Ketosis is a natural metabolic state in which the body primarily burns stored fat, instead of glucose, for fuel. Ways of doing this include reducing carbohydrate intake and doing more exercise.

The body typically uses glucose, or sugar as energy. When there is a lack of glucose, the body burnsfat for this purpose instead. In this case, acids called ketones may begin to build up in the blood. The body can also use ketones for energy, but they may leave the body via urine.

The presence of ketones in the blood and urine indicates that a person has entered ketosis. Some people enter ketosis because they wish to lose body fat. In ketosis, the body breaks down its fat stores instead of relying on carbohydrates such as glucose for energy.

Reaching ketosis can be challenging. How quickly a person can enter ketosis will depend on many factors, such as dietary plans and activity levels. For most people, it will usually take a few days to enter ketosis. However, for other it may take a week or longer to get into ketosis.

Below, we explore seven ways to speed up this process. We also look at the risks involved and who may not benefit.

A collage of images showing a person following a keto diet-1.Share on Pinterest
Design by MNT; Photography by Capelle.r/Getty Images & Basak Gurbuz Derman/Getty Images

Strategies for encouraging the body to enter ketosis include:

1. Significantly reducing the carbohydrate intake

Ketosis occurs when a lack of carbohydrates forces the body to use fat, not glucose, as its primary energy source.

A person looking to reach ketosis should reduce their carb consumption to 50 grams (g) or less per day. However, the exact carb limit can vary from person to person.

2. Increasing physical activity

The more energy a person uses during the day, the more fuel they need.

Exercise helps reduce the body’s stores of a form of glucose called glycogen. Usually, eating carbs restores glycogen levels. But a person on a low-carb diet is not sufficiently replenishing their glycogen stores. This encourages the body to turn to fat as a source of fuel instead.

The adjustment can take some time, and during this period, a person may experience fatigue.

3. Fasting for short periods

Intermittent fasting (IF) can help a person reach a state of ketosis.

In some controlled cases, a doctor may recommend fasting periods of 24–48 hours, but most people do not need to fast this long to reach ketosis.

IF may also help manage obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, and it may also protect against certain cancers and neurological disorders.

However, confirming these benefits and IF’s long-term safety and efficacy requires more research.

Anyone interested in trying IF should speak with a doctor first, as it is not advisable for everyone.

4. Increasing healthful fat intake

Most people aiming for ketosis replace lost carbohydrates with an increase in healthy fats. Some sources include:

  • olive oil
  • avocados and avocado oil
  • flaxseed oil
  • nuts and seeds
  • fatty fish, such as salmon

While some people on the ketogenic diet add any fats to a meal, it is typically advisable to limit saturated and trans fats, such as those from fried foods.

Read on to learn more about healthy fat sources.

5. Testing ketone levels

A test can check ketone levels in the:

  • urine
  • breath
  • blood

Testing can help a person track their progress and make tactical adjustments to their diet. They may further limit foods that cause a spike in glucose levels, for example.

Simple ketone tests, such as strips and monitors, are available to purchase online.

6. Checking protein intake

A person following the keto diet typically eats more dietary fat than protein.

While recommended amounts of protein vary, one standard recommendation is consuming about 1 g of protein for every pound (lb) of body weight each day. People who exercise heavily might need 1.5 g/lb.

Some believe that a lower protein intake is necessary, although the evidence on this point is mixed.

Read on to learn more about how much protein a person may require.

7. Consuming more MCT oil

Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which a person can purchase as oil, can aid in ketosis.

Specifically, MCT oil may help a person reach ketosis even when they eat less fat and more protein and carbs than a keto diet typically contains.

Ketosis is a natural metabolic state that can occur if a person has a low carb or low calorie diet.

A person may wish to reach ketosis for many reasons. Some more common reasons include weight loss, fat reduction, managing type 2 diabetes, and promoting heart health.

However, ketosis is not safe for everyone. Remaining in a state of ketosis for prolonged periods can have adverse effects in some people. For example, people with type 1 diabetes should avoid being in ketosis because it increases the risk of developing keto acidosis, a potentially life-threatening condition.

Also, doctors do not recommend the ketogenic diet for people who take insulin or have liver failure, pancreatitis, or a past diagnosis of high cholesterol.

Anyone considering the keto diet should check with a healthcare professional first.

Ketosis is a natural state for the body to be in from time to time. It involves the body burning its fat reserves, instead of glucose, for energy.

Maintaining ketosis for short periods involves minimal risk for many people. Dietary changes, such as intermittent fasting, can help. However, people with certain health conditions, such as type 1 diabetes, should avoid ketosis.

Also, people should note that very little research has investigated the long-term effects of ketogenic diets. People who follow these diets may experience fatigue and nutritional deficiencies.

Before starting any new diet, speak with a healthcare professional.