The ketogenic diet is one of the most popular nutrition plans used to reduce or completely cut out carbohydrates. It has a myriad of benefits, with the most popular being that it can help you achieve your weight loss goal. Should you stay in ketosis indefinitely to maintain these benefits?
You can keep your body in ketosis for as long as you can maintain a ketogenic diet. People looking to lose weight can stay in ketosis for as long as it takes to achieve the weight goal, while those strictly after the long-term benefits of a ketogenic diet can adopt permanent or cyclical ketosis.
The rest of the article will cover in more detail all you need to know about ketosis, the risks involved, and more information on the appropriate length of time to stay in ketosis.
What Is Ketosis?
Ketosis refers to a state where your body is burning fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates. Naturally, your body prefers to burn carbohydrates for energy and will only revert to burning fat when you eat a low-carbohydrate diet, and it can’t get enough energy from the carbs.
So, when you limit your carbohydrates consumption to under 50 grams per day, your body will dip into the fat reserves for the energy it needs to function. However, the muscles and the brain can’t use fat in its raw form. Therefore, the body has to convert the fat into ketones to make it usable for the brain and the muscles.
The conversion from fat to ketones is not the most efficient, so the body has to burn a lot of fat to produce a small number of ketones. This is why many people looking to shed a few pounds of weight embrace the ketogenic diet in addition to calorie restriction and other regimen.
Benefits Of Ketosis And A Ketogenic Diet
- Lowering blood glucose, as is encouraged in a keto diet, can help to avoid or control type-2 diabetes.
- Diets low in carbohydrates can prevent and, perhaps, cure polycystic ovary syndrome, PCOS in women.
- It can slow the aging process.
- Eating refined carbohydrates and sugars in excess has been linked to certain cancers. Maintaining a ketogenic diet and staying in ketosis eliminates these foods, and thus can help in the prevention or treatment of certain cancers.
- The brain prefers working on ketones than on glucose, so staying in ketosis can keep you focused and help you become more creative.
- The impact of ketones on the brain can help to prevent neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
- Sugar and refined carbs put you at risk of cardiovascular disease. A keto diet is, therefore, good for your heart health.
Downsides Of Ketosis And A Ketogenic Diet
- You may start to show signs of nutrient deficiency since you’re excluding essential food groups from your diet. Working with a dietitian to carefully select the constituents of your diet can help reduce deficiencies.
- The side effects known as keto flu may become very pronounced.
- It can lead to muscle and hair loss in some people.
How Quickly Does Ketosis Happen?
our body won’t enter ketosis immediately; you miss a couple of your typical carbohydrate meals. The time it will take to enter the ketosis stage will vary from one person to another.
However, you can expect it to happen in 2-4 days if you reduce your carbs consumption to 20-50 grams per day. Still, it’s not guaranteed. It’s not uncommon to wait up to a week or more to enter this state.
Some of the factors that will affect how quickly your body can enter into ketosis include your daily fat and protein intake, daily carb intake, age, metabolism, and physical activity level. So, if you consume a diet very high in carbohydrates before trying to enter ketosis, you’ll have to wait longer than someone that’s been on a diet that has a low or moderate level of carbohydrate.
Your body won’t enter ketosis until it has used up its store of glycogen.
How To Know Your Body Is In Ketosis
As your body moves into ketosis, you’ll experience various symptoms, often referred to as the keto flu. This includes fatigue, nausea, increased thirst, bad breath, and more. However, these symptoms are not a definitive sign that your body is in ketosis. They are pointers at best.
To be sure that you’ve entered ketosis, you have to test the ketone levels in your body.
You can check for ketones in your blood, breath, and urine. The types of ketones that will come up from each of these test sources are beta-hydroxybutyrate, acetone, and acetoacetate, respectively.
You can test for acetoacetate in urine with ketone urine strips. If you get a dark shade of pink or purple in your urine, you are most likely in ketosis. The urine test option is popular because it’s cheap and can be done by anyone. However, the test is the least accurate.
You can test for acetone in your breath using ketone breath meters like the BestMaster Ketone Breath Meter. They’ll flash a color or show a number to tell you the depth of your ketone levels. Many studies have shown that these meters are generally accurate.
To test beta-hydroxybutyrate levels in your blood, you need to get a blood ketone meter (similar to the glucometer). Once you have the meter, prick your finger with a small pin to draw blood, and then touch some of the blood on the strip. If you get a reading of 0.5 mmol, your body is entering ketosis. You need a reading of 1.5–3.0 mmol per liter to maintain ketosis.
This testing option is also effective, but it’s not as popular as the meters are expensive.
Once you’re sure that you’ve entered ketosis, you can decide to either maintain it or exit.
How Long Should You Keep Your Body In Ketosis?
Getting into ketosis can take a lot of time and effort for most people. However, since it offers a range of benefits, staying in ketosis indefinitely seems attractive. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t adopt that approach, as there’s no definite timeline to stick to when you’re on a ketogenic diet. You can, therefore, stay in ketosis for as long as you can maintain the diet.
If you entered into ketosis to lose weight, you could keep your body in ketosis for as long as it takes to achieve your weight loss goal. After you’ve reached the goal, you can then slowly increase the carbs in your diet to maintain the new weight.
Keeping your body in ketosis for long isn’t entirely without downsides, though. We’ve seen some of the cons of adopting a keto diet. There’s the possibility that these negatives may become more pronounced the longer you continue with the ketogenic diet.
The severity will vary from one person to another (with many people never experiencing more than the keto flu). Still, you can limit the impact by adopting a cyclic ketogenic diet like most people.
In cyclic ketosis, you aim to stay in ketosis for a week and then break off from the diet for two days. This way, you can train your body to remain in ketosis most of the time, while limiting the adverse physiological and psychological effects—if you’re affected.
As long as your blood constitution and your weight are within healthy levels, there is nothing wrong with remaining in ketosis for as long as you want.
However, as is the case with most nutrition-based conditions, staying in ketosis indefinitely is not for everyone. If you begin to feel uncomfortable at any point, quit the ketogenic diet and reintroduce carbohydrates.
What are the worst keto side effects? Some common short term keto side effects include keto flu, headaches, tiredness, and nausea.
What is keto rash? Keto rash is an itchy rash that appears on both sides of your body. It is most commonly seen on the neck, chest, armpits, or back.
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- Health Nerdy: How Long Is It Safe to Be in Ketosis?
- Ketogenic Diet: How Long Is It Safe to Be in Ketosis?
- Quora: How long can you stay safely in Ketosis, in 2019?
- How Long Should You Do Keto? For Best Results, Safety, and More
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