The 4 Ketosis Symptoms You Should Be Looking For

Ketosis is the condition in which your body begins burning fat instead of carbs for its energy source.

The benefits of ketosis range widely, but some of the best include:

  • fat loss
  • increased endurance
  • less cravings
  • shredded physique
  • neurological optimization

But how do you know when you’re in ketosis? Are there symptoms that you’re in ketosis? Is there a way to “feel” like you’re in ketosis?

Obviously the best way to see if you’re in ketosis is to test you breath, blood, or urine. However, we’ve constructed the following list to help you detect the signs that you’ve transitioned into ketosis and turned your body into a fat burning machine!

If you’ve been on the Ketogenic Diet for at least a week, run through this list of ketosis symptoms, and see if they fit what you’re experiencing!

1. Ketosis Breath

ketosis breath for ketosis symptoms

A popular report from many low-carb and keto dieters is that their breath is less than desirable. The smell has been compared to fingernail polish remover, which is believed to come from the presence of acetone. Acetone is, of course, a ketone body, and is also found in many brands of nail-polish remover.

2. Keto Flu

After a life full of ingesting large portions of carbs for energy, dropping carbs and moving into ketosis can often result in ketosis symptoms known collectively as the “keto flu.”

It’s not unheard to feel light-headed, fatigued, or anemic when your body runs out of carb stores and begins turning to fat for its fuel source.

You might feel irritable, or short-tempered; this is your body’s natural reaction to having sugar removed. Much like an addict in rehab, when you cut out mass amounts of processed sugars, you turn into a bit of a monster.

Ketosis symptoms also include nausea, or stomach aches. These can be caused by your stomach reacting poorly to the increased amount of fat being ingested. Your body doesn’t burn through fats like it does carbs, so understandably, this more dense form of energy can cause apprehension in your gut

There’s no definitive timeline on when the keto flu could befall you, either. It could happen three days in or two weeks in; each person’s genetic makeup (and their previous dietary habits) dictate how and when these ketosis symptoms set in.

3. Dry mouth/Increased Thirst

thirsty from ketosis sypmtoms

Ketosis often causes increased urination. This diuretic effect is due in part to your glycogen stores being emptied. Also known as “water weight,” one gram of glycogen necessitates around 3 to 4 grams of water in storage. This mass exodus of surplus fluids (aka pee) can cause dry mouth, and increased sensations of thirst.

Once your body enters ketosis, you don’t tap your insulin reservoirs as much, which allows your body to release more fluids than it is used to releasing. Thirst and dry mouth are a nuisance, but they’re a good sign that you’re heading in the right direction metabolically!

Stay thirsty, my friends. Just kidding, make sure you hydrate your ass off.

4. After the bad, comes the good!

So we’ve listed all of the bad news. Now it’s time to get to the amazing characteristics of ketosis symptoms!

One commonly reported ketosis symptom is less of an appetite. Because you’re eating a more dense form of energy, your appetite is satiated, causing less frequent hunger sensations. This means that the days of snacking will become a distant memory.

You can begin to focus on making your meals count, instead of grazing on unhealthy food due to never being “full!”

You’ll also notice that you’re no longer “uncomfortably full” when you leave the table. The lack of gluten in the ketogenic allows you to leave the table without that bloated feeling, because the protein you’re ingesting will satiate your appetite before you arrive at stretchy-pants-ville.

You’ll also have a different disposition after coming out of the initial “I hate the world I think I’m dying phase.” The mental fog will begin to lift, and you’ll approach your days with a different feeling of energy. Long term energy.

Other considerations for ketosis symptoms:

  • Testing:
    • If you think you’re showing signs of ketosis, and you want to be certain of your feelings – test!
    • As we’ve covered in a previous post, ketone testing is readily available to anyone willing to purchase a testing kit and prick some blood (or pee on a stick)!

Testing isn’t only highly suggested, it’s a must. Ketosis symptoms can often be misconstrued, or misinterpreted; testing eliminates all doubt about where you are metabolically.

You’re declaring something when you start the Ketogenic Diet: a new beginning. You are taking control of your health, and your life.

But you don’t just revolt against a life of carb munching without experiencing some challenges along the way! Ketosis symptoms are just a temporary part of the journey.
We would encourage you to use this list as a helpful guide when you believe you’ve entered ketosis.

Look for the symptoms we listed above, and if you have a suspicion that you might be in ketosis, test your theory!

Now get out there and burn some of that newly found clean energy!

About the Author Nate Arnold

I started this website because it was hard to find trustworthy, evidence-based information about the ketogenic diet. Information that was published and peer reviewed by respected scientific journals. After years of research, I'm sure you'll achieve great results in a healthy way following my advice. I do my best to translate scientific research jargon into plain English. Remember, it's always a good idea to consult a doctor before starting a new diet!

19 thoughts on “The 4 Ketosis Symptoms You Should Be Looking For”

  1. I was in ketosis without even knowing it! Well I suspected I might be after several days of low carb, so I got some ketostix, peed on one, and viola! Dark purple. Very cool. I can have actually more carbs than I thought and stay in ketosis. I test every day now. The night before last I had a generous amount of mixed nuts for a snack, probably a couple of ounces, and I never got out of ketosis. But I read that it is different for different people; some people can have more carbs than others and still stay in ketosis.

  2. I’ve been doing this almost a week and I am testing very positive for ketones (dark color on strip). I have noticed in the mornings especially I get really hot and sweaty. I am 47 so it may be a hot flash too. But I was wondering if that was common with ketosis. Thanks.

    • I did read that somewhere. But horomones are horomones and should be tested by your Dr anyhow. I know the ones we need to be concerned about would be those that assure healthy Liver and Kidneys which work overtime. .

  3. I read on another site that the urine test strips can measure only the excreted Ketones of energy your body does not utilize, therefore one may be burning more fat than this test can determine. A low read may only mean you are burning fuel rather than expelling it. As for me, 6 inches lost before two weeks of this diet. I am just in it three weeks now. My test strips only just begun to read moderate shedding today. :). This way of eating is in no way starvation!

  4. If your breath smells like acetone, that’s actually a sign you could be going into ketoacidosis. It’s rare for someone who is not diabetic to go into this, but it CAN happen, especially if you’re ill or breastfeeding.

    • A simple Google search can tell you that you’re wrong! Both ketosis and ketoacidosis will cause acetone/fruity breath. Ketosis and ketoacidosis are not the same thing, one is controlled one is not. Also, alcoholism and starvation also cause ketoacidosis and can cause acetone/fruity breath and just like diabetic ketoacidosis can cause coma and death.

  5. How long does it take for the extreme dry mouth to go away, I’m drinking 8-9 glasses of water a day and after a week still having extremely dry mouth

    • 8-9 gasses of water is around what you should be drinking anyway. 2-3 liters is almost a minimum. Remember when your rehydrating that you need to get electralytes too. I like the propel single packets. They have art. sweeteners but I haven’t found them to affect me personally. As long as I’m getting electralytes I don’t seem to get dry mouth.

  6. I’ve been at this for 6 weeks; am doing intermittent fasting, using MCT oil 2x daily, taking keto supplement and following recommended macros and I cannot for the life of me get to the last 2 darkest colors on the test strip. I’ve read and followed everything religiously and the ONLY thing I can come up with, is that possibly I’m eating too much protein… What are you guys eating to stay low carb without getting too much protein? I can’t come up with many things other than meat…

    • Hi Km, for my protein i usually have 2 or 3 slices of bacon for breakfast and 2 or 2 eggs. Lunch i have 210g tin of salmon and dinner i eat around 4 chicken wings or pork belly with the crackle or make a mince beef burger pattie and cover it in cheese and sour cream i eat my greens with every meal also covered in butter or fat from the meat

  7. You don’t want to get to the last two darkest colors. Those mean you aren’t ingesting enough carbs. The middle two are the sweet spot for nutritional ketosis and will mean you’re in the right spot.

  8. Can you gain weight taking Exogenous Ketones? I feel good when just eating keto, but not sure I get into ketosis. Still waiting to start losing weight, but at least feeling better overall. Was thinking adding exogenous ketones would help kickstart the weight loss.

  9. I have been doing keto for two weeks now and I have not lost a pound. I have been tracking everything I eat and my macros are perfect. I have been exercising at least three times a week as well. I have been taking exogenous ketones the past four days, but I cannot seem to lose weight (or inches). I have been nauseous and my ketone strips show moderate to large. Any insight or recommendations as to why I am not losing weight?

    • I have been doing keto for only 5 days and have lost 6 pounds but i have been told by an keto instructor to not look at the scale and just do measurements. @cc do u read your ingredients in the labels cause there maybe some hidden sugars. Another thing if u are exercising then it could be that u are gaining muscles. But if i were u, i would check my ingredients. I haven’t exercises at all but i will incorporate it after this keto flu.

    • Getting 8 hours of good sleep a night is crucial for weight loss and other health factors. Look into your sleep hygiene. It is also possible that stress is causing cortisol to rise which is pro-inflammatory.Could you be over-exercising? Another possibility is that you need *more* carbs, not less. Test it.

  10. Thanks for this list, Nate. Very reassuring for me, as I’m feeling like I have a big, and could drink water by the gallon right now, after a couple of days doing keto. Actually just called in and booked off sick from my job. Told my manager about keto flu and sent him a link to this page.

    Just hoping this passes quickly, and I can get on to better days. I’m t2d, and as of today am off my metformin and gliclazide. Blood sugar is just a ‘little’ high, but it looks like it may well be in the normal range in another day or two.

    Good stuff!

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