Keto Cheat Day: Should You Have Them on a Ketogenic Diet? (2023)

  • Disadvantages of Keto Cheat Days
  • Implementing a Keto Cheat Day the “Right” Way

Cheat meals. Everyone thinks about them, and the ketogenic diet is no exception. But is a keto cheat day really worth it? Or will it mess up your progress completely?


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Intellectually, you know a cheat meal won’t help with your weight loss goals or allow you to experience the positive impact of the keto diet. At the same time, you don’t want to feel restricted, or develop a bad relationship (or fear) of any food. For these reasons, you may know people who purposely (and regularly) schedule treats, including on the weekends or at the end of the month.

Below, you’ll learn how to treat yourself on the keto diet. This allows the occasional indulgence that benefits your physical and mental health.

Disadvantages of Keto Cheat Days

Hopefully, you’re following the keto diet as part of a healthy lifestyle — one that makes you feel good, gives you energy, and doesn’t make you feel restricted. That said, the occasional indulgence outside a keto diet meal plan might have physical side effects, including those that follow.

(Video) Will a Cheat-Day Ruin My Ketogenic Diet? - Keto Expert - Dr. Brett Osborn

It Could Take You Out of Ketosis

Eating a high-carb food — even as the occasional treat — could take you out of ketosis. For this reason, try to take a look at your overall carb intake of the day when indulging. For example, if you enjoy a slice of birthday cake at a friend’s celebration, be sure to stock up on plenty of leafy greens and high-quality protein throughout the day.

It’s a good idea to test your ketone levels to know if you’ve been kicked out of ketosis.

Cheating Affects Your Fat Adaptation

Your body has to make changes (such as altering specific hormones and increasing enzyme production) to transition to a fat-burning state[*]. Having a regular dose of glucose can prevent your body from becoming fat adapted. This, in turn, could slow any progress made toward weight loss and fat loss goals (i.e. the reason you started keto in the first place).

It Could Spike Your Blood Sugar

One of the reasons keto is popular for those with type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or poor cardiovascular health is that it can stabilize blood glucose levels[*]. If you’re following the keto diet because of these health reasons, it’s important to know that eating cheat meals can cause blood sugar levels to spike.

Plus, since your glucose tolerance has depleted on keto, chances are you’ll experience a nasty sugar hit. If you eat dessert or high-carb food and don’t feel well the next day, it’s probably best to avoid it.

Cheating Causes Cravings

One study finds that a low-carb, high-fat diet like keto has been shown to reduce appetite and hunger cravings[*]. While it does take an adjustment period to achieve these benefits, once your body becomes fat-adapted you are less likely to feel hungry and experience sugar cravings throughout the day.

By veering away from your keto meal plan and removing your body from a ketogenic state, you may find yourself craving carbs and sugar more than before.

If you do find yourself craving sweets and carbs, opt for keto-friendly alternatives like at-home keto pizza or already-made keto cookies.

Keto Cheat Day: Should You Have Them on a Ketogenic Diet? (1)

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(Video) When to Have a Cheat Meal on Keto

You Could Experience Keto Flu (Again)

Fatigue, headaches, low energy, headaches, and bloating are all symptoms you might experience when transitioning to burning fat (instead of glucose) for energy. If you choose to eat a high-carb food, know that you could experience these unwanted symptoms of keto flu again. (If this happens, supplementing with exogenous ketones may help.)

Implementing a Keto Cheat Day the “Right” Way

Whether you’ve been following keto for a few weeks or a few months, it can be a lifestyle transition. While you may have started keto as a means to achieve weight loss, fat loss, or improved body composition, hopefully, you’re experiencing other mental, physical, and emotional benefits. These could include improved energy, heightened mental clarity, and feeling good about your food choices.

Most of all, the keto diet can teach you to listen to your body. You’ve probably noticed you feel better when you eat a diet based on fresh, green produce, high-quality protein, and healthy fats than you do when eating lots of carbs and highly processed foods

In other words, once you’ve followed keto for a significant period of time, you probably won’t crave the high-carb, sugary foods you once did.


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(Video) The Cheat Meal Strategy that Keeps you in Ketosis

If you do — whether it’s a special occasion or you simply would love to get your hands on a slice of pizza — know that there are plenty of ways (including delicious keto-friendly recipesand keto-friendly alternatives) to enjoy these foods.

Follow a Cyclical Ketogenic Diet

On the Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD), you would only eat a strict keto diet for five days within a seven day period. Many times, people choose to eat a standard keto diet during the weekdays, and following a high-carb approach on the weekends.

While this will still likely kick you out of the metabolic state of ketosis, following a CKD can make eating keto more mentally manageable for some people.

Enjoy Keto Desserts and Comfort Foods

With the growing popularity of paleo, keto, and low-carb diets, the number of keto-friendly dessert recipes is endless. These recipes recreate your favorite treats and comfort foods with healthy ingredients with a low net-carb count so you don’t have to feel restricted.

For example, baked goods are often made from almond flour or coconut flour instead of white flour, and sweetened with monk fruit or stevia instead of white sugar.

On this site, you’ll find keto-friendly versions of some of your favorite desserts and comfort foods, including:

  • Low-carb pizza
  • Keto fudge
  • Low-carb French fries
  • Sugar-free homemade ice cream
  • Crispy, gluten-free fried chicken

Experience Life Without Feeling Restricted

A diet that causes physical or emotional deprivation cannot be considered healthy. Therefore, if you’re experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime moment, such as eating Italian pizza in Rome or eating a slice of cake at your grandmother’s 90th birthday, then it’s your choice as to whether you want to deviate from strict keto.

Ideally, following keto will help you to eat intuitively, knowing when you want to treat yourself and when you want to stick to green veggies, protein, and healthy fats. When faced with an opportunity to deviate from your keto meal plan, no matter what the occasion, hopefully you take the time to pause, assess the situation, and ask yourself if that particular food (and the experience that goes with it) is worth it.

(Video) Does A Cheat Day On Keto Ruin All My Hard Work? 🤔 | With Health Coach Tara & Jeremy | Keto Diet Tips

A slice of homemade apple pie from your grandmother? That might be worth it. A store-bought candy bar over your lunch hour? Maybe not.

Keto Cheat Day: Should You Have Them on a Ketogenic Diet? (2)

There Are Plenty of Conscious Ways to Have a Keto Cheat Day

When it comes down to it, it’s ultimately up to you whether you want to have a keto cheat day. It’s your responsibility to assess the situation, weigh the physical side effects, and consider whether there may be a healthier, alternative approach.

For example, if you’re throwing a birthday party, offer to bring a cake that you can enjoy. Or, if it’s Thanksgiving, don’t offer to cook green beans or turkey (which are already keto-compliant). Instead, bring a low-carb pumpkin pie or make mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes.

Of course, there are more and more keto-friendly snacks on grocery store shelves these days as well. Make sure you’re choosing snacks with clean ingredients that won’t kick you out of ketosis, like Perfect Keto Chocolate Chip Cookies and Bars.

Part of a ketogenic diet is learning to listen to your body, taking note of which foods make you feel good and which don’t. And you know what? Sometimes you may choose to indulge on a food — like dairy ice cream or a slice of pizza from your favorite pizza joint — that doesn’t make you feel your best. And that’s OK. But make sure it was a conscious decision to do so — not one done in a moment of sugar-frenzy cravings.

For plenty of ways to implement keto-friendly comfort foods and desserts, be sure to check out the recipe library on this site. Chances are, your favorite foods have been recreated into low-carb, keto-friendly versions that you can enjoy time and time again.


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(Video) Damage Control From Your Cheat-Day on Keto



Will one cheat day ruin a keto diet? ›

It's entirely possible to have a cheat day while staying in ketosis, as long as you plan your macros carefully. However, if you want to go all out on your cheat day, be ready for some of the side effects and the fact that you'll more than likely have to spend some time getting back into ketosis.

How often should you have a cheat day on keto? ›

If your goal is calorie control, aim to cheat no more than once or twice a week. But if ketosis is important for your progress, consider cheating much less often, like once a month. And if you are new to a keto diet, wait at least a few weeks to get some progress going before even considering cheats.

Can you do keto diet 5 days a week? ›

Stick to a standard keto diet 5–6 days per week

During standard ketogenic days, it's important to consume 20-50 grams of carbs per day. During this phase of the cyclical keto diet, healthy fats should deliver approximately 65-90% of your total calorie intake.

Can I eat carbs once a week on keto? ›

The standard ketosis diet is not for everyone. Adding clean carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, squash, and white rice once a week helps your body function properly. Your brain, your body, and your joints will all benefit from cyclical ketosis.

How many carbs will break ketosis? ›

Most ketogenic diet guidelines recommend limiting your total carbohydrate intake to 15-30 grams or 5%-10% of your total calorie intake a day. Eating more than 50 grams of carbs may disrupt ketosis.

What happens when you eat carbs again after keto? ›

When you transition off keto and start reintroducing carbs into your diet, your body is naturally going to need time to adjust to the change. Even if you reintroduce carbs slowly, you may still experiences weight fluctuations, bloating, blood sugar spikes, and increased feelings of hunger for the first few weeks.

Will a cheat day ruin my progress? ›

Do cheat days ruin your progress? A cheat day every once in a while will not erase weeks and months of consistent workouts and healthy eating. Cheat days can help keep you stay motivated long-term if you practice mindful eating. But remember, this doesn't mean you can get carried away on cheat days.

Can you eat too few carbs on keto? ›

Severe carb limits can cause your body to break down fat into ketones for energy. This is called ketosis. Ketosis can cause side effects such as bad breath, headache, fatigue and weakness. It's not clear what kind of possible long-term health risks a low-carb diet may pose.

Will one cheat day a week ruin my diet? ›

The question: Will one "cheat day" a week ruin your weight-loss plans? The expert: Rachel Beller, M.S., R.D., author of Eat to Lose, Eat to Win. The answer: No, in fact, it's encouraged!

Why do I lose weight when I cheat on keto? ›

Cheat breaks give your metabolism a bit of a boost by convincing your body the “famine” is over. Your metabolism increases and you're able to break through the stalled weight loss.

How do I know when I am in ketosis? ›

10 Signs and Symptoms That You're in Ketosis
  1. Bad breath. ...
  2. Weight loss. ...
  3. Increased ketones in the blood. ...
  4. Increased ketones in the breath or urine. ...
  5. Appetite suppression. ...
  6. Increased focus and energy. ...
  7. Short-term fatigue. ...
  8. Short-term decreases in performance.

Can you lose 7 lbs in a week on keto? ›

Anecdotally, people report losses within the first week of anywhere from 1 pound (0.5 kg) to 10 or more pounds (5 kg). The larger you are, the more water weight you're likely to lose after starting keto.

Can you lose 10 pounds in a week with keto? ›

The keto diet changes the way your metabolism works by encouraging it to use ketone bodies instead of glucose for energy production. In the first couple of weeks, it's possible to lose up to ten pounds. After that, you could be losing one to two pounds per week.

What happens if I eat pizza on keto? ›

Regular Crust

This type of pizza crust can have up to 33g of carbs without any added sauce or cheese. If you're limiting your carbs to 20-50 grams per day, one slice of this type of crust will likely kick you out of ketosis.

Can I do keto every other day? ›

Keto cycling doesn't have a set definition. Some people choose to have five or six days on keto followed by a day or two off. Others will do keto for 10 to 12 days followed by three to four days off. Devine typically doesn't recommend taking more than two days off keto.

Is going on and off keto healthy? ›

In her view, going back and forth will cause more harm than benefit over time. “I stress the importance of not cheating on a keto diet because once you start introducing sugars, the high-fat aspect can do more harm than good long-term.” Experts also caution about the risks to your emotional health with keto cycling.

Is popcorn on keto? ›

Once you figure out how many daily carbs your body can take in to remain in ketosis, you can divvy up your allotment however you like, but popcorn can easily fit in a ketogenic eating plan. “For all intents and purposes, it is a keto-friendly food,” says Rissetto.

What's the longest you should stay in ketosis? ›

According to a recent survey of doctors by Readers Digest, dieters shouldn't stay on the high-fat, low-carb Keto diet for longer than six months, although one local dietitian said adults shouldn't be on the diet at all.

Does caffeine affect ketosis? ›

Caffeine may help the body raise ketone levels and can support you in staying in ketosis. A recent study showed that Keto dieters who had caffeine with their breakfast had higher levels of ketones in their bloodstream compared to those who didn't have caffeine with breakfast.

Can you go into ketosis with 30g of carbs a day? ›

Carbohydrate tolerance varies among individuals. Some people may need to limit themselves to no more than 30 grams of total carbohydrates per day to remain in nutritional ketosis and maintain its benefits; while others may be able to consume more.

Do you gain all the weight back after keto? ›

Restrictive diets like keto don't work long term. "Whatever changes you made to lose the weight need to be kept up permanently to avoid weight regain," says Ayat Sleymann M.S., R.D.N., a weight-loss dietitian at Mom Nutritionist.

Will I gain all the weight back after stopping keto? ›

Fortunately, the answer is no. You will not necessarily regain the weight, provided you are thoughtful during and after the transition. There are many reasons people choose to stop maintaining a high-fat diet that keeps you in a state of ketosis.

How long to lose 30 pounds on keto? ›

If you're looking to lose 30lbs in 3 months without exercise, it's possible with the keto diet. If you add in some exercise, you'll really set your weight loss on fire.

What if I ate 4000 calories on a cheat day? ›

No, it will not make you fat immediately. Although you should avoid many more “cheat days.” Fats needs to build up in order for you to gain weight. So if you ate 4,000 calories for the next few days, you would probably gain a couple of pounds. Just continue your diet and you should be fine.

What is the best thing to do after a cheat day? ›

The day after your cheat day, make sure you drink more water than usual. This can help flush out the sugar, salt, and any other toxins you've ingested. Not only that, but drinking water can fill your stomach and stave off hunger so you won't overeat once again.

What kicks you out of ketosis? ›

Regular and artificial sweeteners can kick you out of ketosis. Stevia is calorie- and carb-free and will not kick you out. Other keto-approved sweeteners are fine to eat in moderation and should not cause a problem. Can exercise kick me out of ketosis?

Why am I gaining weight on keto? ›

One of the biggest culprits of weight gain on keto is not tracking your food intake. It's important to track everything you eat to be sure you're not overdoing it in any area. You also want to ensure you're keeping your macros in check.

What kind of bread is keto friendly? ›

Cloud bread, or oopsie bread, is very popular with low-carb and keto dieters. Cloud bread is a protein-rich alternative to regular bread and makes an excellent sandwich base or English muffin replacement. There are various recipes for cloud bread, but a simple version is as follows.

Can you gain weight from one cheat day? ›

In order to gain a pound of fat, you would need to add about 500 calories a day on top of your normal diet, every day, for about 7 days. This makes gaining any significant amount of fat from even the craziest all-out cheat days extremely unlikely.

How many calories should you have on a cheat day? ›

How many calories should I eat on a cheat day? 'There is not an exact number of calories that you can eat on a cheat day but a good guideline to follow is to not consume more than 150 per cent of your regular calorie intake/limit,' according to Bodies by Byrne, run by a nutritionist and fitness instructor.

What is the 3 bite rule? ›

The 3-bite rule breaks down like this: take one bite to say “hello,” one bite to savor the flavor, and one bite to say “goodbye.” With each bite, slowly chew the food so you can really taste it.

Why do I weigh less after a cheat day? ›

Research shows that after a cheat meal, the body increases its metabolism, causing you to burn calories faster. This is caused by increased levels of leptin, a hormone secreted by fat cells and responsible for maintaining energy balance in the body.

How do I get back into ketosis in 24 hours? ›

If you're serious about reaching ketosis in 24 hours, then forget about food. You need to shut the fridge, close the cabinets, and embrace the glucose-burning power of fasting! If you maintain a low-carb diet leading up to your fast, you'll have a much easier time.

Can you gain weight from one cheat meal on keto? ›

You will gain weight

Cheat meals, as well as cheat days, almost always lead to immediate weight gains. Carbohydrates will put your body back into fat storing mode and you will swell up. Also, with carbs, there comes hunger and more cravings, thanks to what you probably eat even more.

At what hour does ketosis start? ›

Your body may go into ketosis after just 12 hours of not eating, which many people do overnight before they "break fast" with a morning meal. (A midnight snack obviously sabotages this process.) A keto diet keeps you in ketosis for much longer time periods because you avoid carbohydrates, which supply glucose.

What is dirty keto? ›

What Is Dirty Keto? Dirty Keto is not a precise term. In general, it describes a ketogenic diet that's high in ultra-processed foods like vegetable oils, artificial sweeteners, and processed meats and low in nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

How can I speed up my ketosis weight loss? ›

7 tips for reaching ketosis faster
  1. Significantly reducing the carbohydrate intake. ...
  2. Increasing physical activity. ...
  3. Fasting for short periods. ...
  4. Increasing healthful fat intake. ...
  5. Testing ketone levels. ...
  6. Checking protein intake. ...
  7. Consuming more MCT oil.

How long to lose 20 pounds on keto? ›

“If the patient can maintain a steady calorie deficit, I expect them to lose one to two pounds per week,” says Dr. Seeman. So after 12 weeks, her clients are usually down around 20-25 pounds.

How long to lose 40 pounds on keto? ›

With a rate of weight loss of 1-2 pounds each week, about 5-6 months is how long to lose 40 pounds on keto.

How fast can I lose 10 lbs on keto? ›

But you can realistically expect to lose 10 pounds in seven days if you follow a healthy Keto Diet. Most of the weight loss will be water weight. But you will look amazing and feel better.

Can you lose 20 pounds in a month on keto diet? ›

I started keto in April and have never looked back. Aside from losing 20lbs, I also lost the carb addiction and disordered eating patterns that have plagued me for years.

How to lose 2 pounds a week on keto? ›

If you are losing 1 to 2 pounds per week, there is no need to implement the suggestions found in this article.
  1. Track Your Calories. ...
  2. Recalculate Your Macros Every Month. ...
  3. Take Intermittent Breaks From Calorie Restriction. ...
  4. Decrease Your Calorie Deficit. ...
  5. Eat The Right Amount Of Protein. ...
  6. Stay Consistent With Your Keto Diet.
Jul 28, 2022

How long does it take to lose weight on keto without exercise? ›

Generally, you'll need to adhere to a caloric deficit of around 500 calories per day. At this rate, you should start to see noticeable weight loss after anywhere from 10 to 21 days.

Will one cheat day ruin ketosis? ›

You should avoid cheat meals and days on the keto diet. Consuming too many carbs can kick your body out of ketosis — and it takes several days to 1 week to get back into it.

Can I have 1 cheat meal a week on keto? ›

It's entirely possible to have a cheat day while staying in ketosis, as long as you plan your macros carefully. However, if you want to go all out on your cheat day, be ready for some of the side effects and the fact that you'll more than likely have to spend some time getting back into ketosis.

How often should I have a cheat day on keto? ›

If your goal is calorie control, aim to cheat no more than once or twice a week. But if ketosis is important for your progress, consider cheating much less often, like once a month. And if you are new to a keto diet, wait at least a few weeks to get some progress going before even considering cheats.

How do I get back on keto after carb binge? ›


Exercise is one of the best ways to get back to ketosis after a binge because it depletes your glycogen stores faster. Glycogen is a form of glucose that is stored in your muscles and liver. It provides energy for muscle contractions during exercise.

Can you eat pizza on a keto diet? ›

Can Pizza Be Keto? Yes, absolutely! There are many keto-friendly pizza crusts to try out, as well as keto pizza toppings that won't even make it feel like you're on a diet. We've gathered some suggestions for you so you can stick to your diet plans but still enjoy the deliciousness that is pizza.

How long should you stay on keto diet? ›

While some people have success staying on keto for an extended period of time, “the long-term research is limited,” says Jill Gulotta, RDN, who's based in White Plains, New York. Gulotta recommends staying on keto for six months max before reintroducing more carbs to your diet.

Is it OK to have 1 cheat day a week? ›

Yes. In fact, having a regularly scheduled cheat day each week can actually be good for weight loss by preventing binges, reducing cravings, providing a mental break from dieting, and boosting metabolism—if it's done in a healthy way.

Can you eat hot dogs on keto? ›

Low in carbs and high in fat, sausages and hot dogs are keto-friendly! Although we recommend eating processed meats sparingly, hot dogs and sausages can be a great meal choice if you're following a flexible keto diet. And don't forget adding chicken sausage, turkey hot dogs, and tofu dogs to the grill, too.

How much can I lose on keto in 2 weeks? ›

The lowdown. The keto diet changes the way your metabolism works by encouraging it to use ketone bodies instead of glucose for energy production. In the first couple of weeks, it's possible to lose up to ten pounds. After that, you could be losing one to two pounds per week.

Can you eat peanut butter on a keto diet? ›

Peanut butter can definitely be part of a keto diet, but it's best to stick to plain options that are free of extra flavors and sweeteners. Almond butter is a good choice, too, and it's slightly lower in carbs. Additionally, you should be mindful of your portion size if you're trying to lose weight.


1. Beware of low-carb cheat days!
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2. You Had A Cheat Day On Keto Diet? Here's How To Undo The Damage Of A Keto Cheat Day Get To Fat Loss
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3. How Long to Get Back In Ketosis After a Keto CHEAT DAY | We Tested It
(Keto Connect)
4. How Long Does it Take to Get into Ketosis After a Cheat Day? – Dr. Berg
(Dr. Eric Berg DC)
5. Breaking Keto - The Impact of Cheat Days and My Lessons Learned
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6. The 16 Biggest Keto Mistakes: DON'T MAKE THEM!
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