One of the goals of the keto diet is being “keto-adapted”.
Being keto-adapted means that your body is primed for functioning with very little glucose. And this happens in several stages.
STAGE 1 – The beginning
The beginning stage is the most difficult part of keto-adaptation as you for sure will experience a transitional “flu”.
Your body needs different enzymes in breaking down fat than breaking down glucose. Without as many fat-converting enzymes, fat and ketone metabolism simply cannot actually take over.
These fat-converting enzymes get built up over time.
The best strategy for coping with this is to eat a lot of fat.
It sounds crazy at first, but it actually makes perfect sense. The more fat (within reason) you consume at this stage helps your body build up these new enzymes. Also, fat is an important source of essential fatty acids and nutrients. Moreover, ingesting fat with protein helps moderate the insulin response.
Even if you eventually wish to get most of your fat from your fat stores, you do not usually need to restrict it in the diet, and especially not now.
The second common experience during early Keto is sodium excretion and transient rapid water loss. If care is not taken to replenish sodium and water, both sodium and potassium are sometimes lost too rapidly. This can cause tiredness, weakness, and headaches. Be sure to get enough sodium: about 5 grammes per day, or 2 teaspoons of table salt, will help prevent these symptoms.
Adequate potassium may be necessary to preserve lean mass, and magnesium deficiency can lead to muscle cramps, as well as fatigue and dizziness. So this is a good time to look at your mineral profile and ensure that you have sufficient potassium and magnesium intake.
Finally, commit to a very low level of carbohydrate intake. The worst scenario is to fall back to some kind of carb refill every few days – you will set yourself back, and be in perpetual limbo. Stay with it consistently for at least long enough to get ketone production in full force.
It’s like you can’t just put diesel into a regular car engine and expect everything to work smoothly. Patience and commitment will get you to the next stage.
STAGE 2 – Early ketosis
When you enter ketosis, you are using fat for energy, but at first, it’s in limited amounts because you don’t have as many fat-converting enzymes.
Once the enzymes are in place, your cells change the way they get energy. It’s really amazing how many changes have to happen internally to reach keto-adaptation.
Trust me, when your body switches over, you can feel it. If you get this far, you will know that everything you read about ketones as a superior fuel is true.
When you’re in ketosis, gone is the craving for sugar and any food fixation. You feel that you are running on a full tank and have lots of energy.
The experience of mental clarity and focus is vivid and empowering.
For me, my skin condition has improved tremendously, and I also sleep soundly through the night.
Some people start to experience significant weight loss from this early ketosis stage as soon as their insulin starts to become stabilised. The result is often remarkable but can vary from person to person.
Some people on the keto diet will also begin to experience some pretty serious body recomposition in a short time period, especially combined with strength and HITT training.
STAGE 3 – Keto-adapted
Once you are keto-adapted (which can take a few weeks to a month depending on the person), fat/ketones become the preferred fuel.
Hormone levels are changed, glycogen (glucose stored in muscles and liver) is lowered, you carry less excess water. You’re able to function well – lots of energy, you can exercise, lift, build up endurance, etc.
When you’re keto adapted and get an “overdose” of carbs (more than your body needs at the time) different things happen.
First, glycogen gets replenished, which causes water retention.
Secondly, insulin rises, which can affect other hormone levels as well.
While your body processes the carbs, you are not burning ketones. Once the glucose is dealt with, you will go back into ketosis. When you’re keto adapted, this doesn’t take long because you already have the enzymes and are “primed” to use fat for energy.
You can get back to Ketosis quickly and more efficiently.