Now and then, no matter what diet you follow, a cheat day is bound to come around, whether it’s a special meal to celebrate an occasion or a vacation where you simply can’t resist temptation.
So, how quickly can you get back on track after cheating on a keto diet, and what happens when you go against the grain?
Cheating on keto certainly isn’t the end of the world. However, depending on how much you consider to be a “cheat,” a few things can occur, such as a spike in blood sugar levels or falling out of ketosis.
While this can be frustrating, restoring all your hard work doesn’t take much.
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What is Ketosis?
Ketosis is the metabolic state your body reaches after you’ve lowered the amount of carbs you consume and replaced them with healthy fats.
When this happens, your body begins burning fat for fuel instead of carbs.
It takes the body around two to four days to get into ketosis. However, this ultimately depends on how strict you are with the diet, your age, weight, and circumstances. But, regardless of how long it takes, it won’t be a long-term procedure, so long as you’re following the keto diet to the book.
To remain in ketosis, you should consume between 20g – 50g of carbohydrates daily. When you consider there is 15g of carbs in just a single slice of bread, cheat days are likely to rear their head from time to time. Get your exact carb needs by using a keto calculator.
Therefore, having a cheat day here and there isn’t going to ruin your hard work too severely.
What Happens When You Cheat on Keto?
Cheat days are usually a part of most diets; they allow you to have something to look forward to or a goal at the end of a week or a month’s hard work. However, there is a process that takes place when you indulge in that cheat meal on keto.
The main effect of this is a spike in blood sugar levels. This will result in a sudden surge of energy and a sudden crash.
There are also some risks associated with cheating on keto, which is said to cause heart problems because of this sudden spike in blood sugar. This is especially the case if you have diabetes.
Suppose you’re following a keto diet with diabetes. In that case, it’s recommended to plan any cheat meals carefully and get advice from a personal dietician who can advise you on what’s best to avoid.
Another thing that happens is that the release of ketones will stop, and your body will start using the consumed sugar to replenish glycogen; this could lead to short-term water weight gain.
However, one good thing to note is that going off plan from your keto diet for a single day isn’t going to affect your body fat. Within a few days of being back on track, ketosis will kick in.
Recovering From A Cheat Day on Keto
Once you’ve enjoyed your cheat meal, you will want to focus on getting back into ketosis the following day.
One thing many people make the mistake of doing is falling off the wagon after a cheat day, so it’s best to plan these and stick to them.
Here are some steps you can take to get back on track.
- Move More – The more you exercise, the more you will deplete your glycogen stores. Going for a long walk or hitting the gym the day after your cheat meal can help you get back into ketosis faster.
- Stay Hydrated – Drinking plenty of water will help you replace lost electrolytes.
- Positivity and Focus – It can be easy to fall off the wagon after a cheat day or feel like you’ve let yourself down. One cheat day here and there will NOT make you fail unless you allow yourself to. Remain focused on your objective and adopt the mindset that will get you there.
- Intermittent Fasting – After a cheat day, try intermittent fasting for between 12 and 16 hours. It will force your body to use its glycogen stores.
- Keep Up With Sleep – Sometimes, a cheat day goes hand in hand with a heavy weekend or a late night. Lack of sleep is proven to increase carb cravings and could send you in circles back to binge eating. Either way, keeping up with your beauty sleep is vital when getting back into ketosis.
It can be wise to avoid cheat days or meals while on the keto diet, at least until you’ve met your goals, particularly if you have long-term health and fitness objectives.
Use these top suggestions for a seamless return to ketosis if you do permit the occasional cheat day or meal.
And, if you want some tasty ideas for keto recipes that can help banish those cravings altogether, why not learn how to make some keto-friendly pizza crusts at home?