- I followed the keto diet for a week and used urine strips to check when I reached ketosis.
- It took six days because it took a while for me to hit the right macros, among other reasons.
- From coconut chicken curry to cheesy omelettes, here’s what I ate.
I tried the keto diet for a week to see how long it would take for my body to reach ketosis.
The keto, or ketogenic diet, is high fat and low carb, and it’s designed to put the body in a state of ketosis, which happens when you burn fat for fuel instead of carbs.
To check to see if I was in ketosis, I bought some cheap keto-test strips online. These involve peeing on a strip, and if it changes color, you’re in ketosis. Ketone expert professor Kieran Clarke of the University of Oxford told me that urine strips aren’t as accurate as blood tests, but I live in the UK and the National Health System states that only people with urgent health problems can get those.
Nutritionist Dr. Amy Lee told me that it should only take a few days to reach ketosis, but it ended up taking six days for me because I was eating high protein, had eaten lots of carbs before starting, and it took me a few days to hit the right macros.
Protein can be converted into glucose, Lee said, which is why reaching ketosis can take longer if you’re eating lots of the macronutrient.
Some people also metabolize carbs quicker than others, so eating lots of bread, pizza, and fruit the day before starting the keto diet could have slowed down my progress, she said.
The standard keto diet is is recommended as 70% fats, 20% protein, and 10% carbs (generally limited to 30-50g per day).
You can also do high-protein keto, which should be around 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbs. As a weightlifter who enjoys a high-protein diet, here’s what I ate.
I got creative for breakfast
On the keto diet, you’re not allowed to eat obvious carbs like pasta, bread, or potatoes. However you also can’t eat fruit, except for small portions of berries. Vegetables are prohibited too, except for leafy greens, cauliflower, and peppers. Even milk should be off the menu.
I usually eat sweet foods for breakfast like baked oats or yogurt with fruit and granola, so I found the first meal of the day challenging. However, I opted for meals like chocolate protein chia seed pudding with raspberries and peanut butter, and smoothies made from almond milk, vanilla protein powder, almond butter, cinnamon, and spinach.
Lunches were mostly egg-based
Most of my lunches were egg-based, like scrambled eggs with avocado, sausages, and asparagus, and a cheesy scallion omelette with avocado on the side.
I cooked with lots of oil and butter to help me hit my fat target.
I’d been expecting to eat vast quantities of avocado, but when I learned half a medium-sized fruit contains 9 grams of carbs, I realized I would have to pay attention to my portions.
For dinners, I tried making alternative grains
For my evening meals, I whipped up a large amount of coconut chicken curry (again cooked with lots of oil) with some peppers.
I’d normally eat this with rice, but to fit the keto diet I made some cauliflower rice by blending raw cauliflower in a food processor. Later in the week, I made zucchini with Mexican-spiced beef, cheese, and avocado.
Snacking was challenging, but I kept my energy levels up with nuts, beef sticks, dollops of nut butter, and Greek yogurt.
You might not be in ketosis if you’re not tracking your food intake
My experiment taught me that you can think you’re doing keto by eating all the “right” foods and avoiding all the “wrong” ones, but that doesn’t mean you’re in ketosis – weighing and tracking your food is key.
How quickly your body moves out of ketosis depends on the person.
“The speed at which someone ‘bounces’ out of ketosis depends on what this person eats and how this person metabolizes,” Lee told Insider.
“If going back to your ‘normal meal’ contains a lot of carbs, then yes, your body will stop fat burn and gets triggered into fat storage mode,” she said, adding that water regain happens too.