Oh yeah, we’ve all been there. When I went from 260-something to 159 pounds back in the day, I had a very hard time coming out of it. But I was a 20-year-old idiot, T Nation wasn’t around yet, and I had lost the weight with running and near-starvation. Obviously a terrible plan, but I wasn’t fat anymore so I was satisfied briefly. Took me a long time to wise up, stop over-cardio’ing, start lifting again, and start packing in protein to fix the damage.
Most experienced lifters don’t have to worry too much about fat regain… if they keep themselves in check and don’t go nuts after a dieting phase. They love lifting and know what they’re doing, so that’s not a problem. And most don’t enjoy cardio, so they’re probably not going to overdo it. So it all comes down to diet.
You may consider a stepped approach or calorie cycling. With a stepped approach, you’d add 200-300 calories for a week and see what happens. Probably nothing in terms of fat regain. It’s psychologically reassuring. Just don’t get overly concerned about scale weight since water weight, glycogen etc. can throw that off and make it seem like you’re gaining fat when you aren’t. (That’s why I like the three belly-area measurements more than the scale: hard to fool those.)
With one form of calorie cycling, you’d basically go from a sensible “cut” to a maintenance phase, then back down to the cut. Notice we skip the “bulk” here. Lose, maintain, lose, maintain. These phases can be several weeks each, or even like this plan, where you diet hard for 5 days and refeed (cleanly) on the weekend: For Lifters Only: The Muscle-Sparing Fat Loss Diet
To keep it simple, avoiding regain is mainly about keeping protein intake high and avoiding the obvious junk foods. For you, I’d keep protein at above 180 grams, no matter the goal. (You’d get 168 of those plus the solid meal’s protein on the standard Level 1 V-Diet.)
So, depending on where you’re at now, you may want to bump up calories and maintain for a bit, THEN hit the V-Diet.
Lots of options.