What is Ketosis? Here’s What You Need to Know

what is ketosis

What is ketosis? Is it safe? Can it help me lose weight?

These are frequent questions surrounding ketosis and learning more about this metabolic process can help you lose weight and boost your overall performance. But before you take the fast road to ketosis, it’s best to learn its definition, pros and cons, and how to keep your body safe while in it [1].


What is ketosis?

While it’s true that our bodies mainly rely on sugar for energy, there is another form of stamina our bodies can use that isn’t nearly as well-known.

When we limit our intake of carbohydrates, sugar levels quickly dip. As this source of energy is depleted, our bodies are forced to search for other ways to operate efficiently and begin to look to fat instead [2].

The liver breaks down fat and produces ketones in the process. Once ketones are present, our bodies are said to be in the state of ketosis. We stay in this metabolic state until we change our diet and our bodies turn to sugar again for energy.

Ketosis is common in those who are fasting but can also be present in pregnant women and those who exert more energy than they take in.


Benefits of ketosis

There is a wide array of benefits associated with ketosis. Any of the following can serve as your motivation to cut carbs and help your body produce ketones.

  • Weight loss – One of the most obvious benefits of ketosis is that it can help you lose weight as you burn through fat. When you’re able to remain in ketosis, you might find it easier to reach your goal weight in record time [3].
  • Higher energy levels – If you’ve ever felt the jitteriness of a sugar high followed by a crash or the heaviness in your stomach after eating a large, heavy meal, you’ll appreciate this benefit of ketosis. Not only will your energy levels rise but they’ll remain consistent. No more highs and lows.
  • Increased physical performance – When your body is in ketosis, it utilizes oxygen more efficiently. If you’ve been a runner or athlete for years, you’ll notice an improvement in your performance during ketosis.
  • Better focus – Your brain has a love for ketones. You’ll find that your mental focus increases during ketosis as fat is a more consistent energy source.
  • Better health – When properly used after being approved by your doctor, ketosis can help prevent Alzheimer’s, decrease inflammation, and even help cancer patients by keeping their energy levels up and sugar levels down.


Disadvantages of ketosis

Like any diet or lifestyle change, there are a few disadvantages of ketosis you should be aware of. While the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages, knowing what to look for when entering ketosis will help keep you safe.

  • Adaptation period – This first couple weeks of eating a ketogenic diet can leave you feeling worn down and ill [4]. You can expect to feel weak and lethargic as your body adapts [5]. You may also find yourself facing cravings for sugary foods and carbohydrates.
  • Limited diet options – It can be difficult to find appropriate selections from restaurants or even the grocery store when trying to keep your body in ketosis. The temptation to reach for easier or processed options could be too much for some.
  • Not for everyone – Ketosis is a terrific way to maintain an ideal body weight and boost your mental and physical performance. Unfortunately, it’s not for everyone. If you’re on certain medications, like blood pressure medications or antidepressants, the shift in body chemistry during ketosis can have negative and even life-threatening side effects. Ketosis is also dangerous for those with diabetes. Always have a ketogenic lifestyle approved by your doctor before cutting out carbs from your diet.
  • High-fat diet – When trying to remain in ketosis, a diet high in fat is necessary. Depending on the fats chosen, this can lead to complications like high cholesterol or heart disease.


How to stay in ketosis

If you’ve been medically cleared and are committed to living a ketogenic lifestyle, know that entering ketosis is the easy part. It’s remaining in it that can prove problematic for some.

The basics of entering ketosis include cutting carbs, minimizing proteins, and increasing your water intake. The process can take anywhere from 2-7 days. Fasting and exercising will speed up the process but make sure you’re preventing dehydration. To maintain a standard ketogenic diet, your daily intake should consist of 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbs.

To see if you’re in ketosis, you can purchase urine test strips at a drug store. However, they do have a reputation for being inaccurate. The strips work by measuring the amount of acetone, or unused ketones, in your urine. If you find the sticks are providing inaccurate results, investing in a blood ketone meter will provide you with data you can trust.


Once in ketosis, here’s how you can maintain it.

  • Track your carbs – Carbs add up quickly and you don’t want to eat more than you’re realizing. Limit your carbs to 20-50 grams per day, including bread, corn, potatoes, and rice.
  • Give yourself options – Always be on the lookout for new recipes or products that fit into your diet. By limiting yourself to only a few types of food, your taste buds can quickly become your worst enemy.
  • Exercise regularly – Give your body a reason to generate energy by exercising regularly. If you end up eating more carbs than normal on a certain day, make up for it by increasing the intensity or duration of your exercise.
  • Keep health professionals in the loop – Make sure your doctor knows you’re on a ketogenic diet. You can also enlist the help of a trainer or dietician to help you make the most of your lifestyle changes.
  • Know your risks – Ketosis is great when properly implemented but it can have negative side effects. Knowing them, such as nausea, headache, and dehydration, will prevent serious complications.


If ketosis is the right option for you, you can expect to experience seemingly never-ending benefits as your health and focus improve. Entering and maintaining ketosis will take considerable effort but the health benefits are well worth the challenge.


  1. Antonio Paoli,1,* Gerardo Bosco,1 Enrico M. Camporesi,2,3 and Devanand Mangar3,4
    Ketosis, ketogenic diet and food intake control: a complex relationship
    Front Psychol. 2015; 6: 27. Published online 2015 Feb 2. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00027 PMCID: PMC4313585 PMID: 25698989
  2. Wajeed Masood; Kalyan R. Uppaluri.
    Ketogenic Diet
    Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2018 Jan-. Bookshelf ID: NBK499830PMID: 29763005
  3. Antonio Paoli
    Ketogenic Diet for Obesity: Friend or Foe?
    Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014 Feb; 11(2): 2092–2107. Published online 2014 Feb 19. doi: 10.3390/ijerph110202092
  4. Stephen D Phinneycorresponding author1
    Ketogenic diets and physical performance
    Nutr Metab (Lond). 2004; 1: 2.Published online 2004 Aug 17. doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-1-2
  5. Adam Zajac,1 Stanisław Poprzecki,2 Adam Maszczyk,1,* Miłosz Czuba,1 Małgorzata Michalczyk,3 and Grzegorz Zydek3
    The Effects of a Ketogenic Diet on Exercise Metabolism and Physical Performance in Off-Road Cyclists
    Nutrients. 2014 Jul; 6(7): 2493–2508. Published online 2014 Jun 27. doi: 10.3390/nu6072493
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