I’ve touched on this in a few other posts but wanted to address it separately because it’s another one of those questions that gets asked a lot.
Before I dive in though I want to make sure we’re clear on what keto-adaptation actually means.
Keto adaptation is different to being in ketosis.
It is actually relatively simple to get into ketosis, and many people enter ketosis naturally overnight if they have not eaten many carbs the day before.
You are in ketosis when your body is producing ketones. And your body does this as soon as your liver glycogen stores are low/have run out. Your body produces ketones in order that your brain can use fatty acids for energy instead of glycogen.
For someone who is switching their diet from a standard diet to keto, it can take anywhere between 24hours – 72hours to get into ketosis.
However, just because you are producing ketones and are in ketosis does not mean you are keto adapted.
The state of keto adaptation occurs when you’re body is fully able to utilise the ketones you are producing. When you are keto adapted, this is when you become a fat burning machine because your body is able to tap into your fat reserves for energy whenever it needs to, effectively and efficiently.
Until you are keto adapted, your body is still trying to rely on glycogen for all its processes. This means you may feel like you are lacking in energy or the strength that you had before you started eating keto. This stage of the diet is when you need to hang on in there!
In order for your body to keto adapt, there are many internal changes that need to take place. Your metabolism needs to completely shift from what it has been doing for years (running on glycogen), to being able to run on fat.
This can take some time. For me, it took around 3 months. Once I was keto adapted I started feeling like I had boundless energy from dawn til’ dusk. My sleep also improved dramatically, and the weight started to come off more. For some people, it takes less time, and for others it takes longer. It all depends on how healthy and strong your body, your metabolism and your hormones are.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I had 3 months of misery until I was keto adapted! After the initial keto flu which took 2-3 weeks, I gradually felt better and better over the rest of that time. But at around 3 months, I felt like I kind of popped out of the other side into a wonderful, energetic and long-lasting happy mood which pretty much stays with me all the time nowadays.
So, back to the initial question:
How Can You Speed Up this Process of Adaptation?
Well, I’m afraid to say there isn’t a magic wand or a sneaky trick that will speed this up for you. Your body will take as long as it needs to in order to keto adapt. Try to think of this as a lifestyle of health rather than a means to an end. Then the timescale doesn’t matter as much – the important thing is that you are on the right path and heading in the right direction.
If you are a woman who has adrenal fatigue or hormonal imbalances you can expect this process to take longer. And actually, if you are in this situation, you may be better off eating a few extra carbs – particularly in the evening to help you sleep. This will slow down the process of keto adaptation, but will help you to heal. And healing and health is what your main focus should be.
With that being said, I do have a few tips I can share that I’ve learned along the way. I believe these things are very important in the process of keto-adaptation:
- Get enough sleep.
If there’s one thing that will inhibit your keto adaptation (other than a MacDonalds), it’s not getting enough sleep. When you are over tired your body produces more cortisol which in turn increases your blood sugar levels and inhibits ketosis.
- Exercise moderately.
It’s important to move your body everyday, but at the same time, while you are adapting it’s important not to overdo it. Overly strenuous exercise will increase your cortisol levels which will inhibit ketosis. Walking, yoga, swimming and a small amount of weight lifting worked best for me.
- Eat lots of fats.
In order for your body to get the message that it is to burn fats for fuel, you kind of have to flood your body with the stuff for a while! Your body needs to start understanding that despite there being a lack of carbs and therefore glycogen, you have access to plenty of lovely fats. This tells your body there’s no need to go into starvation mode or lower your metabolism. The more fats you eat, the quicker your body will learn to use them.
- Keep stress levels as low as possible.
As with the above, stress increases cortisol which increases blood sugar levels – which you don’t want. Stay chilled, take lots of baths, rest up and enjoy the process.
- Get your bloodwork done.
I’ll admit, I didn’t actually do this, but I know a fair few ladies who have been able to get to grips with exactly what’s going on with their bodies and what they needed to do to heal simply because they invested in getting their blood work done before starting.
- Measure your macros
In the beginning at least. I actually prefer not to measure anything these days, but I know that to start with I would have had no idea how much carbs/protein/fat I was eating if I wasn’t keeping track. I used MyFitnessPal – it does the job.
Finally, I would say that the most important thing is to know exactly why you have chosen to go on the keto journey. Adapting can be a bumpy road, and so having a firm grasp on exactly what your goal is and the benefits you will reap by achieving your goal will see you through any tough times.
I hope this has been helpful! Feel free to leave a comment below.
And finally, I want to share this incredibly informative video from keto guru Jeff Volek. It’s pretty long but well worth the watch.