How Long Is It Safe To Be In Ketosis?

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The ketogenic diet is all the rage these days. Many are seeing the short-term benefits of being on the diet, but have you ever wondered if it’s safe to be in ketosis long-term? 

How long is it safe to be in ketosis? In the short-term, it’s agreed that healthy individuals can be in ketosis as long as you’re body isn’t in ketoacidosis. You can avoid ketoacidosis by following a healthy low-carb diet. Long-term effects of being in ketosis is still being studied and therefore is inconclusive. Those using low-carb or keto diets should be under clinical supervision just to be safe.

How Long Can One Stay In Ketosis?

The long-term effects of putting your body into ketosis are still inconclusive.

Many swear-by the ketogenic diet and that it’s safe long-term, but the truth is nobody can really know for sure.

There are studies finding that there are long-term negative effects of being the ketogenic diet such as stunting the growth of kids and lowering mood levels.

More research needs to be done to determine whether or not it’s safe to be ketosis long-term.

What Is Ketosis?

Normally the body breaks down the carbohydrates (the body’s primary fuel source) you ingest into glucose. 

The glucose is brought to the cells of your body via insulin, and BOOM...your body has energy.

If your body doesn’t have enough glucose, it will look for an alternative way to get the energy it needs, which is by breaking down fat.

This is what ketosis is, it’s when the body breaks down fat to get the energy it needs.

A by-product of breaking down fat into is an acid called ketones. 

The body will use ketones as the primary fuel source, although your liver will produce some glucose as well to meet the sugar demands of the brain.

During ketosis the ketones build up in the blood, which is then eliminated through your urine; however, if the ketones levels get too high it can lead to ketoacidosis and poison the body.

How Fast Does It Take To Get Into Ketosis?

In all likelihood your body has been burning glucose it’s whole life.

There will be a transition period to get your body to use/burn ketones as the primary fuel source instead of glucose.

How fast you get into ketosis depends on you pretty much.

It depends on how much you exercise (glucose depletion), your body (eg, diabetic?), and the number of carbohydrates you eat.

If you do the right things to get your body into ketosis you can usually get into ketosis within 1-7 days.

How Do I Get Into Ketosis?

In order to get into ketosis, you need to stop feeding your body glucose.

Here’s the easiest way to get into ketosis:

  • do intermittent fasting
  • exercise more often
  • consume low carbs food, fats (avocado, coconut oil) and protein (steak)

What Are The Symptoms?

These are some of the symptoms of ketosis:

  • Weight Loss. When you switch to a low carb diet, you should experience significant weight loss, because your body is able to release water that was previously stored with your glycogen stores. Glycogen needs to be stored with water. Since ketosis processes fat for fuel you will also experience weight loss due to the decrease in fat levels.
  • Decreased Appetite Levels. Ketones have appetite suppressing qualities as they assist the body in regulating the hormones that trigger your brain to let you know when it is time to eat. When you overeat carbs, your brain ignores this hormone.

  • Bad Breath. This is also known as halitosis. This is one of the negative side effects of ketosis. This happens because your body is producing more acetone than usual which is expelled through urine and your breath. The bad breath doesn’t last throughout the day, just when you wake up. Make sure you brush your teeth after every meal to manage this.

  • Bowel Issues. Ketosis affects different peoples’ bowel movements differently. Some experience constipation. When this happens you need to add fiber and magnesium to your diet. Others experience diarrhea because of the introduction of more fat into the body than before.

  • Short Term Fatigue. During ketosis, your body is searching for glucose while the ketones produced are not enough for your energy requirements. You are also losing electrolytes through the urine and if you don’t drink enough water and drinks to replace the electrolytes, you end up feeling tired.

  • Increased Focus And Energy. This is because the ketones produced a cleaner source of energy for your brain to run on and you don’t get the insulin crashes you would get otherwise.

  • Increased Ketones. You can use ketone test strips or a glucose meter to measure your ketone levels.

  • Frequent Urination. This is because the body dips into the glycogen stores, releasing water during ketosis.

Who Should Avoid Ketosis?

The following people should avoid ketosis:

  • People Who Suffer From Gallbladder Disease. This is because fat becomes harder to breakdown and process during ketosis.

  • Those Who Have Had Weight Loss Or Gastric Bypass Surgery. Ketosis makes it harder to absorb fats.

  • Those Who Have Rare Metabolic Disorders. These disorders interfere with normal fat metabolism making ketosis dangerous for you.

  • Women Who Are Pregnant Or Breastfeeding. This group should not participate in ketosis because their protein requirements are much higher than what is allowed in ketosis.

  • People Who Are Prone To Kidney Stones. The loss of electrolytes in ketosis leads to an imbalance in fluids and salt levels which may worsen the condition.

  • Those Who Have A Pancreatic Condition Or Insufficiency. This is because fats become harder to digest during ketosis, this puts unnecessary pressure on the pancreas.

  • People Who Are Very Thin. Those with (a BMI of 20 or less) should avoid ketosis because there will be more weight loss which is not healthy for them.

  • Children. This is because their protein dietary requirements vary with age and not the same amount that is recommended in ketosis.

  • People Who Are Suffering From Diabetes Type 1. Ketosis in people with this condition will lead to a life-threatening condition known as ketoacidosis.

What Kind Of People Is Ketosis Safe For?

Short-term ketosis is believed to be beneficial for:

  • Those Dealing With Obesity. Ketosis could be an efficient in weight loss in a healthy way and within a short time as compared to other weight loss programs.

  • Children With Epilepsy. This is only done under the supervision of a trained medical specialist and a dietitian. The children get these seizures because of the mutation of the GLUT-1 hormone which transports glucose across the blood-brain barrier. Ketosis provides an alternative source of fuel for their central nervous system, therefore improving their condition.

  • People Suffering From Type 2 Diabetes. Ketosis results in lower blood glucose levels. Carbohydrates are converted to glucose and cause sugar spikes which are dangerous in people with type 2 diabetes. By switching to fats, you experience reduced blood sugar. Make sure you always test your ketone levels to prevent ketoacidosis.

Is A Ketogenic Diet Safe When Pregnant?

There isn’t enough scientific data and studies using a large sample size of pregnant women on a ketogenic diet to know whether or not it’s safe for pregnant women to be on a ketogenic diet.

Here’s what Dr. Eric Westman has to say about this subject:

Will A Ketogenic Diet It Make Me Tired?

keto flu symptoms

It’s not uncommon to get flu-like symptoms when first switching to a ketogenic diet. 

A keto diet is made up of 70 percent healthy fats, 20 percent high-quality protein, and only 10% carbohydrates, or carbohydrates are cut out completely.

The drastic reduction in carbs and electrolytes can cause your energy levels to drop, and the low-fiber and high-fat can result in cramping, constipation, stomach pain, and nausea.

The low carbs cause water and mineral depletion, so you want to make sure you take in a lot of water, sodium, and potassium to help alleviate the symptoms.

It can take anywhere between two to ten days to shake off the fatigue, but some people have reported it to last up to six weeks in the worst case scenario.

Getting ample sleep and stress-management is also important to reduce the severity of the symptoms.

Increasing the amount of alkalizing foods such as avocado, green juice, leafy greens, cocoa, and nuts will help you replace the electrolytes lost during ketosis, thus reducing the fatigue.

Can Ketosis Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

Ketosis does not cause erectile dysfunction.

It can actually improve it when you eat the right diet full of natural oils, rather than saturated fats such as margarine, butter, high dairy foods, and fatty beef.

Erectile dysfunction is caused by poor blood flow to the penis, and a low-carb diet can reduce the “happy hormone’ known as serotonin, which will negatively affect your sex drive.

But if you’re eating a healthy low-carb diet while in ketosis that includes omega 3 fatty acids in fish, nuts, eggs, avocados and olive oil it will improve blood circulation, which is good for erectile dysfunction.

Omega 3 fatty acids also help in the raising of the dopamine hormone in the brain which triggers sexual arousal.

Can It Cause Bladder Infections?

Bladder infections are caused by bacteria within the bladder and if you have a weak immune system, then even a yeast infection can cause it.

Ketosis does not cause bacteria and can not cause bladder infections.

Are Ketosis And Ketoacidosis The Same Thing?

Ketosis and ketoacidosis are not the same things.

Ketosis is a metabolic state where the level of ketone bodies in your body tissues is raised as a result of a diet that is very low in carbohydrates or a condition such as diabetes.

Ketoacidosis is when the level of ketones in the blood is too high, which extremely dangerous.

When your blood becomes very acidic it interferes with the normal functions of the liver and kidneys sometimes leading to a coma or even death.

If you want to learn more about the differences between ketosis and ketoacidosis watch this video:

Related Questions

What is insulin and what role does it play in ketosis? Insulin is a hormone created by our lovely pancreas. A great analogy I heard explaining insulin is to pretend that insulin is your local postal service that delivers mail (glucose/sugar) to your home (cells of your muscle, fat, liver, etc so that your body can use it for energy).

This is crucial because without energy the cells in your body can’t survive.

So if you don’t produce any insulin your cells will essentially starve and will be forced to look for alternative sources of energy.

Since insulin signals to the body to absorb the glucose in the body’s bloodstream insulin lowers to amount of glucose in the blood.

For those wanting to be in ketosis, they want to minimize the production of insulin as much as possible because insulin suppresses the production of ketones.

The easiest way to minimize the production of insulin is to go on a low-carb diet or ketogenic diet.

Can you gain muscle while on a low-carb diet? Yes, you absolutely gain muscle while on a low-carbohydrate diet as found in the study University of Connecticut. Studies have shown that at the very least those eating a low-carb diet can gain as much muscle in the same amount of time than those in a high-carb diet.

How much weight can you lose in a keto diet? The amount of weight you lose depends on your health, body composition, diet, and metabolism. With that said, on average you can expect to lose 2-10 pounds in the first week, and 1-2 pounds thereafter.

Most of the weight loss will happen in the first three months, especially in the first month.

The first week will be the week with the most weight loss and most of it is due to the body releasing water.

When carbohydrates aren’t being used it’s stored in the muscle as glycogen. For every gram of glycogen, it needs to bind with 2-3 grams of water.

When you starve your body of glucose your body uses it’s glycogen reserves before it digs into fat.

When all the glycogen is used up, the water that was bound to it is no longer needed, and therefore leaves the body through your urine.

Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff at MindBodyPal is a team of experts led by Tyson Chiu. We love tacos, lattes and Funky Fridays.