What is Ketosis?

Low Carb / Keto

What is ketosis? Being in ketosis is truly a magical thing. Ketosis happens when your body starts producing ketone bodies instead of utilizing carbohydrates as energy. Both can be used as energy sources, but I find that converting to a fat-burner over a carbohydrate-burner to be most favorable.

Signs of being in ketosis

There are a few signs that could suggest you're in ketosis:

  • a metallic taste in mouth
  • strong smelling urine
  • random bursts of happiness (it's weird, but it's true!)
  • decreased appetite

How to get into ketosis

The best way to get into ketosis is to immediately drop all major carb sources in your diet and focus on high-quality fats. Some find that going extremely low carb for a couple days will jumpstart ketone production and ultimately reaching a state of ketosis.

Initially when you first remove a majority of carbohydrates from your diet, most people experience signs of lethargy and flu-like symptoms. This is what people consider the "low carb flu."

The low carb flu could last anywhere from a couple days to a couple weeks. It's important to stay extremely hydrated on a ketogenic diet, so much make sure you're getting enough water and electrolytes. If you're one of the lucky ones, you won't experience any low carb flu symptoms at all.

Carbohydrate tolerance varies from person to person to maintain a ketogenic state. Some report that they can eat up to 80 grams and still be in ketosis. A safe spot for most people seems to be between 20-30 grams.

Benefits of being in ketosis

You will find it hard to believe that an array of benefits can be obtained from following a ketogenic diet, but the proof is in the research! Some of these include:

  • Effortless weight loss
  • Awesome blood sugar regulation
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Appetite control (I sometimes forget to eat when I'm in ketosis...)
  • Proven therapies for brain-related disorders (depression, epilepsy, alzheimers)
  • Feelings of euphoria and increased energy
  • You can eat all of the butter, bacon and (bunless) burgers you can possibly want!

Ways to test for ketosis

Keto Urine sticks - These are strips that you urinate on and they give you a reading of excess ketones. These can be a good and affordable tool for detecting whether or not your body is producing ketones, but the readings only indiciate excess and not actual ketone levels.

You can pick these up at your local pharmacy or you can order these on Amazon.

Blood Testing - Testing the blood for ketones is the most accurate method of detecting ketosis. Much like a diabetic, you prick your finger and put a drop of blood on the strip and run it through the machine. In the reading, you want to have a goal of nutritional ketosis (often defined as between .5 and 3 mmol/L). The concern with blood testing is price. The strips used to test for ketones are generally $2-5/each US and they can definietely add up.

Many companies offer a free keto meter, but you can purchase the test strips online.

Ketone Breathalyzer - This method is relatively new, but it is a very welcoming method. The Ketone Breathalyzer is a device you blow into, much like an alcoholic breathalyzer that looks for acetone in the breath. This is generally an indication of the body producing ketones. While the initial cost is pricy (~$120 US), the breathalyzer can be used thousands of times. The results have been found to be extremely comparable to the keto meters.

You can purchase a Ketonix ketone breathalyzer on Amazon.

Should anybody NOT be in ketosis?

If you are a type 1 or insulin-dependent diabetic, you should be wary of a ketogenic diet. This could create a problem called ketoacidosis which is actually harmful to the body.

Are you still asking, "what is ketosis?" Post below!

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  1. Audrey Dunton on July 30, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    I am a type 2 diabetic, finding it hard to loose weight, so I went on a very low carbohydrate diet. and now my breath tastes like a metallic taste… My glucose levels have not dropped yet, but I am going to continue the diet. I used to take 180 gms of Carbohydrates in a day. This amount was chosen for me by my dietician when I first became a diabetic, but on that diet I steadily gained weight which I have Not been able to loose. I am now 50lb over weight and getting desperate. HELP

    • Dominic on September 22, 2016 at 2:02 pm

      The metallic taste is a good indication you’re in ketosis! Keep it up. Give it a couple weeks and see how you do!

  2. Amy on July 26, 2016 at 9:02 am

    I am on a vlcd diet and therefore undergoing jetosis and my question is will one “normal” meal affect the ketosis?

    • Dominic on September 22, 2016 at 2:04 pm

      If you go above 50 carbs, chances are you will be out of ketosis. Get back on it and you should be back into it within a day or so. Some people do fine with a cheat meal on the weekends, but I have always found it to be a slippery slope.

  3. Elizabeth Novotny on February 27, 2016 at 6:05 pm

    Why do you get constipated when drinking all that h2o? How much protein should I be eating? Breakfast is a problem, I don’t want eggs everyday. It’s my understanding that carbs should be below 30gr. I have tried every diet with no luck and I am so tired of being fat. Could I use almond meal, ricotta, an egg, Parmesan, salt, pepper to make gnocchi and use a butter and cream sauce? I love to bake and make pasta , bread, cookies, pies–does this mean I give up all that makes me happy to be thinner? I am a nurse and it seems all the fat is contraindicated to healthy blood vessels? I teach my patients to avoid the bad fats–sausage, hot dogs, bologna and yet the Keto diet promotes this!

    • Dominic on March 11, 2016 at 2:11 pm

      You can eat whatever you want (in my opinion) as long as you stay under your carb allowance!

  4. Sarah on March 9, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    What scientific research are you basing this article on? Literally starving yourself of carbohydrates is detrimental to your health, and completely backwards if you are trying to lose weight and keep it off. I fail to see how “forgetting to eat” is a healthy practice– because you’re also “forgetting” to consume vitamins, minerals, and all the components of food that make us healthy.

    I find your vilifying of carbohydrates to be laughable. The 3 macronutrients–protein, carbohydrates, and fat– are all essential for our body’s functioning, and they all contribute differently to our bodies processes. For instance, glucose, as provided from carbohydrate intake, is the ONLY unit our brain uses for energy.
    Also, suggesting that diabetics should be “wary” of ketosis is an understatement. For ANYONE, ketoacidosis is deadly (not just harmful, as you mentioned), and diabetics are at an increased risk for ketoacidosis.

    I strongly recommend that you consider what facts you are using when providing this inaccurate and oversimplified information to readers. People desperate to lose weight will follow this at the drop of a hat, and starving your body of carbohydrates is NOT a healthy way to achieve sustainable, long-term weight loss. A well-balanced diet, one that doesn’t eliminate carbohydrates to achieve a state of ketosis, or one that promotes eating “all the butter, bacon and (bunless) burgers” a person wants, is key to losing weight and realizing optimal health.

    If you still disagree with what I’m suggesting, I am completely open to converse and discuss this further. Sound and truthful nutrition knowledge may not be “trendy” or “a quick fix” to weight loss, but you have to face the facts.

    Nutrition and Dietetics student

    • Dominic on March 9, 2015 at 10:11 pm

      Hi Sarah-

      Thanks for taking the time out of your busy day to comment on my post.

      First and foremost, if you would’ve read the “About Me” section of my website (which you obviously haven’t), you’d see that I no longer follow a ketogenic approach. While it wasn’t right for me, I do believe that is suitable for some people.

      1. When glucose isn’t ingested, protein is converted into glucose to supply the needs and functions to the brain. After a person has reached fat-adaptation and can effectively use ketones as fuel, the only glucose needed is converted from protein.

      2. Ketoacidosis is EXTREMELY rare. This is something that is often confused within the medical community, ketosis VS ketoacidosis. You are correct about diabetics, type 2 specifically. A ketogenic approach is not recommended for them.

      3. For many, the feeling of “not being hungry” is not a method of starving yourself. If you’ve ever been addicted to food (like I have/am struggle with and so many others), it’s a relief to finally be in control of your food choices, not have them control you.

      4. I applaud your overzealous attempt to try and convince me otherwise. I get it, you’re passionate about health. I was in your position before.

      Here is an excellent study for you to read.

      I also invite you to share some of yours from actual research and not regurgitated from the outdated teachings of the Standard American Diet, which coincidentally are sponsored by companies like Coke, Pepsi and McDonald’s.



      • Kady on February 12, 2016 at 4:09 pm

        My DOCTOR “prescribed” this diet for me BECAUSE of my serious blood sugar instability. For some, it is the ONLY thing that has been able to help them. And in many cases, diabetes was cured completely! This is a very common diet for diabetics (low carb/low sugar) given to them by their nutritionists/doctors, but it’s healthy for all. And no, your body does not NEED carbs. It learns to create carbs from other foods and makes you even healthier. Carbs are an unnecessary nutrient. What do you think hunters and gatherers ate? Meat, fruit, and vegetables! Please do more research before scaring people off with your ridiculous comments.

      • Kerstin Brooks on April 12, 2016 at 1:50 pm

        This way of eating is the only,way for me to
        A)maintain my weight
        B)Keep my muscle and joint pains at bay(hashimoto’s )
        C)keeps me from bending over with pain due to stomach cramps
        So Im a big fan of this Lifstyle,itworks for me.

  5. Mahima on February 22, 2015 at 7:45 am

    Hi Dominic,
    I absolutely love your site here! It’s wonderful how you respond to everyone!

    I’m about 5 days into lchf/keto and I’m learning along the way. I’m 30 years old, 186lbs, 5ft 2 inches tall. I don’t have any medical issues, apart from being obese (about 33% body fat%).

    My question is, some people say no cheese/full fat heavy cream (coz of milk protein’s or milks sugars), no coffee (because of caffeine), no bell peppers ( because of casein), no sausages and salami and cured meats (because they have tons of preservative etc.) How badly does this disrupt ketosis?

    I am finding this really very boring and just don’t feel like eating (without cheese, and without creamy coffee, without nuts, without salami n ham n sausages etc)

    I have been off above mentioned things and so far I can say I’ve got that metallic taste, I’ve once smelled that stinky urine (which never normally happened before).. My flu symptoms are reducing in intensity, my energy is rising again, but still on the lower side overall.

    But I’m hugely tempted to have coffee with heavy cream and cheese and a quarter cup of milk once a day. Also is cottage cheese ok?

    Will I always always need to have so much salt and so much water (and magnesium and potassium supplements)/on the keto diet? Or do things get stable after adaptation?

    Thanks a ton! I live in India and many keto food are just not available here – avocado, pork isn’t safe here, beef isn’t easily available, so I try to figure out other options for variety. Also grass fed free range organic meats etc aren’t easy to come by. Never seen free range grass fed stuff. How much does this matter?


    • Dominic on February 23, 2015 at 4:29 am

      Hi Mahima-

      Those things won’t affect ketosis, they’re mostly indicators of digestion problems if you have any. Too much cheese can bind you up and constipate you, so that could be a reason you might lose slower or less. But a lot of people eat all of those things and it doesn’t affect them. I personally can’t do much lactose because I have stomach issues.

      Milk should be limited if you are following keto/LCHF because it contains a decent amount of sugar still, but at 1/4 cup I wouldn’t worry. Same with cottage cheese — if you limit it so that it fits within your daily carb limit, you should be fine.

      As far as salt goes, you will likely need to always be replenishing it because a ketogenic diet flushes it and water quite often. You want to make sure you maintain a good balance of electrolytes.

      Grass-fed/Free range is recommended if you have access to them, but it won’t make you lose anymore weight. It’s more a way to argue about the politics with using hormones and antibiotics in food. I personally don’t buy everything grass-fed, just what I can when it fits my budget.

      Hope this helps!


  6. Lisa on August 12, 2014 at 9:42 am

    Hi Dominic

    For two weeks I have tried to be extremely strict in my elimination of carbs and sugar. From Friday last week I really gave it my all and oh my word I felt revolting sick yesterday with all the syptoms of how you described Keto Flu. Today I feel so much better. My scale has moved an inch though but I definitely don’t feel anywhere near how bloated I felt. What I wanted to ask is how much protein is allowed. Eggs eggs and more eggs is all I seem to be consuming especially in the morning. This morning I just couldn’t do the eggs so had a bowl of full cream plain yoghurt and a handful of strawberries. So how much protein can I eat? What about those protein shakes?

    • Dominic on August 12, 2014 at 9:53 pm


      This really depends on your personal protein threshold. Some people can handle more protein than others. 80% fat/15% protein/5% carbs seems to be a really good ratio.

      Try it out and let me know what you think!

      Also, up your salt intake to prevent the keto flu symptoms!


  7. Nadia Beukes on July 16, 2014 at 12:47 pm


    I was on the low-carb, high-fat diet for about a month.

    For the first week my weight stayed the same and I also felt extremely tired.

    The second week I lost about 900g. I was shocked and also excited, because I have struggled before to lose weight. I also had more energy and felt better, I am a runner it felt as if I had limitless energy.

    But in the third week, in just 3 days I picked up that 900g again, without doing anything different than the first 2 weeks.

    I went on with the diet, but in the 4th week I just picked up more weight.

    I wonder if you maybe know what could’ve made this happen?

    • Dominic on July 16, 2014 at 4:22 pm


      Are you eating too much protein? You would ideally want to strive for high fat, moderate protein, low carb!

      Hope this helps.


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