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How Long Does It Take to Get in Ketosis?

Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
Highlights

You may have been bitten by the low-carb bug, but if you’ve been following a low carbohydrate diet for any length of time, you’ve probably wondered about ketosis. 

Ketosis isn’t a diet; it’s a different way for your body to process the food you eat for energy. Most people achieve ketosis through following the ketogenic diet, which we’ll discuss later. 

First, let’s learn about how your body uses your food for energy, and how long it takes before your body gets into ketosis.

How Your Body Makes and Burns Energy

Your body uses the food you eat to produce energy to carry out daily functions. This is called your metabolism. Metabolism is the process of your body taking the food you eat and breaking it down into tiny, usable packages that can be delivered to muscles, organs, and cells for energy. 

Every process in your body, even breathing, requires caloric energy, so your body is continually converting the food you eat into energy and moving it around your body as needed.  

Where Does Your Body Get Energy?

Normally, our diets contain three major macronutrients: proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are where our body gets energy from by default. 

The process works like this:

  • You eat a piece of fruit. Digestive enzymes begin breaking it down right away, even in your mouth.
  • The fruit enters your stomach and later your small intestines. The sugar in the fruit (glucose) enters your bloodstream. 
  • The pancreas produces insulin, which is released into the bloodstream and helps move glucose to the cells in your body that need it for energy.
  • Insulin then takes the glucose you don’t need right away and sends it to the liver.
  • Your liver stores excess glucose in the form of glycogen, which can be converted back to glucose when it is needed.

When your body needs more energy, it checks the bloodstream for glucose. If there isn’t any readily available, it tells your liver to convert glycogen into glucose and release it back into the bloodstream to be used. 

If you aren’t eating carbohydrates, however, your body will get its energy elsewhere, and that process is called ketosis. 

What Is Ketosis?

Ketosis is a metabolic state in which your body burns fat for fuel instead of glucose. It happens when your body can’t find any glucose in the bloodstream, or in the liver. 

Just like carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, fat is broken down into little packages of energy called ketones, which your body then uses for energy. 

How Does Ketosis Work?

Your body knows when you’re all out of glucose. First, insulin levels in your blood will be low. Second, two hormones that signal your liver to convert glycogen to glucose, glucagon and epinephrine, will be at normal levels, indicating there isn’t any glycogen available to convert. 

When this happens, fat molecules are released from fat cells and sent to the liver to be converted into ketones for energy. When the fat reaches the liver, they are converted to ketones, which are then sent back into the bloodstream and delivered to the parts of your body that need energy.

This process continues as long as there is no glucose available to use as energy. 

How Long Does It Take To Get Into Ketosis?

There are two different ways to get into ketosis: fasting and dieting. 

The fasting method of achieving ketosis involves restricting your caloric intake to virtually nothing for at least 48 hours. During your fast, you are allowed to drink water and some beverages, like black coffee and tea, but you cannot eat any macronutrients. Fasting is best done with a doctor’s supervision. After about 48 hours, the average adult will have entered ketosis. Maintaining a ketogenic state, however, will require adhering to a ketogenic diet.

Nutritional ketosis refers to entering ketosis through following a special diet. The diet is usually the ketogenic diet, which traditionally requires you to eat in a 4:1 method of fat to carbs and protein. You’ll eat significantly lower carbohydrates than you typically do, and you’ll need to continue eating in this manner to stay in ketosis. Generally, it takes about two to three weeks of the ketogenic diet to enter ketosis. 

You can maintain ketosis and force your body to use fat for energy as long as you are eating considerably more fat than you do carbohydrates. You can also buy a testing device to determine if you are in or out of ketosis, which may be helpful and let you know if your carbohydrate intake should be adjusted. 

What Are the Benefits of Ketosis?

People have been using a ketogenic diet for ages; in fact it’s argued that our ancestors thrived on low carbohydrate diets that were full of fat and protein. 

Proponents of ketosis and the ketogenic diet say it helps with:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Regulating blood sugar
  • Supporting healthy cholesterol
  • Keeping blood pressure in healthy range

The bottom line? It may work for some, but it might not be the best solution for everyone. The diet is classically difficult to sustain, and for some, the side effects of withdrawing from carbohydrates can induce nothing short of pure misery. 

Is the Keto Diet Safe?

Generally, low carbohydrate diets are considered safe. However, the diet that places your body into ketosis is much lower in carbohydrate intake and higher in fat than a standard “low carb” diet plan, which raises the question of whether or not it is safe.

There are a few main concerns experts have with the ketogenic diet:

  • Low blood sugar. The ketogenic diet naturally places you in a position of having lower blood sugar, but if you’re already on a blood sugar lowering medication, this could cause a detrimental drop in your blood sugar numbers.
  • Fat consumption. Not all fats are bad, but some fats, like trans fats, should be avoided. If you aren’t educated on which fats are best, you could end up overconsuming unhealthy fats and placing yourself at a higher risk of heart disease. 
  • Dietary gaps. Eating mostly fat and protein can easily exclude fruits and vegetables and leave you with massive gaps in your diet. It’s critical you’re meeting your micronutrient needs each day, and you may need to do that by taking a supplement. 
  • Sustainability. The ketogenic diet may not be sustainable for most people. It’s difficult to restrict your carbohydrate intake drastically for long periods of time, and it can even impact how you interact socially. 

There are other issues, like kidney stones, constipation, and “the keto flu,” that can be concerning as well. If you decide to try the ketogenic diet, it’s best to do so under a doctor’s supervision. 

Other Ways of Staying Healthy

Simply adjusting your diet and eating more whole foods like fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates, and lean proteins can help you achieve a healthier weight and better lab results. Even if ketosis isn’t for you, don’t kick fat to the curb.

Your body needs fatty acids to perform its necessary functions. Some fats are essential, which means our body has to have them but can’t make them on its own. One such fatty acid is new to the lineup: pentadecanoic acid, or C15:0. 

Pentadecanoic Acid

You probably wouldn’t expect health benefits from a saturated fatty acid, but science says not all saturated fatty acids are bad. Some, like this odd-chain, saturated fatty acid, are actually good for you. 

C15:0 helps support your health several ways, but the most important is at the cellular level. Your cellular health affects all other aspects of your wellness. If your cells are healthy, you’ll have a better chance to be healthy, too. 

Here’s how C15:0 can help:*

  • Cell membranes. Cell walls protect our cells, but as we age, they become flimsy and brittle. C15:0 helps strengthen cell membranes, by fortifying them and helping protect them from external stressors. 
  • Mitochondrial support. The mitochondria in our cells give them energy to keep up cellular processes, but as we get older, mitochondrial function declines. C15:0 helps encourage mitochondrial support so your cells can maintain the same level of function they’ve always had. 

C15:0 also interacts with special receptors found all over your body, called PPARs. These receptors control processes like sleep, mood, appetite, and even immunity. By binding to these receptors, C15:0 can help you achieve a healthier, more balanced lifestyle.* 

Better Health With Fatty15

Ketosis burns fat for energy, but it’s hard for your body to stay in this metabolic state, and it can be even harder to adhere to a ketogenic diet. Instead, you can support your health on the cellular level with a supplement that helps you live the healthy lifestyle you want. 

Fatty15 is the pure, vegan version of C15:0, known as FA15™. Just one capsule a day can help you reach your health and wellness goals faster. 

Ketosis? Maybe. 

A fatty acid supplement that supports your cell’s ability to stay youthful? Definitely. 

 

Reviewed by Dr. Eric Venn-Watson.

 

Sources:

Metabolism and weight loss: How you burn calories|Mayo Clinic 

What is Ketosis? Learn About the Benefits and How to Achieve Ketosis|Charlie Foundation.org 

Epinephrine and Glucagon Signal the Need for Glycogen Breakdown - Biochemistry  

Ketones|UCSF.edu 

Is the Keto Diet Safe? What are the Risks?|University of Chicago Medicine.org
Profile photo for Eric Venn-Watson

Eric Venn-Watson M.D.

Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.

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