Should You Have Cheat Days On The Keto Diet?

Since the ketogenic diet primarily is a low-carb, high-fat diet, it’s been popularized for the dramatic effects it has on weight loss, especially in the first week.

Due to the metabolic changes in your body once you start the diet, your body starts to enter a state of ketosis, which is your body burning fat for fuel instead of carbs.

The keto diet has very specific rules and guidelines, and you may be tempted by foods high in carbs. A lot of the time, it’s your body trying to fight your addiction to food.

Below you’ll learn whether or not it’s okay to have cheat days or cheat meals when you’re following the diet. Will you reverse all your hard work?

Read below to find out more if you can cheat when following the ketogenic diet.

Disrupting Ketosis With Cheat Meals Or Cheat Days

Many diets promote during certain times that you can have a cheat meal or even go as crazy as having a cheat day.

The reason for this, mostly, is because it can prevent your body from going into starvation mode when cutting calories. 

A cheat day means you can completely go off the rails for an entire day, where a cheat meal allows you to not be so food conscious for one of your meals.

People usually tend to stick to, or stay on diets longer if they have certain times where they can go off their diet periodically.

While a cheat day or even a cheat meal may be helpful for other diets, it’s not the route you should take on the ketogenic diet.

Your body needs to be in ketosis for it to use ketones as energy, and you’ll need to be under 50 grams of carbs each day. Any more and it’ll kick you out of ketosis. (1)

As soon as you make glucose available to your body by consuming carbohydrates, your body will immediately switch back to this source for fuel.

50 grams of carbs is not a lot to consume at all. Depending on the food you eat, you can easily consume that many carbs in a single meal. 

Studies have also shown that when you bring carbs back into your diet, there’s a possibility of damaging your blood vessels. (2)

It’s very easy to overeat even on cheat meals, and this is sure to sabotage all the effort you’ve put into your diet. 

While you’re not going to gain all your weight back after a cheat day or cheat meal, it’s promoting unhealthy eating habits. It’s also putting addiction chemicals back into your body, making it harder to stay away from these foods in the future.

As you can see, being in ketosis is the main goal of going on the keto diet since that’s the stage where you’re primed to burn through fat stores for energy.

By adding in cheat meals or cheat days into your diet, you will break out of being in ketosis and the metabolic state you’re in to burn fat.

Getting Back On Track After A Cheat Meal

I get it. It happens to the best of us.

If you’ve had a cheat meal, you’re almost certainly out of ketosis due to the spike in blood sugar. If you’ve had a cheat day, then you have no chance of being in ketosis.

To get back on track after kicking yourself out of ketosis is to go through the steps you did when starting the ketogenic diet.

This could take several days, depending on how overboard you went while cheating on your diet. (3)

Here are some helpful ideas to get you back to burning fat and getting into ketosis:

  1. Fast. Intermittent fasting has been known to bring people into ketosis quicker than not doing it.
  2. Tracking carbs. Be sure to use a tracking app to make sure you don’t go over your daily allowance of carbs. No more than 5% of your calories should be from carbohydrates.
  3. Exercise. By exerting energy through physical activity, your body will use your glycogen stores for energy. The more of this you can deplete, the faster you can get back into ketosis.
  4. MCT supplements. You can try adding a medium-chain triglyceride supplement into your diet as they are absorbed rapidly by the body and converted into ketones.

The only way to know for sure if you’ve entered a state of ketosis is to test yourself. You can use urine strips, get blood taken, or ketone breath meters.

If you’ve cheated on your diet, get back on track as soon as possible. You don’t want to start incorporating bad habits and sliding back into your old ways.

The tips mentioned above will help you get back into ketosis as quickly as possible, where your fat loss journey can continue.

How To Avoid Cheating On Your Diet

There are a few ways that can help you avoid wanting to cheat while on the ketogenic diet.

Here are a few to incorporate into your life daily:

  1. Meditate. Using mindfulness has been proven scientifically to reduce the stress in your life. By reducing stress, you may have fewer urges to cheat if you’ve had a habit of stress eating in the past.
  2. Meal plan. Planning out your meals is a good practice to get into. Having the right plan and pre-planning will make sure your days go smoothly. You don’t have to think about cheating because there’s no room for it. 
  3. Eat food you like. Dieting can be hard, so incorporating food you enjoy eating can make your diet much easier.
  4. Remove temptations. Take out the food in your house that can derail your diet. This will be a lifestyle change for you, so any kind of food that doesn’t fit within your diet shouldn’t be within eyesight.
  5. Accountability. Having an accountability partner to keep you on track is a great practice. Not only can you keep each other motivated if they’re on the same journey as you, but it’s been proven to help stick to things long term. Not just diets.

Avoiding cheat meals or cheat days on your diet requires some planning on your part. 

By incorporating the strategies above, you’ll have a better chance of reducing the times you fall off the rails and keeping all the benefits you’re working hard for.

Setting Yourself Up For Success

Preparation will be the key to your success with the lifestyle change of being on the ketogenic diet. 

By having a plan in place, you’ll feel supported with less of a chance to fall into temptations.

If a cheat meal needs to happen, then plan for it. If you know that you have a social event coming up, look up the menu ahead of time to find out what the best options will be for you.

You may be able to stick to your diet by asking to make a few customizations without deterring from your diet.

If that’s not possible, be mindful of portion control and don’t go overboard with food. Just because it’s there doesn’t mean you should eat it.

Don’t beat yourself up about it either. If you have a cheat meal, then just continue moving forward and make sure it doesn’t develop into an ongoing habit.

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