Can you cheat on keto? This is a question that many keto dieters often have. Although a cheat meal cannot help you achieve your weight loss goals, some keto dieters cheat because they do not want to feel restricted on their diet.
Many also believe that treating yourself to a cheat meal can help to avoid a plateau. For these reasons, many keto dieters purposely treat themselves to a cheat meal every once in a while.
But can you cheat on keto? Will this have a negative impact on your diet, or does this come with benefits? Read on to find out more about this.
What Does it Mean When You Cheat While on a Diet?
It’s not only keto dieters who cheat. Cheating on a diet has been around even before the keto diet became popular. When applying the cheating strategy on a diet, some people will either follow a cheat meal or a cheat day approach.
The cheat meal refers to that one single meal that is against the diet pattern you have chosen to follow. Meanwhile, a cheat day is when you allow yourself to eat foods that are outside of your diet for the entire day.
There’s no specific guideline on how often or when the cheat meal or cheat day should occur. Most often, people who cheat on a diet would do it once a week, although this can change as they go on with their diet.
The method of cheating on a diet varies from one person to another and it will also depend on the type of diet that you follow.
On a keto diet for example, a cheat meal can often consist of high-carb foods that would not otherwise be permitted on a typical keto diet plan.
According to Ramona Josephson, a registered dietitian based in Vancouver,
“It’s very important to cheat. Though it may seem counterintuitive at first, a closer look reveals why cutting yourself some slack may actually help you shed pounds. It’s easier to stick to a healthy eating plan if you allow yourself a little flexibility.”
Can You Have a Cheat Day on Keto?
Can you cheat on keto? Will this not kick you out of ketosis?
If your main goal for following the keto diet is to lose weight, cheating on keto from time to time will not destroy your progress, even if you get kicked out of ketosis. Yes, ketosis does come with many health benefits, but this is not the only reason behind your weight loss on keto. It is calorie control that’s the main reason why you’re losing a lot of weight on keto.
Related reading: 5 Top Weight Loss Lifestyle Tips
For as long as you don’t go overboard on your cheat meals or cheat days, and you still maintain calorie control, all those extra carbs should not wreak havoc on your weight loss.
For others whose main goal for staying in ketosis is for health reasons and not to lose weight, cheating on a keto diet is not recommended.
In one study, researchers found that having cheat days on keto could increase heart risk among those who have diabetes. The study was done among diabetics who followed the keto diet to manage their blood sugar levels.
Although more research is needed, these initial findings are proof that having cheat days on keto is not good for those who have health issues.
Related reading: 3 Top Tips for Getting Back On The Low Carb Track After Cheating
What Happens When You Cheat on Keto?
- Your blood sugar could increase, giving you an abundance of quick energy. This will cause your body to switch back to using glucose as fuel.
- The production of ketones will stop.
- Most of the sugars that you consume will be used to replenish the glycogen stores, causing you to gain water weight temporarily.
Going off your keto diet just for a day is not bad. Just because you start introducing carbs to your body again does not mean you will gain back all the weight you have already lost.
The water weight is only temporary. When you go back to restricting carbs again, you will lose the water weight. And depending on how long you have been on keto, you could experience repeat symptoms of keto flu once you are back to following the keto diet.
Related reading: Are Diet Cheat Days Really Bad On Keto?
The Right Way to Cheat on Keto
Once you have followed the keto diet for a significant period, you probably will not be craving the high-carb foods and all the sugary stuff that you used to love. But if you do decide to cheat for some reason, make sure that you do it the right way.
Some keto dieters follow a diet method known as the cyclical ketogenic diet or keto carb up. With this method, you will follow a strict keto diet for five days a week and dedicate the other two days to cheating.
While this method will most likely kick you out of ketosis, carbing up can make following keto easier and more manageable for some people.
Another way to approach your keto cheat days is by eating keto-approved cheat meals. One of the best things about the keto diet is that you can experiment with different recipes since there are plenty of low-carb ingredients that you can use to cook your meals.
So, if you find yourself craving delicious desserts and sweets, take advantage of the low-carb dessert recipes online. You should find plenty of them. Sure, it requires a bit of effort to have to cook your own food instead of buying ready made meals , but it’s definitely worth it.
Can you cheat on keto? Yes, you definitely can so as long as you do it the right way and maintain calorie control. Your keto diet does not really need to feel restrictive. Allow yourself to cheat every once in a while.
This is also a great way to break from your usual routine, which can effectively motivate you to stick to your diet. But then again, this strategy may not work for everyone, especially those who are following the keto diet for health reasons. If you’re not sure, consult with your nutritionist or health coach before you start cheating on your keto diet.