The Keto diet has been a popular diet all over the world in recent years to lose weight and get back control of your eating.
It has been effective for a lot of people, however, the big question is what happens when I get off the Keto diet? Will all the weight I’ve lost come back again?
The answer is dependent on how you manage the transition.
How does the Keto Diet work in the first place?
The Keto diet works on 2 main principles:
Reducing carbohydrates and upping fat intake
Unlike typical diets, that just involve a degree of kilojoule restriction (Such as the CSIRO diet or the intermittent fasting diet), the diet aims to change the source of your energy intake from mainly carbohydrates to fats. In a typical diet, Carbohydrate make up 40-50% of energy intake, but in the keto diet, Carbohydrate only make up 5% of energy intake and fats making up 75% of intake. This is too low for the body to rely on glucose, so it converts stored fats into Ketones, which it uses as an alternative form of energy. This also reduces the amount of insulin released by your body, so you store fat less, but also reduce your ability to build and maintain muscle mass, therefore lowering your basal metabolic rate in the long term.
Reducing kilojoule intake
By monitoring your eating habits, whether intentional or by default, you end up reducing your kilojoule intake overall. Reducing your kilojoule intake also add to weight loss (like with other diets).
The downside of the Keto Diet
Because of the reduced carbohydrate intake with the Keto diet, there are a couple of very particular side effects:
The ‘Keto flu’
The “Keto flu” is a typical side effect of the initial part of the diet. Due to the shift away from glucose, which is your brain’s preferred source of energy, people can often experience flu like symptoms, including poor energy and reduced ability to concentrate, sleeping issues and digestive discomfort. This can pass and the severity and duration will depend on the person
Due to reduced fibre and Vitamin C in your diet, it will effect both your bowel habits and your ability to fight infections. Supplementation of Vitamin C, Fibre and Salts and Minerals are needed when on the Keto diet
So, once I’ve achieved my weight loss goal, how do come off the diet without a rebound weight gain or side effects?
Firstly and most importantly,
Introduce carbohydrates slowly
It doesn’t mean going nuts and loading up on high energy, low nutrient carbohydrate such as donuts and cookies. It does mean introducing low-energy, high nutrient carbohydrates such as vegetables like broccoli, sweet potato and squash. You can start by introducing carbohydrates into one meal, say for a week, then two meals the next week, then 3 meals etc.
Start with 1 cup of low energy carbohydrates, which you will ultimately increase to 1.5 to 2 cups per meal in the long run. Adding low energy carbohydrates will mean you have more fibre, folate and vitamin C in your diet. This will make your bowel movements easier and more regular and your cholesterol profile should improve. However, as adding fibre into your diet can have a sudden effect on your digestive system, monitor how you response and increase or reduce the amount you have per meal based on how you feel.
You may gain some weight from more fluid (This is normal)
The initial weight loss in the Keto diet is from fluid loss as carbohydrate holds onto water, rather than true weight loss. So, when you re-commence eating carbohydrates you will retain some fluid. This will normalise and as long as you continue to eat low-energy, high nutrient density carbohydrates which contain fibre, it will help maintain your ideal weight.
Maintaining a sensible kilojoule intake
Some of the weight loss you have achieved was not due to the Keto effect, but due to reducing your overall kilojoule intake with the diet. So when you re-introduce carbohydrate, it’s important to also not increase your kilojoule intake. If you focus on introducing low-energy, high nutrient dense carbohydrates, you should be able to shift the nutrient energy balance without increasing your kilojoule intake. In addition, as it is easier to maintain your lean muscle mass on a higher carbohydrate diet, you should find it easier to maintain your weight loss in the long term. This increases your basal metabolic rate, as both glucose and insulin are needed to grow and maintain you muscle mass.
Maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle for the long term
And probably the most important point of all. Just how you have made eating a Keto diet routine, making a routine of eating healthy, low-energy, high nutrient dense carbohydrate should be made into a routine for long term success.
How can we help you at MD Health?
If you would like to know more about the Keto diet and how to safely transition off the Keto diet why not book one of our Nutritional Information Sessions at MD Health? Contact us on email@example.com or call us on 03 9857 0644 for more details.
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