When it comes to a low carb diet, it’s really important to think about it not in terms of a temporary torture. You should follow the low carb diet long term, and it can be quite pleasurable!
Should you follow the low carb diet long term? Well, you know the cliché – “it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change.” Cliché but true! When it comes to a low carb diet, it’s really important to think about it not in terms of a temporary torture that you can’t wait to stop once you reach your goal weight. A low carb diet is a lifelong commitment.
Yes, you need to stay low carb forever
Critics of low carb diets often complain that they’re not truly effective, because once people increase their carbs, they gain the weight back.
Well, duh. The same is true for a low calorie or a low fat diet. As soon as you go back to eating ad libitum, you will gain the weight back, and then some.
So which do you prefer? Starving forever on 1200 calories per day, or enjoying juicy ribeyes for the rest of your life?
You might be able to gradually increase your carbs
If you’re worried about the long term safety of a low carb diet, you should find a keto-friendly physician and work with them to make sure your health markers are where they should be on the low carb diet.
In addition, keep in mind that after a few months – or maybe years – on the low carb diet, your metabolism and insulin sensitivity could be restored to the point where you’ll be able to gradually increase your carb intake and move from a low carb diet to a moderate carb diet.
A low carb diet makes you lose weight because it heals all these processes in your body. And after a few years on low carb, it’s possible for some people to achieve enough healing that they can increase their carb consumption a little.
After five years on the low carb diet, including a year of a strict keto diet, I was able to increase my carbs to about 80 grams per day while losing none of the benefits I had gained.
You may be able to transition into a more liberal low carb diet at some point, but you can’t really expect to completely go back to your old high carb ways without your health reverting back to how it was, can you?
Low carbing forever isn’t such a bad thing
A low carb diet means restricting your food, true. But you still get to enjoy such a wide variety of delicious foods. I’ve been doing this for five years now, and I can tell you with confidence that I never ate better.
I eat juicy steaks and hamburgers, lots of seafood and fresh vegetables cooked in butter. I eat bacon and eggs fried in butter for breakfast every day. I don’t really eat snacks because I can easily go 5-6 hours between meals, but if I do want a snack, I eat nuts, full-fat cheese and berries. I add heavy cream to my coffee.
I truly eat like a queen, and no amount of sugar in my high-carb days could have compensated for the lack of flavor and pleasure that are inherent to the low fat diet.
You can indulge once in awhile
After you’ve been on a low carb diet for a few months and your blood sugar has stabilized, it’s OK to eat something high-carb once in awhile. It’s not ideal, of course, but in the grand scheme of things, if you have a piece of your son’s wedding cake, then continue with your low carb diet, that’s fine. Or if you go to Paris on vacation, I would expect you to taste a croissant, a slice of fresh baguette, and chocolate mousse.
You know yourself, so you know whether you can stray once in awhile without completely going off the rails. If you can’t trust yourself to stop at a taste of something high-carb, then it’s best not to indulge.
But what I’m trying to say here is that “forever” may sound harsh, but it’s possible to make occasional exceptions and still eat low carb. So don’t tell yourself “I will never eat ice cream again.” You probably will, just not regularly.
My personal experience
I’ve eaten a low carb diet for about five years now. I love my diet. I love how it makes me feel. I do stray, but very rarely.
So far, there was only one occasion when I thought that straying was worth it – when my husband and I had a much anticipated meal at the famous French Laundry restaurant. This was a tasting menu, so we just went with what the kitchen had to offer – and enjoyed every bite.
The next day, a little hungover, we both went back to our delicious low carb diet.