How Long Should You Do Keto?
How long to sit on Keto? Studies by scientists
Let's start with the question - "What does modern science say about the timing of the keto diet?" I've been reading various options and digging through a lot of different information on the subject. Why? Not to share it. More accurately, that's what it's for now, but I needed the info personally when I was looking for answers.
By the time I was searching, I had been on a strict keto for eight months. I got rid of my health problems and had lost 30+ pounds of excess weight. I was happy with everything, or instead almost everything.
So, asking the question, "Should I end keto or stay in it?" I started looking for answers in studies and doctors' opinions.
That was the question for me. Why change this type of diet if it suited me? But the cats have been scrambling. And studies say the following are the consequences of long-term adherence to a keto diet:
- The energy and power surge disappears after 8-12 months of the keto regimen.
- Long-term adherence to a keto regimen can deplete the body of some micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, etc.). This is especially important in the case of an unbalanced diet. Oddly enough, it can also occur in former keto dieters. They stop paying attention to a variety of foods.
- In the long term (more than one year continuously), Keto can hurt the gut microbiota. (this is controversial, as there are studies to the contrary, but it's worth bearing in mind).
- The keto diet is exhausted in terms of weight loss after 8-12 months of following it.
- The keto diet ceases to be a therapeutic food option if the indications for following it are exhausted.
- Long-term adherence to one type of diet reduces metabolic plasticity. (I'll talk about that later).
For myself, I already knew for sure that Keto was a great way of therapeutic nutrition protocol and comfortable weight loss. But there was nothing left to heal and nowhere to lose weight. These arguments prompted me to look for other dietary options to remain healthy, fit within the current principles, but be devoid of the potential drawbacks of a long-term keto regimen. I'll talk about this a little later.
Now a couple of conclusions from my research about the minimum amount of time to stick to the keto diet:
- Following a ketogenic diet, more petite than the adaptation period, is pointless because it simply increases the stress on the body but does not yet have time to trigger the positive aspects of ketogenesis.
- Observing interval keto (no more than one week, with interruptions) without a complete adaptation leads to a breakdown of metabolic processes and rapid gain of excess weight.
- It makes no sense to try a keto diet for 1-2-3 days because, during this time, the glycogen reserves (the body's carbohydrate reserves) will not have time to be depleted, and you will fill up with fat and for no good reason. You will get a hunger strike on fatty food and unnecessary stress for the body.
I have drawn this conclusion: Keto for less than an adaptation period is simply pointless. And I think the correct thing to do is to keep the keto regimen for a minimum amount of time, either until you reach your goals or until you get rid of your food addictions.
In my case, the time of the keto diet is:
- 3-4 months before getting rid of food addictions.
- 8-9 months until the goals are achieved.
Next, let's talk about personal experience, which, of course, is not a scientifically valid representative sample, but it is my personal experience.
My experience of time in ketosis
Before I started the keto diet, I set a goal of minimum time in ketosis. For me, it was one to two months. I set aside a month to adapt and a month to figure out what to do next. To live this way and see what would happen. For me, it was an experiment on myself, without supervision. This was something that hadn't happened in our country before. What is my point?
Because I have no personal experience of following the keto diet for one week without prior adaptation.
But afterward, I had the experience of going into Keto for a short period, but after adapting and rebuilding my body. And I want to make you happy. When I lived on strict Keto for a long time, my body got used to eating fats. I got used to it so much that it's already relatively easy to go into ketosis after finishing Keto. With no tangible consequences or downsides of adapting.
Of all the possible disadvantages, I still have one - it's a day or two of digestion and then not often. That's it. But it's like a switch is switched on. The body does not care what to eat fats (ketones) or carbohydrates (glucose).
But if you don't teach your body to eat decomposed fats and go into ketosis for a couple of days, it will worsen. According to the reviews of people who try this way, it is at least uncomfortable. There are other unpleasant consequences - digestive problems, acute situations with the bile and liver, weight gain, and others.
It is also because of such experimenters that negative reviews of the keto diet appear. I read them and am amazed. Example:
"The keto diet didn't work for me at all! I gained weight, and my stomach hurt all the time during the whole month of the keto diet! The test strips never showed ketones once. I couldn't eat this fat for more than 2-3 days in a row! Don't try it - it's all nonsense, it doesn't help at all."
The man did not start the keto diet. They tortured him for a month with fat starvation breaks of 2-3 days and a carbohydrate type of diet! Stubbornly, but pointlessly. Of course, he gained weight and concluded that Keto was the wrong type of diet. He wasn't on Keto but decided it was terrible.
It's like getting on the roof of an empty car, pushing it down a hill, falling, hitting it, and concluding that cars are harmful, dangerous, and no one should ride in them. Let's keep riding the cart, and it has a horse in front. It can see where it's going. I think you get the point.
Conclusion - don't start a keto diet if you don't know what to eat, how much to eat, how to eat it, and how long you will eat it! NEDO keto is worse than a regular carbohydrate diet.
How long to sit on the keto diet?
Again, this part of the article is specifically about my subjective experience. Of course, this is not a representative sample of scholarly publications, but it is what I have. And experience says the following:
- The keto diet is exhausting. It is exhausted in terms of energy flow. Maybe it's just that the body (brain?) gets used to it, and it doesn't feel so sharp, but subjectively that's how it is.
- With a long-term keto regimen, weight loss plateaus appear more and more often. This can happen with any dietary regimen, though. I will say that these plateaus are successfully overcome without leaving ketosis.
- For me, following a keto regimen during the late summer and early fall is quite tricky mentally. Simply because there is a seasonal abundance of fresh vegetables, berries, and fruits. At the same time, I see no objective reason to give them up.
By the way, it was the last point that led me to the principle of cyclical eating, which I now adhere to. Let's say it seems to be the most natural and correct for a human being in direction.
For the harvest season, in my home strip, I am getting out of ketosis. I stay on the prevailing principles of nutrition. I also eat whole foods, but I don't limit my starchy vegetables, fruits, and berries. Of course, I don't add flour. I eat good cereals and legumes sometimes and in small quantities.
For winter, especially late winter and early spring, I mostly follow a ketogenic eating style. This seems natural to me simply because our ancestors often could not afford carbohydrate diets and ate seasonally with protein-fat foods during this period.
During the rest of the year, the diet remains mixed. If you need to mobilize your body, solve many current problems, then the keto diet. If you have time to relax, but so as not to harm yourself - LCHF.
Another argument I'm impressed with for this keto/lchf cycle:
I have great doubts that it is possible to find other negative consequences with a long-term keto diet as they have been seen before with long-term carbohydrate diets.
There is certainly logic in this. I've been eating carbs all my life until I dealt with the consequences of overdoing it. So how should I try eating only fats for the next 30-40 years to find other, unknown results?
No, I've had enough of overdoing carbs. Now, I'm all for metabolic plasticity. There's a good term for that. It's when the body can easily rearrange itself to meet current needs. Can eat fat with no carbs, but eat carbs without raising blood sugar levels to critical levels. It seems to me that this balance, this plasticity, should be inherent in all of us.
When we can change nutrition principles, not use only one of them radically, but combine them. When we feel good and comfortable! That's what health is all about. That's the real healthiest nutrition.
My conclusions about the timing of ketosis for a healthy person
To summarize the article. I believe that the keto diet is training the body to eat fat and develop metabolic plasticity. It is an excellent way to support the treatment of many ailments caused by the carbohydrate diet of humankind, including overweight. It is a way to get rid of the damage to the body caused by living on carbohydrates.
For myself, I realized that it is worth sticking to it at least 2-3 months, but continuously for no more than one year, unless there are clinical indications.
The clinical indications for permanent ketosis are a separate big topic, and I will discuss them separately later. But I also realized that I could go back into Keto when I need to and get out of it when I want to. The freedom of metabolic plasticity and the ability to use a ketogenic regimen to your advantage is an incredible thing!
We should not become fanatics of any one thing. Fanaticism, as a phenomenon, I consider evil. Don't think that there is only one right way to live, eat, and the rest is wrong. We are all different, and it pays to learn to understand your body. Only you can tell how long you need to follow the keto diet, gathering the knowledge and experience of those before you and understanding your body.
Health to you, Friends!