If you’re eating a low carb diet, are you wondering if you’re actually in ketosis? Here are some signs that you may be burning fat for fuel.
When I first started a low carb, high fat way of eating, I felt horrible!
I’m not going to sugarcoat it. The first few days of cutting my carbs were rough. I felt tired and a little nauseous, like I had the flu.
The first time I tried going low carb and felt this way, I decided to quit because I thought my body didn’t like cutting the carbs and adding in the fats.
But the second time I cut my carbs, I Googled “feeling like crap without carbs” and low and behold…it’s actually a thing! It’s called the Keto Flu! Once I knew that, it all made so much sense to me.
The reason I was feeling like garbage is because my body was switching from being a sugar burner to a fat burner. My body was no longer being constantly supplied with glucose for fuel (from carbs.) It kept looking for that glucose to burn, so when my body didn’t have it, it revolted! It took about a week of flu like symptoms for my body to finally realize that “hey, we have another source of fuel…FAT!”
Once my body started burning fat for fuel, I felt so much better! And I mean, SO much better! I had more energy, better focus, less hunger, less cravings.
On a ketogenic diet, your body undergoes many biological adaptions, including a reduction in insulin and increased fat breakdown. When this happens, your liver starts producing large amounts of ketones to supply energy for your brain.
So how does a person know if they are actually in ketosis and using ketones for energy?
Dry Mouth/Bad Breath
Some people report that they have really bad breath or a dry mouth when in ketosis. You may feel like you have a metallic taste in your mouth or it may even taste a little fruity.
This is caused by elevated ketone levels. The specific culprit is acetone, a ketone that exits the body in your urine and breath.
Don’t worry though! This sign is usually temporary. You can consume more salt (I like the pink Himalayan salt) and drink more water to help alleviate the this symptom.
Ketones in Blood
The most reliable and accurate method to know if you’re in ketosis is to measure the ketones in your blood. It measures your ketone levels by calculating the amount of beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) in your blood. This is one of the primary ketones present in the bloodstream.
While a blood test is the most accurate, it is also a little painful (it requires a pinprick to the finger) and can get expensive (the kit costs around $30 – $40 and each test around $5.)
Ketones in Urine
It is possible to measure the presence of ketones in your urine.
The downfall is, the test strips can be expensive, especially if you’re measuring every day, and it’s also not the most reliable source.
Ketones in Breath
Another way to know if you’re in ketosis is to measure your breath. A breath analyzer monitors acetone, one of the three main ketones present in your blood during ketosis.
This is the one I use.
Breath analyzers are very easy to use, but aren’t quite as accurate as a blood test. However, I have found my Ketonix to be quite helpful.
My first week of going low carb, high fat, I lost about 7 pounds! Now, I do know that this weight loss was primarily water weight and stored carbs being used up. However, I have found maintaining my weight effortless with this way of eating.
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When I was eating a high carb diet, I would have to eat every 2 – 3 hours. And I mean, HAVE TO!!
You’ve probably heard the term “Hangry!” Hungry and angry. That was me if I was not fed on time.
One of the first things I noticed when I cut the carbs and increased my healthy fats is, I could go hours without getting hangry! I would bring snacks with me everywhere, thinking I needed to be prepared. But, I never needed those snacks.
Even if I do start getting hungry after 4 – 5 hours, it is a very gradual hunger, not an I-NEED-to-eat-now-or-I’ll-hurt-someone kind of hunger.
I believe this has a lot to do with controlled blood sugar levels as well as other hunger hormones such as ghrelin and leptin.
Better Energy and Focus
After I got over my initial “keto flu” symptoms, I felt a surge of energy all day long.
When I was eating high carb, I used to get tired around 7:30, 8:00 each night. I would start snoozing on the couch while watching TV. It was hard just to go upstairs and get ready for bed.
But now, I feel great until I go to bed. I no longer fall asleep on the couch! And when I do go to bed, I fall asleep within 10 minutes.
Some people also report less brain fog when in ketosis. Ketones are an extremely potent fuel source for the brain.
I personally never experienced brain fog before eating this way, so I can’t say this was a sign I experienced. But if you struggle with maintaining focus or clarity, you may find that eating low carb will help.
Short Term Fatigue
As I mentioned earlier, when shifting into ketosis, you may experience fatigue and lack of energy.
Some people experience this for 7 days to a month!
One thing I found to help was adding salt to my water and making sure I was consuming electrolytes. I know it sounds silly to actually ADD salt to your water since we’ve been told for so long that salt is bad for us. But, it’s actually necessary! Just make sure you’re not consuming regular table salt. Himalayan salt and celtic sea salt are the best because they also contain a lot of minerals. I add 1/2 tsp of salt to my water jug daily and liberally salt my food.
Also, make sure you’re consuming magnesium. 80% of the population is deficient in magnesium. I have 2 tsp of magnesium citrate powder each day. I also consume foods like avocado which are high in potassium.
Electrolytes are often lost because of the rapid reduction in your body’s water content and the elimination of processed foods that may contain added salt.
Just know that the symptoms of the keto flu will pass!
There are several signs that can tell you if you’re in ketosis or not.
I have found the breath test and my decreased hunger levels to be the most accurate for me personally.
Keep in mind that everyone’s different and even if you don’t have the signs of ketosis I describe in this post it doesn’t mean that you’re not in ketosis!
That being said, if you are enjoying eating less carbs, more healthy fats and feeling good overall, there is really no need to be obsessed over your ketone levels. Just enjoy this way of eating and all the benefits that come with it 🙂