Long term sustainability is a concern for many who are considering the keto diet. Most people turn to keto to lose the weight, and wonder what they should do once they’ve hit their target weight loss goals. Some are worried about long term effects from staying low carb for significant lengths of time. So today we’re going to answer just how long one can pursue a ketogenic diet.

But first, if you want to get the jump start on weight loss with keto, then pick up this free 7 day keto meal plan and get off to the right start with keto.

So, just how long should you stay on keto? It depends. There really aren’t any short term downsides to keto so long as you keep your electrolytes in balance and get enough vitamins and minerals. So if you haven’t hit your weight loss goals yet, keep going until you have.

Ketosis is how the body turns fat into energy, and it’s a perfectly natural process designed to give you energy in times when food is scarce. It’s literally built into the metabolism of your body, and is perfectly safe.

That’s why keto is so effective at weight loss. The body needs fuel, and when there aren’t enough carbs to turn into glucose, your body turns fat into fuel instead. It turns stored fat into ketones, which your body will burn just fine.

In fact, the keto diet has been used to treat epilepsy since 1920, so for over 100 years, epilepsy patients have been prescribed the keto diet as a long term treatment plan. Until modern medicines were developed for epilepsy, a low carb, high fat diet was the treatment for childhood epilepsy.

Almost all the research into keto as a treatment for epilepsy shows that keto is safe for months. It’s even been studied and proven effective for use by the military. But the diet hasn’t really been studied for longer than six months at a time, and the results of those studies have been contradictory.

And the diet makes sense at a basic level anyways. Ask any doctor if a diet of mainly meat, dairy, nuts, and leafy green veggies with limited starchy veggies is a healthy diet. No doctor is going to say that you should eat more potatoes, sugary soda, pizza, and ice cream and eat less leafy green veggies and healthy fats and protein.

So how long should you stay on keto? Have you hit your weight loss goals yet? If yes, then it’s time to ease up. Feel free to enjoy some of the foods you missed, but don’t overdo it. Overeating and eating too many carbs is what caused the weight gain in the first place, so you’ll still need to make sure you don’t eat too many carbs or the weight will come right back.

I’ve lost weight with keto, and then gained it right back when I got off keto and went right back to eating how I was eating. A lot of fast food and too much food. The weight just came right back.

If you haven’t hit your weight loss goals yet but want a break, then take a break. It could be during the holidays, or your birthday, or maybe you just want to enjoy some carb heavy foods guilt free. But track your weight while you do. If you aren’t gaining the weight back, and are happy where you are, then there’s no real need to go back to keto.

But if the weight starts coming back, just reduce the carbs you are eating until the weight doesn’t come back. You’ve just found out how many carbs you can eat and stay at a comfortable weight.

If you haven’t hit your weight loss goal, then it’s really a choice between you and your doctor. If you aren’t deficient on any vitamins or minerals, and don’t have any long term conditions like type 1 diabetes that make keto risky, then there isn’t really any reason to get off keto until you’ve hit your weight loss goal.

If you are really concerned about it, ask your doctor what he or she thinks about the long term health of a diet low in starchy veggies, grain, and sugar but high in meat, dairy, nuts, leafy green veggies, and some occasional fruit. The vast majority of them will tell you that such a diet is perfectly safe both short and long term.