Saturday, January 28, 2012

How Do I Know if I am in Ketosis?

If you’re just starting a low carb diet and you don’t want to mess around with ketone sticks, you don’t have too. The state of ketosis is actually determined by the amount of ketones in your bloodstream, not the color you turn a stick. What the sticks measure is the amount of ketones your body is dumping because it can’t use them. For some people, that can be especially helpful for motivation, but there are other ways to tell if you are in ketosis.

Signs and Symptoms of Ketosis

While everyone describes the state of ketosis differently, quite a few low carb dieters experience the same signs and symptoms:
  • sweet, fruity or metal taste in the mouth
  • strong smelling urine
  • reduced appetite
  • elimination of food cravings
  • feelings of well being or euphoria
  • mental clarity
  • increased energy
  • increased thirst

In addition, you can also experience a lack of energy or feel nauseated. These negative symptoms, also known as The Atkins Flu, generally result from an electrolyte imbalance.

What You Can Do About the Symptoms

Not everyone experiences all of these symptoms. Some people have one or two problems, others many and yet a few like me have none at all. In fact, when I am just about to go into ketosis I experience extreme hunger, which continues even after my body makes the switch.  

If you’re suffering with the Atkins Flu, Atkins’ Nutritionals recommends that you take a little bit of potassium and make sure you salt your food well. Although sodium can contribute to water retention, that’s only because the body is trying to balance your electrolytes. Drinking plenty of water to eliminate excess ketones is important when following a low carb diet, but the excess trips to the bathroom you experience as your body dumps its glycogen stores will also flush out potassium and sodium.

If adding potassium and salt doesn’t help, you can also cut down on the amount of protein you’re eating, up your fats slightly or add a few more carbohydrates. Consuming less than 20 grams of carbohydrate isn’t magic. If you’re not feeling well and your electrolytes are not out of balance, then your body may not be converting fats into energy quickly enough. Although fat loss is the goal, you won’t get there if your diet is making you uncomfortable or ill.

Excess ketones are also eliminated through your breath and skin, so smelling like weak fingernail polish or acetone is common. Some individuals find relief by chewing on parsley or chewing gum, or upping the amount of liquid they drink. Keep in mind that the symptoms of ketosis are most likely temporary. The body will desensitize itself to both the taste and smell as it adjusts to the metabolic changes.

There is a lot of moisture that comes with low carb foods. You lose that water intake when you restrict carbohydrates. That is one of the reasons why adequate water intake is extremely important. In addition, most people eat more protein on a low carb diet than they did before, and that means you need more water to digest and process it. Sometimes, hunger signals can be interpreted as thirst as well. So if you’re drinking plenty of water, but are still thirsty, try eating just a little bit more. There is plenty of time to cut down on calories later on.

If You're Having Trouble Getting Into Ketosis

Most people have no difficulties getting into Ketosis, but that doesn't hold true for everyone. Some people are extremely metabolic resistant, so it takes longer, but others are making simple low carb diet mistakes such as eating too much protein. If you're new to a low carb diet and need help understanding how to implement the diet correctly, don't sit around wondering why you are not in Ketosis. Check out my article at Infobarrel.

Why Am I Not In Ketosis?


  1. Thank you for this easy to understand ketosis article. It's a welcome relief from all the heavy science I've been finding.

  2. You're welcome. I try to give people info they can use.

  3. Hi. need help or advice. I started the atkins for the first 3 weeks lost nearly 1 1/2 stone. On the weekend of the 3rd week, i toatlly messed up, had a curry with all the trimmings. I put on nearly a stone by Monday morning. Since then i have not lost any weight. I have found low carb bread and ground flax seed which is meant to be very very low carb (fibre outweighing carbs)also i think the atifical sweetner may be playing a part in the NO sugar red bull i had with my vodka. I have now started exercising for an hour and a half in the morning before work, but the scales will not go in the direction i need them to. throughout the week i eat, salmon, sea fish steamed, chicken, pork, bacon, beef, lamb with my daily amount of brocoli. any suggestions or email me on nakius(at)google mail (dot)com

  4. Sorry my email was wrong it nakiusgrant (at)

  5. Hi Michaela,

    Is this your first time that you have been on the Atkins diet? Eating a higher carb intake after severely restricting carbs will first replace the glycogen you lost during Induction. That manifests in weight gain. It's not fat, but depending on how many carbohydrates you ate, the weight gain can be as much as 5 or 10 pounds even.

    Once that happens, the body often will begin to stuff water into the fat cells, thinking you are going to do that again soon. It won't shrink fat cells and dissolve them unless it has to. So once you cheat, it becomes a waiting game. You just have to wait it out until the body gives up and drops the water.

    Also keep in mind that low-carb bread and alcohol are not added back into the diet until much later on in the program because they tend to cause people to stall. Low-carb bread is extremely high in wheat protein, and many people are sensitive to wheat but don't know it. Alcohol causes the body to store everything as fat, and puts ketosis on hold, while the body burns the alcohol. So they also could be part of the problem.

    The Atkins Carb Ladder and weekly carb additions is designed to slowly return carbs to the diet. Slow enough that you can watch what your body does with each food you introduce. A lot of people have food sensitivities that they don't know about.

    However, weight loss isn't linear. And it's typical to stall around the 3 to 4 week mark due to the dehydration that the diet initially causes.

  6. Michaela,
    I took notes on what you shared here, so I can do a couple of blog posts on the problems I'm seeing, go more in depth as to what might be causing the stall, or at least explain it more fully, but I somehow missed the fact that you're exercising 1-1/2 hours a day. On top of the things I mentioned in the above comment, that much exercise can also stall you because the water has to store extra water in order to repair muscle tears you get while exercising.

  7. Best thing I have read all day!

  8. I am happy to find this website. So is it necessary to test all the time? or at all? I think I am in ketosis. The strips show me nothing. So I have stopped using them. I have no desire to cheat on this diet especially since I am seeing the scale going down. I only need to lose a few pounds but I love what I have been eating and will continue forever.I feel great and look good for 53.
    I will see if you have on your website somewhere that tells us how much to eat and how to measure.

    Thank you Michele

  9. Hi Michele,
    There is absolutely no need to use the sticks. They only measure 1 type of ketone, which the body starts making less of as you move forward with the diet. I don't measure anything on the sticks either. If you're dropping pounds, then you're doing fine with how much you're eating.

  10. How much water is too much. I started 4 days ago on a ketosis diet to rid myself of a sugar addiction. I cannot seem to get enough water. I worry I am having too much. I am replenishing my sodium levels to compensate.

    1. The recommendation is to drink in ounces one-half of your current body weight. I never drank that much in the beginning myself because I have vertigo, so I could only drink three 32-ounce cups of water a day. Today, I drink maybe 64 ounces of water, plus 16 to 32 ounces of coffee. Sometimes, I drink more. It just depends on how thirsty I am. Too much would be something like a couple of gallons.

  11. I just started the Atkins diet yesterday and today I'm craving sweets, ie cookies, pancakes,. What do you do to rid of cravings? The book said no caffeine during induction period , diet pop ok. What do you recommend for alternative to coffee and diet pepsi

    1. Which book are you following?

      The caffeine restriction was originally due to the way it can cause sugar cravings for some people. won't let me copy their latest stance on coffee, but they basically recommend 1 to 2 cups per day, and if you have problems with it then cut it out. As for diet soda, we have Shasta here in our area, so I can get a large variety of flavors that are both caffeine and aspartame free.

      Personally, I've never had problems with caffeine, so I've never restricted it, even on Induction.

      The sugar cravings are a signal that your body is running out of glucose. Most people find eating protein and fat together, such as tuna or chopped cooked chicken with mayonnaise helps with that. It will go away as soon as the body switches into ketosis.