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What Should You Do If You Can’t Get Into Ketosis?

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FACT CHECKED
  Published on August 2nd, 2021
  Reading time: 3 minutes
  Last modified June 28th, 2023
Testing for ketosis

Ketosis is a metabolic state characterized by the production and utilization of ketone bodies. On a standard, high-carb diet, the body utilizes glucose from carbs for energy. The ketogenic diet restricts carb consumption, thus the body creates an alternative fuel source by breaking down fatty acids into ketones. Theoretically, as long as you are not eating carbohydrates, you should be in a metabolic state of ketosis. But, what should you do if you can’t get into ketosis? [1]

Eating the Right Number of Carbs

The very first thing you should do if you can’t get into ketosis is make sure you are eating below your keto carb limit. Most people can eat around 20-25g of carbs a day and be able to stay in ketosis. However, this is different for every individual. Manipulate the number of carbs you are eating in a day based on the total calories consumed.

On average, you should be eating >5% of your daily calorie intake from carbs. That means if you are eating 1,200 calories a day, then you should be eating less than 15g of net carbs a day (1200 calories * 0.05/ 4 calories per gram). If you are eating 1800 calories a day, that means you should be eating <22.5g of net carbohydrates a day.

keto macros

Tracking Accurately

One of the most common mistakes that we see when individuals plateau or can’t get into ketosis is they are overeating and don’t even realize it. The difference between 1 tbsp of peanut butter and 3 is actually a lot smaller than you’d like.

When not measuring or weighing out foods, it is so easy to overeat. If you are struggling to get into ketosis, try strictly tracking your macro intake. This means tracking everything! From the extra heaping scoop of almond butter to the extra handful of mixed nuts as a snack.

Avoid Processed Foods

Every individual has a unique metabolism and unique dietary sensitivities. While one food may not affect someone, it may dramatically affect another. If you find that you can’t get into ketosis, but you are eating under your total daily carb threshold and you are tracking accurately, take a closer look at what exactly you are eating.

If you are eating packaged and processed foods like protein bars, keto bread, or other keto treats, consider cutting those out for at least a week or so. Notice if your ketones stay elevated and your glucose stabilizes after cutting these foods out. If so, you may be more sensitive to them and should avoid them if staying in ketosis is your goal.

Troubleshooting Ketosis if All Else Fails

If you seem to be doing everything right and you still can’t get into ketosis, there are a few things you can try to boost your ketone levels.

1. Go carnivore or zero carb: Cut out all carbs altogether. If you are consuming 0g of carbs a day, you should be producing ketones and be kick-started into ketosis.

2. Try intermittent fasting: Fasting produces ketone bodies similar to the ketogenic diet, which is why they often go hand-in-hand. If you are not used to fasting, start out with a short fast of 12-14 hours and then work your way up. [2]

3. Exogenous ketones: Drinking exogenous ketones will increase your ketone levels. If you have difficulty getting into ketosis, supplementing with exogenous ketones should help kickstart the process. [3]

Concluding Thoughts

As long as you are eating plenty of healthy fats, reducing carbs to a minimum, and sticking to whole foods, you shouldn’t have a hard time getting into ketosis. The time it takes to get into ketosis can vary from individual to individual, but typically takes a few days. So, be patient and don’t give up, and know the signs of being in ketosis.

At ketogenic.com, we are committed to supporting, inspiring, and educating people on the benefits of living a ketogenic lifestyle. We do this by bringing together the top researchers, practitioners, and thought-leaders who provide resources, experience, and awareness associated around the Ketogenic diet. Utilizing the latest cutting-edge research along with practical experience, the team at ketogenic.com aims to foster awareness, understanding, and connectedness in helping others optimize their life on a ketogenic diet.

References

1.

Masood W, Annamaraju P, Uppaluri KR. Ketogenic Diet. [Updated 2021 Jun 11]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499830/

2.

Anton, S. D., Moehl, K., Donahoo, W. T., Marosi, K., Lee, S. A., Mainous, A. G., 3rd, Leeuwenburgh, C., & Mattson, M. P. (2018). Flipping the Metabolic Switch: Understanding and Applying the Health Benefits of Fasting. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.), 26(2), 254–268. https://doi.org/10.1002/oby.22065

3.

Stubbs BJ, Cox PJ, Evans RD, Santer P, Miller JJ, Faull OK, Magor-Elliott S, Hiyama S, Stirling M, Clarke K. On the Metabolism of Exogenous Ketones in Humans. Front Physiol. 2017 Oct 30;8:848. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2017.00848. PMID: 29163194; PMCID: PMC5670148.

Discussion

  1. Len Cowan says:

    200 lb. man eating less than 15 grams of carbs a day and my bod refuses to go into ketosis, even after two months. My blood sugar has fallen from 269 to 100 average. I have lost 25 lbs. but the best urine tests I’ve done show a “trace” of ketosis, after an 8 grams carb and 900 calorie day of mostly fat and some protein intake.

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