Want to know whether you’re in ketosis or not but don’t want the hassle or the expense of actually having to measure your ketone levels? In this article I’m going to show you nine different ways in which your body tells you that you’re in ketosis.
So measuring your blood ketone levels with a blood test is definitely the most accurate way of knowing whether you’re in ketosis or not, but the strips can get pretty expensive and no one really wants to prick their finger several times a day. Measuring urine ketones with the dipstick is a much cheaper alternative, but the results can be a little bit inaccurate and difficult to interpret sometimes.
And whether you’re just starting out on a ketogenic diet or you’ve been on one for a while, there are different ways which our body tells us that we’re in ketosis, and whilst these things do come in useful occasionally, the vast majority of the time we don’t really need them and we can rely on the symptoms that we’re going to show you in this article.
Keto flu is so-called because of the flu like symptoms that you get maybe 2-3 days after starting a very low carb ketogenic diet. So you can feel a bit of a headache, a little bit tired, maybe poor concentration. Calling it flu is a little bit extreme, if you’ve ever actually had the flu. What you go through here is nothing in comparison, but it could well be the first time that your body is starting to burn fat as its primary fuel source, and it’s just not used to that, and it takes a little bit of a period of adaptation.
Keto breath is a symptom you will notice as the levels of ketones in your blood start to rise and actually one of the ketones escapes in the form of acetone, and that is breathed out. Now not everybody can detect that, some people can’t even smell that, but it’s a very common symptom when you start a low-carb ketogenic diet.
It’s pretty common for people to have changes in their bowel habit after a few days of being on a low carb diet. Your whole body is adapting to a new way of eating, and all your bacteria within your gut have also got to adapt to that way of eating, and that means there’s going to be changes. Now some people get constipated, other people get diarrhea, it’s usually pretty short lived though.
Decreased Exercise Performance
If you’re not really doing a lot of exercise, you might not notice this one. But if you’re a regular gym goer, particularly if you’re doing weights, then you’ll probably notice that you won’t be able to lift quite as much as you normally do, or if you’re sprinting you might not be able to do that as quickly, or go as far as you normally do. So the first reason for this is you probably burn through your short-term energy stores. When you go on a low carbohydrate ketogenic diet the first thing your body uses up is your short term energy stores, which are glycogen, which is in the liver and in your muscles, and it’s glycogen that your muscles normally use for real short bursts of energy.
So the second reason you might experience decreased exercise performance it’s because your body is just not used to burning fat and ketones as its primary energy source. It takes a period of adaptation for your body to get used to those new fuels and that’s going to show up in your exercise performance.
When you’re on a ketogenic diet, up to 70% of the energy your brain is supplied with can be from ketones and this is a very different energy source for your brain, and it’s very common for people who aren’t used to being on a ketogenic diet to experience insomnia.
So you’ve created the conditions in your body where you can now access your stored body fat as energy, so you’re going to be less hungry. You’re getting your energy from your fat stores. This is great, this is a really positive sign and it’s very often at this point that people decide that they actually don’t need breakfast anymore.
This is a really good segue into intermittent fasting and the fact that you’ve got reduced hunger means that transition to intermittent fasting can be much easier and that’s one of the reasons we recommend people to start the low carb keto diet before they actually start intermittent fasting.
The second reason you’re probably not feeling as hungry is you’re not getting the huge insulin spikes after a carb based meal that you would have been doing, and we know that can drive hunger forward when you get a reactive and low blood glucose level.
Improved Mental Clarity
Now this is one of our favorites. We love the clearness of thinking and the mental clarity that we have in a state of ketosis. It’s just awesome and it’s well worth being on the ketogenic diet purely for that, if it wasn’t for all the weight loss stuff. And ketones are a great source of fuel for the brain.
Improved Physical Energy Levels
So you’re now accessing your fat as your primary store of energy and that’s giving you a much more even delivery of energy throughout the day, so you don’t get those afternoon carb crash slumps anymore. Hopefully, your early phase insomnia will have cleared up, your sleep will probably be better at that point, and you will be waking up more refreshed. Often people need a little bit less sleep when they’re on a ketogenic diet and these are great signs that you’re probably in ketosis.
If the reason you’re on a ketogenic diet is you’re trying to lose weight and you’re actually losing weight, then it’s really not worth bothering whether you’re actually in ketosis or not. You’ve probably got enough evidence that you are in ketosis and you’re achieving your goal of weight loss. So losing weight is the biggest sign that you’re in ketosis and weighing in on a regular basis, you get to know fluctuations within your body weight that tell you whether you’re on the right track or not.