Putting your body in a state of ketosis is useful in some cases, especially if you suffer from seizure disorders or epilepsy, says the University of Maryland Medical Center. Ketosis can also lead to weight and fat loss and occurs when ketone bodies (made from fat instead of glucose from carbohydrates) are your body's primary fuel source. Regardless of the reason you want to speed up ketosis, following a few simple tips will point you in the right direction.
1. Eat Primarily Fat
Eat 1 to 4 grams of fat for every 1 gram of carbs plus protein as part of a ketogenic diet, suggests the Epilepsy Foundation. Keep in mind strict ketogenic diets should be medically supervised when you first begin the diet and be monitored periodically. These diets generally consist of 4:1 or 3:1 (fat to carbs/protein) ratios. Less restrictive medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) diets typically have 1:1 fat to carb/protein ratios. So, your meals will mainly consist of dietary fat:
- Choose coconut, palm kernel, olive, canola, and other plant-based oils.
- Other fats that can help fuel your body when following ketogenic diets include butter, mayonnaise, and heavy whipping cream.
Sidney Kimmel Medical College provides some sample ketogenic diet menus. Some suggestions they offer include:
- Adding heavy cream to orange juice
- Cooking eggs with butter or other fats
- Mixing heavy cream into diet soda
- Adding cheese and mayonnaise to increase fat
Low-carb diets can also lead to ketosis, but are generally less restrictive. For example, try a 1,200-calorie, low-carb menu.
2. Know Your Carb Allotment
Following ketogenic diets can be tricky as lots of math and numbers are often involved. The Charlie Foundation provides a quick reference for carb allotment recommendations to achieve and maintain ketosis.
4:1 Ratio (8 grams of carbs per 1,000 calories)
This ratio is the most ketogenic. If you are eating at a 4:1 ratio of protein and fat to carbs, you'll need the following carb levels (or fewer) each day:
- 1,200 calories: 10 grams
- 1,500 calories: 12 grams
- 1,800 calories: 14 grams
- 2,000 calories: 16 grams
- 2,200 calories: 18 grams
3:1 Ratio (16 grams per 1,000 calories)
For a moderately ketogenic diet, you'll want a 3:1 ratio of fat and protein to carbs, so you'll need the following carb amounts daily for various calorie diets.
- 1,200 calories: 19 grams
- 1,500 calories: 24 grams
- 1,800 calories: 29 grams
- 2,000 calories: 32 grams
- 2,200 calories: 35 grams
2:1 Ratio (30 grams per 1,000 calories)
Protein and fat at a 2:1 ratio to carbs may be less ketogenic, but it works for some people. At this level, you'll need the following daily grams of carbs for each calorie intake level.
- 1,200 calories: 36 grams
- 1,500 calories: 45 grams
- 1,800 calories: 54 grams
- 2,000 calories: 60 grams
- 2,200 calories: 66 grams
1:1 Ratio (40 to 60 grams per 1,000 calories)
For most people, this will not induce ketosis. However for some, a 1:1 ratio is a good starting point. These are the daily carb grams you'll need for each calorie intake amount.
- 1,200 calories: 48 to 72 grams
- 1,500 calories: 60 to 90 grams
- 1,800 calories: 72 to 108 grams
- 2,000 calories: 80 to 120 grams
- 2,200 calories: 88 to 132 grams
3. Cut Total Calories
In addition to boosting fat and cutting way back on carbs, lowering your overall calorie intake also helps speed up ketosis. Calorie reduction often occurs simultaneously when you drastically cut dietary carbs but not always, so track your calories to be sure. When putting your body in a state of ketosis to shed pounds, aim to lower your current intake by 500 to 1,000 calories daily. Pick a calorie calculator to help track your progress. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute suggests:
- Women need about 1,200 to 1,500 calories daily for weight loss.
- Men (and very active women) often require 1,500 to 1,800 calories daily to shed pounds.
4. Get Cardiovascular Exercise
During exercise, particularly cardiovascular exercise, carbohydrates are your body's main fuel source, says Riordan Clinic. However, once stored carbohydrates are depleted, your body begins switching over to fat as a fuel source, which leads to ketosis. You don't have to work out vigorously to boost ketosis. Try power walking, jogging, biking, swimming, or using an elliptical machine at a moderate intensity for 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week.
5. Eliminate Sweets and Certain Carbs
When choosing ketogenic diets, certain carbohydrates aren't allowed and should be eliminated entirely. According the Charlie Foundation, foods to cut include:
- Other desserts
- Sugary drinks
When following a strict ketogenic diet, you should also avoid:
- Other high-carb foods
6. Use MCT Oil
The Charlie Foundation says medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil produces ketones more efficiently than other types of dietary fat (like long-chain triglycerides). For this reason, supplementing with MCT oil is often beneficial when trying to achieve ketosis rapidly. Coconut and palm kernel oils are examples of MCT-containing oils, and MCT oil is available in supplement form. For best results, consume MCT oil in divided doses with both meals and snacks. Cleveland Clinic suggests a daily dose of up to 2 tablespoons (30 grams). A 2013 study in Case Reports in Neurological Medicine says gradually working up to a dosage of 4 tablespoons of MCT oil taken twice daily appears to help prevent seizures. Start with about 2 tablespoons daily by replacing other dietary fats with MCT oil (when possible). Numerous MCT oil brands are available online or at some health food stores.
Side effects and health problems can occur when following ketogenic diets. See a doctor if you're experiencing extreme dizziness, confusion, or heart palpitations. If you're following a strict ketogenic diet, do so under medical supervision as nutrient deficiencies can occur. Check with your doctor first if you have diabetes or are taking diabetes medications. Likewise, pregnant or nursing women and people with kidney disease shouldn't follow very low-carb diets, suggests Mayo Clinic.