Keto Cheat Days
How To Handle Them And Avoid Future Temptations
I used to go through diets more often than I bought new runners. One of the main reasons for all the failed attempts is that cheating the odd day was a bit naughty but not detrimental in the short term.
Sure, how bad could a slice of pizza be?
The problem in doing this while you’re on the keto diet is that you can quickly be kicked out of ketosis.
This is reversible and probably won’t completely mess up your fat burning goals, but there are good and bad ways to have a keto diet cheat day.
Ultimately, you shouldn’t be asking “can you have a cheat day on keto,” but rather “how do you handle cheat meals?”
Even though I’ve been doing keto for 5 years now, I still have moments of weakness at parties and especially around Thanksgiving, thanks to my mum’s cooking.
But, I have worked out ways to handle these small moments.
And I will share them all with you now.
Will A Cheat Day Throw Me Out Of Ketosis?
Yes, it is absolutely possible to be kicked out of ketosis if you suddenly take in a load of carbs. When this happens, you basically have to start the induction phase over again. (More info about the induction phase here)
Before you start to panic though, it’s not going to take as long as when you first started with this healthy lifestyle change. Unless, of course, you’ve gone on a total carbohydrates binge and loaded up on sugar with tons of treats.
I can say from my own experience that being thrown out of ketosis is worse than seeing a spike in weight watchers points on your chart.
Your body will have switched back into a metabolic mode that you want to avoid, and it will take some work to fix this.
At the same time, when you get as much experience in dealing with these moments of weakness, you’ll find a process that will quickly resolve it.
First, though, let’s look at some numbers.
How Many Carbs Can Get You Out Of Ketosis?
For most people, a keto meal plan (see more) will aim to average about 30 g of net carbs per day to stay in ketosis. On some higher intensity workout days that might increase to 50 g or a little more.
Generally speaking, you would aim to get below 50 g of carbs during the induction phase, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that this is the cutoff point where you would be kicked out of ketosis.
While I don’t have scientific evidence, I believe that going above 100 g in a single day will almost definitely kick you out.
Effects Of Cheat Meals On The Keto Diet
If you are keeping diabetes at bay with your low-carb or keto diet, cheating is generally a bad idea. When you eat carbs, your blood sugar can spike to dangerously high levels. Every time this happens you increase the risk of long-term complications like blindness, dementia, amputations, etc.
Now, let me introduce you to my weak points that lead me to break the rules.
The 6 Main Reasons Why You Cheat
There are probably much more than these, but this is a personal collection from my own experience.
Whenever I have an unplanned weak moment, I highlight it in my food journal so that I can go back and analyze it later.
How To Get Back On Track:
The first thing to do is not panic and certainly don’t just jack in the entire diet.
The good news is that with just a few simple tricks you can be back on track with your goals and learn from this lesson.
Do not punish yourself either, or let guilt torture you. Just because you didn’t manage to follow your diet to the letter, doesn’t mean that all your progress is lost and that your efforts were in vain.
Cheating The Proper Way On A Keto Diet:
Now, if you’re planning a vacation, or know you’ll be in a situation where it’s difficult to say no, then just plan ahead a little and make it a bit easier for yourself.
Basic Intermittent Fasting - Eat all of your meals in a day within a 6-8 hour time frame. An example would be 10 am to 6 pm and fasting for 16 hours between.
Dr. Isaac Jones
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Are Cheat Days Good For You?
No, keto cheat days are not good for you in the sense that they will mess up your goals.
But because keto cheat recovery can be very fast, the downsides can be reduced with the right actions.
2. What Happens If You Cheat On Keto?
When you cheat on keto, you can be kicked out of ketosis if you gorge on too many carbs.
Dependent on what your keto cheat meal was, this can happen in less than 24 hours and take 1 to 4 days to rectify again.
The general idea is for a better-balanced diet with fewer calories spread out over multiple smaller snacks and dinners.
3. Can One Cheat Day Make You Gain Weight?
Yes, one cheat day can make you put on some pounds as you will start to restore glycogen reserves.
However, what’s most likely is that you hit a keto cheat day plateau, where previous weight reduction levels off for a few days.
4. Will One Cheat Day Ruin Ketosis?
Yes, one cheat day can ruin ketosis, but this will be an easy thing to fix if you take immediate action.
Follow the above tips straight away, and you’ll be back in business in no time.
5. How Long Does It Take To Get Back Into Ketosis After A Cheat?
It usually takes between 1 and 4 days to get back into ketosis after a low carb diet cheat day.
This can vary and depends on how committed you are to taking immediate action to resolve the problem and how bad your breakout was.
At this stage, you should have a full understanding of why you should avoid excessive cheating but still embrace it every once in a while. The above tips will help you plan it better and also limit the amount of recovery time.
Whether that’s intermittent fasting or hitting the gym hard with some ketone supplements, you will work out a solution. Within just a couple of days, you’ll be back on target and better equipped to stay in ketosis.
If you have some extra tips, then please let us know.