If you’ve tried the ketogenic diet, no one has to tell you that the high-fat and very-low-carb plan is restrictive. But for all of the oatmeal, potatoes, apples, and carrots you’ve given up (not to mention desserts, bread, rice, and pasta) in the name of the so-called keto diet, you may have stuck with it because you’ve noticed improvements in your health or weight loss.
But even if you’ve gotten the results you want, it may be time to transition out of this diet. While some people have success staying on keto for an extended period of time, “the long-term research is limited,” says Jill Keene, RDN, in White Plains, New York. Keene recommends staying on keto for six months max before reintroducing more carbs to your diet. Indeed, Scott Keatley, RDN, of Keatley Medical Nutrition Therapy in New York City, agrees: “The science hasn’t gotten to the point where I would be comfortable recommending it as a forever diet,” he says.
How long does it take the body to get into ketosis?
Ketosis isn’t exactly easy to achieve. According to Salter, following the diet’s guidelines is paramount. This is because your body could snap out of its ketotic state at any point.
With the ketogenic diet, you have to meet these precise guidelines of eating—consuming this exorbitant amount of fat, a very small amount of carbohydrates—to actually see the benefits. If you do not eat to the guidelines, you actually don’t induce the state of ketosis to experience those benefits,” he says.
In order to see your body shift to ketosis and start experiencing benefits, you have to allow an adjustment period of a few weeks.
“The first two to six weeks are virtually the ketogenic adaptation phase, where your body is going through the adaptation of switching to relying primarily on fat versus glucose or carbohydrates,” Salter says.
He adds that to really see results, you should follow the diet for a minimum of three months.
Mark Sisson of The Daily Apple says there are four indicators that you’ve gone into ketosis:
- Higher energy levels: Without carbohydrates, your body now has a “super fuel” that makes you feel more energetic.
- No more cravings for sweets: Carbs are addictive, and if you’re eating them daily, you’ll continue to crave them. Once you eliminate them from your diet, you’re likely to find that you no longer desire them the way you once did.
- “Keto breath”: You might notice a hint of metal on your breath, which is also described as a “sweet rotten apple” scent. It’s subtle and may not last long, but in the meantime, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water to flush out any odors.
- Testing: To find out if you’ve entered ketosis, you can use urine test strips, a breath test, or a blood analysis.