- I lost 40 pounds in a year on the keto diet, but then I wanted to quit.
- To quit without gaining all of the weight back, I used "maintenance keto."
- Maintenance keto is a period when you increase your carbohydrate count and decrease fat consumption.
When I started the keto diet, I was the heaviest I'd ever been.
By the end of the 12 months, I'd lost 40 pounds. Following the keto diet was easier than I expected, I ate foods I loved, and I always felt satiated.
So once my body was at a point where I felt healthy and strong, I consulted with nutritional experts to begin my version of "maintenance keto," a transition out of following a strict keto diet when you gradually increase your carbohydrate count and decrease fat consumption.
Some choose to stay on keto-friendly foods but increase carbohydrates with green vegetables. Others decide to incorporate food outside of keto and stick to under 50 grams of carbs. Some use this period to transition into a fully balanced macro diet with no limitations.
Although it worked for me, it's important to note the keto diet is not ideal for everyone and can come with risks. These are the steps I took with my network of experts while listening to my body. It's important to consult with your doctor before drastically changing your diet.
I used 6 months of maintenance to transition out of the diet and ensure I could healthily maintain weight
I think because I was following clean keto — a version of the diet that focuses on supplying your macro fat count with mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats like fish, avocado, and seeds — my transition was easier.
Instead of living by convenient macro numbers that would drive up my fat intake, I listened to my body and balanced healthy fats with carbs from vegetable produce to help make up my daily food intake.
In my first few months of keto maintenance, I began increasing my carbohydrate count.
On strict keto, my carbohydrate count was at 20 to 30 grams a day (mostly from green vegetables). For the first month of maintenance keto, I increased my carbohydrate intake to 45 to 50 grams daily while decreasing my fat intake to make up the difference. I kept my protein intake and menu of food items the same.
I focused on eating more green vegetables while minimizing extra healthy fat additions to my meals. I still cooked with oils and ate fatty pieces of meat, but cut out fat bombs or extra avocado and nuts.
For months two through four, I stuck with roughly 50 to 60 grams of carbohydrates a day. I also ventured into fruits and vegetables with heavier carbohydrate counts, like squash and carrots.
On months five and six of maintenance, I stepped back from counting macros and began opening up my diet to more foods, including a little bit of dairy. I began following more of a paleo diet, which consists of meats, nuts, seeds, healthy oils, and produce (including most fruits and vegetables).
On month six, I began having foods I ate before keto and saw how they interacted with my body.
For example, the first bite of a traditional milk-chocolate bar with cane sugar after a year and a half of no sugar tasted grossly sweet. I couldn't believe I ate sugar for so long without seeing how incredibly sweet it was. My favorite food was always potatoes, but when I ate one after 18 months it initially tasted bland and my heart was broken.
Month six was taking elements of keto, paleo, and my new preferences or aversions to food and making them my own. I also learned about what made me feel energized after eating or what made me feel bloated or tired.
Overall, maintenance keto worked for me and my lifestyle
By going 12 months on keto, and six on maintenance keto, I lost 40 pounds and felt at peace and in love with the way I felt (body image aside).
During months five and six, I gained a few pounds. But for the two years that followed, my weight generally stayed in the same 5-pound range. As someone who could fluctuate 5 pounds a day consistently, I couldn't believe it.
My body, at that point, was exactly where it wanted to be.