I quit the keto diet after losing 40 pounds in a year. Here’s how I kept weight at bay using “maintenance keto”.

the author next to a plate of sausage, eggs, avocado and asparagus

I enjoyed the keto diet, but didn’t want to stick with it forever.Elizabeth Blasi / Rachel Hosie

  • I lost 40lbs in one year on the keto diet, but then I wanted to quit.

  • To quit without regaining all the weight, I used “maintenance keto”.

  • Maintenance keto is a time when you increase your carbohydrate count and decrease your fat burning.

When I started the keto diet, I was the heaviest I’ve ever been.

By the end of the 12 months, I had lost 40 pounds. Following the keto diet was easier than I expected, I ate foods I loved and always felt full.

Weight loss was my initial goal, but after a year I started not recognizing my body and losing curves. My dilemma was that if I gave up keto, how would I not regain weight?

So once my body was at a point where I felt healthy and strong, I consulted with nutrition experts to start my version of “maintenance keto,” a transition from following a strict keto diet as you gradually increase your number of carbohydrates and decrease the consumption of fat.

Some choose to stick to keto-friendly foods but up the carbs with green vegetables. Others decide to incorporate food outside of the keto and stick to less than 50 grams of carbs. Some use this period to switch to a fully balanced macro diet with no limitations.

While it worked for me, it’s important to note that the keto diet isn’t ideal for everyone and can come with some risks. These are the steps I took with my network of experts while listening to my body. It is important to consult with your doctor before drastically changing your diet.

I used 6 months of maintenance to get off the diet and make sure I could maintain weight healthily

I think since I was following clean keto – a version of the diet that focuses on providing your macro fat count with mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats like fish, avocado, and seeds – my transition was easier.

Instead of living by comfortable macro numbers that would increase my fat intake, I listened to my body and balanced healthy fats with plant product carbohydrates to help offset my daily food intake.

In my first few months of keto maintenance, I started increasing my carb count.

Under strict keto, my carb count was between 20 and 30 grams per day (mostly from green vegetables). For the first month of keto maintenance, I increased my carbohydrate intake from 45 to 50 grams per day, while decreasing my fat intake to make up for the difference. I kept the same protein intake and food menu.

I focused on eating more green vegetables while minimizing the additions of extra healthy fats to my meals. I still cooked in the oil and ate chunks of fat meat, but I cut the fat bombs or the extra avocado and nuts.

For the second through fourth months, I was left with about 50-60 grams of carbs per day. I also ventured into fruits and vegetables with heavier carbohydrate numbers, such as squash and carrots.

In months five and six of maintenance, I took a step back from macro counting and started opening up my diet to more foods, including some dairy. I started following a more paleo diet, which consists of meat, nuts, seeds, healthy oils, and products (including most fruits and vegetables).

By the sixth month, I started taking foods I ate before keto and saw how they interacted with my body.

For example, the first bite of a traditional brown sugar milk chocolate bar after a year and a half without sugar tasted coarse. I couldn’t believe I had been eating 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.

The sixth month was to take elements of keto, paleo and my new preferences or aversions to food and make them my own. I also learned what energized me after eating or what made me feel bloated or tired.

Overall, maintenance keto has worked for me and my lifestyle

An omelette and a half avocado.

Even though I’m not currently on a keto or maintenance keto diet, I frequently visit these two eating lifestyles.Rachel Hosie / Insider

By spending 12 months on keto and six on maintenance keto, I lost 40lbs 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 next two years, my weight generally remained in the same 5-pound range. As someone who could constantly fluctuate 5 pounds a day, I couldn’t believe it.

My body, at that point, was exactly where it wanted to be.

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