What is Ketosis? The Top 9 Signs of Being in Ketosis

What is Ketosis

Eat lots of fatty foods to lose weight and get healthier all around.

Sounds too good to be true, right?

Yet this is exactly what the keto diet (of high fat, medium protein, and absolute minimal carbs) promises. Indeed, people on it have been found to lose 3 times as much weight as non-keto controls.

However, understanding what ketosis is and how to achieve it is one thing.

Knowing when you're actually in a state of ketosis is another altogether. Only then will you feel the true benefits of the diet. Unfortunately, it isn't always clear.

What is Ketosis?

Ketosis is the metabolic state in which your body uses ketones as a primary fuel source instead of glucose (sugar).

When you eat carbohydrates, they are broken down into glucose and then used to provide energy. In order to maintain this process, your liver converts excess glucose into glycogen (a storage form of sugar) or fat.

However, when you start a low carb diet, your body begins producing ketones that can be used as an alternative fuel source. This allows your brain to run on ketone bodies rather than glucose, so you feel less hungry.

What Are the Signs of Ketosis?

Are you unsure whether you're currently in it or not? And how do you know you're in a state of ketosis? Keep reading to discover nine clear signs of ketosis in your body.

1. You're Losing Weight

As we've already mentioned, ketogenic diets are incredibly effective for weight loss purposes.

As such, one sign your body has entered ketosis is a swift loss of weight. Your body grows accustomed to using fat as its primary energy source instead of carbohydrate. As a result, the carbohydrate and water that are stored in the body get consumed.

The weight loss extends beyond the short term, though. With fat as a primary energy source, it will be burned as fuel instead of being stored away.

2. You're Less Hungry

You're also likely to experience changes to your appetite.

Many people expect to be hungrier when they imagine cutting carbs from their diet.

The opposite has been shown to be true in reality. It's still unclear exactly why it happens. Yet people in ketosis commonly experience a reduction in hunger levels (another reason this diet lends itself to weight loss).

This may be to do with an increase in protein intake or the presence of the actual ketones.

3. You Have a Higher Ketone Count

One sure-fire way to know you're in ketosis is to check your ketone levels.

As you may already know, ketogenic diets get their name from the increased production of ketones by the liver. This is a direct output of the transition from carbohydrate to fat intake.

As carbohydrate stores deplete and fat gets burned instead, the liver creates more ketones to support energy levels in the brain.

Measure your ketones with a small device that pricks your finger to release a drop of blood. It'll read the contents and tell you the ketone level. You're in ketosis if the figure reads between 0.5 and 3.0 mmol/L.

4. You're More Energetic

Body fat is a much more efficient source of energy than carbohydrates.

This means your energy levels get a significant boost when you're in ketosis. Remember, ketones get burned for fuel instead of glucose in the brain. They work like rocket fuel. You get a massive kick of energy from them in a way you don't when consuming carbs.

Once you get past the initial slump of starting a keto diet (more on this later), expect a happy rise in energy levels from your previous non-keto state.

5. You're More Focused

The benefits of ketosis aren't limited to physiology.

Another major advantage is the impact on your mental game too.

There's nothing like low energy to decrease levels of motivation and focus. Conversely, bolstered energy levels provide the resources required to stay alert and on task.

If you're suddenly feeling energized, awake, and keenly focused, then it's a good sign you've entered ketosis.

6. You've Got Smelly Breath

An unfortunate sign of full ketosis is bad breath.

It might not be the sign you were hoping for, but it is a fairly clear cut indicator that you're in ketosis!

It's nothing to worry about from a physiological perspective. Indeed, smelly breath is a by-product of the ketones in your system. Try brushing your teeth more and/or chewing sugar-free gum to compensate.

7. You're Experiencing Fatigue

Go keto, and you'll probably feel tired and weak in the immediate aftermath.

It's a literal shock to the system in more ways than one! After all, you were promised more energy by all the keto fans out there, not less. The ensuing fatigue can be disheartening.

However, it's totally normal. Remember, you've been using carbohydrates for energy your entire life. Suddenly it isn't there! Your body has a brief period of protest before it adapts.

Wait it out, and the benefits will come.

8. You're Suffering from Brain Fog

Keto flu is a common bugbear for people transitioning to a keto diet.

It's so-called because of the flu-like symptoms that can arise. In the days and weeks following the dietary change, people can feel nauseous, tired, and in a mental fog.

Again, this is a direct result of the body learning to adapt to your new diet. But don't give up! Many experience the keto flu and use it as a justification to quit.

Do so, and the long term gains will never come. Keep going, and you've got the increases in focus and energy to look forward to.

9. You Can't Sleep

Insomnia is another frequent complaint from people entering ketosis.

Now, it doesn't happen to everyone. In fact, many others will feel positive sleep effects. However, it's a definite factor for some. For whatever reason, that reduction in carbs leads to difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep at night.

Again, like brain flu and fatigue, you can expect this to improve over time. Once the first few weeks have passed, things should return to normal (or get even better than before!).


Time to Check for Signs of Ketosis

There you have it; the nine top signs of ketosis to look out for in your body.

The keto diet is immensely popular these days. And for a good reason. There's a whole host of great benefits that people experience when they make the change.

That said, it can be hard to know exactly when you're in ketosis for the first time.

Thankfully, as we've seen, there is a selection of sure-fire signs that reveal when it happens.

Michelle became a Registered Dietitian in June 2008 and currently work with a team of physicians, fitness coaches, and psychologists to develop a multi-faceted obesity treatment program in Florida. Michelle regularly contributes to many publications, among them, Newsday, Self, Fitness, Ladies’ Home Journal, and Women’s Day.