A dietary trend embraced by everyone from celebrities to fitness trainers, keto involves replacing the carbohydrates in your diet with fats and proteins. While the specific numbers vary by individual, most people on keto should aim to consume 60% to 75% of their calories from fat, 15% to 30% from protein, and just 5% to 10% from carbs. By following a keto diet devotedly, practitioners enter a state known as ketosis in which the body starts burning fat rather than carbs and producing ketones for energy.
While numerous studies have shown that keto can help patients lose weight and enjoy other health benefits, keto is not without its challenges. For one, keto practitioners who cheat on their diets may suffer more drawbacks than those on other eating plans. So, we’ve dedicated today’s blog to learn more about whether you have to go full keto to benefit from ketones.
The Trouble with Cheat Days
With most diets, sneaking that slice of chocolate cake or plate of fries once a week is unlikely to affect your overall results. However, on keto, when you engage in cheat days you might be cheating yourself. Indulging in a carb-heavy meal while you’re in ketosis can prove to be a serious setback. This is because consuming carbs stops your body from producing ketones. As a result, you’ll go back to burning carbs rather than the fat you’re seeking to cut.
Additionally, keto dieters who cheat risk suffering from an unpleasant condition known as the keto flu. Common among those first embarking on a keto journey, this state involves headaches, fatigue, bloating, and a general feeling of low energy due to reduced insulin levels. If you regularly cheat on your keto diet, you may find yourself cycling back to the “flu” state on a weekly basis.
Making Keto Work for You
It’s true that keto requires more discipline than many other dietary strategies. But that doesn’t mean you can never again eat the foods you love. With proper effort and planning, you kind find a way to make keto work for you.
One of the ways to stick to keto without sacrificing your favorite snacks is to follow a cyclical ketogenic diet. Also known as CKD, this eating plan involves staying in keto for five or six days straight and then eating a more carb-heavy diet for a day or two (likely over the weekend). Although your body will likely get out of ketosis on your cheat days, sticking to a routine can make keto more realistic over the long term while helping you preserve the lean muscle you worked so hard to gain.
Additionally, practitioners can continue to benefit from ketones by becoming more selective about their “cheat foods.” Say you’re craving a big slice of chocolate cake. But instead of indulging in what you really want, you opt to have a couple sugar cookies with lunch. And another few after dinner. And maybe two or three more as a midnight snack. If you had just indulged in (a smaller version of) the cake you wanted from the start, you might not have had all those cookies throughout the day. By eating the occasional treat in a mindful way, you may be able to reduce the odds of engaging in binging behavior down the line.
Of course, regularly giving in to cake cravings doesn’t sound like the way to achieve keto success. Consider seeking out a few keto-friendly versions of your favorite treats. As keto and other carb-light diets grow in popularity, everyone from celebrity chefs to amateur foodies is developing low-carb versions of common recipes. Instead of indulging in that gluten-packed lasagna, try out a version made with zucchini noodles. Or opt to make your breadsticks out of cauliflower. By making a few simple changes to your meal plan, you can enjoy the full benefit of your hard-won ketones.
Kick Your Keto Diet into High Gear
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