When you’re following any diet, the subject of straying from your restrictions is bound to come up every now and then. With more restrictive diets such as keto, the temptations can come even more often.
The desire to step outside of your diet plan is completely natural. But when you do cheat on your diet, there’s always the possibility that it sets you back on your progress. With the guidelines that make up the low carb keto diet, cheating may have more of an impact than with other diets. However, because no one is expected to follow a diet one hundred percent of the time for the rest of eternity, it’s helpful to know how to quickly get back on track when you take a detour.
In this article, we’ll explore the effects of cheating on your keto diet and how you can give in to your cravings without destroying what you’ve worked so hard for.
How Cheating Affects Your Keto Diet
When you’re on a keto diet, temptations are bound to happen. Whether it’s the scrumptious dessert being passed at the end of the dinner party or the pizza sitting in front of you at your kid’s birthday party, you’ll be faced with diet cheating opportunities regularly.
When you’re successfully carrying out the keto diet, your body will enter into a state called ketosis. Ketosis occurs when your body is starved of carbohydrates and turns to burning fat for energy instead. Before stepping out on your diet, you should get familiar with how cheating can affect your state of ketosis and your diet in general.
- Increased Blood Sugar – Because keto diets eliminate most carbs and sugars, people with diabetes often use this form of eating to help lower high blood sugar. When you cheat on the keto diet, you can see a sudden increase in blood sugar, which can potentially be dangerous when diabetes is present.
- Feeling Unwell – When you’ve changed your eating habits so extremely, your body can go through a bit of a shock when it’s changed back again with a fleeting cheat meal. Don’t be surprised if you experience sudden stomach upset, gas, bloating, or acne as a response to the non-keto foods you consumed.
- More Cravings – While you may have been incredibly disciplined on the keto diet so far, cheating on your diet can open the door to experiencing more cravings and possibly giving into them.
- Potential Weight Gain – When you consume carbs and sugar after having cut them out for a period of time, your body can react by leaving its ketogenic state and packing on the pounds.
Smart Diet Cheats
Because cheating will probably happen at some point, it can be beneficial to know the smartest ways to approach diet cheats to avoid ruining your diet. Below are some ways you can cheat effectively or avoid cheating altogether:
- Utilize Fat to Cheat – While the keto diet is low in carbs and sugar, it is high in fat. When you feel the urge to cheat, satisfy your cravings by ingesting something high in fat. Nuts, Greek yogurt, cheese, and avocados are all excellent choices for high-fat snacks.
- Delay Your Cheating – If you’re feeling tempted, try to wait before you act on your cravings. Delaying your desires is a bit of a mental trick you can play on yourself. For example, if you’re craving a chocolate chip cookie you see at your local coffee shop, don’t deny yourself the sweet treat. Instead, tell yourself you can have it later after dinner. You might find later in the day you’ve moved past the craving or are perhaps even too full from dinner to want dessert any longer.
- Think Small – If you’re going to cheat, it’s better to choose small portions. Try limiting yourself to one or two bites, sharing your dessert with someone else, or ordering the smallest possible size.
- Eat Before You Cheat – If you’re feeling a craving for something non-keto, try eating a keto-friendly meal first. Often times, eating before you cheat will get rid of your cravings altogether, or at least make them smaller.
- Choose Low-Carb – Because keto is focused on consuming little to no carbs, it can be detrimental to your progress if you suddenly introduce a high carb food into the mix. If you must cheat, it’s definitely better to choose a low carb option.
- Keep Things Low Sugar – Limiting your sugar intake is equally as necessary while you’re on a keto diet. If you’re craving something sweet, select low-sugar desserts and dark chocolates.
- Choose Wisely – Don’t eat just anything when you plan to cheat on your keto diet. Instead, be mindful and intentional with the foods you choose. Choose something to eat that you know you’ll truly enjoy. Doing this can help you reduce your chances of craving things more often outside of your keto diet’s restrictions.
- Cheat with Keto – Did you know that you can actually cheat and remain on your keto diet at the same time? Pizza cravings can be met with cauliflower crust pizza, for instance. Are you craving chocolate? Try a flourless and sugar-free chocolate cake!
Okay, so you’ve cheated on your keto diet. Now what happens when you try to get back on track? The fact of the matter is, cheating on your keto diet will throw you out of ketosis, and it can take a few days to get back into a ketogenic state. Following your cheat, no matter how small, you’ll basically be starting from the beginning when it comes to getting your body to respond the way you want it to again. There is also a possibility that you may experience the “keto flu” just as if you were beginning the keto diet for the first time. Symptoms of the keto flu can include nausea, constipation, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, and more.