You’re proud of the weight loss you achieved on keto. You’re at the stage now where you’re winding down the high-fat, low-carb diet, but you don’t want to undo all the progress you’ve made. How can you stay at the same weight post-keto?
Here are some suggestions for maintaining weight after the keto diet:
- Have a new dietary plan to follow while still doing keto
- Slowly wean yourself off the keto diet
- Increase protein as part of your new diet
- Make healthy eating choices
- Consider intermittent fasting
- Regularly exercise
In this guide, we’ll provide all the information you need to figure out life after keto. We’ll talk about whether you’re bound to gain back the weight you lost. We’ll also elaborate on the above tips and provide a list of healthy foods you can eat now that you’re not tracking carbs quite as fervently. You won’t want to miss it!
Will You Gain Back the Weight You Lost on Keto When You Quit the Diet?
The amount of weight one can lose on the keto diet is determined by their current weight, activity levels, age, health, and metabolism. Within that first week, you can drop around 10 pounds, most of which is water weight.
If you’re carrying a lot of water, then the weight loss will be more dramatic at first. After that initial week, you’ll continue losing around two pounds per week, which is eight pounds a month.
Once you stop the ketogenic diet, are you bound to put on eight pounds every month or even more than that? It doesn’t have to happen, no. We’ll talk further about this in the next section, but what you eat and how much you move your body (as well as how intensely) can help you avoid packing on the pounds once you quit eating keto foods.
However, some factors might work against you in trying to maintain your post-keto weight. Let’s talk more about these factors now.
Your Metabolism Is Slower
Losing weight by consuming fewer calories than what you burn can cause your resting metabolic rate or RMR to slow. RMR is also known as your basal metabolic rate or BMR. This metabolic rate is the number of calories you burn to keep breathing and send blood to and from the heart.
BMR accounts for the calories you burn when you’re sleeping as well as when you’re awake, but not when you’re doing daily non-exercise activities that burn calories. That’s your non-exercise activity thermogenesis or NEAT.
Your Brain Signals Change
Immediately after stopping keto, you might stay at the same weight you were when you were on keto, at least for a little while. Then your brain indicates to your body that you should be hungrier because it doesn’t want you to enter starvation mode.
So you’re burning calories more slowly, and now thanks to your brain signals, you’re burning fewer calories as well. This can cause the weight to come piling back on.
6 Tips for Maintaining Weight After the Keto Diet
If you employ the following tips right now while you’re still in keto, then you have a higher chance of successfully maintaining your weight once you stop the diet. Here’s what you should do.
Have a New Dietary Plan to Follow While Doing Keto
Like you start looking for a new job before you quit the old one, you should start planning for your new diet while still on keto. Although your new diet will allow you to increase your carb load, you don’t necessarily have to if you don’t like carbs or if you feel like they make you sluggish and tired. Perhaps you eat roughly the same quantities of carbs as you did when you were on keto but you don’t track macros anymore.
You might reduce the fat and boost the protein (which we’ll talk about a little later) as part of your new diet. No matter what your post-keto diet will look like, map it out before you start it. Besides only tracking carbs, you should review roughly how many calories you’ll consume as well. Then compare that caloric load to what you’re eating now on keto.
Your body is clearly in a good place on the keto diet if you’ve lost weight and can maintain a slimmer figure. You want to keep your number of calories consumed at about the same pace as where you are now on keto even if you have to eat different types of foods to achieve those same caloric needs.
Slowly Wean Yourself Off the Keto Diet
Once you have a clearer idea of what you’ll eat once you stop keto, you don’t want to quit the diet immediately. You only need to read the information in the last section to understand why.
Your brain and body aren’t wired for dieting, only for keeping you alive. When you do a complete swerve dietarily, you can confuse your body. You might end up with a slowed metabolism for your efforts, which is the last thing you want now that you won’t regularly be burning fat through ketogenesis.
What you should do instead is slowly change your diet, getting away from keto more and more by the day. Reincorporate carbs at a gradual pace. Track how many carbs you’re eating and review how you feel.
If your energy levels are sagging as you add more carbs, then cut back until you feel more like yourself. Everyone has an ideal carb range depending on how active you are and what else comprises your diet. Finding your carb load will take time, so be patient!
Increase Protein as Part of Your New Diet
The high-fat, low-carb keto diet doesn’t leave much room for protein. About 10 to 20 percent of what you eat should be protein, that’s it. Since you’re not doing keto anymore, you don’t have to follow these regulations quite as closely.
Certain high-protein foods such as lean red meat, fish, and skinless chicken have high thermic effects of food or TEFs. This is good considering that a higher TEF might give your metabolism a boost. The jury is still out on this though.
Even if eating more protein isn’t increasing the speed of your metabolism, you’ll find it easier to build muscle. If you start prioritizing increasing your muscle mass over burning fat in your post-keto life, your body fat percentage will stay lean and your physique will still look great!
Make Healthy Eating Choices
This sounds like a really obvious tip, but you’d be surprised! If you found it difficult to stay on the keto diet, then once you quit, you might treat every day like a cheat day at first. You could have even weaned yourself off keto through doing dirty keto, which allows for processed foods.
Both of these habits, as we’re sure we don’t need to tell you, are not conducive to maintaining your keto weight. Remember, now that you’re not on keto anymore, you need to focus more on calories than carbs. Dirty keto foods might be lower in carbs, but they contain plenty of other junk that you don’t want to eat if you wish to stay slim. They’re also very high in calories.
There may be many foods that you missed while you were on keto. You can enjoy them all again, but not at the same time. Everything in moderation. Yes, even the processed foods. If you have one or two cheat meals a week and you watch your calories on those days, you shouldn’t undo your weight loss progress.
Consider Intermittent Fasting
Another way of limiting the calories you consume is through intermittent fasting. We wrote a great post about intermittent fasting on keto that you should certainly check out if you missed it. We’ll recap the most pertinent information from that article here.
Intermittent fasting is when you forego food for a certain period. In the times between, you can eat low-cal meals or even follow your regular diet depending on the type of fast. Low-cal and zero-cal beverages are always allowed, especially water.
Here are the different intermittent fasts to try:
When alternate-day fasting, you switch from fasting to non-fasting periods each day. If you start fasting on Sunday, you’d fast for four days and be in a non-fasting state for three days.
On your fasting days, you fast for a full 24 hours. That can be midnight to midnight, noon to noon, or whatever 24-hour period you want. On your non-fasting days, you can eat regularly.
The 16:8 method splits 24 hours into two periods: your long fasting window and your briefer eating window. The 16 refers to the 16 hours you spend fasting and the 8 is the 8 hours you can eat per day.
This doesn’t have to be all at once. You can increase the number of fasting hours as part of the 16:8 method should you want to, such as 18 hours spent fasting and 6 hours spent eating.
On the 5:2 intermittent fasting diet, you fast for only two days per week. During those fasting days, which can be nonconsecutive, you ingest no more than 600 calories. On the other five days of the week, you’d eat regularly.
OMAD stands for one meal a day, which is self-explanatory. Your eating window lasts for 60 minutes. The other 23 hours are spent in a fasted state. Due to the nature of this diet, it’s easy to binge to ensure you’re not hungry for the rest of the day.
Get Regular Exercise
Diet alone is not enough to stay at the weight you are now. You need to exercise as well. You can spend 75 minutes doing intense aerobics or 150 minutes of less intense exercise, says the CDC. Exercise at least three days a week and as many as five days.
Healthy Foods to Incorporate into Your Post-Keto Diet
Are you struggling to find nutritionally balanced foods to eat to maintain your weight? Here are a few suggestions that are higher in carbs but also healthy for you in plenty of other ways.
Once you’ve been regularly eating carbs for a while, you can switch back over to higher-carb foods such as potatoes. You might start with half a spud before working your way up to eating the whole thing. Half a sweet potato has 13 grams of carbs and 57 calories, so it’s a light side dish or snack. You can even sprinkle some cinnamon on a sweet potato and eat it as dessert!
Begin your day with a meal that has staying power such as oatmeal. Steel-cut oats and old-fashioned oatmeal are regarded as the healthiest types. A cup of oatmeal contains 158 calories and 4 grams of filling dietary fiber. You’re ingesting 27 grams of carbs in a full bowl. You shouldn’t feel hungry until well into lunchtime.
The wide world of legumes is one that you should explore now that you’re not on keto anymore. Boiled lentils have 14 calories per tablespoon as well as 1.1 grams of protein, 1 gram of dietary fiber, and around 10 grams of carbs.
Why load up on pasta when you can make noodles from butternut squash instead? You’ll reduce the carbs and calories you’re eating so you can maintain your weight. A cup of cubed butternut squash has 63 calories, 16 grams of carbs, 1.4 grams of protein, and 2.8 grams of dietary fiber, which is not too shabby!
Limiting which fruits you ate was probably one of the hardest parts of keeping up with the keto diet. Kiwis are a small fruit with about 10 carbs per kiwi if yours is 2 inches in diameter. You’re eating only 42 calories, not to mention 2.1 grams of filling dietary fiber. You can enjoy kiwis on their own or add them to oatmeal or even a nutritious dessert parfait.
A soybean-based dish, edamame is a nutritional powerhouse. In one cup of cooked edamame, you’re loading up on 24 percent of your recommended daily value of magnesium as well as vitamin B6 (10 percent), iron (19 percent), calcium (9 percent), and vitamin C (15 percent). Edamame also contains 17 whopping grams of protein, 8 grams of dietary fiber, and only 189 calories and 15 grams of carbs.
The crunch of a fresh carrot is one you can enjoy again post-keto. A medium-sized carrot has 25 calories, 6 grams of carbs, 1.7 grams of dietary fiber, and 0.6 grams of protein. If you’re trying to ease into carbs, then eat baby carrots, which halve the carb load. You’re still getting plenty of vitamin A in a serving of carrots no matter their size.
Another tasty fruit to bring back into your diet full-force is strawberries. A cup of halved strawberries has 3 grams of dietary fiber and 12 grams of carbs. You’re also ingesting 89.4 milligrams of vitamin C, which is more than 100 percent of your recommended daily value.
Not everyone who goes on the keto diet stays on it indefinitely. If you’ve decided to pause keto for the time being, your primary concern might be maintaining the weight loss you accomplished.
By starting a new diet gradually, exercising often, and intermittent fasting periodically, you should be able to avoid the metabolism changes that can cause weight gain after a diet change. Good luck!