How to Keep a Healthy Weight after Keto?

The keto diet perfectly copes with excess weight, making it literally burn. It is a great way for overweight people to get their bodies back in shape and achieve a healthy metabolism. However, the keto diet is a fairly strict nutritional plan, as it limits one of the three main food groups: carbs.

It only allows you to eat 20 carbs a day from green vegetables and some berries, so this can be really tough. Sometimes people need all the willpower and determination to reach their perfect weight along the keto way. And now, when you have reached your goal, you may want to finish keto and return to carbohydrate nutrition. But how do you keep your new slim body and not gain weight again? How to keep a healthy weight after keto?

After keto, you can maintain a healthy weight if you follow a few simple rules. You need not overeat carbs, introduce all changes slowly and give your body enough time to adjust to the new reality. Besides, there are several ways to keep the weight from coming back if something goes wrong.

If you already have some experience of losing weight, then you probably know that maintaining a healthy weight is much more difficult than losing weight. And unfortunately, none of the nutritional weight loss plans guarantees you to keep perfect weight after its completion. 

So what to do to maintain weight after losing it on keto? I think you understand that you won’t be able to return to all the old habits and stay fit. However, I have good news – maintaining a healthy weight after keto is not that difficult! So how to stop keto without gaining weight? Let’s figure it out together!

Switch from Keto to Low-carb

First, I want to say that if you feel good on keto, then keep doing it! You can follow the keto diet plan for as long as you want. However, sometimes it happens that you like keto, but you are a little tired of the restrictions and want to allow yourself a little more (for example, a couple of apples or a banana is what I missed the most while losing weight on keto).

In this case, you should try a low-carb diet, but not keto. You may ask what the difference is because often, keto and low-carb diets are called similar. The fact is that the keto diet is part of the group of low-carb diets [1]. All of them limit carbs intake, but only the keto diet requires a state of ketosis as the main tool for losing weight. Ketosis is achieved if you consume less than 20 grams of carbs per day from vegetables. However, if you eat 50-80 grams of carbs and keep the rest of the keto conditions, you will have an excellent low-carb diet without severe restrictions. Of course, you won’t reach the ketosis needed to lose weight, but you’ll be able to maintain a healthy weight [2].

By slightly increasing the number of carbs, you will get the advantage of increasing the list of allowed vegetables and fruits. This way, you will get a more nutrient-dense diet and maintain a healthy weight effortlessly. However, I want to point out that these 50-80 grams of net carbs do not include sugar, grains, and other heavy carbs. Therefore, you should stick to vegetables and fruits on a low-carb diet, even though your menu will become more varied.

Increase Carbs Gradually

The mistake many people make when reaching their perfect weight on keto is to overeat fast carbs after the diet is over. If you start eating cakes, ice cream, pies, and candies in huge quantities, you can gain weight in a very short time. Instead, you should gradually increase your daily carbs intake to give your body time to adjust.

For example, you can add 10-15 grams of net carbs per day and follow this plan for 1-2 weeks, watching how you feel. If everything goes well, you can add another 10-15 grams of net carbs and watch the changes. Thus, you can add carbohydrates until you start to gain weight or feel unpleasant changes in your body [3].

I’ll point out that once you start adding carbs, you can put on a couple of pounds of water weight since that’s how carbs work. But a weight gain of about 5 pounds indicates that you have begun to gain weight, and you should reduce the number of carbohydrates. Also, you should know that you should add carbs from vegetables and fruits in the first place. And if the process goes well, you can start adding grains, legumes, and other complex carbs. However, keep an eye on your weight to react to the slightest changes.

If you start to gain weight, you should scale back to the number of carbs that is safe for you [4]. In this case, if you’re still gaining weight, you should further reduce your carbs until you’ve lost the few extra pounds you’ve gained during the experiments. Then, let your body get used to the new weight and gradually increase the number of carbs.

Increasing Carbohydrates, Reduce Fat

If you decide to add carbohydrates to your menu, you cannot simply eat more carbs without changing the proportions of the rest of the nutrients. This approach will definitely lead to weight gain because you will also increase the calorie content of your daily diet. The keto diet is based on healthy fats, and they make up to 80% of daily calories. In order for you to be able to add carbs, you need to reduce the amount of fat a little.

Remember that 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories, while 1 gram of protein and carbs contains 4 calories each. Consider this data in your calculations and use a simple protein, fat, and carbohydrate calculator [5] if you find it difficult to calculate your daily allowance.

If you want to end up on a carbohydrate-based diet, then you should gradually reduce the amount of fat by adding more lean protein and complex carbs. The basis of your carbohydrates should be fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains. You need to avoid fast carbs and trans fats if you want to maintain your keto weight loss results.

After Losing Weight, Start Building Muscle

When you have reached your healthy weight, you have the opportunity to improve the condition of your body. And while building muscle isn’t actually weight maintenance, it’s more about maintaining a low-fat percentage and a healthy weight. If you want to keep your body healthy, then you should consider building muscle as it has many health benefits [6].

Muscles are important for your metabolic health, blood sugar utilization, and the production of hormones that move to other tissues, where various biochemical processes are triggered. Healthy muscle mass strengthens the entire body, maintains healthy bones, and protects you to some extent from fat return [7]. In addition, muscles help burn extra fat even during rest, so they are an important tool for maintaining a healthy weight.

In order to build muscle, you need two proper ingredients:

  • Strength training that will give your muscles a signal to grow;
  • A healthy diet that will give new muscles the fuel they need.

If you have a huge amount of choices and personal preferences when it comes to strength training, then when it comes to muscle-building nutrition, there are two main options. You may already be familiar with the first option from our keto bodybuilding guide. It’s called targeted keto, and it helps build muscle without much nutritional effort. In this case, you simply add some carbs before your workout. That allows your muscles to process them for a quick increase in volume.

The second option involves adding more calories (about 10%) and increasing protein intake while keeping carbs low. Find a balance between exercise, calories, and carbs to maintain your healthy weight.

Try Keto Days

If you end the keto diet gradually, take your time with carbs, and let your body adjust, then you will probably be able to maintain weight for a long time. However, it may happen that you still gain a few pounds. You already know that you can reduce the number of carbohydrates and monitor changes in your weight in this case. You can also get in the habit of having 1-2 keto days a week as a kind of cyclical keto diet [8].

In this case, you can allow a little more carbs on carb days and avoid them completely on your keto days. One day without carbohydrates will allow you to lose a couple of pounds of extra fluid that carbs hold on to. However, if you eat too many carbs the next day, you will get your couple of pounds back. Therefore, be moderate and combine keto days with the gradual adaptation of your body to carbs.

Don’t Ignore Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting can help you if you want to stop the keto diet and maintain your healthy weight by adding carbs. In fact, the main principle of intermittent fasting is that you can eat any food but only for a strict period of time. And the more you allow yourself, the smaller your food window should be.

For many people, intermittent fasting is a great way to maintain weight because it allows you to avoid different calculations and proportions. All you have to do is watch the clock. You can choose from a variety of intermittent fasting plans to maintain weight, from complete fasting 1 day per week to 8-10 hours of food intake per day.

Of course, intermittent fasting is not a reason to have a feast every day because, in the end, the number of your calories also matters [9]. If you double your calorie intake and stick to intermittent fasting, you can still gain weight. So give preference to healthy food, and avoid processed food, trans fats, and sugar. It’s not for nothing that you have been building your perfect body on keto for so long, right?

Conclusion

The keto diet has no time limit, and you can follow it for the rest of your life. However, you may have different reasons for ending keto. How to maintain your healthy weight after completing a low-carb diet? You need to decide what efforts will be acceptable for you so that you can stick to them all your life or at least for a long enough period. After all, no one wants to regain excess weight after completing the diet. However, a healthy lifestyle should not be a burden to you. So set small goals for yourself and let your body adjust to the smallest changes in your lifestyle.

The most important thing you need to do to maintain a healthy weight after keto is to avoid high amounts of carbs, processed foods, and sugar. Instead, add carbs in small amounts to see how your body reacts to changes. If you’ve gained a couple of extra pounds, use keto days or intermittent fasting to bring your weight back to normal.

 

Sources:

  1. Barber TM, Hanson P, Kabisch S, Pfeiffer AFH, Weickert MO. The Low-Carbohydrate Diet: Short-Term Metabolic Efficacy Versus Longer-Term Limitations. 2021 Apr 3;13(4):1187. doi: 10.3390/nu13041187. PMID: 33916669; PMCID: PMC8066770.
  2. Wylie-Rosett, J., Aebersold, K., Conlon, B., Isasi, C. R., & Ostrovsky, N. W. (2013). Health effects of low-carbohydrate diets: where should new research go?. Current diabetes reports13(2), 271–278. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11892-012-0357-5
  3. Hall, K. D., & Kahan, S. (2018). Maintenance of Lost Weight and Long-Term Management of Obesity. The Medical clinics of North America102(1), 183–197. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mcna.2017.08.012
  4. Soleymani, T., Daniel, S., & Garvey, W. T. (2016). Weight maintenance: challenges, tools and strategies for primary care physicians. Obesity reviews : an official journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity17(1), 81–93. https://doi.org/10.1111/obr.12322
  5. Macro Calculator by com
  6. Kell RT, Bell G, Quinney A. Musculoskeletal fitness, health outcomes and quality of life. Sports Med. 2001;31(12):863-73. doi: 10.2165/00007256-200131120-00003. PMID: 11665913.
  7. Hillsdon M, Foster C. What are the health benefits of muscle and bone strengthening and balance activities across life stages and specific health outcomes? J Frailty Sarcopenia Falls. 2018 Jun 1;3(2):66-73. doi: 10.22540/JFSF-03-066. PMID: 32300695; PMCID: PMC7155322.
  8. Kysel, P., Haluzíková, D., Doležalová, R. P., Laňková, I., Lacinová, Z., Kasperová, B. J., Trnovská, J., Hrádková, V., Mráz, M., Vilikus, Z., & Haluzík, M. (2020). The Influence of Cyclical Ketogenic Reduction Diet vs. Nutritionally Balanced Reduction Diet on Body Composition, Strength, and Endurance Performance in Healthy Young Males: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients12(9), 2832. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12092832
  9. Wilhelmi de Toledo F, Grundler F, Sirtori CR, Ruscica M. Unravelling the health effects of fasting: a long road from obesity treatment to healthy life span increase and improved cognition. Ann Med. 2020 Aug;52(5):147-161. doi: 10.1080/07853890.2020.1770849. Epub 2020 Jun 10. PMID: 32519900; PMCID: PMC7877980.

 

About

Ana Rinkevich is a freelance writer specializing in health, nutrition, fitness, and weight loss. Over the past 10 years, she has used various methods to deal with obesity, metabolic syndrome, and eating disorders. Proud keto follower for 6 years - lost 100 pounds and fought insulin resistance. Ana shares her experience, tips, and motivation to help people use eating habits for better health and harmony with the body.