Tips & Advice

What to do if you get kicked out of ketosis

So, despite your best efforts, you caved into that sugar craving or binged out on carbs and now you are kicked out of ketosis. Has all your good work been undone? Not by a long-shot. It’s possible to get back into ketosis in about 24-48 hours if you follow these tips.

If you’re kicked out of ketosis #1: Ditch breakfast for butter coffee

If you want to get back into ketosis quickly, you should swap your usual breakfast (even if it’s keto-friendly) for a mug of butter coffee. Buttered coffee (sometimes referred to by the brand name “Bullet coffee”) as the names suggests is coffee with about two tablespoons of butter added to it. However, in addition to the butter, you should also add 

MCT (medium chain triglycerides) is a healthy oil that bypasses digestion and goes straight to your cells. Here, it’s used by your mitochondria – the powerhouse of the cell – to give you a quick hit of energy. Your body will start to use more fuel. (Good sources of MCT include coconut oil, grass-fed butter and ghee).

Secondly, caffeine itself aids in the production of ketones. It helps train your body to use fat for fuel.

If you’re kicked out of ketosis #2: Start intermittent fasting

A quick way to get back into ketosis is to start practising intermittent fasting. When you’re out of ketosis, you have in effect topped up your sugar reserves. These need to be depleted before you can get back into ketosis. 

This sugar reserve resides in your muscle tissue and your liver and in order to return to ketosis as quickly as possible, you need to burn through these reserves quickly. Intermittent fasting is the fastest way to do that. 

Aim to fast for 20-24 hours, if you can. (You don’t have to do this every day, only when you’re trying to return to ketosis quickly). If not, start with 16-18 hours.

If you’re kicked out of ketosis #3: Do some HIIT training in a fasted state

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) will burn through your sugar reserves like nothing else – but if you have any pre-existing heart condition consult with your physician before attempting HIIT (it’s a brutal workout).

There are many different HIIT protocols but a popular one are tabatas. This is an 4-minute workout (not a typo) that is estimated to be the equivalent of 2-3 hours in the gym (not a typo either). A tabata workout consists of:

20 seconds full intensity cardio (e.g. on a rower, bike or sprinting), followed by 10 seconds rest, repeated 8 times for a total of 4 minutes. 

That’s it, but be warned it’s not for the faint-hearted. HIIT draws energy almost exclusively from sugar as it’s easier to convert to energy than fat. The result is that any remaining sugar in your system is rapidly used up.

When you do HIIT in a fasted state, your carb and sugar level is already lowered and so HIIT will mop up much of the remaining reserve. However, be sure you are well hydrated before, during and after training this way.

If you’re kicked out of ketosis #4: Break your fast the right way

How you break your fast matters and there’s a right way and a wrong way. The first foods you eat are extremely important to ensure your body gets the nutrients it needs, none of the stuff it doesn’t and also to allow it to continue to reap the benefits of the fast. (In fact, some believe that how you break your fast is as important as the fast itself). 

The best way to break your fast is to have a protein-rich meal. Ideas include a protein/collagen shake (you can use coconut milk, unsweetened almond milk or just water); a piece of steak; a piece of chicken or some eggs and broccoli. All good options.

When you break your fast, your hormones are sensitive to what you’re going to eat. Insulin in particular will be extra sensitive to spikes in sugar level, so be sure not to break your fast with carbs or sugar (even from honey or berries). In its fasted state, your body will store sugar more easily, delaying your return to ketosis.

So, stick to just having clean protein to break your fast. If you have any carbs, try to do so only an hour after eating some protein. And, of course, keep your carb intake below 50g, ideally 25g.

If you’re kicked out of ketosis #5: Manage your sleep and stress

If you’re sleep-deprived, you are chronically raising your insulin and cortisol (the stress hormone) levels. As cortisol levels rise, so does glucose and insulin. That’s right – you don’t even have to eat food, and you can kicked out of ketosis if you don’t manage your sleep and stress. And it’s a vicious cycle: the higher your cortisol levels, the less you sleep, the higher your cortisol and so on. Living in fear,  stress or conflict can knock you out of ketosis. Imagine that.

In addition, studies show that even a few nights of sleep deprivation can contribute to weight gain. 

Ways you can improve your sleep and manage your stress include:

  1. Have a night-time routine. Take a hot bath/shower; ban electronic devices from the bedroom; read a book; listen to nature sounds such as rainfall.
  2. Meditation. You can download apps and mp3 recordings of guided meditations. Mindfulness meditation or yoga nidra meditations are very effective and also great for overall mental health. 
  3. Have good ventilation in your room. Your body has better restorative sleep if your room is on the cool side.
  4. Keep a personal journal. Write down things your grateful for but also write down anything that is troubling you. If you’re worried about something: write down what’s worrying you; write down all the possible solutions; choose the best solution and decide when you will action it. The act of writing clears the mind and is a great tool for restoring better mental health.  

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