How Long Does It Take for the Ketosis Diet to Work?

When it comes to weight loss, everyone wants rapid results. A ketosis diet, better known as a ketogenic diet or low-carb diet, helps you lose weight by forcing your body to burn fat for energy instead of carbs, causing you to go into a state of ketosis. The rate of weight loss on a ketosis diet varies, and how long it takes to work depends on how much weight you need to lose, but you may be able to lose more than 12 pounds in a month. How quickly you get into ketosis varies, but can happen in one to two days.

Ketosis should kick in very quickly. (Image: alicjane/iStock/GettyImages)

Getting Into Ketosis

Your body's preferred source of fuel is glucose, which is derived from carbohydrates. When fasting, your body undergoes hormonal changes that stimulate the release of fat from your fat cells, where it is transported to the liver and made into ketones, which are then used for energy. The ketogenic diet is high in fat and protein and low in carbohydrates, which mimics fasting to produce ketones and the state of ketosis.

Weight Loss

When followed as advised, people on a ketogenic diet for weight loss lose weight and lose it quickly, according to dietitian Juliette Kellow. According to a 2008 study published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition," men who followed a ketogenic diet for four weeks lost an average of 12 pounds. The men in the study were able to eat fewer calories without feeling hungry or dissatisfied. It's important to note that this was a small, short-term study, and weight loss results may vary.

Losing Weight Too Fast

The concern with losing weight too quickly is that you lose muscle and water rather than fat. Most health care professionals recommend a slow rate of weight loss of about 1 to 2 pounds a week. Losing water and muscle on a weight-loss diet may zap your energy levels and your motivation, and you may be more likely to regain the weight. While ketogenic diets may be helpful at jump-starting your weight-loss efforts, it's not certain how effective they are over the long term.

Ketogenic for Seizures

In addition to helping promote weight loss, the ketogenic diet is also a medical diet used in the treatment of epilepsy. How ketosis helps minimize seizures is not completely understood, but it is theorized that the change in fuel for the brain -- from glucose to ketones -- is responsible. For seizure management, the ketosis diet may work immediately or take several months, according to Epilepsy Queensland.

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