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Can You Have a Cheat Day on Keto? Find Out Here
Keto Diet

Can You Have a Cheat Day on Keto? Find Out Here

HR_author_photo_Thalia
Written by Thalia Oosthuizen | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on August 24, 2022
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6 min

“Cheat day” is a common practice when following a strict meal plan. Can you apply the same rule to the keto diet?

can you have a cheat day on keto

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Everyone has those days when sticking to your diet plan seems impossible. What’s the harm in having a cheat day, or even a cheat meal, to make yourself feel better?

When it comes to keto, you may want to be very careful about whether or not you give in to that desire! A keto diet is not like other diets.

With the help of our keto experts, we’re here to explain why you should avoid having a cheat day on keto.

Keto Cheat Day: Let’s Talk Facts

Well, with a cheat day on keto, or even just a cheat meal, you’re right back to square one as your body falls out of ketosis.

Let’s face it: in every weight loss journey, falling off the wagon happens. Sometimes you can’t help taking an extra slice of cake or indulging in your favorite foods and carb-loaded snacks.

If you’re on a keto diet to help you lose weight, then a few extra snacks aren’t going to destroy your progress entirely.

Things happen, and sometimes you have to resist the temptation. Having some less-than-keto-friendly foods shouldn’t be a reason for you to give up on a diet entirely.

However, a cheat day, or even just a cheat meal, on a keto diet is bound to throw you out of ketosis. Do you remember how hard it was to get into ketosis in the first place? The keto flu symptoms, the fatigue, the cravings?

This is an acceptable price for a cheat day for some people. But for others, it might be discouraging enough to stop the diet altogether.

While we don’t encourage cheat meals because they can promote unhealthy eating habits, we also understand that mistakes happen. Take a step back, recenter yourself, and focus on eating foods that nourish your body!

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For this reason, we recommend you use the KetoCycle app. With more than 380,000 customers worldwide, KetoCycle showed that going into ketosis can be easy! Grocery lists, personalized workouts, and meal plans, a big community of fellow keto dieters – all that on the tip of your fingers.

How Many Carbs Can I Eat on a Keto Diet?

If you’re looking to stick to a keto diet and stay in ketosis, you’re going to want to keep your carb intake under 50 grams per day.

In general, you should only be getting 5–10% of your daily calories from your carb intake.

When it comes to cheating on keto, most people are looking to eat a few more carbs than they would otherwise.

People’s favorite cheat meals are usually loaded with carbohydrates and other ingredients that you’d otherwise avoid on a keto diet.

How Long to Get Back Into Ketosis if I Cheat?

It can take anywhere from 3 days to 1 week to get back into ketosis, and again, this is only applicable if you’re following a strict keto diet plan.

For some people, getting kicked out of ketosis isn’t enough of a deterrent to stop themselves from having a cheat day or even just a cheat meal.

If this is you, you may be wondering how long it’ll take you to get back into ketosis after your keto cheat day.

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How long it can take to get back into ketosis depends on your metabolism, carb intake, and activity level. Even if you only had one cheat meal, you’re likely already out of ketosis. This is because our bodies love carbs.

Carbohydrates are our body’s favorite form of energy. When you have a keto cheat day, you’re giving your body back its favorite form of energy, meaning that you’ll no longer be burning fat the way you were when you were in ketosis.

What Kicks You Out of Ketosis?

As we all know, a ketogenic diet is a low-carb diet. This means you’ve got to limit carbs to encourage the way your body burns fat. You may find yourself right out of ketosis if you eat too many carbs without balancing it with high activity levels and exercise.

Even if you’re not taking the time to enjoy a cheat meal, you may still find yourself kicked out of ketosis. Why? The answer can be tricky, as several things can push your body out of ketosis.

Too many sugary foods can kick you right out of ketosis. Sugar cravings happen, but because sugar is a carbohydrate, your body will choose that over staying in a fat-burning state any day.

Sugary treats can also cause an insulin spike and kick you out of ketosis for a short time.

How to Get Out of Ketosis?

Getting kicked out of ketosis can cause various keto flu symptoms and increased fatigue. Your body is getting enough carbs on your high-fat diet to sustain your activity level so that you may feel even more exhausted than usual.

If you’re looking to leave ketosis, it’s much better to do so slowly and smoothly, rather than just eating a big cheat meal and getting kicked out.

When introducing carbohydrates back to your diet, you shouldn’t do it simultaneously.

#1 Introduce carbs slowly

Take some time, and slowly reintroduce more complex carbs to digest so that your body takes the time to work through them.

Seeds, crackers, and pasta are all excellent options when you’re starting to reintroduce carbs to your diet. Resist throwing back donuts and cookies in the first few days.

#2 Be careful with sugar

Be careful with overeating sugar, too. Reintroducing high sugar levels into your diet could make it harder to manage blood sugar levels and even cause an intense sugar crash.

Resist making your first non-keto meal full of processed food.

A smooth transition back into a high or mid-carb diet will take a couple of weeks. Experts suggest slowly reintroducing carbs and restricting your fat intake over the course of 14 days.

#3 Don’t be TOO active

You may want to decrease your activity levels for a short period of time, too. You’re switching energy sources in your body, and you may find yourself tired and feeling more run down than usual.

Stay hydrated and wait until you’re fully transitioned off your keto diet before hitting the gym again.

#4 Don’t get discouraged

Because you’re no longer in a fat-burning state of ketosis, you may find that you’ve gained some weight after the transition back to carbs.

Don’t worry. This gain is natural. Find a caloric deficit that works for you and keep being physically active, and you’ll get the weight back down in no time.

A Word From Nutritionist

When you start a keto diet, you may not realize just how strict this type of eating is! Ketone production requires low carbs and high-fat foods. Not to mention, your food quality greatly impacts whether or not you’re entering into ketosis smoothly!

Healthy eating should be at the top of anyone’s list, whether or not they’re dedicated to a ketogenic diet. While everyone gives in to a cheat day or a cheat meal at least once, it’s essential to recognize that keto cheat days are not the same as they are on other diets.

A cheat day on keto means encouraging your body to move away from stored fat as a source of energy and go back to carbohydrates.

A single cheat meal could set you back at least a week when it comes to getting your body back into ketosis.

If you’re focusing on losing weight with the keto lifestyle, try to find “cheat foods” that don’t break your keto diet. These can be low-carb foods that you don’t usually eat or even keto-friendly versions of some of your favorite high-carb foods.

Those dedicated to the keto diet should maintain self-control and resist having a cheat day.

As always, before you take the plunge into a keto diet, take some time to talk to your doctor and see if this diet plan is right for you.

Conclusion

So, can you have a cheat day on keto? The answer is complicated. You can have a cheat day or cheat meals in the sense that you’ll be able to get back on the right track afterward. But having cheat meals on your keto diet will most definitely kick you out of ketosis.

One cheat day won’t hinder your progress if you’re doing keto for weight loss. But it will make it so that you have to do extra work to get back into ketosis afterward. This can take anywhere from a few days to over a week.

Instead, try to find some of your favorite keto-friendly cheat meals or low-carb versions of your favorite non-keto meals. This will give you a sense of “cheating” without actually having to put in all the work to get back into ketosis.

HR_author_photo_Thalia
Written by
Thalia has always wanted to be a writer, starting her first local newspaper at the age of 11. She also has enjoyed a passion for health and fitness since a young age, playing many sports through her schooling career, and still enjoys biking, running, and swimming today. She studied English Language at University for 3 years, developing a passion for spelling, grammar, and research. She now has over 10 years of experience writing, proofreading, and editing, and has paired this with her love for health and fitness by writing health content.
Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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