Before we begin, if you’re just starting out on Keto, make sure you don’t cheat during the first 2-4 weeks on a Ketogenic Diet, or you’ll make it harder for your body to properly adapt by kicking yourself in and out of Ketosis.
There is no need for bro-science carb-ups on Keto, especially not while still adapting. All you should be focusing on is making your transition from a sugar burner to a fat burner as easy and smooth as possible.
Now that we got that out of the way, we all have lives to live and there are special occasions that call for a cheat meal, that’s higher in carbs and not Keto friendly. I’m talking about something like a wedding, birthday, a family reunion or when you’re traveling and you want to try some local specialties.
Just make sure it’s worth it and don’t go crazy. It will slow down your weight loss, but it’s not the end of the world as many make it out to be.
You did not fail on your diet and you don’t have to start over from the beginning. Just try to prevent that cheat meal turning into a cheat day which then turns into a whole week of binging, which can really set you back in your progress.
If your cheat meal happened to be higher in carbs, you can expect an energy crash shortly after. When that happens, having some MCT oil or coconut oil with a cup of coffee or tea can be very helpful for getting some of your energy back, especially if you were planning to still get some focused work done that day.
Because of elevated insulin after a cheat meal, you should also expect to get hungry again sooner than you normally do when following a Ketogenic Diet. You’ll also likely have to fight off more cravings for a while.
The following day, it’s likely that you will weigh a little more, but don’t be alarmed. You did not completely ruin your progress within a day! That extra weight is mostly stored water because of the carbs you ate. So don’t worry, you’ll lose it again in no time if you get back to a well-formulated Ketogenic Diet right after.
If my girlfriend and I do happen to have a cheat meal, for example when visiting my relatives in Italy, where it’s almost impossible not to, we try to balance it out by intermittently fasting with just a black coffee until lunch and by paying even closer attention to what we eat the rest of the day. Last time we came back from Rome we also did a 24 hour fast right after to get us back on track, which can be really helpful.
At the end of the day, it may be reassuring to realize that you can enjoy a cheat meal on a special occasion and that it won’t completely kill your progress. Or maybe you realize, that it’s just not worth it for you. Most of the time you don’t feel as good after a cheat meal and it might not be worth the trouble of having to fight off sugar & hunger cravings again.
If there is something you do miss on a Ketogenic Diet you should also first check if there are any alternative low-carb recipes. Maybe you’ll feel the same way as we do and enjoy Keto pizza, cheesecake or cauliflower mash much more than the their high-carb counterparts. You definitely won’t be missing out on delicious, satisfying food on a well-formulated Ketogenic Diet.
So, whenever possible, make your own Keto-friendly “cheat” meals, without actually binging on carbs and getting kicked out of Ketosis. And if you do happen to actually cheat, make sure it’s worth it, don’t beat yourself up and get right back on track afterwards.