You’ve endured months of the keto diet. And now, you’ve finally achieved your weight goal!
Congrats! But what’s next?
Should you stick with this diet or go back to your regular eating habits?
Since doing keto long term isn’t recommended, the best thing you can do is go off keto (1).
But wait, don’t rush into it.
After months of eating little to no carbs, a sudden intake of sugar and other carb-rich food will throw your body off balance.
If you don’t transition off the keto diet the right way, you may experience a few dreadful symptoms – much scarier than the keto flu! Here are some of them:
- Weight Gain
- Digestion Issues
- Blood Sugar Spikes
- Increased feelings of hunger
- Intense sugar cravings
In short, not only are you going to regain the weight you’ve worked so hard to lose—you may also experience a much more difficult version of keto flu.
Worst is you will never be truly ready for the intense sugar craving and addiction that you’ll encounter because you are on sugar-free diet for months.
Lucky for you, there are plenty of ways to avoid this.
We will show you how to transit out of the keto diet into your regular diet in the healthiest and smoothest way possible.
Why It’s Hard to Maintain Your Weight After Keto
With all the symptoms we’ve mentioned, the sign you’re most concerned about is probably weight gain.
After all, you’ve endured the keto diet to lose weight.
To determine how you can avoid this, you must first be familiar with why it happens:
Your body will crave for the energy.
Keep in mind that you restricted carb-rich food in the keto diet.
Carbohydrates are our body’s primary energy source.
Once you start reintroducing carbs to your diet, your body will try to replenish the needed carbs for your body.
You will gain weight again.
You tend to consume more calories than you burn.
Restrictive diets work because of calorie deficit, meaning you consume fewer calories than you burn.
Once you start to incorporate more carb-rich food, your calorie intake will surely increase.
If you won’t match your consumption with the amount of calories you burnt, you will gain weight AGAIN…
So you see, there’s a high chance that you will gain the weight you’ve lost after keto if you don’t take control of your carb intake.
Fortunately for you, we’ve compiled some of the tips for keto transition, and you will discover what those are in the next section.
Healthy Tips on How to Come Off Keto Smoothly
As you may already realize by now, going off keto is as tricky as starting keto.
It may even be worse!
Aside from the immense shock your body will go through once you switch to a different energy source, you also have to make sure that you can keep the weight off even after you’ve gone back to your regular diet.
Here are some tips on how to transition from to a regular diet as smooth as possible:
1. Have a plan.
When you stop a diet, you’ll be confused as to what you should do next.
And when you don’t know what to do, you tend to revert to your previous eating habits.
But if it didn’t work for you before, how do you expect it to work for you now?
To avoid this, the best thing you can do is establish a personalized plan for your goals and needs.
Make sure to come up with the plan before the first week of going off the keto diet.
Avoid relying on what other people say or create a project based on the experiences of other people.
Keep in mind that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to diet.
We highly recommend that you work with a registered dietitian who can help you create a post keto diet plan which can slowly reintroduce carbs back into your diet without subjecting your body to too much stress.
Make sure to share with the registered dietitian your weight goals, diet concerns, any food sensitivities, and medical condition (if you have any).
2. Monitor your portion sizes.
After going through the keto diet, it’s easy for you to think that you're disciplined enough not to go overboard with your diet.
As a result, you get too relaxed, so you don’t keep an eye on your portions.
That would be a big mistake…
According to Keri Glassman, a registered dietitian, there’s a high risk that you will overdo your portions once you’re given the freedom to do so after limiting your carb intake for some time.
That’s why you should learn about healthy portion sizes as early as now.
The first few times you consume carbs post keto, stick to only one serving size of carbs until you get the hang of it.
3. Slowly bring carbs back to your diet.
Gradually increasing your carb intake post keto is the best way to keep the unwanted side effects at bay and, at the same time, keep the pounds off.
There are two ways on how you can do this.
Method #1. Gradual Percentage Carbohydrate Increase
The first method is to increase your carb intake by percentage.
Start by increasing your keto carb intake by 15% in the first 20 days. At the same time, lower your fat consumption by 15%.
The next 20 days, aim for a 20% carb increase and 20% fat decrease.
After this cycle, you can now ease into the right macronutrient ratio according to your weight goals (2).
Method #2. Carb Cycling
If you’re an athlete or a fitness nut and feel that it will be hard for you to reintroduce carbs slowly, you may want to try carb cycling (3).
This method is a low carb nutritional plan wherein you’ll alternate high and low carb intake per day or week.
It is often used to train your body to utilize carbs better once you reintroduce them into your diet.
4. Time your carb intake.
If it’s difficult for you to alternate between low and high carb consumption, the next best thing you can do is try nutrition timing (4).
This will allow you to consume higher amounts of carbs at certain times in the day that your body needs energy.
This will not help your body utilize carbs more efficiently as you ease into a regular diet.
When timing your carb intake, you recommended that you schedule your high carb consumption during your post-workout meals so your body can use up the carbs you will consume.
For the rest of the day, try eating low to no carb meals.
5. Choose your carbs wisely.
Next to the amount and timing of your carbs consumption, you should also pay extra attention to the type of carbs that you will eat.
It’s natural for you to gain a few pounds when you transition back into your regular diet since you’ll start to eat carbs.
This macronutrient clings and absorbs water so you’ll be heavier.
To combat this, you must choose complex and fiber-rich carbs.
Why is this so?
Complex carbs take a longer time to digest, so their consumption can prevent your blood sugar levels fluctuations.
Aside from that, their fiber content can help you feel for longer, so you will eat less, allowing you to maintain your ideal weight. (5)
Some of the most recommended options are plant-based carb sources like non-starchy vegetables like legumes, and whole grain beans.
Some great examples of whole grains are barley, quinoa, buckwheat, and oats. You can also start to add fruits.
6. Avoid processed carbs at all costs.
If there are types of carbs that you must consume, there are also types that you have to avoid, and these are no other than processed carbs.
We’re referring to fast food items like fries, donuts, pizzas, burgers, and the likes.
We are fully aware that these are the types of food you missed the most when you’re on a keto diet, but there are plenty of reasons why you should avoid them.
For one, these can spike up your blood sugar levels and stimulate your appetite.
Let’s also not forget that these are laden with calories.
So eliminating them from your new diet can help you maintain your weight and figure.
7. Add more protein to your diet.
As your body switches from one energy source to another, you’ll find yourself feeling hungry many times in a day.
Additionally, protein has an excellent thermic effect, which facilitates the body to burn more calories.
When adding protein to your diet, make sure that you choose your proteins wisely. Only include high-quality protein sources like eggs, dairy, poultry, and other types of meat.
8. Cut back on your fat intake.
The ketogenic diet is a high fat diet.
Most of the calories that you consume while you were on keto came from fats.
But now that you’re planning to bring carbs back, you may need to slowly scale back on your fat consumption to make room for the calories you’ll get from carbohydrate-rich foods.
In this way, you can still stay within your caloric limit and avoid gaining weight fast. Also, if possible, opt for food rich in healthy fats.
9. Steer clear of the sugar pitfalls. (You’ve been warned!)
You can go back to eating carbs, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should go back to sugar.
When you were on keto, you may have noticed that you have decreased sugar cravings.
One of the reasons for weight loss in keto is low sugar intake.
So if you want to maintain your weight, you need to minimize your sugar consumption still.
As you may have noticed, we said minimize and not eliminate.
The rule of thumb is to avoid any food items that contain more than 4 grams of sugar.
This is easy to spot in packaged and processed food items since they come with nutritional labels.
You didn’t know that sugar can be hiding in other seemingly healthy foods like fruits and fruit juices.
The best thing you can do is familiarize yourself with which fruits contain the highest amount of sugars and try to avoid those as much as possible (7).
10. Stay hydrated too.
Hydration is essential for overall health, but it’s even more vital while transitioning out of the keto diet as it can help address the digestive issues and fight off the fatigue that you may encounter.
The amount of water you should consume must be at least 25 to 50 percent of your body weight.
This may seem complicated, but there are plenty of tips on how to consume enough water daily.
These include infusing your water with your preferred fruits, using an app to track your water intake, drinking water before meals, and setting drinking reminders throughout the day.
The Bottom Line
Transitioning off a keto diet is as difficult as easing into it.
Aside from the fact that it’s physically taxing, it’s emotionally exhausting too since there’s always a risk that you will regain the weight you’ve lost.
Coming off keto can be a big challenge, but it’s also the perfect time for you to set new weight goals and experiment with your diet and lifestyle to determine which would work best for you.
With this in mind, the best thing that you can do is be kind to yourself as you go through this trial-and-error phase.
Take each setback as a learning experience so you can get to know your body better.
Keep loving yourself, and you will be able to find the best way to take care of it sooner or later!
And if you are still looking for more Keto diet tips or related products, check out our other articles.