How Long Can You Stay on a Low Carb Diet?

low carb

A low-carb diet such as the keto is one of the most effective ways to lose weight. But one of the most important questions that people on a keto diet often ask is whether they can stay on this diet permanently.

It is critical for any low carb diet to become a part of your everyday life for the long-term because eating complex carbs is the normal way for people to get an energy boost. So how long can you safely stay on a low carb diet? Read on as we shed some light on this matter.

How Long Can You Stay in Ketosis?

If you’re on the ketogenic diet, the first step is to put your body in the state of ketosis. Ketosis happens when your body is almost completely fueled by fat instead of carbs. So how long can you stay in this state? There are a handful of debates on whether it is safe to stay on the keto diet for long because of its extremely low carb intake. As mentioned, eating carbs is the normal way that people get an instant boost of energy. So when you’re in the keto, you’re somewhat hacking your body’s normal functionality.

It is therefore recommended that people who are on a low-carb diet should make sure to “carb-up” from time to time. In fact, some experts recommend not going any more than six months of being on an extremely low-carb diet, which is eating lower than 20% of your daily calorie intake. If you want to stay on the diet longer, you should make sure to have a a higher carbohydrate intake at least 1 to 2 days every week. People who are into High-Intensity Training should carb-up more often because they needed an extra energy to perform their high-intensity exercises.

Long-term Effects of Low-Carb Diet

Although a low carb diet can produce great short-term results on weight loss, this could lead to some health issues in the long run. The USDA has recommended that 80% of our diet should come from vegetables, whole grains, and fruits, while the rest of the 20% should come from protein.

While staying on a low carb diet for long can lead to significant weight loss, this also comes with some possible health problems.

Related reading: How Many Carbs Do You Need To Eat To Lose Weight?

Feeling down and stressed

A recent study by Australian researchers showed that people who ate a carb rich diet felt happier, calmer, and more focused than dieters who  were carb-deprived who reported feeling stressed out. The reason for this, according to Grant Brinkworth, PhD who led the research, carbs boost mood-regulating, stress-reducing chemicals in the brain, and high-protein, fatty foods may deplete them.

Related reading: 3 Ways Stress Affects Your Weight Loss Efforts

Low carb diets may cause weight gain 

According to obesity expert Elissa Epel, PhD, a low carb diet may lead to stress which results in high levels of hormones, like cortisol, that boost your appetite and lead to bingeing which will eventually cause weight gain.  However, people following the Keto diet find that the low carb diet combined with the higher fat is actually very satisfying and does not boost the appetite.

Related reading: How A Low Carb Diet Keeps Your Appetite Under Control

Belly bloat 

According to the National Institute of Digestive Diseases, belly bloat is one of the key symptoms of constipation. And constipation is a common side effect of a low-carb diet. Researchers found that as many as 68% of people on a low-carb diet complained of constipation compared to only 30% of the general population who were not on a diet and 35% of dieters who ate more carbs.

On the other hand according to a study published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology a very low carbohydrate diet improved symptoms and quality of life of people with IBS whose predominant symptom was diarrhea.

Cardiovascular risks reduced

The good news is that a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine concluded that “A low-carbohydrate diet is associated with favorable changes in cardiovascular disease risk factors at 2 years”. In simple language this means that high blood pressure, blood fats and bad cholesterol were all reduced in people following a low carb diet for as long as 2 years.

Related reading: How a Low Carb High Fat Diet Affects your Cholesterol


It is safe to conclude that adhering to a low carb diet appears to be safe and could greatly help in your goals of losing weight. However, staying on low carb diet long-term may not be good for everyone.

Related reading: Keto Diet Versus Low Fat Diet For Weight Loss

Just like with other diets, it is very important that you consult with a doctor or nutritionist before you decide to start a low-carb diet, such as the ketogenic diet, especially if you plan on staying in it for long. Your doctor can determine if this diet could affect your general health. If you’re already on a keto diet, it’s important that you constantly monitor any red flags that you experience especially when you are in the state of ketosis.

Image by Amy Selleck


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