Doctor's Search

What happens when you Cheat on Your Keto Diet?

Cheats day have become an integral part of a diet and workout routine. After days of slogging it out at the gym and watching what you eat, you start craving for sugary desserts and deep-fried treats. It is not so much a weight loss tool as a psychological coping mechanism for restrictive diets that keeps you from falling off the wagon. Keto diet bans consumption of carbohydrates beyond 30 gms per day. Some people may find this extremely restrictive and start craving carb-rich foods like bread, cake and other desserts within just days of going on the diet. But will cheating on your keto diet interfere with weight loss? Is keto right for you?

How the keto diet works

“The ketogenic diet is a low carbohydrate, high fat, moderate protein (LCHF) diet. Most people do keto to help in weight loss; but, it also has other health advantages like: lowering risk for heart disease, cancer, stroke, helping those with epilepsy and other neurological illnesses,” explains Rinki Kumari, chief dietician, Fortis Bangalore. Here are the best fats for a keto diet.

Unlike other generic diets, the keto diet alters the way your body utilises energy from food. Rinki says that when you eat food with carbohydrates, your body produces glucose and insulin. “Carbs are broken down into glucose, a single molecule of sugar that body uses for energy. Since glucose is the simplest molecule, the body will choose it over any other energy source,” she says. Since glucose is the body’s first choice, fats are not used and get stored. Read this before you put your child on a keto diet.

But a keto diet alters this process by putting your body into a state of ketosis by creating a shortage of carbohydrates. In the absence of carbs, the body utilises fats for fuel. “Keto is meant to put your body into a state of ketosis, where burn ketones for fuel (ketosis) instead of glucose (glycolysis),” she says.

What happens when you cheat on a keto diet?

On a keto diet, your body achieve a ketosis stage, where the chief source of fuel is fat instead of carbohydrates. A single cheat meal can change that, and you may go into the glycolysis state again, where your body uses glucose for energy. This will cost you all the hard work you undertook to achieve ketosis.

Your energy levels dip

When you cheat on your keto diet with a high-carb food, an energy crash follows. Rinki recommends that you take a cup of coffee or tea with coconut oil or medium chain triglyceride oils to counter the crash that comes after a cheat meal. It will help you get some of your energy back.

You eat more

Soon after you indulge in a pizza or a burger, insulin levels go up and you tend to feel hungry again sooner than you would on a ketogenic diet. What you get next is a vicious circle of more and more snacking.

You put on weight

Constantly cheating on your keto diet will cause weight gain. Immediate effects of a carb-rich meal during a keto diet is water retention and water weight. Too many of those cheat diets will ruin the effect of ketosis and you’ll be back to your old self, gaining more weight.

Your ketone levels may fluctuate

When you breach your ketosis state with carbohydrates, the ketone levels in your blood start fluctuating. This will make it difficult for your body to get into the ketosis state and burn fat instead of carbs.

You will suffer from headaches

Keto flu, seen at the start of a keto diet when your body goes from glycolysis to ketosis, returns with a bang. You start experiencing symptoms such as headache, bloating, gastric disturbances and low energy all over again.