Keto Induction Phase
A Complete Guide on How to Survive it


Keto Induction

Ketosis occurs when the body transitions from using carbohydrates for fuel to using fats for fuel.

This is a natural process that anyone who has gone through a prolonged fast or who has been deprived of proper nourishment for extended periods of time has experienced. It’s our body’s backup system.

What is Keto Induction?

Keto induction is the process wherein your body starts to move from glucose to ketone as the source of fuel for your metabolism.

The low-carb diet forces the body to shift to this backup system by depriving it of carbohydrates. This process of shifting is known as keto induction. 

How long the process of keto induction takes will vary a bit from person to person. 

man in a hoody

On average, it takes about two weeks with time scales ranging from a few days to as much as a month or more.

Typically, if a person is attempting to get back to a state of ketosis after carb binging for a short time, induction will probably only take a few days.

But if you are starting from scratch, you should expect it to take a couple of weeks. 

What to Expect During the Phase

  • Day 1 - The average person setting off on the keto diet induction process [1] is not likely to experience any particularly notable changes on the first day. That’s because you still have the last load of carbs you ate in you system as well as some carb reserves. Your body will need to exhaust all these carb resources first before you will start to feel anything. So, day one will typically amount to the calm before the storm.
  • During this first day - You are also going to start replacing the carbs in your diet with fats. But not just any old fat will do. You want natural fats. The kind found in meat, nuts, butter, lard, and coconut oil. Just be careful from the get-go with protein because your body will convert excess protein into glucose (i.e. carbs) via gluconeogenesis. And keep in mind that you should still consume between 10 and 20 grams of carbs per day. But not more. This is in contrast to the 150+ grams that the average person consumes per day.
  • Day 2 - The second day of keto induction is when you are most likely going to start feeling that something is up. Your body is now low on reserve carbs and is beginning to look for alternatives, although it has not yet started to burn fat. Before it does so, it sends you all kinds of unpleasant signals that it wants you to eat some carbs, now. You, however, should only eat the approved fats and drink plenty of water. Stick to your guns.  
  • Day 3 - Day 3 is often the worst day of the keto induction phase calendar. You're out of carbs, and your body is feeling drained and powerless. It's screaming "How could you do this to me?!" You're going to feel like you're starving, but as long as you continue to eat your meat, nuts, coconut oil, hard cheeses and more, you're going to come out the other side in fine shape. And don't forget the water — lots of water. Day 3 is what the saying, "It's always darkest before the dawn" is all about.
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    Day 4 - For the average person, day 4 is when they begin to emerge from the darkness into the dawn. By this time, your body has thrown in the towel on waiting for a load of carbohydrates to come to the rescue and is turning to lipids, commonly known as fats, instead. Some people make the mistake of thinking everything's okay now and will begin to increase their carb intake. If you do that you'll be right back where you started and all the discomfort you endured on days 2 and 3 will have been for naught. Keep your carb intake under 20 grams and make that the new norm.
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    2 Weeks and Beyond - If you’ve been scrupulous in your adherence to a proper diet and have resisted the urge to splurge on carbs you then should be feeling better than you have in years by the end of the second week of keto induction. You’ll feel lighter, mentally sharper, less bloated and more alert. There’s also a good chance your insulin levels have stabilized and everything from skin conditions to bowel inflammation are responding positively.

The keto induction phase is also an excellent time to think about supplementing [2] your diet with one or more of the following:

  • Multivitamins - Any time you make a significant change in your food intake, you run the risk of a vitamin deficiency or mineral deficiency. Taking a multivitamin can help smoothen the keto induction process and ensure you don’t wind up malnourished in some fundamental way. You can check out our favorite one here.
  • L-Carnitine - L-carnitine is known to enhance your body’s ability to burn fat and will help you make the most of your new diet. There are many products out there today but this one stood out for us.
taking a vitamin
  • L-Glutamine - This is an amino acid that helps with protein synthesis. As such, it’s essential to muscle building. That’s important for people who are using the low-carb diet not only to lose weight but to get in better all-around shape as well. 
  • Digestive enzymes - Some people find that when they transition to the low-carb diet (learn more), they have a hard time digesting all the fats. As a result, they experience stomach cramps or a gassy feeling as the excess fats sit in their gut rotting instead of being absorbed. An excellent L-glutamine supplement (we recommend this) will often be enough to compensate for digestive inefficiencies.
  • Magnesium - Magnesium is another supplement (see our recommended product) that will help you break down food more efficiently. And that is an essential part of undergoing successful keto induction. When coupled with an L-glutamine supplement, the two should keep a watchful eye on your digestive tract and head off potential complications before those arise.

How Long Does Keto Induction Take?

Keto induction can take anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks, depending on how low your carb intake is and how much you exercise.

The reason we quote this wide range isn’t to come across as overly vague, but rather to cover different types of dieters.

Let me explain this with two examples.

Let’s say you’re brand new to keto and you just want to lose a few pounds in time for your summer vacation because the last thing you want to do is to have to squeeze into a bikini.

how long normal inductions take

You have come up with a meal plan that will reduce your daily carbs to 50 grams and you’re highly motivated.

If you stick to that diet without much exercise, then it can take about a week to get to ketosis. With the odd little cheating carb snack, it can increase to 2 weeks (yes, I admit that my first attempt at keto lacked a little discipline).

However, if you have the same plan in place, along with a further daily reduction of carbs to about 30 grams after a few days, then things will progress a lot quicker.

Add in some daily cardio exercises, and your glucose levels will go down a lot quicker.

It wouldn’t be uncommon for you to be able to detect ketones after only 2 to 3 days if you take this more drastic approach.

Both of these approaches to hitting the induction phase will work; it’s mainly down to how fast you want to see results.

For newcomers to keto, I would recommend that you start with the 50 grams of carbs per day along with some light cardio before breakfast.

This won’t be too much of a shock to your system, and it will help you reduce a lot of the induction phase side effects.


Final Thoughts

The keto diet induction process is one you don’t want to go through repeatedly if you don’t have to.

If you are careful about your food intake during the keto induction phase, you should come out the other side in a matter of weeks feeling like a new person, or at least the same person with a considerably younger-feeling, more vigorous body.

About the Author

Ryan is a personal trainer, athlete, health enthusiast, and entrepreneur. He is researching and expanding his knowledge about the ketogenic diet. He spends most of his time writing content about his new learnings of the ketogenic diet and shares it on Ketogenic Supplement Reviews. You can find me on: Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.