First, it's important to understand that a ketogenic eating plan means that you are going to be eating very few carbs. Other low-carb diets, like Atkins, are out there, but the ketogenic diet tends to be a little more stricter, when consuming carbs. Because it of this, straying from the diet even for a single meal can have relatively dramatic consequences.
What are the consequences of eating a bunch of carbs in an epic cheat meal? Is that indulgence worth the price you'll pay? When you understand more about three effects that you may experience when you cheat on the keto diet, you'll be better able to make a wise decision.
1. YOUR BODY GETS KNOCKED OUT OF KETOSIS
Not every cheat meal is going to have this effect, especially since several factors may influence the outcome. The first of these factors is how much of a cheat meal you had. There is a difference between eating one chocolate chip cookie and an enormous plate of pasta.
That cookie will get used up pretty quickly by your body, but it can take you hours to process a giant serving of spaghetti. Most meals require between four and six hours to fully digest, so you'll be riding the wave of that cheat for quite some time. This also means that quite a bit of the glucose that you consumed will be transformed into liver glycogen.
Accordingly, a big cheat meal could knock you out of ketosis, which also may be called ketonemia, for as much as 16 to 21 hours. Remember, that's just a single meal. If you cheat for an entire day or a weekend, the effects can last much longer.
Another factor that may influence whether or not you get knocked out of ketonemia is how fully your body has adapted to the keto diet. If your body is totally running on ketones for fuel instead of glucose, the effects of a cheat will be far less noticeable.
For example, if you've been running on ketones for at least eight to 12 weeks, you'll only get a moderate blood sugar spike with a cheat meal. If your body isn't so well adapted to ketones, the effects will be more dramatic.
2. LOSS OF DISCIPLINE
Getting your body to operate on ketones requires enormous discipline. However, even the most disciplined dieter may be tempted by a cheat meal. After all, you're only human.
Having a cheat meal, and then going back on a strict low-carb diet also requires incredible discipline. It's too much for some people. Once they cheat, it's like a small fissure in their determination. Cheat meals may happen with more frequency, and some people never get back on track.
Before you have a cheat meal, ask yourself if you are disciplined enough to pick up where you left off once the cheating is done.
3. YOU LOSE TIME WHILE YOUR BODY GETS BACK INTO KETOSIS
Most people who follow the ketogenic diet do so with highly specific goals in mind. Either they are preparing for a special event or they are determined to lose a specific amount of weight. This diet requires planning and perseverance. Most people who follow it are pretty adept when it comes to goal setting.
This means that they have a destination that they want to reach and that they have defined the necessary steps to get there. When they are tempted to cheat for even a single meal, they must consider how this will affect the achievement of their overall goal. Does losing as much as an entire day for a single meal put their desired outcome beyond their reach?
Depending upon the extent of the cheat, the effects can go on for even longer. Before you enjoy that slice of pizza, ask yourself if it is truly worth it. You may gain far more benefit by holding off on cheating until your body is better adapted to the diet.