The key to the ketogenic diet is to increase your fat consumption while decreasing your carbohydrate intake. By doing so, you’ll be depriving your body of the fast-burning energy that is glucose, but you’ll be providing it with something else to burn – your stored fat.
Ketosis is a metabolic state in which the body becomes optimized for burning fat for fuel and it is the foundation of the ketogenic diet. When you enter a state of ketosis, your body becomes fat-adapted, but what does that really mean?
Keep reading to learn more about what it means to be fat-adapted and to receive tips for making it happen as quickly as possible.
What Does “Fat-Adapted” Really Mean?
The typical Western diet is very carb-heavy which means that your body is probably adapted to utilizing carbohydrates (glucose) as your primary source of energy. When you eat carbohydrates, your body starts immediately breaking it down into its core components and that glucose is absorbed into your bloodstream. When that happens, your pancreas released a hormone called insulin which enables your cells to absorb glucose from your blood and use it for energy.
When you switch to the ketogenic diet, you’ll be dropping your carbohydrate intake so low that you’ll be forcing your body to find another source of energy – your stored fat.
Shortly after you make the switch to the ketogenic diet, your body will burn through your glycogen reserves. Once those are gone, it will switch over to burning stored fat. You may still experience some hunger and sugar cravings at first but, once your body gets used to the change in your diet, you’ll be burning fat as a more efficient source of fuel which will leave you more energized and focused than you’ve ever felt before.
Tips for Becoming Fat-Adapted on the Keto Diet
If you’re committed to making the switch to the ketogenic diet, you may be tempted to simply go cold-turkey on carbs. This is certainly an option if you want to get into ketosis as quickly as possible, but you may end up experiencing negative side effects related to the keto flu. Instead of shocking your system with a sudden change to your diet, think about making the transition slowly – teaching your body how to switch from burning glucose to burning fat for fuel.
So, how do you make the transition into becoming fat-adapted? Here are some tips:
- Start slowly replacing sugary and other high-carb foods with fat and high-quality proteins – begin with breakfast every day then add lunch, then dinner.
- Add some high-fat snacks to your daily routine to start increasing your daily fat intake – things like avocado, full-fat yogurt, and cheese are great options.
- Think about including MCT oil in your diet to increase your fat consumption without going overboard on protein – take a spoonful a few times a day or blend it into a keto smoothie.
- Feel free to branch out into fatty sources of protein but don’t go overboard – don’t feel guilty about indulging in some grilled steak for dinner or choosing dark meat over white meat chicken.
- Track your food intake in a food journal or app so you can keep an eye on your macros – aim for at least 70% fat (ideally 75% to 80%) with no more than 5% carbs and the rest from protein.
The length of time it takes for your body to become fat-adapted will vary depending on several factors. What it really comes down to, however, is how well you stick to your macronutrient ratio and really focus on increasing your fat intake while limiting carbohydrates. If you choose to transition yourself slowly and then really stick to your macros, it will take you between 2 and 3 weeks to become fat-adapted.
If you want to speed up that process, however, you may be able to achieve ketosis in as little as 7 days. Just decide what you want your priority to be – whether you want to avoid keto flu by transitioning slowly or become fat-adapted as quickly as possible.
The 5 Signs You’ve Become Fat-Adapted
As you make the transition onto the ketogenic diet, you might be wondering how to tell that your body has become fat-adapted. It is completely normal to experience some negative side effects when you start reducing your carb intake. You may have headaches, sugar cravings, and hunger, and you might find that you become tired more easily or that you become a little irritable.
When these side effects start to go away, you’ll notice some of the benefits of the ketogenic diet kicking in – that’s when you know you’ve become fat-adapted. Here are some of the signs that your body has successfully become fat-adapted:
- Increased energy levels. Fat is a highly efficient source of fuel, particularly for the brain, so once your body is fat-adapted you’ll have more energy than ever – you’ll also be more focused.
- Improved sleep. While insomnia may be a side effect of the keto flu, once your body makes the transition you’ll be sleeping like a baby each and every night.
- No more cravings. As soon as your body gets used to burning fat instead of glucose for energy, you’ll stop having cravings for carbs and sugar.
- Improved endurance. You may feel some fatigue as you transition into ketosis but, once you make it there, you’ll find your endurance improving as you no longer depend on glycogen stores.
- Decreased appetite. Fat and protein are slow-burning sources of energy so they’ll keep you feeling full for longer than carbs – you’ll have no trouble doing 4 to 6 hours between meals.
Now that you know what it means to be fat-adapted and how to achieve it, get to work! Start replacing your high-carb meals and snacks with keto-friendly options to encourage your body to start burning fat instead of glucose for fuel. The sooner you make the commitment, the sooner you’ll start experiencing the benefits of the ketogenic diet!