When you started a keto diet, I’m sure you didn’t consider doing this for a long time because you expected an immediate result. After a few weeks of being in ketosis, you saw a decline in your weight. By the end of the 3rd months on Keto, you dropped a decent number of pounds and eating low carb became not so difficult.
Is Keto diet safe long term? Now you wonder if the keto diet is safe for long-term. You might also wonder if you could never eat carbohydrate-rich food again without gaining the weight back. If you’ve ever encountered those thoughts, please read on to get the answer.
So is Keto diet safe long term?
Those doctors and scientists, who claim a long term Keto diet is safe, say a Keto diet is not a low-calorie diet. Since a Keto diet requires you to consume enough micronutrients from other food groups, continuing it long term does not harm your health.
They also argue carbohydrates are non-essential nutrition. It is because your body can use fat and protein for energy by breaking down stored fat into substances called ketones while you limit carbohydrates consumption. This is how human beings survived for millions of years before human cultivated grains. So why do we need it now?
A large study performed on 19,000 obese patients between 2006 and 2011 fed patients the nutritionally-balanced solutions with 50-65g of proteins, vitamins, and electrolytes. The study resulted in a rapid 10% weight loss of which 57% was fat loss. During the approx. one year observation, they reported no critical adverse effects except for the controllable side effects such as asthenia and constipation called the “Keto flu” in recent years.
However, there are no longer-term researches performed on the effectiveness and problems resulting from a keto diet. Doctors recommend that it’s the best (at least for now) to incorporate a keto to reach your goal and maintain your weight by eating healthy food and exercise regularly.
How about carb-backloading?
When I first started the keto diet, I learned a cheat day would throw you out of ketosis and you will need to start it all over again if you want to get back into ketosis.
What gave me hope was the concept “carb-backloading” which quickly became popular in the Keto diet world. In the carb-backloading approach, you load up on carb-rich food – bread, pasta, pizza – after a high intense evening workout 1-2 days a week. They proclaimed it helps to gain lean-muscle and speeding up a fat loss. However, no one has clinically established that this theory works with sufficient evidence.
How can I re-introduce carbs without re-gaining weight?
Yes (and thank god!), you can re-introduce carbohydrates without gaining back the weight you lost. Doctors and dietitians emphasize the following key takeaways:
1. Start slowly: You might not know how your body reacts to reintroduced carbs. For the first week, start with the only 50g of carbs per day and gradually increase carb intake as long as you can maintain your weight. However, keep it under 100g per day as most people rebound when they consume 100g or more carbs on a regular basis.
2. Eat high-quality carbs: After being on a keto, I know you just want to munch on potato chips, donuts, and cheeseburgers but high-quality carbs primarily from vegetables are the good source of nutrients with lots of fiber. If you eat grains, try choosing organic, non-GMO grains as much as possible.
3. Avoid stress carb eating: We often feel comfort when eating carb-rich food when we are stressed, feeling blue or even when bored. But you know the comfort is only temporary. Most of the times, we regret relying on sugary food and it does not solve problems. Try being active, practicing meditation and yoga, or even writing about what’s in your mind. Getting fresh air outside when working in the office helps turn your carby mind away. You might not know how your body reacts to reintroduced carbs. For the first week, start with the only 50g of carbs per day and gradually increase carb intake as long as you can maintain your weight. However, keep it under 100g per day as most people rebound when they often consume 100g or more carbs.
It is safe to continue on the keto for a while with nutrient-dense meals but there is no scientific proof it’ll be safe for longer than one year. If you re-introduce carbs, chose high-quality carbs, control the portion size and monitor impacts to your weight, and don’t rely on carbs to release your stress.
Although the ketogenic diet is a conventional diet relatively new, the ultimate message seems to remain the same as what we’ve heard for a long time: Eat healthy food, exercise and be happy!