Can You Have a Cheat Day on Keto? Experts Explain How to Do It

Can You Have a Cheat Day on Keto? Experts Explain How to Do It

Estimated time to read 10 minutes

The Ketogenic diet has recently become one of the most trendy diets amongst celebrities and social media influencers, with incredible before and after transformations.

What makes keto different from the wealth of fad diets and weight loss hacks that came before, are the substantial amount of studies from nutritionists and doctors alike that rigorously support it.

Keto, on the most basic level, is when you alter your diet to suit a low carb and high-fat diet. Eating like this will help to put your body into a state of ketosis, which is when your body uses its already existing fat as fuel, rather than the carbs you are eating!

Though keto ready meals allow some tasty fats, the low carbohydrate diet can sometimes be hard to follow - especially if carbs were your former go-to foods! Keto is quite a strict diet, but this is one of the main reasons why people can lose so much weight by following it. At times, keeping up with the keto lifestyle can feel incredibly rigid and you may find yourself wanting a break. As many have begun to wonder if it’s possible to have a cheat day on the keto diet, it is important to know what the potential effects of doing so are and how this will affect your progress on the keto diet!

In this blog post, we will be covering in detail if it is possible to cheat on the keto diet and how this will affect your body. Additionally, we note the healthier ways that you can cheat on the keto diet without actually doing too much damage and the top tips for those times where you do slip up.

Keto Chicken and Mushroom Soup - Eat Proper Good

'Typically, our body burns glycogen (which is a substance that comes from consuming carbs) for energy. Instead of this, and in order to achieve a state of ketosis, the keto diet forces the body to use ketones for fuel - this is fat that your body is holding on to.'

What Is The Keto Diet?

First, it is essential that you know the science behind how the keto diet works. Once you see the clear relationship between the food you eat and the likeness of your body being in a state of ketosis, it will help you to further understand whether you can have a cheat day or not.

Keto is a low-carb, high-fat diet. As a result, you essentially need to cut out all carbs from your diet, even the ones that seemed ok to eat on previous diets, such as white rice, pasta, bread, cereals, and potatoes. Unlike other low-carb diet variants, like the Atkins diet, the Keto diet has calorie restrictions and strictly advocates eating real food with no processed food or junk food allowed. 

Several studies have illustrated that the keto diet is a proven way to not only lose weight but also limit your appetite, regulate your hormones, as well as aid in building muscle. 

The ultimate goal of the keto diet is to put your body in a state of ketosis. As mentioned earlier, a state of ketosis is an experience where there is a change in the way that your body gets its energy source from. Typically, our body burns glycogen (which is a substance that comes from consuming carbs) for energy. Instead of this, and in order to achieve a state of ketosis, the keto diet forces the body to use ketones for fuel - this is fat that your body is holding on to. By limiting your carb intake, your body burns through any stored fat for energy, instead of glucose. 

Eating foods with high-fat content is prioritized on the keto diet as it helps people to stay full whilst also providing enough calories for your body to function correctly.

Can You Have A Cheat Day On Keto? 

The Ketogenic diet and lifestyle is a strict one, though this is for a good reason. It is a very taxing diet that yields great results, but only if it is followed properly. A cheat day where one breaks all the rules from the diet is far from ideal, as the keto diet only works if your body remains in a state of ketosis.

Consequently, if you were to have a cheat day where you eat a limitless amount of carbs and proteins, your body would then be removed from its prior state of ketosis.

Though it is not advisable or recommended by most nutritionists, it is actually possible to have a cheat day on keto and then retrain your body to enter ketosis once more. However, it should be duly noted that this comes with several disadvantages and potential side effects that may limit the further success of the keto diet on your weight loss journey.

A cheat day is not the end of the world provided you firm the side effects and maintain self-control not only whilst you are cheating, but also post cheating as well. It is important to remember that if you are on the keto diet in order to lose weight, a cheat meal can be high in carbohydrates as long as you are controlling and counting calories. Essentially, remember that excess carbs do not cause weight gain, but excess calories do. 

Disadvantages Of Cheating On Keto

There are several disadvantages of cheating whilst on the keto diet, from mood swings to potential blood vessel damage. The main disadvantages and side effects that we are covering are as follows... 

Throws Your Body Out Of Ketosis:

When your body is in a state of ketosis it is burning off your fat as its main source of fuel. As a result, a sudden switch to carbs will automatically throw your body out of this nutritious and efficient fat-burning state.

Consequently, this can have a devastating impact on your weight loss journey, as this extra daily carb intake will not only throw your body out of ketosis, but it will also see you gain water weight as well as introduce cravings back into your life. In the end, this will make it even harder for you to get back into the nutritional ketosis state, as you will face even more obstacles when you next try to get back into a state of ketosis.

Blood Sugar Spike:

Keto stabilizes blood sugar levels so a sudden cheat day can have the potential to cause dangerous spikes to your blood sugar levels. For the average person, this may cause you to feel nauseous for a few days at most,  but for diabetics, this could be potentially life-threatening if too much sugar is consumed.

As you come down from your sugar high, you may feel sick, tired, bloated, and be easily agitated. As the health of your immune system becomes compromised, this affects your gut health as well as your physical appearance. This is because a sudden increase in sugar can cause acne and other skin issues.

Significantly Reduced-Fat Burning:

As your body is thrown out of its fat-burning state due to your cheat meal, your body is highly likely to pack on a few extra pounds. This is because your body will no longer actively be burning off fat, and any leftover carbs that have not been effectively burnt off from exercise or metabolism will be stored in your body.

Increased Cravings:

Everyone knows how addictive carbs and sugary foods and drinks can be. Though resisting the temptation of a cheat meal may be difficult, it would be a lot harder to resist cravings once you have already enjoyed it as part of a cheat meal.

Including cheat meals as part of a diet culture lifestyle may work for some previous fad diets, but the keto diet is the real deal. The keto diet requires more of a lifestyle change and commitment in order to see amazing long-term results, and the thought of cheat meals being allowed will only make you crave one even more. It is important to be strict with yourself if you want to see great results.

Indulging in any cheat meals now will only make it harder for you to completely stop eating them!

Repeat Symptoms Of Keto Flu:

Exiting and re-entering ketosis can lead to experiencing symptoms of the keto flu. The keto flu is the adjustment period for your body, and symptoms can range from mild headaches to severe fatigue. Experiencing these symptoms can be irritating and annoying, especially if you have already experienced this when you first transitioned to a keto diet.

If you are experiencing symptoms of the keto flu, remember to stay well hydrated and take rest days from exercise if needed.

Guilt And Mood Swings:

Having a cheat meal will often make you feel guilty or confused about your progress on a diet. You may feel guilty or upset when cheating on the keto diet especially, as you are likely to bloat quite a lot - making you look a bit bigger or less healthy than you were before.

This is mainly due to the added carbohydrates in your body from the cheat meal, as these typically hold quite a bit of water! This extra water weight can actually increase your body's weight on the scales from 2 to 6 pounds.

Though this may seem disheartening at the time, this water weight is likely to be lost after a few days on the keto diet.

How Do I Get Back Into Ketosis If I Cheat?

For the average person, it can typically take around 2 to 3 days for the body to reenter a state of ketosis. However, this is heavily dependent on background factors in relation to what the cheat meal was, how keto friendly it was, whether alcohol was consumed, and the amount of time that the person was in a state of ketosis beforehand.

The general rule is that the more keto-friendly your cheat meal was, the quicker you will be able to get back into a state of ketosis. If you consume a lot of carbohydrates as your cheat meal, your body will first need to burn off all this extra glucose before it can start burning fat as fuel again. Try some intense exercise to help reduce your glucose levels.

Tips For A Keto Cheat Day: Do A Cheat Day Right

There are several ways you can “cheat” on keto without actually breaking the dietary requirements. We have researched the best tips and tricks that long-time keto lovers and nutritionists recommend...

Swap In Keto-Friendly Meals/Foods:

Try to still eat keto-friendly foods or meals as part of your cheat day, as this will limit the damage and prevent getting back into ketosis from taking too long! Choosing lower carb options, such as low-calorie snacks, will not only have the potential to keep your body in ketosis whilst cheating, but it will also reduce any feelings of guilt or regret afterward.

It is also a great idea to look out for ready-made foods that have been specially formulated with keto in mind, making them a delicious keto-friendly alternative to a cheat meal. Proper Good has a range of quick, keto-friendly meals and snacks that are as tasty as they are useful! Keep these on hand in your kitchen to satisfy any cravings, guilt-free! 

Keto meals and soups - Eat Proper Good

Try Keto Cycles:

Imagining the keto diet in a cyclic way can make for a less strict version of the ketogenic diet. This can be helpful for those who find it difficult to stick to firm diets as it allows for some flexibility! General keto cycles include eating keto during the working week and then eating higher carb contents over the weekend, and vice versa.

Keto Approved Craving Control:

If cravings are out of control, it is ok to indulge in your favorite foods and snacks provided you control the portions and amount you eat to limit carbs. Try to stick as close to your net carb goal as possible without going too much over. Make sure you are taking note of the type of foods that you are craving and when you want to eat these. If you notice any patterns in your eating behavior, try to identify certain triggers that make you crave certain foods. Knowing the root of the behavior is the best way to attempt to combat it! 


Generally, it is recommended that you try to focus on your initial motivation for starting the keto diet, rather than have a cheat day. A cheat day will most likely throw your body out of ketosis, but if handled responsibly, you will most likely be able to retrain your body in a few days. Overall, it is best to limit your cheat meals or opt for a keto-cycle diet instead. However, if the temptation is too much, always try to stick to keto-friendly foods or those lower in carbohydrate content!

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