You’ve fasted, then ate what seems like zero carbohydrates to get into nutritional ketosis. Now that you’re there, you’re asking yourself ‘what kicks me out of ketosis’.
I get it. Being fat adapted and in nutritional ketosis works for me too. It’s pretty awesome to not feel exhausted all day and have a gnarly stomach ache from my processed food and sugar rich diet.
Within a week of getting into nutritional ketosis my energy was way up and the burning, stabbing pains in my stomach were gone. The improvements in my health after going keto are so awesome, I want to do everything I can to stay on this path.
So, to prevent getting kicked out of ketosis and end up back where I started, I researched what things are most likely to throw us off. Fortunately, there aren’t that many to worry about.
I also discuss what you can do to help you keep your body adapted to burning fat instead of sugar. Many of these items are actually believed to kick you out of ketosis. Not true, they’ll help you get and stay there while improving your health and fitness.
What Kicks Me Out Of Ketosis?
Foods High In Carbohydrates
Let’s get the most obvious thing out of the way first. Anytime you eat enough blood sugar spiking, insulin inducing, sugar rich carbs you will kick yourself out of ketosis.
Avoid these foods to stay in nutritional ketosis:
- Bread, rolls, pizza, and pasta
- Most fruits, especially bananas and pineapple
- Rice, beans, and nuts
- Soft drinks and fruit juice
- Cookies, candy, cakes, and pies
You should avoid processed foods. This basically means anything that comes in a bag, box, or bottle (chips, candy, soda, crackers, etc.) Even if it says ‘made from whole food’ or ‘organic’. They contain hidden carbs. These add up and will halt your progress in its tracks. Basically speaking, if it comes in a bag, box, or bottle avoid eating it for a while.
How Many Carbs Is Too Much For Ketosis?
The exact amount of carbs that will throw you off track depends on several things. This includes: your activity level, how lean you are, and other factors. Some people, especially those who are very lean can eat 100 -150 grams of carbs a day and stay in nutritional ketosis. Others can’t go above 20 grams a day.
If you’re just starting out, I recommend staying very low carb for the first couple of weeks. Less than 50 grams a day is a good starting point. Go a little lower daily until you get into ketosis.
As you get more adapted, leaner, and more active you can experiment with eating larger amounts of carbs if you like.
Focus on eating the protein-rich foods below instead.
- Meat including: beef, pork, fish, and chicken
- Eggs, butter, cream, and hard cheeses (i.e. Parmesan)
- Healthy fats, butter, olive oil, MCT oil, lard, tallow
- Whole eggs and whey protein shakes
- Avocados, peppers, zucchini, and berries
Now that you know the #1 thing people eat too much to stay in nutritional ketosis, let’s dispel a few myths. Each is something that a lot of people believe doing or eating will kick them out of ketosis.
After you’re done reading. You’ll see how these myths are actually beneficial to becoming a fat burner and getting into the best shape of your life.
Myth 1: Eating Too Much Protein Kicks You Out Of Ketosis
The answer to this should be an article unto itself. Anyway, the key details you need are summed up here.
If you’re worried about eating too much protein and ruining the benefits of your low carb diet, dont. The research doesn’t hold up. Neither do my results and those of probably millions of others.
Yes, it’s true that protein can be converted into sugar (glucose) for your body to use as a source of energy. This protein can come from the food you eat or your hard earned muscle. The thing is, when you switch to using ketones and fat for energy instead of sugar, this doesn’t happen. Your body keeps using fat for fuel instead.
Even when you eat up to 30% of your calories from protein – which is considered high – you won’t get kicked out of ketosis. As long as you are eating low carb. You’ll keep humming along, feeling good and burning off fat.
Here’s A Real World Example For You
I did some research to find people other than myself that can document their high protein diet doesn’t kick them out of ketosis.
One other self experimenter is Bjarte Austrheim Bakke. Me helps run the low carb/keto website DietDoctor.com. For his test, Bjarte ate more than double the protein than what’s typically recommended for a keto diet.
Prior to the experiment, he’d been eating keto with small amounts of protein for a very long time. This made him well adapted to using fat for fuel.
Bjarte’s experiment in a nutshell.
- Eating keto for several weeks prior – 45-60 g protein & 10-20 g carbs/day.
- Increased protein to 130 grams/day during experiment. Carbs stayed the same.
- Ate 130 grams of protein every day for more than a week.
- He measured blood ketone levels every morning.
After eating 130 grams of protein a day, Djarte learned that it does not kick him out of nutritional ketosis. In fact, his ketone measurements stayed almost exactly the same as they were in the beginning.
So, don’t be afraid to eat protein. It’ll benefit, not hurt you. Eating plenty of protein helps you stay full longer, recover faster between workouts. It can even help you lose belly fat faster (link).
Aim to eat 1 gram per pound of your goal body weight and adjust from there.
Myth 2: Caffeine Kicks Me Out Of Ketosis
No. Your morning cup of coffee, tea, or other caffeine containing drink will not kick you out of ketosis. Quite the opposite, actually.
Go ahead and enjoy your morning coffee. Just don’t add any type of sugar. This includes raw sugar, honey, agave, coconut sugar, or any other ‘unprocessed’ form of sugar. A tablespoon of any of these ingredients is enough to kick your body out of ketosis for several hours.
Skip adding milk to your coffee and tea. It has a decent amount of sugar. Add heavy cream or coconut milk instead. Neither contains significant amounts of carbohydrates or sugar.
Myth 3: Eating Fat Kicks Me Out Of Nutritional Ketosis?
The fat you eat, no matter what type or how much of it, does not affect your ability to be in nutritional ketosis. Since fat doesn’t increase blood sugar or insulin levels, it won’t turn off your body’s production of ketones and kick you out of fat burning mode.
Fat, in fact, is your friend when you’re eating keto with the goal of being fat adapted. Eating fat is one of the things that makes this diet awesome. Fat from butter, steak, fish, and other foods keeps you full between meals, gives the body a source of energy, and is what makes food taste great.
You can even have a little bit of fat when you’re fasting to manage hunger pains and cravings (link).
Don’t take this as a license to drink butter and pop ‘fat bombs’ of almond butter and coconut like candy. Especially if you want to lose weight and body fat. Too much can be a good thing. Your body will still be burning off fat for energy when you eat this way. The problem is if you’re eating too much, the fat you’re burning off is from what you eat, not the extra stuff around your hips and belly.
One fat helps you get into ketosis faster. Less side effects.
Certain fats are actually very ketogenic. That is, they help the body make more ketones. This means you feel energized and all around better, faster after eating them.
The best for getting extra ketosis boosting energy is MCT oil. It’s also found in smaller amounts in coconuts and butter. Unlike other fats, MCT oil is digested differently. After eating or drinking them, they’re sent to your liver, skipping the normal digestive process.
Once in your liver, MCTs are converted into ketones. Take enough MCTs (1 tablespoon) and your body will be in nutritional ketosis within 45 minutes.
MCT oil is tasteless and odorless. You can take it straight off a spoon or add it to protein drinks and your favorite foods.
Myth 4: Exercise Kicks Me Out Of Ketosis
This one’s not true either. You can still lift weights, run, do Crossfit, or whatever type of activity you enjoy and benefit from.
In fact, unless it’s just not possible, exercising is one of the best things you can do when you start eating keto/low carb.
Exercising helps burn off excess sugar in your blood and gets your body using fat for fuel. This helps you get into ketosis faster. If you have the time, taking a long (2-3 hour), slow walk helps me get into ketosis way faster (as much as a day) than if I fast or eat low carb alone.
If you’re up for it, 30-45 minute HIIT workouts (intervals, hill sprints, EMOM workouts, etc.) are a great way to deplete the carbs your body is using and storing and get yourself into ketosis faster.
Remember, don’t push too hard if you aren’t used to this stuff. As long as you’re eating right and moving around, you’ll get there too.
Your body loses more electrolytes when you’re in ketosis, especially at the beginning stages. This is because you’re losing excess water weight. Electrolytes are flushed out with this water as you lose it. Make sure to get your electrolytes to make up for this loss. This will help keep your energy up so you can exercise and live your life without suffering from low energy that can occur during the adaptation phase of this diet.
Myth 5: Artificial Sweeteners Kick Me Out Of Ketosis
I searched, searched, and searched some more and can’t find any evidence that directly links artificial sweeteners to kicking you out of ketosis. While this is good news, there are still some things to be aware of to keep them from indirectly causing you difficulty when it comes to getting and staying fat adapted.
Potential problems with artificial sweeteners and keto diets
- They may trigger your ‘sweet tooth’ and lead back to to eating high carb/sugar foods
- Eating too many low carb/keto treats, the total carb count can get too high to be keto
Remember, artificial sweeteners affect the same areas of your brain as sugar. The difference is they don’t have any calories or lead to an increase in your blood sugar and insulin. In some of us though, this triggering effect is enough to take us off course and begin eating the wrong foods all over again.
Before consuming lots of foods with artificial sweeteners, test a small amount on yourself. I limit myself to 1-2 protein shakes a day that use stevia and find I’m okay. Protein bars on the other hand, throw me right off track.
Myth 6: Nutritional Supplements Kick You Out Of Ketosis
The only nutritional supplements that I’m aware of that kick you out of ketosis are those that contain added complex carbohydrates and simple sugars. This includes lots of pre and post-workout supplements. Unless they say carbohydrate or sugar free, they probably have too many carbohydrates and sugars.
Make sure you always check labels for carbohydrate and sugar content. You don’t want it to have more than 10 grams per serving. The best are those with 0 carbs and sugar.
Check the Supplements Facts section of the label with protein shakes and bars too. Especially pre-made shakes. They’re often loaded with as much sugar as a soda or energy drink.
You now know that too many carbohydrates are #1 at kicking you out of nutritional ketosis. Fortunately, you’ve also learned how to avoid them and what to do to help yourself get into ketosis and stay there. Even if you occasionally eat that pizza or bowl of pasta.
Johnstone AM, Horgan GW, Murison SD, Bremner DM, Lobley GE. Effects of a high-protein ketogenic diet on hunger, appetite, and weight loss in obese men feeding ad libitum. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008;87(1):44-55.