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Ketosis isn’t some mystical state, achieved only by days and months of fasting and spiritual connection. Kind of the opposite, actually. A lot of people (whether or not they follow a low carb diet) go into a state of ketosis every night without even trying, just by having a functioning metabolism.
Of course, as soon as they eat carbs again, they’re knocked out and back to burning carbohydrates preferentially – but we’re not here to talk about them. The question at hand is for those following a low carb diet, who want to be able to tell when they’re in ketosis. Seems simple enough.
I’m including these, and listing them first, because they’re pretty widely known in the keto community. You really can’t throw a rock without hitting a post about them. The thing is, keto sticks work nicely to tell that your body has been in a ketogenic state recently, they just aren’t the best at letting you know whether or not you’re in a ketogenic state now. I’m not totally against using them, just not as a regular means of identifying your body’s current state. They’re certainly a good starting point to try and see when you hit that keto place.
There are two varieties of these: blood & breath. Both test your current state of ketosis, but are costly. The advantage of breath over blood is no skin pricking, and any diabetic will tell you that has its benefits. The breath meter will also save you in the long run, if you plan on using this daily for any duration of time. While the blood meter is initially 1/5 the cost of breath, use requires testing strips that are $35 for 10. Yikes.
Of course, if you don’t want to spring for a testing meter, you can check your body’s symptoms…
Your Pee & Poo
Yup. Get excited, you’re about to become very acquainted with your bodily functions. These are both separate indicators, but I thought I’d loop them, for fear of too many gross heading tags. You’re welcome.
The first thing I always notice when my body transitions over into ketosis is that my pee starts to smell/look different. I know that sounds weird, but bear with me. This is one of those things that is super objective, but if you pay any sort of attention to how things work down there, you may note that your urine becomes a little more viscous (almost a touch oily, for lack of a better word). Mine is always a bit less yellow, though I have no idea why. This is complete speculation, but my best guess is that your body isn’t processing carbohydrates, you might not be excreting as many b vitamins?
In terms of #2, I noticed that everything ran a lot smoother – there was a more regular schedule, and no IBS symptoms. Awesome!! This might take a little longer to notice than the above, but it’s still worth noting.
Keto is going to make you THIRSTY. So thirsty. Crazy amounts of thirsty. This is a change I notice pretty rapidly. I usually drink a fair amount of liquids, but when in ketosis, that skyrockets up! Increased (drastically increased) thirst is one of the first things I notice in ketosis. As a response, I drink a lot more, but also try to get in electrolytes – these packets are awesome if you’re on the go, and pretty much any electrolyte-enhancing tablet/powder/beverage will do the trick.
This is a weird one (I guess no weirder than any of the above). My mouth always seems smoother, and I notice less plaque buildup on my teeth. Not a huge deal, but certainly a nice feature. Basically, there’s no fuzziness on my teeth or in my mouth.
Again, another subjective assessment, but in my experience, you just feel different when in ketosis. I always feel like I’m a little bit lighter, and burning calories a little bit more efficiently. I’m not sure that there’s really any other way to describe it. This tends to be a general set of symptoms – I’m less hungry, my joints feel looser and everything seems a bit brighter, for lack of a better word. These general sensations, along with the above symptoms usually indicate to me that I’m solidly in fat-burning mode!
Of course, your body is different than mine, so your symptoms might be a little different, but it’s definitely worth sitting down and taking a few minutes to write down the differences in how you feel, so that you at least have a baseline!