes to actually go into the state of ketosis.
By the time your ketone testing strips change color, the state of ketosis is well underway.
Ketone testing strips can be a useful method for helping you stay motivated and on the plan, but they are not accurate.
You can be in ketosis, yet not have detectable ketones in the urine or bloodstream because what shows up are ketones you haven’t used.
In addition, each type of stick only measures one type of ketone:
- Urine ketone sticks look for acetoacetate ketones.
- Blood ketone sticks look for beta-hydroxybutyrate ketones.
A third type of ketone, acetone, is disposed of through urine, breath, and sweat. You can use a ketone breath analyzer or a keto urine test strip to determine how many your body is actually throwing away.
As you can see by the above facts, each testing method comes with its own limitations and can only partially measure how many ketones the body is making.
With time, the body makes fewer acetoacetate ketones and converts them into beta-hydroxybutyrate, the type of ketone that the brain uses best.
Less acetone is produced as your low-carb diet continues (23).
Within the first 3 weeks, the muscles become insulin resistant, start burning fatty acids instead of ketones and glucose, and stop pulling in glucose and ketones from the bloodstream.
By this point in the process, ketones are only used by the muscles when the amount in the bloodstream gets too high.
The only exception to this is if you’re a highly trained athlete. Athletes tend to use more ketones than the average dieter.
Muscle insulin resistance saves what little glucose is available for the brain and other tissues that don’t have mitochondria, such as your red blood cells.
Over time, the body gets better at determining how many ketones to make to fuel the brain and learns how to use them efficiently.
The more efficient you get at burning fat and using ketones, the fewer ketones will show up in the urine, so it’s best to not stress out about what the ketone testing strips are saying.
It’s the lack of glycogen that triggers ketosis, and not the number of ketones in your blood or urine.
Getting into ketosis in 24 hours is not easy.
You need to have a good diet routine and proper regimen that you can stick up to before you consider jumping into ketosis fast.
Make sure to not stress over if you could not achieve ketosis in a day – it’s not a necessity.