How To Quit Your Low-Carb Diet Without Gaining Back All The Weight
Step one: Take it slow.
Low-carb diets like Keto, Atkins, and Paleo are huge, but it’s understandable that you might not want to be on them forever. After all, carbs are pretty delicious and it’s crazy to think that you might never, ever enjoy bread again.
That said, people usually lose weight when they ditch carbs, so it’s normal to worry that you might regain weight that you’ve lost when you go off one of these diets. People tend to lose weight on low-carb diets because carbohydrates are stored with water, says Beth Warren, R.D.N., founder of Beth Warren Nutrition and author of Living A Real Life With Real Food. “Once you eat less carbs, your body depletes the excess water weight and that results in weight loss,” she explains. People also tend to lose weight on low-carb diets because they’re more conscious of what they’re eating, says New York-based R.D. Jessica Cording.
But, of course, when you start eating carbs again, that water weight is likely to return. Plus, you may wind up going overboard on carbs (and calories) after denying yourself an entire food category for so long. (Speed up your progress towards your weight-loss goals with Women’s Health’s Look Better Naked DVD.)
If you want to introduce carbs back into your diet but don’t want to gain weight in the process, Warren recommends taking things slow and watching your portions. Having good, high-quality carbs makes a difference, too, says Julie Upton, R.D., cofounder of nutrition website Appetite for Health. That means focusing on vegetables, fruits, and whole grains for your carb sources vs. a big bowl of pasta, she says.
You can also try rotating the types of carbs you have like starchy vegetables and whole grains, so you provide your body with an array of different starches and fibers, Warren says. For example, you can have half a sweet potato for dinner and one slice of a sprouted grain bread with breakfast.
Finally, be aware of your food choices and don’t just go back to how you were eating pre-diet. “Many people just go back to eating as they were before that low-carb diet, which was usually the diet that caused them to gain the weight they wanted to lose in the first place,” Cording says.
Once you focus on having good, quality carbohydrates, “it’s pretty easy to enjoy plenty of carb-rich choices without gaining weight,” Upton says.