So you've reached your weight loss goal using a ketogenic diet, now what?
You're asking yourself how to transition off keto and not balloon back to your old weight right?
And you'd be right in doing so because it's not the fat loss that's hard…
It's keeping the weight off.
6 out of 7 overweight individuals can successfully shed weight during their lifetime.
However, around 90% of those individuals will fail and keeping the weight off over the long term. What's even worse is up to 2/3 of those individuals will gain back MORE weight than they lost.
How to transition off keto? The transition from keto, regardless of which diet you choose afterward, should be made alongside sustainable habits and lifestyle changes.
How to properly come off a keto diet
There are many reasons why people choose to end their ketogenic diet.
- You've reached your goal
- You miss carbohydrates
- You don't feel as good as people said you would
- You just want to switch it up
Whichever the reason, I'll cover how you can transition to some other popular “diets” while not ballooning back to your old weight.
Transitioning from keto to paleo
Transitioning from keto to paleo may be one of the most effortless transitions.
If your diet was filled with whole and unprocessed foods, you're basically eating 90% “paleo friendly” foods.
If this is the case, the only difference now is adding in whole and unprocessed carbohydrates.
This includes any and all fruits along with starchy vegetables like potatoes, sweet potato, butternut squash, beets, etc.
It's not that you could not eat these foods before, but you would probably only be able to eat so little of them before going over your carb allotment for the day.
Transition from keto to a “normal diet.”
When someone says they want to transition from keto to a regular diet, you need to realize that “normal” means different things to different people.
Take my girlfriend; for example, she grew up eating home-cooked meals full of lean proteins and vegetables. On the other hand, I grew up eating Costco frozen snacks, spam, and fast food.
So when I say “normal,” I'll assume you want to be able to eat any and everything.
You basically don't want to have any food restriction. If that's the case, you'll have to be more mindful of your food choices.
Reason being, this can open up the flood gates to what landed you in the predicament of trying to lose weight in the first place.
You might find yourself justifying little things here and there until you're eventually back with your old eating habits.
Some simple tips for transitioning to a more “normal” diet include:
- Focusing on protein and vegetables first
- Not letting one bad meal de-rail you
- Planning ahead, especially if eating out
- Meal prepping
- Exercise, if you're not already doing so.
Switching from keto to weight watchers
If you're looking at switching from keto to weight watchers, you will be introduced into a point system.
Based on your age, weight, height, gender, etc. weight watchers will determine your daily point allowance, similar to how many calories you can eat in a day.
Although, Instead of tracking calories, different foods are assigned a certain amount of points.
Much like a “normal” diet, there are no foods off limits. Every food has a certain amount of points attached to it that you can find on their website or app.
There is no particular way to transition to weight watchers except to follow their plan and make adjustments when necessary.
Switching from keto to vegetarian
Maybe you're doing a complete overhaul and switching from keto to a vegetarian diet.
You could potentially still remain on a keto diet, but you would need to be mindful of your food choices, especially when it comes to protein.
Only protein from animals contain all essential amino acids in the proper amounts needed to thrive, but you can combine things like nuts and seeds or include foods such as Greek yogurt (Fage, Two Good, and Oikos are great brands) and eggs and make do.
Aside from that, if you choose not to stay keto, then simply start incorporating plant-based carbs like potatoes, and even grains if you wish to include them.
Reintroducing carbs after ketosis
No matter which diet you choose to transition to after keto, it's likely to contain a lot more carbs than you've been used to.
I'd recommend introducing carbohydrates slowly and gradually over a month.
Reason being, your body doesn't contain the same digestive enzymes in once had before you going keto.
BUT, that's nothing to worry about.
Once you start reintroducing carbohydrates, the body will up-regulate the enzymes required to digest carbohydrates, similar to the way your body increased enzymes needed to use fats and ketones when switching to a ketogenic diet.
What this looks like in practice:
- Week 1: 75g of carbs per day
- Week 2: 100g of carbs per day
- Week 3: 125g of carbs per day
- Week 4: 160g of carbs per day
Of course, this number will vary based on your overall intake and your specific needs.
Realize, that when you do reintroduce carbohydrates after keto, you WILL gain weight.
Again, not to worry, because most… if not all of that weight gain is increased glycogen (stored carbohydrates) and water weight.
Assuming you're not going off the rails with your diet.
For every gram of carbohydrate stored, you will store around 3 grams of water along with it. If your tank is empty and you start filling it up, you can expect to gain anywhere from one to five pounds in just water alone.
Taking a break from keto for vacation
Wanting to take a break from keto for an upcoming vacation?
It may be a good idea to start reintroducing a small number of carbs a week or two before your vacation. We're not talking about massive amounts of carbs, but 50-100 grams may be a good starting point.
For the same reason laid out above, your body simply doesn't have the digestive enzymes to handle a lot of carbohydrates if you've been on a ketogenic diet for some time now.
Introducing a small number of carbohydrates before the vacation should better equip you to handle a less rigid diet.
You may also want to give my other article can you have a cheat day on keto a read.
What happens if you go off keto on weekends or have a keto cheat day once a week
First, if you are going to incorporate days of higher carbohydrates, I would at least spend a minimum of 3 weeks on a strict ketogenic diet before doing so.
In theory, this should allow you to become fat-adapted and make for a smoother transition when you jump back onto a keto diet.
How to get back into ketosis quickly after cheating or vacation
If you're wondering how to get back into ketosis quickly after cheat or a vacation then simply just cut out your carbohydrates.
If you're looking for the absolute quickest way to get into ketosis, then you would simply fast.
I find that regardless of what you do, you'll generally be back into ketosis with 48-72 hours if you're limiting your carbohydrates after a cheat or vacation.
Coming out of ketosis without gaining weight
Sometimes the scale can play tricks on us. Just realize that the scale can't differentiate between muscle, water, fat, or food sitting in your gut.
If you're looking to switch from a ketogenic diet to a diet with more carbohydrates without gaining weight, then you have two ways to go about it.
Sorry, some weight is inevitable. Remember that for every gram of carbohydrate your body stores you will store an additional three grams of water.
You can expect on average one to five pounds of weight gain, but realize it's not fat and only water, glycogen, and even food in your gut (assuming you're not going crazy eating everything in sight).
Slowly reintroduce carbs
If you want to forego the shock of gaining five pounds overnight, then the best method is to reintroduce carbohydrates SLOWLY.
Again, scroll up for an example of what you can do in terms of reintroducing carbohydrates over 4 weeks.
How to transition off keto wrap up
For many, keto is a lifestyle, and for others, it's just a tool to achieve a certain weight or health outcome.
If you're looking to transition off keto, your best bet is to reintroduce carbohydrates over a month slowly.
I'd suggest adding in 25 to 50 grams of carbohydrates to your daily intake per week.
Realize that some weight gain is inevitable, but it's likely just water weight.