If you’be been following the keto diet and have lost the weight you wanted, got your blood sugar under control or achieved another health goal you’re problably thinking about getting back to some more normal eating. But, like many others, you’re probably wondering how to get off keto without gaining weight?
Let’s face it, your previous diet didn’t work for you did it or you would not have decided to follow the keto diet? So, you can’t go back to how you were eating before or you’ll end up at square one again.
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How To Get Off Keto Without Gaining Weight
1. Go Slow With Carbs
When coming off keto, you must not do anything abruptly. You should give your body some time to get used to eating carbs again, so doing it slowly is the best way to go. According to personal trainer Jamie Hickey,
“Your body has gotten used to using fat as its primary energy source. It takes time to transition back to using carbs as fuel.”
And in order to avoid gaining weight, make sure you stick to eating healthy, whole foods. Instead of going straight for doughnuts, pasta, and cakes, choose plant-based carbs.
Related reading: How Carbohydrates Contribute To Weight Gain
Eat carbs that are high in protein and fiber. Quinoa, for example, is high in carbs but also a source of protein and fiber. It’s a healthy gluten free pseudo-grain.
Try adding an extra 5 – 10 grams of carbs a day during the first week, and make sure you track your carb intake. Track your weight as well and observe how you feel. If you start to put on weight then drop the carbs again.
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If you manage to keep the weight off then you can gradually increase the amount of carbs every week or every other week, depending on how you feel and what the scales are telling you. This could take you anything up to 4 weeks.
2. Keep Up With The Protein
Keto is a moderate protein diet but you can increase it a little while transitioning off keto because it is satisfying and prevents hunger. Make sure it’s lean protein.
Opt for lean cuts of grass-fed red meat, wild caught fish, and skinless organic poultry. These foods can help you to stay satiated, which prevents you from overeating.
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Increasing your protein intake can also help you to take advantage of the thermic effect of food. It requires about 20% to 30% of calories in protein to digest food, but only about 5% to 10% of calories in carbs.
3. Get Active
Now that you are trying to go back to eating carbs, help your body to burn these carbs by staying active. If you have already been exercising while on keto, increase the intensity or frequency of your exercises now that you are trying to get off the diet.
Since you are now back to eating more carbs, you should have more energy to perform more intense exercises.
Heidi Skolnik MS, CDN, FACSM, a thought leader in nutrition has said,
“Exercise is critical to helping your body re-adapt to using carbs as fuel. And the good news is, with carbs as fuel, you may find those HITT workouts easier.”
4. Be Mindful of your Calorie Intake
Aside from tracking your carb intake, you also need to watch your total calorie intake each day to avoid gaining weight. If you just allow yourself to eat any food you want since you are now off the keto diet, you could end up eating an excessive amount of calories, which could easily make you gain weight.
Calories matter a lot, regardless of the type of diet you follow and whether you exercise or not. To avoid gaining weight, you have to take in fewer calories than you can burn. So, if you eat more calories, you will obviously gain weight.
5. Pay Attention to Nutrition
It is not enough that you count calories. You must also pay attention to the type of foods that you eat. Now that you are not strictly following a low-carb diet, get into the habit of filling up your plate with healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables.
It’s better to choose and increase non-starchy or low starch vegetables to start with since they are not only low in calories but are high in nutrients as well.
When it comes to carbs, always go for healthier sources instead of the usual white rice and bread. Avoid baked goods, and opt for whole grains, oatmeal, lentils, beans, and chickpeas. These foods may be high in carbs but they also contain fiber and can help you maintain a healthy weight.
6. Try Intermittent Fasting
Another way you can avoid gaining weight when getting off keto is to follow intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting has been proven to help people lose weight.
And in case you have not heard about intermittent fasting, this practice requires you to eat only for a certain period each day, usually during a 12 to 8 hour period over the course of the day.
Related reading: Can You Do Intermittent Fasting On Keto?
Most people follow the eight-hour window, which means they only allow themselves to eat for eight hours each day and fast for the remaining 16 hours. If you get it right, intermittent fasting can help you maintain weight loss even if you stop following the keto diet.
Aside from helping you to lose weight, intermittent fasting also comes with many metabolic benefits.
7. Practice Good Habits
When you started the keto diet, it probably took a while to educate yourself and get familiar with the diet. Coming off the diet will be a similar process and could take some time.
Remember that weight loss is not just all about food. A number of different factors also play a part in it, such as your environment, lifestyle, and support system. Now that you are trying to get off the keto diet and these factors are not correctly aligned, you could easily fall back into the old habits, which could also mean regaining the weight.
One of the good habits you need to practice now that you are off keto is staying hydrated. If you are dehydrated, you could find yourself feeling irritable. Also, you will feel hungry at all times even though you are only thirsty, so you will end up overeating, which could easily make you gain weight.
So, how to get off keto without gaining weight? It all goes back to discipline and practicing healthy habits, such as choosing to eat healthy, balanced meals at all times. Just because you are off the keto diet does not mean you can eat pretty much anything you want.
If you don’t want to regain the weight you’ve lost, focus on eating healthy fats, lean protein, and high-quality carbs. Above all, stay active, and exercise as often as you can.