Keep reading to learn how to keep weight off after keto.
It’s no secret that the keto diet is extremely restrictive, especially when you consider the fact that it limits your carb intake to just 20-50 grams of carbs per day.
However, the diet is highly effective because it forces the body to break down fat into ketone bodies through ketosis to keep everything functioning. Suffice to say, it may not be practical for everyone to stay the course for more than 6 months.
You have been faithful with the keto diet for several months (and you should pat yourself on the back), and now feel that it’s time to transition to a different way of eating.
This naturally leads to fears of those lost pounds returning as you slide back into your former eating habits. Try to incorporate healthier habits into your life. Let’s discuss different approaches to a healthy lifestyle to keep the weight off after keto.
The Risks of Not Planning Ahead
You’ve fought hard to lose every last pound and don’t want to revert back to your old dietary patterns.
Let’s get an unfortunate truth out of the way: maintaining your target weight loss may be harder than getting there. Once people stumble off keto, they slowly regain all that weight back and their hard work gets undone. Another serious concern is a metabolic slowdown, which is the body’s response to preventing weight loss. Most experts agree that it isn’t practical to follow a high-fat ketogenic diet for the long term.
But if you don’t properly plan the transition from the ketogenic diet, you could be setting yourself up for some unpleasant symptoms:
- Weight gain
- Blood sugar spikes
- Fatigue and Irritability
- Increased hunger and addiction to sugar
Transitioning off the keto diet doesn’t have to result in weight gain, and there are ways of weight management that accommodate a more traditional diet. So how should you maintain weight after keto?
Let’s discuss a few tricks to maintain your weight year-round.
Start to Add More Carbs to Your Diet
The keto diet restricts the amount of carbs you can take in a day. Your goal now should be to gradually add more carbs to your diet – but make sure to calculate them. Stick to an additional 10g of carbohydrates per day for the first seven days. Use a spreadsheet to track weight increase (or decrease) and how you feel. The graduate increase of carbs is important for powering various functions of the body.
Pay close attention to how your body responds to the new eating plan and adjust accordingly. Reduce your carbs if you are noticing that your weight is climbing again. If you don’t already have a journal to log everything, now is the time to make one.
Calculate Your Target Carb Range
Weight loss and weight management are both individual journeys that you will have to figure out on your own by practice and experimentation. There is no one-size-fits-all carb amount that you can follow. As such, the number of carbs will depend on various factors such as your activity levels, goals, and desired weight.
If you are unsure what carb range is ideal for you, consult with a registered dietitian near you to help you meet your goals.
Add More Proteins
The thermic effect from proteins is very high, more so than carbs or fat. In fact, a high protein diet can significantly boost your metabolism and increase the rate at which you burn calories. This is because lean protein such as chicken, fish, and red meat require more energy to digest.
Foods such as carbs and fats that have a low thermic effect cost the body little energy to digest and metabolize.
Try to Gain More Muscle
Although your primary goal with the keto diet was fat loss, you may want to switch your focus to muscle gain.
Keep in mind that muscle gain will contribute towards your weight, but doing so will lower your body fat percentage. This is proven by studies. Your approach should be geared towards body recompositioning in favor of more muscle gain.
Having more muscle is a great way to:
- Increase your metabolism
- Reduce the long term risk of type II diabetes
- Strengthen the bones
- Muscle is more dense than fat, so it looks more aesthetic
- Make it more difficult to regain all the fat you’ve struggled so hard to lose
The most effective way to increase muscle mass is to focus on activities that promote hypertrophy. Lifting heavy weight (close to failure) is a great way to stimulate muscle synthesis. However, muscle building will require the addition of even more calories (in the form of fats and carbs) and protein to your diet.
This doesn’t mean you should start binging on all that junk food!
However, your ratio of fats to carbs should be higher. It is recommended to add carbs around your workout (pre or post-exercise session). This will ensure that your body utilizes excessive carbs instead of storing them as fat.
Consider the Paleo Diet
The paleo diet could be the answer to the question, “how to keep weight off after keto”.
Instead of low-carb diets, consider using the paleo diet, which is more flexible than the keto diet. You can add extra vegetables with the paleo foods, which was not possible with the keto diet on a regular basis.
You can add some more variety to your daily meals, which is always a welcome change for your body. Keep in mind that you may gain one or two pounds on the paleo diet. Don’t worry because this is mostly water weight that you can easily lose.
Note: Avoid fad diets that don’t really move the needle in terms of weight loss. Make sure to stick to a healthy diet.
Try Intermittent Fasting
We’ve done a full article on intermittent fasting here. Read it for a more in-depth analysis of intermittent fasting.
The idea behind intermittent fasting is that it gives you an ‘eating window’ during which you do not restrict your food intake, as well as periods of fasting where you abstain from eating entirely.
There are several benefits of intermittent fasting, such as more fat loss, lower blood sugar, lower cholesterol, and making you feel better overall. When done right, intermittent fasting can increase your longevity.
There are several approaches to starting an intermittent fasting diet. You could try:
- Fasting for 24 hours (or the eat:stop:eat method)
- Alternate day fasting
- The 5:2 method (capping your calories at 500 for two days and having a regular diet during the rest of the week)
- Time restricted eating (these include the 16/8 method and the 14/10 method)
It is worth noting that intermittent fasting may not be safe for some people, including pregnant women, children, and anyone at risk of certain chronic diseases. You should consult your doctor attempting any type of diet, and that applies to both intermittent fasting and the keto diet.
Learn How to Cook
The main reason why most people regain all their lost weight is that they get back on processed and packaged foods. This is why cooking your own nutritious foods will play an important role in preventing weight gain. Consider joining a cooking class or watching a few tutorials on YouTube to learn more.
You should eat more high quality, fibrous foods that are delicious and make weight management easier. So prioritize unprocessed food over ultra-processed food consumption.
Avoid the Sugar
Don’t trade the keto diet for foods high in sugar. One of the main advantages of the keto diet is that it eliminates sugar from your diet. This should also apply when you’re off the keto diet. Try to avoid anything with more than 4 grams of sugar. This also applies to naturally occurring sugar, which is often found in certain types of fruits and honey.
This May Happen to Your Body When Stopping the Keto Diet
There are both positives and negatives of stopping the keto diet that you should closely track. Let’s discuss some of them below.
Blood Sugar Fluctuations
It isn’t uncommon for some people to experience blood sugar fluctuations after their first carb-heavy meal. The blood sugar spikes can cause mood changes, hyperactivity, jitteriness, and fatigue. You may want to check in with your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms.
You May Gain Some Weight
It is perfectly normal to gain some weight after transitioning off the keto diet. Try not to panic when you notice the scale going up! The weight gain depends on a number of factors such as exercise, diet, and your activity levels.
It also depends on how many months you’ve been following the keto diet. For most people, much of the weight loss from carbs is due to the water weight. After all, there is a reason why carbohydrates have the term ‘hydrates’ in their term. You are going to naturally gain some of that weather weight when you reintroduce them to your diet.
The key is to pick healthier, whole carbs that won’t cause a massive increase in blood sugar. The worst thing you can do is binging on cookies and donuts. Instead, try to get your carbs from high quality foods that take longer to digest.
You Will Feel More Energized
Most people will feel more energy after adding carbs into their diet because the body is getting more fuel (in the form of glucose). You will also notice that your performance at the gym and cardio activities is getting better. The addition of carbs is also better for your mental health and mental clarity since the brain also uses glucose. This will also reduce your levels of cortisol.
Most people notice less ‘brain fog’ when transitioning off the keto diet.
You Will Notice an Increase in Appetite
The entire point of the keto diet was to make you feel satiated on the high fat and moderate protein combo. This is why most people don’t feel food cravings on the keto diet. However, you may feel more hungry after each meal as you start to eat food more in carbs because they tend to digest faster.
You can fight this by pairing your carbs with both fat and protein. This can boost satiation, limit blood sugar fluctuations, and slow the rate of digestion but remember always the healthier carbs not sugar and junk foods.
Add These Foods to Your Diet – Healthy Food Choices
Now that you know how to plan your new diet, consider adding the following foods to your plate.
Salmon contains high quality protein, important vitamins, and omega 3 fatty acids. Together, these nutrients play an important role in boosting your muscular health and may also improve muscle hypertrophy from resistance training programs.
You may have heard the ‘chicken, broccoli, rice’ combination in most fitness circles. This is because chicken is a powerful staple for gaining muscle. It is packed with high quality bioavailable protein that the body can start using to build muscle. Chicken breast also contains high amounts of B vitamins and B6, which are optimal for health.
Strawberries may well be regarded as a ‘super food’ for all the health benefits it contains. The potent little fruit protects your heart, lowers blood pressure, increases HDL, and may even prevent cancer. It is packed with fiber, vitamins, and high levels of polyphones. The best part is that strawberries are free from cholesterol and sodium.
Oatmeal is a nutrition-dense food that has numerous health benefits when eaten every day. Yes, you used to restrict it during keto diet because of the high amounts of carb, but that is no longer the case. Make sure to stick to healthier varieties of oatmeal such as steel-cut and always keep a close eye on your weight.
Beef is an excellent source of protein that is high in various nutrients. It is worth noting that beef should be eaten in moderation because it is also high in saturated fats and cholesterol.
Carrots are massive reservoirs of fiber that can keep your blood sugar levels under control. They are loaded with beta carotene and vitamin A, and there is a growing body of evidence that they can lower your risk of diabetes. Carrots also contain vitamin K and calcium, both of which go a long way in strengthening the bones.
Watermelon has generous amounts of citrulline, an important amino acid, that can improve the flood of blood throughout your body and lower blood pressure. It also contains lycopene that is beneficial for your cardiovascular health. Studies also indicate that watermelon can reduce the risk of heart attacks.
Coming off the keto diet should be treated as a slow, methodical process. There is a learning curve associated with it and you should take time to educate yourself about how your body responds to the new changes. Another important tip is to stay hydrated because it will make you feel less hungry.
Weight management is all about choosing a balanced diet and carefully monitoring the weighing scale. Let us know if you liked our article on “how to keep weight off after keto”.