One of the most confusing things when you first start a ketogenic diet is how to know if you are in ketosis or not.
It’s not really a good idea to simply go with guesswork, since the line between being on a simple “low carb” diet and being truly in ketosis can be fuzzy.
To enjoy all the benefits of ketosis, you need to trim this fuzz down and figure out if your body is actually producing ketones.
The best way to do this is with an inexpensive home testing kit–but we’ll get to that later.
If you’re still waiting on your testing kit, though, and you merely want to know what to watch out for in your day to day life, here are a few signs that you’re in ketosis:
1) Changes in Digestion
Let’s not get too gross with the details, but if you’ve noticed a difference in what shows up in the toilet, then it may be a sign that your ketogenic diet is working. This isn’t always fun at first; you could suffer from constipation or other unwanted effects.
The good news is that usually this will stabilize over time. It’s often just your body adjusting to a new diet.
2) A Clearer, More Focused Mind
One of the purported effects of a ketogenic diet is an enhanced ability to think clearly. This is because the human brain seems to thrive quite well on ketones. However, getting to this point can take awhile. A ketogenic diet’s positive effects do not happen overnight and there can be a period of acclimation.
The flip side to the increased mental and physical energy that ketosis can provide after awhile is fatigue in the beginning. It can take some weeks for your body to get used to the new diet, so don’t be surprised if you’re a little more tired than usual at first. It’s your body slowly forgetting that carbs are an option.
4) Fat Loss
Are you losing weight all of a sudden? Does that weight seem to be body fat? Then the diet is probably working. Of course, keep an eye on your health stats to make sure that the weight loss is reasonable. Talk to your doctor every step of the way.
5) Nasty Breath
One of the things you might notice is being thirstier, having a drier mouth, and also overall having bad breath. “keto breathe” is caused by the acetone escaping your breath when you are in ketosis. This is just one of the effects of having ketones in your body fluids…which we’ll get to next.
6) Lots of Ketones in Your Body Fluids
The reason it’s called ketosis is of course because your body will release ketones to use as energy in lieu of carbs. There’s no way to know what your level of ketones are unless you test for them.
Luckily, it’s easy to figure this out if you just get some ketone urine test strips. All you have to do is pee in a cup, then test the pee, basically. The strips cost little more than pennies apiece if you grab them from the Med Lab Diagnostics Store.
Again, your body needs time to adjust. While it’s doing that, it can do a lot of weird things, like alter your sleep schedule or make your bowels irregular. Some people in ketosis find themselves needing less sleep over the long run, though, since they’re not digesting carbs (which can drain your energy)–so this might actually not be so bad.
Keep an Eye on Your Ketones
The bottom line is that most of these signs of ketosis are just side-effects that could be caused by other things–even just a simple low-carb diet. If you really want to know whether you’ve gone into ketosis, you’ll have to test your body for the ketones.
Elena Daisley is a licensed Clinical Laboratory Scientist (MT, ASCP certified) with over 10 years of experience in the medical field. She holds bachelor’s degrees in both Biology and Laboratory Science from the University of Central Florida. Elena enjoys helping others on their journey to healthier living.