As someone who has gone through the ketosis induction phase many times now I felt like writing a ketosis induction phase survival guide, so to speak. I’m currently on day 5 of ketosis induction and want to share a day-by-day analysis of what to expect during keto-induction including hunger levels, energy levels, physical changes both internal and external and anything else you may find during your own induction phase.
I’ll start with a little info on the keto-induction phase before moving into my daily expectations log and finally provide tips and suggestions on how to survive induction and speed up the induction process a little.
What is ketosis induction?
Ketosis induction (or keto-induction) is the process of your body moving from a glucose fueled metabolism to a ketone fueled metabolism. This means your body, once depleted of remaining glycogen stores, starts adapting itself to breaking down fat into ketones as an alternative fuel source to survive.
It takes time for your body to adjust and become efficient at using its new fuel source. Once the induction phase completes, we call it being keto-adapted, meaning your body has now adapted to using fat as it’s primary fuel source.
How long does keto-induction take?
This varies from person to person and hence everyone’s experience, my own included, may differ greatly from another’s experience. The average time for keto-induction seems to be about 2 weeks according to most people’s experience but I have heard of it ranging from just a few days, up to 8 weeks.
For me, it depends on how long I’ve been out of ketosis. If I’ve had a single day of carb bingeing I can get back into ketosis in a day or two. I didn’t watch my diet at all last month though and expect induction to be a full 2 weeks, which is about the maximum time it takes for me.
Ketosis Induction Survival Guide? Does that mean it’s dangerous?
Nope, that’s just me being over-dramatic with my post titles. However, the keto-induction phase can be uncomfortable and difficult for most people, especially the first time and especially if you’re not sure what to expect. I’m hoping that I can provide a complete guide to alleviating a lot of this “pain” for most. Simply knowing what to expect is a good start as anxiety due to unknown symptoms is never fun. I’ll be providing a lot more tips to target specific issues though so read on!
I just want to know what to expect, just list some damn symptoms already!
For those thinking something similar to the above, some of the more common symptoms to expect during keto-induction are:
- Very low energy levels!
- Crazy hunger.
- Oily skin.
- General lack of willingness to do anything.
Daily expectations of keto-induction and recommendations for survival
What to expect?
Day 1 is setup day. If you’ve just gone cold turkey on carbs, your body should have plenty of glycogen stores in reserve. This means even if you cut the carbs entirely, you’ll still be using your carb reserves as fuel, so you shouldn’t feel any different today.
What you want to be focusing on in day 1 is setting yourself up to get through induction as quickly as possible. To do this, aim for no more than 20g of carbs for the day and those should be from leafy green vegetables only. Due to the extreme carb restriction, you won’t be able to get all of your dietary requirements met. Take a multi-vitamin and a fibre supplement such as metamucil if possible.
I also highly recommend getting some MCT oil to help with ketosis in general. Due to the metabolic pathways MCT oil takes, it has a ketosis inducing effect on the body and can help to both speed up induction as well as release more of your bodies fat stores when already in ketosis, ie. lose more weight.
The point of ketosis is to change from using carbs as a fuel source to using ketones from fat breakdown as a fuel source. To induce this you need to be eating fat. Yes, eat fat to lose fat. But you also want to be careful not to eat too much protein as excess protein is converted into glucose (carbs) through a process called gluconeogensis. It’s just your body being good at not dying. This is the main reason why people doing paleo often find they stop losing weight and start gaining it back after a month or so. They focus too strongly on meat consumption and don’t balance it with enough fat, essentially causing their body to remain a carb burning type.
This doesn’t mean you should avoid protein of course. You need it to feed your muscles, repair, rebuild and grow them. Just don’t consume more than you can use.
What to eat?
So we’ve covered what not to eat but now the fun part, what you should eat.
Day 1 and 2 can be aided with a bit of intermittent fasting so don’t worry if you don’t eat too much. You’ll find that with high fat foods you will feel full very quickly off seemingly small portions. Personally, I make myself a thermogenic supplement such as 2Shredded in a shaker and don’t have my first meal until about 11 am or later.
If you’re a coffee drinker, you should definitely get on Bulletproof Coffee. It’s fantastic for nourishment, energy and inducing and enforcing ketosis. But if you’re like me and not a fan of coffee you can simply replace coffee with something you do enjoy. For me, I use miso soup as my basis and often a little chilli oil to make what I call Keto Lava Cup.
If that doesn’t sound like it’s for you, there’s plenty of other snacks to get you through the day. Choose something low carb such as salami, eggs, tuna, etc. and simply add fat to it in the form of mayonnaise, butter, cream or whatever you prefer. This way you can still choose paleo / high protein snacks but avoid gluconeogensis by reducing the portion size and adding calorie dense, keto-inducing fats. Just get creative. Use an app like Myfitnesspal to assist with checking if foods are high carb if you’re not sure.
Today you’ll most likely begin to struggle. Your body is low on glycogen stores and has yet to convert your metabolism to a fat burning type. I strongly recommend cardio and supplements today!
This is where a great thermogenic complex such as 2Shredded by Beast will really come in handy. Not only will it assist on breaking down fat stores to get your body prepped for ketosis but it really curbs hunger pangs. Combined with some cardio (ideally supplemented with a pre-workout supplement such as Upload or Ritual) and you should find today a lot easier than most people doing induction do.
Keep eating those fats too. Your body doesn’t know how to metabolize fats properly yet and will be screaming out for carbs but keep working on training your body for the conversion to ketosis.
Prepare yourself, ketosis is coming.
Not gonna lie, day 3 is usually hell. If you’re working today, make sure you supplement a good thermogenic or you’re going to find your head on the desk most of the day.
For me, I really do feel my body “giving up”. It’s as if it’s gone “You win, you’re not feeding me, I’m just going to curl up and die now”. Luckily we know better and know that we have plenty of fuel in our bodies in the form of lipids and if you’ve followed my guide you’ll most likely begin adapting to this fuel source as of tomorrow.
Keep hydrated. Especially if you’re taking my recommendation of supplementing with a thermogenic as they can really dehydrate you. Add a half teaspoon of salt to your water if you’re doing any intermittent fasting or eating foods low in sodium. Keto-adaptation has been found to be demanding on your sodium levels so increasing these a little will help with water retention and other bodily functions. If you find you have any muscle spasms (twitching) it’s a good sign you need some salt. Also ensure the carbs are still below 20g!
Day 4 and onwards
If you’ve survived this long (kidding) then congratulations, you should be beginning to feel much better. By day 4 your body has started using lipids for fuel and you’re no longer running on empty. It usually takes another week or so before your body has become truly efficient at using fat for its fuel source so you should gradually feel better and better. You may start increasing your carb limit to 50g daily but no more than 9g within a single hour, or you may cause your insulin to spike.
By the end of week 2, if you’ve been following my guide and keeping the carbs low you should be feeling better than you ever have in the past when you were a sugar-fuelled, less healthy individual. It’s very common to hear of all kinds of illness from skin rash to more severe biological disorders simply alleviating once in ketosis. You’d be surprised how many sicknesses are caused simply by sugar consumption.
My go-to supplement recommendations
It’s important to keep yourself supplemented during the induction phase of ketosis, and may also remain beneficial once your body has achieved optimal ketosis.
- Ritual by ANS Performance – perfect for a morning workout that will keep you energetic for many hours after, without a nasty crash.
- Upload by Alpha Pro Nutrition – may be a better option if you’re doing heavy weight training as the burst of energy you get from Upload is much stronger than that of Ritual. You may expect a minor crash from Upload and will definitely want to supplement further for energy throughout the day.
- SHATTER SX-7 by Muscletech – not as much energy provided by SHATTER as their is in Ritual or Upload, but shatter contains many fat-burning ingredients that may help to lose more weight throughout the day. May be best to swap to this once optimal ketosis has been reached.
I only have 1 thermogenic supplement that I highly recommend right now, and that is 2Shredded by Beast. This supplement when taken slowly throughout the morning and into lunch time will keep your energy levels high and will increase your mental alertness. Obviously you can get this same effect in a coffee, but 2Shredded also comes well dosed with many additional fat-burning ingredients that will keep your resting energy expenditure high throughout the day.
I can’t stress enough how much easier the ketosis induction phase will be if you supplement with 2Shredded. And as an added bonus, thermogenesis INCREASES FAT BURN by increasing energy expenditure!
Don’t wait any longer, get yourself some 2Shredded today:
- Multivitamin – as you will be cutting many nutrient dense ingredients out of your diet for the induction phase, you should definitely supplement a multivitamin to assist with keeping yourself nourished.
- Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) – this potent antioxidant is just a handy addition for anyone’s diet and for general well-being.
- L-Carnitine – this comes in many forms but my personal favourite is “Doctor’s Best, Best L-Carnitine Fumarate, 855 mg, 180 Veggie Caps” which I get from iHerb.com. This is another boon to your bodies fat burning potential and is safe to stack with other supplements.
- L-Glutamine – is an amino acid that is naturally produced in your body to assist with protein synthesis. During bouts of exercise your body can easily deplete your L-Glutamine stores and can take up to 6 days to replenish them. L-Glutamine is found to promote good gut health, which is one of the most important factors for overall health and weight management. It is also found that supplementing 2g daily can increase growth hormone levels by up to 400%, which assist in natural muscle building and fat loss.
- Magnesium – another supplement to assist with gut health. Some studies have also found that magnesium supplementation may reduce or even eliminate body odour in otherwise healthy individuals. I can vouch for this, as my sweat never seems to smell since taking magnesium unless during or the day after a big night of drinking!
- Digestive enzymes – a good multi-enzyme complex such as “Now Foods, Super Enzymes, 180 Capsules” will assist in breaking down and digesting fat, carbohydrates and protein. If you find that you ever get gassy, or stomach cramps not long after eating, you may not be able to produce enough enzymes naturally to digest your food completely, leaving it to rot in your stomach and cause issues. Ideally, optimizing your gut health with good diet and supplementation of L-Glutamine and magnesium will be enough to correct digestive errors. However, I find that adding in some extra enzymes to assist in digestion works wonders for me and I can really feel the difference between properly digesting my food and not.
I began writing this article in the first week of January this year. It is now 4 months later and feel that my ketosis survival guide is now ready to be published. I expect that I will be updating this guide from time to time as I learn and experience new things. If you find any errors in this guide, please leave me a comment below to let me know so I can correct this as soon as possible.