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How long does it take to become Keto-adapted?

Just as the time it takes to enter into ‘nutritional ketosis’ varies from person to person, ranging from a few days to several weeks, the next stage of the ketogenic diet, which is the adaptation phase, can also be unique to each individual, and is based on a number of factors. If you are younger, generally in good health, and more fit (aka ‘a lean machine’), and you are fortunate not to have a genetic predisposition to insulin resistance (the hallmark of Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes), you might be able to enter into ketosis more readily than someone who is older, overweight, in poor physical shape and/or is either prediabetic or diabetic. If you fall into the latter category, it might not only take a little longer to enter into nutritional ketosis, you might also have to be even more restrictive with your carbohydrate intake in order to make this metabolic ‘switch’ to burning fat (instead of glucose) for energy. In general, the transition to becoming ‘keto-adapted’ can range from several weeks to several months.

The following strategies have been shown to help ease you along into the adaptation phase:

  1. Continue gradual increases in your healthy fat intake as you continue to gradually reduce your carbs. Healthy fats include: Coconut, coconut oil and coconut butter, avocado and avocado oil, olives and olive oil, nuts and seeds and their butters, and grass-fed butter. Flaxseed meal, almond flour, and coconut flours are also great sources of healthy fats and have the added benefit of fiber.
  2. Aim for an upper carbohydrate range of 50 grams of digestible carbs (excluding grams of fiber) per day. Non-starchy vegetables should comprise a good portion of your carb allowance, so make sure to incorporate these nutritional powerhouses on a daily basis. Refer to our Fearless First Steps Guide for a detailed list of of both healthy fats and nutrient-dense low carb essentials that you should have on hand to make it easier to prepare meals and to enable you to be in greater control of what you’re eating.
  3. Continue to ensure that you’re not under-or overeating protein. Consuming too little protein can lead to muscle mass loss, so make a concerted effort to eat an adequate amount. On the other hand, too much protein may suppress ketone production. The ideal amount of protein for someone on a ketogenic diet is based on a multitude of factors, including their lean body mass (LBM), age, gender, and level of physical activity. There are number of macronutrient ‘calculators’ online to help you determine your own protein goal, in addition to giving you a reference gram amount for your daily carbohydrate and fat intake .
  4. Increase your physical activity—but don’t go overboard! As you start becoming keto-adapted, your focus should be on low-intensity exercise with occasional resistance training performed with low weights (5 to 10 lbs). Overdoing cardio or weight training can not only stress your body’s joints and muscles, but it can raise your stress hormone levels which negatively impacts your overall health.
  5. Make sure you get enough ‘zzz’s: Don’t underestimate the value of a good night’s sleep. This is a major cornerstone of health and can make all the difference in helping you feel your best.
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Mary Paley

Fearless Dietitian; 30+ years as a professional dietitian; Master’s Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics at the MGH Institute of Health Professions; Lead research dietitian for several major pharmaceutical companies; Currently focused on health and wellness and the benefits of ketogenic diets for both obesity and diabetes management. MS, RDN, CDE, LD/N

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