There aren’t many studies around about the long term effects of a ketogenic diet. Your unique body chemistry dictates how you’ll respond to eating this way.
If you’re reading this, you’ll probably already know what a ketogenic diet is but I’ll copy here a very simple explanation from Marcelo Campus MD
In essence, it is a diet that causes the body to release ketones into the bloodstream. Most cells prefer to use blood sugar. This comes from carbohydrates, as the body’s main source of energy. In the absence of circulating blood sugar from food, we start breaking down stored fat into molecules called ketone bodies. This process is called ketosis. Once you reach ketosis, most cells will use ketone bodies to generate energy until we start eating carbohydrates again.
A ketogenic diet has been known to reduce seizures in children, sometimes as effectively as medication (https://www.gosh.nhs.uk/health-professionals/clinical-guidelines/ketogenic-diet).
Because of these neuroprotective effects, questions have been raised about the possible benefits for other brain disorders. Such as
- Multiple sclerosis
- Sleep disorders
- Autism, and even brain cancer.
However, there are no human studies to support recommending ketosis to treat these conditions. Everything I’ve found is anecdotal.
Again, we’re back to lack of studies.
Weight loss has brought the ketogenic diet into the public eye, but it’s been around for about 80yrs.
A ketogenic diet also has been shown to improve blood sugar control for patients with type 2 diabetes, at least in the short term.
There can also be other possible benefits such as protection from cognitive impairment, shown by this study
The only study on the long term effects of a ketogenic diet I’ve been able to find is this one over 26 weeks.
A brief excerpt
The present study shows the beneficial effects of a long-term ketogenic diet. It significantly reduced the body weight and body mass index of the patients. Furthermore, it decreased the level of triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and blood glucose, and increased the level of HDL cholesterol. Administering a ketogenic diet for a relatively longer period of time did not produce any significant side effects in the patients. The present study confirms that it is safe to use a ketogenic diet for a longer period of time than previously demonstrated.
So, while this looks very positive, it’s important to have the support of a health professional. Get health checks and blood work done. This is especially true if you’re following a keto diet for health reasons.
I’ve been doing this for nearly a year and have had nothing but positive benefits. You can see my story so far (which needs an update!)
I also know some people who have been doing it for 2 years or more. This is anecdotal which is why you need to do what is right for you and with the correct support.
Let me know how your journey is going and how long you’ve been doing this in the comments below. Also if you do find scientific studies that relate to the long term effects of a ketogenic diet, drop the link in the comments!