Table with keto-related food to help with weight loss

How to maintain weight loss after keto

Written on January 30, 2023 by Amy Harris, MS, RN, CNM. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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Keto is a popular diet because, for some, it can be an effective way to lose a lot of weight quickly. Congratulations if you are one of the lucky ones who successfully achieved weight loss following the keto diet. You should know, however, that most medical professionals discourage following the keto diet for longer than six months [1], so you will eventually have to transition to a less-restrictive form of healthy eating. Unfortunately, because keto is such a restrictive diet, many people gain weight once they stop it. Everlywell is here to support you post-keto with six tips for how to maintain weight loss after keto.

Why do people gain weight after keto?

In reality, most people who lose weight on any kind of diet regain weight and sometimes gain back more than they lost. Only 20 percent of dieters who start off overweight have success losing weight and keeping it off for the long term [2].

Weight gain after keto is even more likely because it is ultra-restrictive—severely restricting your carbohydrate intake to less than 5 percent of your total daily caloric intake.

People tend to gain weight after following the keto diet for several reasons:

  1. They don’t exercise enough
  2. They return to eating high-sugar, ultra-processed foods [1]
  3. They don’t eat enough fiber
  4. They continue to eat high-fat, protein-heavy meals with red meat
  5. They give up newly learned healthy habits when they regain some weight initially
  6. They don’t work with a registered dietician, nutritionist, or medical provider to develop a personalized post-keto diet plan

Plan ahead before stopping the keto diet

So, the first tip Everlywell can give is to prepare for an inevitable post-keto weight gain. Try not to be scared if you see your numbers on the scale start to creep up—it does not mean you are a complete failure. It will take time for your metabolism and your body to recalibrate after stopping the keto diet (up to two weeks, according to some experts) [1].

The second essential tip: Don’t go it alone. Talk with a healthcare provider, dietitian, or nutritionist to develop a personalized, sustainable post-keto plan. Continue having them check your blood work closely to make sure your blood glucose level and liver and kidney functions are in a healthy range. Your health is more than a number on a scale or the fit of your favorite jeans.

Six tips for maintaining weight loss after keto

The person you work with to develop your post-keto diet plan should encourage you to:

  1. Exercise at least 30 minutes at least five days a week [3]
  2. Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast [3]
  3. Don’t add back too much protein
  4. Pay attention to your fiber intake
  5. Manage stress and get enough sleep
  6. Practice self-acceptance and self-care

We all know the stress that stepping on the scale or buttoning up a tight pair of jeans can cause. Turning down the self-judgment dial and trusting your body’s ability to find a healthy place to land post-keto can help ease your anxiety levels.

Paying attention to your mental health should be a part of your successful weight loss plan. Be aware of eating as a response to stress. Remember that a temporary return to old habits does not mean failure. Find ways to boost your self-confidence and celebrate your healthier choices.

Keep moving to maintain your weight loss after keto

Regular exercise is one such healthy choice for your post-keto life. Sleeping well is another. Try to stick to a regular sleep schedule and exercise plan to curb post-keto weight gain.

Long-term weight loss success (and improved health) depends on regular physical activity [3]. This is even more important coming off of keto as you gradually increase your carb and calorie intake. Burning 1,500 to 2,000 calories per week through physical exercise is recommended for maintaining weight loss. You may need to work out for longer or more frequently during your initial post-keto weeks and months as you figure out your ideal calorie, protein, and carb balance [4]. Talk with your nutritionist, dietician, or healthcare provider about your planned workouts to ensure the number of calories you take in matches the number you burn when exercising.

Choose healthy proteins, complex carbs, and home cooking post-keto

Dieticians recommend eating at least 50 grams of protein a day post-keto and focusing on more plant-based protein sources such as beans, lentils, tofu, and edamame[1]. Fiber works to help slow down digestion and help you feel fuller faster. Avoid simple carbs (white pasta, white bread, potatoes, sugar, baked goods) because they can cause rapid spikes and troughs in your blood sugar—causing fatigue, irritability, increased hunger, and sugar cravings.

Vegetables are a great source of fiber, as are complex carbs such as bean-based pasta, crackers with seeds, or sprouted breads. Be sure to wash down all of that fiber with plenty of water—many of us reach for a snack because we think we are hungry when, in fact, we are thirsty.

Teaching yourself how to cook or making a commitment to eat more of your meals at home is another key strategy for maintaining your weight loss. In your own kitchen, you can control your portion size and how much butter, oil, salt, or sugar you add. People who make food at home eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains than those who rely on processed, packaged, or away-from-home meals [5].

Keto-cycling could lead to harmful weight-cycling

Weight cycling is losing and regaining weight multiple times [4]. Keto-cycling is like “keto-lite”—following a keto diet a few days in a row, followed by a day at a more normal carbohydrate consumption level before returning to a stricter keto diet.

The problem with going on and off the strict or keto-lite version of keto is that your weight may “yo-yo” up and down. Some studies suggest that weight cycling or yo-yo dieting may harm your health [4]. Health risks of weight cycling include high blood pressure, gallbladder disease, and high cholesterol. However, these findings do not apply to everybody.

The best strategy for achieving a healthy weight is to avoid weight cycling through a commitment to increased physical activity and healthy eating over the long term in a sustainable way.

Partner with Everlywell on your healthy living journey

In addition to our six tips for maintaining weight loss after keto, Everlywell’s option for weight management online and innovative collection of at-home laboratory tests can boost your chances for successful weight loss maintenance post-keto.

You do not need to navigate your healthy living journey alone. When it comes to successful long-term weight loss, people do better when they are part of a community and are supported with information, tools, and emotional encouragement [3]. Our bodies and their health are individual and complex. Everlywell is your health partner at any weight or on any diet.

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  1. How to smoothly transition off of the keto diet? Cleveland Clinic. URL. Published April 10, 2019. Accessed January 30, 2023.
  2. Wing RR, Phelan S. Long-term weight loss maintenance. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005;82(1 Suppl):222S-225S. doi:10.1093/ajcn/82.1.222S. URL.
  3. Healthy Weight, Nutrition, and Physical Activity. CDC. URL. Published May 15, 2015. Accessed January 30, 2023.
  4. Maintaining Weight Loss. Johns Hopkins Medicine. URL. Accessed January 30, 2023.
  5. Tiwari A, Aggarwal A, Tang W, Drewnowski A. Cooking at Home: A Strategy to Comply With U.S. Dietary Guidelines at No Extra Cost. Am J Prev Med. 2017;52(5):616-624. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2017.01.017. URL.
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