There’s no denying it—keto can be hard to follow due to its restrictive nature (goodbye carbs!), and it’s even more challenging during special occasions, such as birthdays and holiday gatherings. And that’s why it can be tempting to take a “cheat day,” where you can go beyond your daily carbohydrate budget—which is often around 25 grams of net carbs or so—to enjoy your favorite foods, such as cake, mac n’ cheese, and pizza. But is it really worth it to go heavy on the carbs and fall out of ketosis?
Sure, you can say no and whip up a keto friendly pizza instead, but there are times where that food is more special than others, like Thanksgiving or Christmas, for example. Here’s what to know before lathering your turkey in gravy or sipping on spiked eggnog.
You Will Get Kicked Out of Ketosis
If you do step outside your carb count for the day, you will for sure fall out of ketosis. So, don’t expect to keep using fat to burn fat—you will be using that glucose that you’re taking in as fuel instead. Will you gain tons of weight and feel awful all day? Probably not. It’s just one day! Yet, it’s more about the steps afterwards and how the rest of the week might unfold.
Of course, it will take time to get back into ketosis after that cheat day. So, you just need to ask yourself a few questions before trying it out and be honest with yourself about your tendencies, as well as what’s realistic for you.
And You Might Be Out of It for a While
Before taking the cheat day, decide if you might have trouble getting back right into keto afterwards. If so, it may not be worth it to go off course and risk remembering what it’s like to eat those carbs and comfort foods, as you may never want to go back to such a restrictive way of eating. And with each day you are not in ketosis, the harder it is to get back to where you were and resume the diet.
Yet, if you think you could enjoy your fun and go back to keto the following day, you might really benefit from that cheat day to splurge! And you won’t regret missing out on that special occasion or meal you’ve been looking forward to.
You should take some measures to make the transition easier, such as drinking plenty of water and working out the following day if you can (remember you’ll be on fewer carbs, so don’t carb cycle and add in more carbs around workouts!), and decreasing the carb bank even further than you’d normally have it set at to compensate. And you can also pop electrolytes in case you’re experiencing “keto flu” symptoms again, which can happen during transition.
And Don’t Do it Regularly
The biggest takeaway is to avoid making cheat days a pattern. You don’t want to take a cheat day every single week, such as on Saturdays, if you want to see the best results possible. If you’re more about maintenance rather than weight loss and enjoy keto as a lifestyle, cycling and taking these cheat days that incorporate more carbs might be a more sustainable and beneficial option for you. Yet, if you are aiming for weight loss and hope to get the best results, then don’t cheat often. Stick to your plan, and then go from there!