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What is one of the hardest parts about starting the ketogenic diet (or any weight loss diet, for that matter)? Getting your body used to it and overcoming those beginning symptoms that make committing to the diet so uncomfortable.
And it makes sense! That part’s really hard, and being physically miserable can be a major diet turn-off for anybody. The whole point, after all, is to feel healthier and more energized.
The good news? It doesn’t have to be that way! That’s why we’ve put together the 6 tricks to speed up keto-adaptation. Follow them, and you’ll find yourself to be comfortable in ketosis in no time at all.
In this article:
- First Thing's First: What Is Keto Adaptation?
- Understanding the Transition to Keto-Adaptation
- Always Combine Keto With Intermittent Fasting
- Apple Cider Vinegar With Lemon + H20
- Electrolytes + Nutritional Yeast
- Extreme Stomach Hunger
- Add More Fat At The Meals
- Add More Greens
First Thing's First: What Is Keto Adaptation?
When you make the switch to a ketogenic diet, you’re switching from sugar fuel to fat fuel. This causes a lot of changes in your cells and in your body. Getting used to those changes is keto-adaptation.
Before ketosis, your body is running on glucose or blood sugar. It’s dependent mainly on stored sugar in your muscle and in your liver, which you don’t have a lot of, or on sugar in your diet for fuel.
So you have to constantly eat to keep the sugars up and to fuel your body.
With the keto diet, you’re changing this and making your body dependent on fat and ketones instead of sugar. There are a few reasons why this is a good idea:
- We have a lot more fat than stored sugar in our body, so it’s more regularly available for fuel. In fact, an average thin person has about 77,000 calories of stored fat! That’s a huge number, and it only gets higher for other members of the population.
- Fat and ketones provide a better quality of fuel. With better fuel, you're much more likely to achieve your health goals.
- High levels of glucose in the body can lead to lots of serious health issues, including insulin resistance and diabetes.
- Ketosis - the state of burning fat for fuel - can improve mitochondrial function.
- Many people experience increased energy and less brain fog on ketosis (check out our full video on the benefits of ketosis.)
So how do you get there? Let's discuss.
Understanding the Transition to Keto-Adaptation
Like we mentioned, getting fully adapted to the keto diet requires a transition phase. In this phase, you’ll have lowered blood sugar without the fat really kicking in.
If you’ve ever dealt with low blood sugar before, you know that this is the part that can become really uncomfortable, causing:
- Irritability or impatience
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
Luckily, you (and the people around you) don’t just have to suffer through this for more than a few days.
Here are 6 keto hacks to help you through this keto-adaptation transitional phase quickly and smoothly.
1. Always Combine Keto With Intermittent Fasting
The ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting are both powerful tools and strategies to help drop your insulin and speed up the keto-adaptation process. That said, you have to do them together in order to get the maximum benefit from either one.
On one hand, if you do intermittent fasting with too much sugar and too many net carbs - aka while you're not on keto - then you’re never going to get into ketosis. It's just not possible: to get into ketosis, you need to drop your insulin (aka your carbohydrates). A high-carb diet will, obviously, prevent that from happening altogether.
Similarly, if you’re just doing keto and you’re consuming multiple meals, you’re going to spike insulin every time you eat. That means it’s going to take longer to get your body settled burning fat and ketones. It's also going to be harder to achieve any kind of significant weight loss.
With keto + intermittent fasting, you solve both of these problems. See, fat is the only food group that doesn’t really spike insulin, so if you’re not eating as frequently and you’re consuming more fat at the same time, then you’re going to drop insulin and achieve ketosis much faster.
If you do this correctly, it’ll only take three-four days to be 80% in ketosis.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar With Lemon + H20
Drinking a big glass of water with apple cider vinegar and lemon will also help speed things up while providing a host of other benefits. These include:
- Improved digestion
- Stable blood sugar and glucose levels
- Reduced hunger and cravings
- Fewer kidney stones: Lemon can prevent kidney stones, particularly uric acid stones that are more common with the ketogenic diet
Here’s how and when:
Personally, I like to have this drink in the morning - although sometimes I’ll do it at a meal as well. In the morning, I’ll do about:
- 16 ounces of water
- 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar (you can pretty much choose any organic brand)
- 2 teaspoons of lemon (again, aim for organic)
- And sometimes I’ll add a tiny bit of sea salt dissolved in. Why? Well, when you’re on a low carb keto diet, you’re going to dump a lot of water and have a slight lack of sodium and electrolytes. A little bit of salt can prevent that from happening, helping you maintain optimum electrolytes and fluid volume.
3. Electrolytes + Nutritional Yeast
Electrolytes with a large amount of potassium and nutritional yeast will also speed things up, most significantly because it will help heal the deep-rooted problem of insulin resistance.
Nutritional Yeast: The Basics
Nutritional yeast is a natural product that provides a lot of B vitamins - which are essential in the transition from sugar burning to fat burning. You need some B vitamins to avoid the keto flu and keto fatigue. Now, there are two common questions that I always get about nutritional yeast:
- Will it give me a yeast infection?
- Is nutritional yeast MSG as in autolyzed yeast extract?
To both questions, the answer is a resounding no. Candida - the main culprit behind most yeast infections - is a completely different strain than nutritional yeast. In fact, when you take nutritional yeast, it’s not even alive - it’s deactivated - so you’re not at all at risk of getting an infection.
Similarly, regarding question 2, the main takeaway is that not all products with the word “yeast” are identical.
That said, the benefit of nutritional yeast is that it provides:
- A natural source of B vitamins.
- A great source of amino acids aka protein.
- Quite a few minerals and trace minerals, which are also needed in the keto transition process
A few words of caution: Make sure that you get a non-fortified nutritional yeast. Many options come fortified with synthetic B vitamins. You don’t want to do that because those synthetic vitamins come from petroleum. The challenges with unfortified, though, is that people wonder how am I going to consume this powder? I created a nutritional yeast tablet that you can consume. The only thing that I put in here because it’s non-fortified is a natural B12.
This will allow you to make the transition to a low carb ketogenic diet much more smooth.
4. Extreme Stomach Hunger
There’s going to be a point where, between meals, you’re going to feel really hungry. You have to differentiate a mild hunger, which you just push through, and intense hunger, which is really severe.
If you’re experiencing intense huger, you simply don’t want to add more stress to your body. Instead, you’ll want to consume a small snack that consists of only fat. Don’t add any protein here (and definitely don't add carbs): protein will stimulate much more insulin and make you crash.
Some high-fat keto snack options here include:
- Pecans, which is a really fatty nut
- An avocado
- A small cup of bulletproof coffee
- Alternatively, you can add MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides) or coconut oil to any meal.
The point here, in any case, is just to add a little more fat to get you through the transition.
5. Add More Fat At The Meals
Also, if you’re going from one meal to the next, it’s very important to have enough fat to satisfy you.
So if you’re hurting and you’re really suffering, make sure that the next meal you add more fat. Remember, though, that this is only a viable solution at the beginning of your keto transition. It's not a long-term help.
Once you successfully enter ketosis, you will need much less dietary fat. The majority of the fat that your body uses will come from your body, and an excess of dietary fat will actually cause you to feel unwell.
So listen to your body and modify the amount of fat in your diet as your needs change.
6. Add More Greens
A straight keto diet does not call for a lot of greens - instead, it'll call for 20-50 grams of carbohydrates. This could come from a banana, a piece of bread, etc., and it's a very low-carb approach. I'll never recommend that kind of diet.
Instead, I recommend that you add at least 7-10 cups of salad and non-starchy vegetables to your diet every day. These veggie carbs don't count in the 20-50 grams of carbs, and you can have as much as you want.
There are many reasons for this. First, there are lots of minerals in these greens that will help speed up the process and maintain your overall health. The potassium from the greens, in particular, will actually heal any insulin resistance and help stabilize the blood sugar at the cellular level.
Also, adding greens will avoid any negative keto side effects like:
- Fatty liver
- Brain fog
Follow these 6 steps, and you'll be happily in ketosis in no time at all. Let us know if you have any questions below.