Keto diet: How long should you be on the diet?


The keto diet leads to rapid weight loss, but it should not be practiced for an extended period of time

It is safe to say that once a person starts to lose weight on the ketogenic diet, it can become rather tempting to stay on the diet, until you reach your fitness goals. However, it is imperative to understand the healthy duration a person can be on a keto diet. The long-term side effects of the keto diet include risk of heart diseases as well as nutrient deficiencies.

Besides the negative effects of keto diet, maintaining consistency in the diet can be challenging, if practiced for very long. Your carbohydrate intake is cut back to less than 50 grams, according to the National Library of Medicine. Doing this for too long can be very challenging. But is there a limit to how long should the keto diet be followed? Read on to know the answer!

What is keto diet?

The keto diet is a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet that encourages the body to enter a state of ketosis. By drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and increasing fat consumption, the body is forced to use fat as its main source of energy instead of carbohydrates. This can lead to weight loss, increased energy levels, and improved mental focus, nutritionist Kejal Shah tells Health Shots.

The keto diet includes foods like meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, oils, and non-starchy vegetables while avoiding high-carbohydrate foods like grains, sugars, fruits, and certain root vegetables.

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A woman holding a chest
heart issues is a long term effect of the Keto diet. Image courtesy: Freepik

How long does it take to start losing weight in a keto diet?

The time it takes to start losing weight on the keto diet can vary from person to person. “Some individuals might experience weight loss within the first week, while others might take a bit longer. Initially, the body loses water weight due to the reduction in carbohydrates and the body’s depletion of glycogen stores. After this initial phase, actual fat loss can occur,” explains Shah. However, consistency with the diet, maintaining a calorie deficit, and incorporating regular exercise will definitely help accelerate weight loss.

How long should you do keto diet?

The duration of following the keto diet can vary depending on individual goals and health conditions. “I don’t recommend the keto diet for more than six months at a stretch. The keto diet is helpful to decrease the frequency of epileptic seizures in children. So while it does aid weight loss, only short-term results have been studied, and the results have been mixed,” explains Shah.

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There is limited research on the long-term side effects of keto diet, so it is advised to consult a healthcare professional for personalised guidance. “But it can turn unhealthy if it is not practiced in the right way. It can also lead to nutrient deficiencies or other health problems. It is important to prioritise a balanced intake of essential nutrients and listen to your body’s cues for any signs of discomfort or adverse effects,” says Shah.

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A woman with a glass of water
It is very important hydrate yourself well when following keto diet. Image courtesy: Freepik

What should you remember while following a keto diet to remain healthy?

While following a keto diet, it is important to keep the following points in mind:

1. Prioritise nutrient-dense food

It is important to go for nutrient-dense, whole foods rather than relying heavily on processed and high-fat foods. Include a variety of non-starchy vegetables to ensure an adequate intake of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

2. Stay well-hydrated

Besides making sure to have enough water, also ensure adequate electrolyte intake, as the reduction in carbohydrates can impact fluid and electrolyte balance.

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3. Regularly monitor your levels

It is very important to regularly monitor your blood lipid levels and consult a healthcare professional for guidance.

4. Follow a comfortable pace

Listen to your body and adjust the diet accordingly, as adherence and individual needs may vary.



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