This Is What Happens When You Stop Doing Keto

It's high in fat but low in carbohydrates. And while it may have worked for you, your body may be telling you that it's time to get off the keto diet. No one is likely to judge you for wanting to stop grazing on fatty food, and there are several reasons you might want to do so. 

"One reason a person may want to stop keto dieting is if their lipid panel worsens," registered dietitian Haley Hughes tells Shape. "If a person who is at a high risk for heart disease is eating increased amounts of saturated fat and sources of cholesterol while consuming less fiber from whole grains, beans, fruits, and starchy vegetables, they may see increased cholesterol levels."

So how will your body respond when you say it's time to quit keto?

The downside of going off the keto diet

"When you're not on a keto diet, you consume a fair amount of carbohydrates... so when you go on a keto diet one of the things that happens quite quickly is that, because your glycogen stores are depleted, you do lose water weight," registered dietitian Andy Bugatti says (via Insider).

So when you stop doing keto, expect that the water weight will come back on. "When you reintroduce carbs you also introduce additional water; with every gram of carb, you get 4 grams of water," dietitian Shoshana Pritzker tells Shape. "This can make you feel like you've gained a ton of weight rapidly, though much of it is probably water retention." 

But even if you stick to healthier, unprocessed carbs, bloating could come to haunt you. "The most common issue that people deal with is bloating and intestinal issues because of the re-introduction of fibrous foods," dietitian Taylor Engelke says; but as long as you stick to unrefined carbs, the bloat should disappear anywhere from between a few days to a few weeks.

But there are benefits to coming off a keto diet

In a blog for the Food Network, registered dietitian Serena Ball says coming off keto can mean better cholesterol levels, because you'll no longer be consuming all that fatty food. Instead, she suggests adding 10 to 15 grams of unprocessed carbs a day through grains, fruits, and vegetables for the first seven days, and then building on that. Ball says you might even find that you're sleeping better at night because carbs can lead to a more restful sleep. 

Also, carbs come in many forms, so exiting a keto diet doesn't mean you're going to be consuming straight junk. "... I always like to remind people that carbohydrates aren't just bread and donuts," Bugatti says. "You get them in beans, brown rice, broccoli, fruit — even milk. There's a lot of healthy foods that have carbohydrates."

Going off keto translates also into better energy levels. "People may have increased energy after adding carbohydrate back into their diet since glucose (which is found in carbs) is your body's main fuel source," Hughes tells Shape

You could also find yourself feeling less foggy and sluggish, since your brain uses glucose to function, making mental clarity one of the best rewards for coming off the keto diet.