IS KETO SAFE LONG TERM? FIND OUT IF THIS DIET IS A SUSTAINABLE CHOICE FOR YOU
By Stephen Sheehan
Reviewed by Emily Gonzalez, ND for Scientific Accuracy
For anyone exploring a new diet, one of the biggest concerns is sustainability. After all, sticking to a diet and achieving positive results requires plenty of discipline over a period of time. This especially applies to the keto diet, which has its own set of science-backed requirements. However, if you’re concerned about the long-term effects of keto dieting, there’s no need to stress. Instead, let us put your mind at ease…
If you follow some simple protocols, pay attention to your body’s signals and prepare your kitchen to throw down on some tasty recipes, you can remain on the keto train for the long haul.
WHAT ARE THE OVERALL GOALS OF LONG-TERM KETO DIETERS?
Beginning the keto diet represents a major lifestyle change. In fact, your entire body undergoes a major metabolic transition—running off of fats and ketones instead of carbs and sugar. And, by focusing on fat and saying no to sugar, you can achieve several goals related to:
- Weight management: One of the primary goals of any diet revolves around weight. For some people, following the keto diet allows them to better manage their weight. As part of a long-term keto diet, make use of quality fats. For example, Bulletproof Brain Octane C8 MCT Oil and Bulletproof Grass-Fed Ghee are fat sources that fit well with a high-fat diet like keto.
- Mental health and clarity: The keto diet can provide a big boost to your mental clarity and energy. Over time, your body adapts to burning fat for fuel. As a result, many keto dieters experience better focus, especially with a daily boost from our signature Bulletproof Original Coffee. This can help you become more productive at work, at the gym, or wherever you may be.
- Improved overall wellness: The stress of everyday life can take its toll. However, studies have shown that the keto diet provides general wellness benefits (both mental and physical) that can help you feel better over time.
HOW TO GET INTO KETOSIS—AND HOW TO SUSTAIN IT
Getting into the state of ketosis requires more than just the short-term removal of sugar or eliminating certain food groups (like gluten, whole grains and legumes) from your diet. The adaptation process takes time…
PUSH THROUGH THE KETO FLU
When you begin your keto journey, don’t be surprised if you start to experience some side effects. As your body switches from burning glucose to fat for energy, you may experience keto flu symptoms, which can range from brain fog and trouble sleeping to headaches and sugar cravings.
Restricting your carbohydrates may also result in some unsatisfying feelings, including constipation. However, don’t give up yet! Consume plenty of electrolytes and make sure to hydrate to push through the keto flu. Then, as your body begins to burn fat more efficiently, your symptoms should subside.
CALCULATE YOUR MACROS AND COUNT YOUR CARBS
Start your keto journey on the right foot by following the correct macro ratios. The standard keto diet typically consists of the following caloric breakdown:
- Fats: 75%
- Protein: 25%
- Net Carbs: 5%
Pro tip: While carb counts can fluctuate for many, a good rule of thumb is to keep your net carbohydrate intake to no more than 20 grams per day. This round number ensures your body will remain in ketosis.
AVOID BLOOD SUGAR SPIKES
Remember that when it comes to the long-term effects of the keto diet, you will have a difficult time achieving success if you do not count carbs. Even eating a few pieces of fruit can knock you out of ketosis due to their sugar content. (Adios, mango and pineapple!)
The situation gets even more complicated if you consume foods that rank high on the glycemic index. And, it’s important to note that a lot of processed foods often contain hidden sugars that can spike your glucose levels and kick you out of ketosis. Unfortunately, this can happen quicker than you can chug a can of Bulletproof Cold Brew Latte!
LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF THE KETO DIET: STALLING
We’ve all reached that frustrating point on a diet plan where the results seem to slow down like rush-hour traffic. But, don’t let a temporary plateau stop you from sticking to the ketogenic way of eating.
If you feel like you’re stalling, it’s time to take back control and give your body the boost it needs! Here are four strategies you should consider using on a long-term keto diet whenever your progress comes to a standstill.
1. SWITCH FROM DIRTY OR LAZY TO STRICT KETO
Dirty keto dieters still adhere to the same macronutrient ratios as strict keto followers. Only, they don’t discriminate when it comes to the source of those macros. But while it can make life easier to just order a fast-food burger without the bun, following a dirty keto diet may result in some icky feelings from an excess of preservatives and a lack of micronutrients.
The solution: Cut out those processed foods and replace them with more nutrient-dense choices. For example, toss your veggies in grass-fed ghee instead of canola oil. And, substitute Bulletproof MCT Oil in your coffee in place of heavy cream.
2. UTILIZE FOOD-ELIMINATION TACTICS
Feel queasy every time you eat cheese? Suspect you have issues digesting red meat? One way to figure out exactly what your body likes—and what it doesn’t—is to utilize food-elimination tactics.
Keto dieters who have reached a plateau can get back on track by finding out which foods cause adverse reactions. This may help your body perform more optimally while helping you stay on a long-term keto diet.
3. TRY INTERMITTENT FASTING
If you’re feeling a bit stale, how long can you do keto? Restricting your eating window may help rejuvenate your progress. Intermittent fasting, or IF, offers many potential benefits, including more energy, brainpower and cellular protection.
While it sounds simple, there are different ways to implement IF in order to experience the positive effects of a ketogenic diet.
4. LIMIT DINING OUT
Eating out can be a great way to treat yourself. But, even restaurants you deem “healthy” may cook their food with ingredients that aren’t friendly for long-term keto dieters.
Limiting your dining destinations can help omit unknown ingredients that may be knocking you out of ketosis! And, don’t be afraid to ask your server a few (yes, just a few) questions…
HOW TO COOK FOR LONG-TERM KETO DIET SUCCESS
Ready to whip up some tasty keto recipes right at home? Even if you don’t feel like a pro (yet), cooking your own food is often a better choice than dining out. This way, you have full control of what goes into your meal.
Of course, cooking delicious meals that steer clear of carbohydrates won’t be possible without the right tools. Stock your kitchen with a few essentials so you can showcase your culinary skills to your friends and family! Start out with:
- A quality blender: If you want to feel the long-term effects of a keto diet, make your blender your bestie. Whether you’re craving a creamy smoothie packed with Bulletproof Collagen Protein or a delicious brain boost from our Bulletproof Coffee recipe, this kitchen tool is a necessity.
- A cast-iron skillet: Time to toss those non-stick pans! (Seriously.) Not only does cast iron provide consistent heat for cooking and the health benefits of iron, but it also has the versatility to cook all types of food. Plus, you can use all the Bulletproof-approved fats, since cast iron accommodates oils compatible with high heat.
- A set of baking sheets: Baking keto treats for the holidays? Roasting a bunch of veggies for your weekly meal prep? Baking sheets are a must! Honestly…what’s tastier than chopping up some simple cauliflower, coating it with good salt and olive oil and roasting it in the oven? (Probably a batch of keto brownies.)
- A slow cooker: Need a night off from kitchen duty? A slow cooker is the ultimate cooking apparatus for you. From juicy proteins to hearty soups, just make sure to add quality fats. Next comes a heap of nutritious veggies and yummy seasonings before you set it and forget it.
TRY COOKING THESE EASY KETO RECIPES
To reap the beneficial, long-term effects of keto dieting, you’ll want to master a few fool-proof recipes. Luckily, there are so many fat-filled, tasty meals, and, you can make them right at home with the help of simple, fresh ingredients. Experiment with these tasty and easy keto recipes that are sure to become household staples:
- Keto Coconut Flour Pancakes
- Keto Thai Red Beef Curry
- Keto Cauliflower Sandwich Thins
- Keto Slow Cooker Beef Stew
- Dairy-Free Keto Lemon Fat Bombs
- Keto Protein Chocolate Chip Cookies
Try to keep things interesting in the kitchen, too. We know it’s easy to go back to a time-tested recipe over and over again. But, finding success on a long-term keto diet will be much easier if you keep your brain (and taste buds) engaged and excited. Experiment with new flavors and combinations that still keep carbs at bay!
LONG-TERM KETO DIET MAINTENANCE
So, is keto safe long term? This tends to be one of the most commonly asked questions of those wondering if they should make fat their primary fuel source—for good. The short answer is: yes!
As long as you pay attention to your body, you can benefit from the positive, long-term effects of keto dieting. Of course, this includes enjoying delicious and nutritious meals. So what exactly should you be doing? Here are a few ways to take care of your body throughout the course of your keto journey.
SEE YOUR DOCTOR REGULARLY
A cup of Bulletproof Coffee a day shouldn’t keep the doctor away. Actually, you should visit your doctor regularly and check your blood to make sure all your markers check out. This can help identify any nutrient deficiencies that could stem from your food choices. (Seeing a nutritionist can help with this, too.)
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SUPPLEMENTS
Building your keto diet around quality fats is necessary. But, even long-term keto dieters may need to use supplements to fill any nutrient gaps. Do some homework and learn more about the benefits of keto supplements.
GET ENOUGH SLEEP
Don’t skimp on rest. Your body needs time to recover, recharge and rebuild. And if you’re having trouble falling asleep, try Bulletproof Sleep Mode to help you beat stress, fall asleep—and most importantly, stay asleep!
OTHER TYPES OF LONG-TERM KETO DIETS
Just because you start out on a strict keto diet does not mean you have to stick with that forever. A high-fat diet with some unique twists may work wonders if your activity level or reason for doing keto evolves over time.
For example, you can try the cyclical ketogenic diet. If you’re busy burning calories in the gym on a regular basis, cyclical keto may be best for you. This gives your body a chance to refuel with carbohydrates once a week.
Or, consider the targeted keto diet. Athletes, especially, may find targeted keto to be beneficial. Your body will get a big boost from glucose while you’re getting your pump on at the gym! (We recommend replenishing with carbs after your workout, though, once your fat stores have been utilized.)
WHAT IF KETO IS NOT RIGHT FOR ME?
How long can you do the keto diet? Ultimately, if you find a method that works, you can stick with it for the rest of your life. However, for those who can’t sustain this lifestyle, there are still other options.
Following a paleo-style diet at least removes processed foods from the equation. While it is more of a high-carb approach, cutting out sugars and artificial ingredients is still a strategy any dietitian would recommend. And, a sweet potato or an apple certainly brings more health benefits than eating a slice of cake or a bowl of ice cream!
VEGETARIAN OR PESCATARIAN
For those who can’t stomach meat, a vegetarian or pescatarian diet may be easier on your digestive system. Keeping it clean and simple is often the best way to go. While this may be more of a low-fat, high-carb way of eating, it could be the right solution for you.
If keto is too restrictive, a low-carbohydrate diet can help manage blood sugar levels and be an effective solution for your long-term health. You can opt for a more high-protein approach that will still keep your insulin levels in check.
The bottom line: Keto is safe in the long run. However, those who do not cook or have trouble following the rules may find it tough to sustain. If the long-term effects of the keto diet are not aligned with your goals and needs, keep researching an alternative. Ultimately, your eating plan should keep you healthy, happy and thriving—for years to come!