On the ketogenic diet, an intake would be high in fat and low in carbohydrates and protein. When your carbohydrates are low, your body starts to look for alternative sources of fuel to use in order to keep on running. On the ketogenic diet, fat is used as an energy source when the body is in the state of ketosis. A keto diet intake can restrict you from eating foods high in carbohydrates, but you can still have cheat meals on keto.
What is the Ketogenic Diet and How Does it Work?
The ketogenic diet has been used around the world for almost one hundred years. It has been used to treat conditions like epilepsy, as the diet has anticonvulsant properties. However, people have gone on the ketogenic diet for other health conditions as well such as autism, depression, migraines, type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, polycystic ovary syndrome, and hypercholesterolemia. The ketogenic diet has also been used for weight loss.
The diet has a high intake of fat and a low intake of carbohydrates and protein. The body usually relies on carbohydrates and glucose for energy. However, when the body is low on carbohydrates, it can start using other sources of fuel such as stored fat. On the keto diet, the body enters a state of ketosis, where this can happen. The general guideline for carbohydrate intake is a limit of 20 to 50 grams a day, however the limit can vary from person to person depending on his dietary needs. Bigger and more active people may need to consume more than smaller and sedentary people.
On ketosis, the liver produces ketone bodies which are used by the body’s tissues for energy. Running on ketosis may initially make you feel weak and lethargic. The group of symptoms you may experience is usually referred to as having the “keto flu.” However, after a few days your body can get used to running on ketosis. Most symptoms of the keto flu can also be alleviated by staying hydrated and drinking a lot of electrolyte drinks.
Here are some things you may experience on the ketogenic diet:
- bad breath which may taste fruity
- digestive issues, such as constipation and diarrhea
- dry mouth
- increased energy
- increased thirst
- frequent urination
- insomnia or waking up at night
- reduced hunger
- short-term decreases in physical performance
- short-term fatigue
- weight loss
Cheat Meals on Keto
We call them “cheat” meals because while they do not necessarily break a diet forever, these meals let us indulge in whatever cravings we have without really thinking about the consequences. Cheat meals can be as unhealthy as we want them to be. However on the ketogenic diet where it takes a few days of effort to get into ketosis and combat the keto flu, is it really worth it to have a cheat meal?
One cheat meal will probably not hurt you. However, if you go above your carbohydrate allowance, you will get your body out of ketosis. If you frequently have cheat meals, then you could confuse your body. Your body will have a difficult time staying in ketosis, and your body will not burn fat the way it would do on ketosis. When you do get back into ketosis, you might have to experience the symptoms of keto flu all over again. If you get out of ketosis, know what you signed up for.
On ketosis, your body gets used to an intake that is high in fat. If you indulge in a cheat meal you may get cravings for carbohydrates again. While this might be a manageable side effect for some, this can be unbearable for others.
If you are doing the ketogenic diet to manage certain health conditions, you should be prepared as breaking your diet can result in spikes in your blood sugar.
Can you still do it anyway?
Is there a way to cheat on the keto diet? If there is a will, there is a way. You could eat something high in carbohydrates then deal with the consequences later. If this is not your style, then you can plan your cheat meals so that they would fit within your carbohydrate allowance. For instance, you can eat something high in carbohydrates for lunch and max out your limit, then eat something with almost no carbohydrates for dinner.
You can plan your days so that you can still eat your favorite carbohydrate heavy foods, through rationing your portions. If you just have to get a particular food from a particular place, and no substitutions will suffice, then try to eat a measured amount so that you do not go above your limit of carbohydrate intake.
If you are a volume eater and want as much bang you can get for your caloric buck, then you can try looking for keto-friendly foods in groceries and health food stores. You can also try making your own carb-heavy foods with substituted ingredients, in order to cut back on the carbs. On the internet, there are many recipes for keto-friendly cookies, bread rolls, pasta bakes, and cakes you can make that will not break your carbohydrate bank. It is easier to eat more slices of pizza if your pizza crust is low in carbohydrates.
Different folks, different strokes. Ultimately, it really is up to you to decide on whether or not you would like to break your ketosis for a cheat meal, or have your cheat meal in different ways that do not put you out of ketosis. However, you should be prepared to face the consequences of surpassing your carbohydrate intake limit.
Are You Considering the Keto Diet?
The ketogenic diet is generally safe for everyone. However to be on the safe side, do not go on the ketogenic diet unsupervised.
If you have any of the following conditions, consult a doctor or healthcare provider before going on the ketogenic diet:
- you are pregnant
- you’re breastfeeding
- you’re taking medication for high blood pressure
- you take medication for diabetes