CAN THE HUMAN BODY STAY ON A LOW-CARB DIET FOREVER?
As with most things relating to the complex human animal, the answer isn’t simply yes or no. Studying diet permanence takes decades and lots of money (1). Unfortunately, at this point, low-carb diets haven’t been studied extensively with the scrutiny they’d need to be put under in order to make definitive statements about their safety and effectiveness when it comes to long-term use (2).
Having acknowledged that, there are millions of healthy low-carb lifers out there who’ve been on low-carb or ketogenic diets for 10 plus years and are healthy and happy.
Here at niKETO, we see low-carb living as more of a lifestyle than a diet. Diets are often used as a means to an end that end being weight loss. But when the weight is lost, many revert back to the ways of eating that gave them the extra weight in the first place.
Living low-carb means altering the way you see food: breaking food addictions, understanding how your diet impacts all parts of your health, and striving to make better decisions when it comes to food.
So far, actual practitioners of low-carb lifestyles have shown that eating low-carb is effective, and they stand as living proof that after several years, even decades, staying on a low-carb diet can work and have wonderful health benefits (3).
With all the health positives that result from low-carb living and minimal evidence to suggest that long-term low-carb dieting is harmful, it’s safe to say that you can remain in a low-carb way of life for as long as you’d like… provided you do it the right way, and you pay attention to your body’s needs.
FOLLOW THE LOW-CARB RULES IF YOU WANT TO DO IT LONG TERM
It’s important to know that the biggest reason for low-carb diets’ boom in popularity is their ability to help people drop fat weight (4) and get them the bodies they’ve always wanted.
But what happens when you reach your goal weight?
Many folks stop low-carb living right there. They see it as a finish line and exit the race. But many more fall in love with low-carb and want to carry on, using the lifestyle to maintain.
It’s important to know that when you’ve lost the fat you originally set out to get rid of, you have to adjust the way you practice your low-carb living to account for your new body and its updated needs.
It’s important to remember that if you want to remain low-carb for an extended period, you have to continue to follow the rules and not get lax, allowing carbs and unhealthy foods to creep in.
WHY WOULD I WANT TO DO LOW-CARB LONG TERM?
Why live low-carb beyond hitting weight loss goals? Well, some people end up loving low-carb and see it less of a restrictive diet and more of a delicious and convenient way to stay healthy.
For others, staying on low-carb for life is a way to correct serious health issues. Low-carb eating works wonders for type two diabetics who have reported dropping insulin injections from their lives thanks to the blood regulating effects of low-carb living (5).
People in remission from certain cancers have said they prefer to stay low-carb in order to keep the cancer starved, preventing it from returning (6, 7, 8).
Anyone who wants to stick with low-carb, no matter their reasoning, can rest assured that eating low-carb permanently has been shown to be safe in the people who’ve actually been doing it for years and years.
Just remember, if you want to stay on a low-carb diet for an extended period, you need to listen to your body and make your doctor aware of your decision so they can monitor your health along the way.
(1) Belluz, J. (2016, January 14). Why (Almost) everything you know about food is wrong. Retrieved September 13, 2018, from https://www.vox.com/2016/1/14/10760622/nutrition-science-complicated.
(2) MD, M. C. (2017, July 27). Ketogenic diet: Is the ultimate low-carb diet good for you? Retrieved September 13, 2018, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/ketogenic-diet-is-the-ultimate-low-carb-diet-good-for-you-2017072712089.
(3) Dashti, H. M., Mathew, T. C., Hussein, T., Asfar, S. K., Behbahani, A., Khoursheed, M. A., … Al-Zaid, N. S. (2004). Long-term effects of a ketogenic diet in obese patients. Experimental & Clinical Cardiology, 9(3), 200–205. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2716748/.
(4) Shai, I., Schwarzfuchs, D., Henkin, Y., Shahar, D. R., Witkow, S., Greenberg, I., … Stampfer, M. J. (2008). Weight loss with a low-carbohydrate, mediterranean, or low-fat diet. New England Journal of Medicine, 359(3), 229–241. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa0708681.
(5) Ajala, O., English, P., & Pinkney, J. (2013). Systematic review and meta-analysis of different dietary approaches to the management of type 2 diabetes. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 97(3), 505–516. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.112.042457.
(6) Weber, D. D., Aminazdeh-Gohari, S., & Kofler, B. (2018). Ketogenic diet in cancer therapy. Aging (Albany NY), 10(2), 164–165. https://doi.org/10.18632/aging.101382.
(7) Paoli, A., Rubini, A., Volek, J. S., & Grimaldi, K. A. (2013). Beyond weight loss: a review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (Ketogenic) diets. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 67(8), 789–796. https://doi.org/10.1038/ejcn.2013.116.
(8) Poff, A., Ari, C., Arnold, P., Seyfried, T., & D’Agostino, D. (2014). Ketone supplementation decreases tumor cell viability and prolongs survival of mice with metastatic cancer. International Journal of Cancer. Journal International Du Cancer, 135(7), 1711–1720. https://doi.org/10.1002/ijc.28809.