During ketosis, your body converts fat into compounds known as ketones and begins using them as its main source of energy.
Studies have found that diets that promote ketosis are highly beneficial for weight loss, due in part to their appetite-suppressing effects (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source).
Emerging research suggests that ketosis may also be helpful for type 2 diabetes and neurological disorders, among other conditions (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source).
That being said, achieving a state of ketosis can take some work and planning. It’s not just as simple as cutting carbs.
Here are 7 effective tips to get into ketosis.
Eating a very low-carb diet is by far the most important factor in achieving ketosis.
Normally, your cells use glucose, or sugar, as their main source of fuel. However, most of your cells can also use other fuel sources. This includes fatty acids, as well as ketones, which are also known as ketone bodies.
Your body stores glucose in your liver and muscles in the form of glycogen.
When carb intake is very low, glycogen stores are reduced and levels of the hormone insulin decline. This allows fatty acids to be released from fat stores in your body.
Your liver converts some of these fatty acids into the ketone bodies acetone, acetoacetate and beta-hydroxybutyrate. These ketones can be used as fuel by portions of the brain (5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).
The level of carb restriction needed to induce ketosis is somewhat individualized. Some people need to limit net carbs (total carbs minus fiber) to 20 grams per day, while others can achieve ketosis while eating twice this amount or more.
For this reason, the Atkins diet specifies that carbs be restricted to 20 or fewer grams per day for two weeks to guarantee that ketosis is achieved.
After this point, small amounts of carbs can be added back to your diet very gradually, as long as ketosis is maintained.
In a one-week study, overweight people with type 2 diabetes who limited carb intake to 21 or fewer grams per day experienced daily urinary ketone excretion levels that were 27 times higher than their baseline levels (7Trusted Source).
In another study, adults with type 2 diabetes were allowed 20–50 grams of digestible carbs per day, depending on the number of grams that allowed them to maintain blood ketone levels within a target range of 0.5–3.0 mmol/L (8Trusted Source).
These carb and ketone ranges are advised for people who want to get into ketosis to promote weight loss, control blood sugar levels or reduce heart disease risk factors.
In contrast, therapeutic ketogenic diets used for epilepsy or as experimental cancer therapy often restrict carbs to fewer than 5% of calories or fewer than 15 grams per day to further drive up ketone levels (9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source).
However, anyone using the diet for therapeutic purposes should only do so under the supervision of a medical professional.
Eating coconut oil can help you get into ketosis.
It contains fats called medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs).
Unlike most fats, MCTs are rapidly absorbed and taken directly to the liver, where they can be used immediately for energy or converted into ketones.
In fact, it’s been suggested that consuming coconut oil may be one of the best ways to increase ketone levels in people with Alzheimer’s disease and other nervous system disorders (11Trusted Source).
Although coconut oil contains four types of MCTs, 50% of its fat comes from the kind known as lauric acid.
Some research suggests that fat sources with a higher percentage of lauric acid may produce a more sustained level of ketosis. This is because it’s metabolized more gradually than other MCTs (12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source).