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Will One Cheat Day Ruin Ketosis

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7 Reasons Not To Have Cheat Meals Or Cheat Days

Many diet plans out there frame cheat meals or cheat days as having important benefits. They're supposed to prevent you from feeling deprived, boost metabolism, and increase chances of success with a diet, etc. Well, I don't agree. I have nothing against occasional "refeeds," as in eating more carbs or calories than usual one day. You might call these refeeds healthy cheat meals. They're absolutely fine and may even be good for you. But claiming that it is somehow beneficial to pig out on extremely harmful foods with sugar, refined wheat or trans fats just doesn't make sense to me. Now you can do whatever you want with your own body, but I thought I'd give you a few reasons why having a cheat meal or cheat day may not be the best idea. When you drastically change the way you eat, a certain adaptation process needs to take place. For example, if you're doing a low-carb ketogenic (keto) diet then your body needs to change certain hormones and ramp up production of enzymes to make use of fat as the primary source of fuel. If you keep cheating, you will prevent this metabolic adaptation from ever fully completing. Also, when you abandon the standard western diet and start eating more r Continue reading >>

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  1. iwannalose50lbs

    On my 3rd month of Keto and having some success, but every so often I'm presented with an opportunity to "cheat" and sometimes it's rude if not impossible to pass up. Examples include but are not limited to:
    A friend buying a round of beers at the bar.
    A close friend or relative's child offering a piece of their birthday cake.
    A pancake social or a private dinner at a traditional Italian home.
    I tried searching but couldn't find anything discussing the SCIENCE of cheating while on Keto. For example:
    What are the variables that affect how quickly and how long you are kicked out of ketosis, and how long does it take to get back into ketosis in each scenario?
    How much different is the effect of eating a single Oreo cookie versus a whole plate of pasta?
    How strongly does exercise impact ketosis, and what types of exercises are best for getting back into ketosis if you get "kicked out" after a cheat day?
    How strongly does cheating impact actual weight loss? It seems to be common knowledge that cheating can actually help overcome plateaus, so what's the REAL difference between someone who practices Keto religiously versus someone who does Keto most of the time with the occasional treat thrown in every few days?
    To clarify, this is not a post advocating cheating. I am simply trying to open a discussion about the physical impact that cheating can have on your body while in ketosis. I have gone over a month without cheating, but I have also cheated multiple times in a week and I haven't really noticed much of a difference either way. This is more of a curiosity post than anything else. Looking forward to a good discussion.

  2. gogge

    What are the variables that affect how quickly and how long you are kicked out of ketosis, and how long does it take to get back into ketosis in each scenario?
    The carbs you take in will stop ketone production until they're used up, or stored away in muscle. Full liver glycogen (~100 grams of carbs) last roughly 12-16 hours, so you'll probably be able to clear around 6-9 grams of carbs per hour by just existing (and not all carbs you eat will get stored as liver glycogen, your muscles take up some).
    The major determinant of whether the liver will produce ketone bodies is the amount of liver glycogen present (8). The primary role of liver glycogen is to maintain normal blood glucose levels. When dietary carbohydrates are removed from the diet and blood glucose falls, glucagon signals the liver to break down its glycogen stores to glucose which is released into the bloodstream. After approximately 12-16 hours, depending on activity, liver glycogen is almost completely depleted. At this time, ketogenesis increases rapidly. In fact, after liver glycogen is depleted, the availability of FFA will determine the rate of ketone production. (12)
    "The Ketogenic Diet", by Lyle McDonald, page 30.
    It will also take a few hours to clear the ketones already produced (circulating in your blood) even if ketone production stops, here's a post on ketone clearance from blood.
    How much different is the effect of eating a single Oreo cookie versus a whole plate of pasta?
    Assuming one oreo has 21 grams of carbs and that a whole plate of pasta is something like 121 grams of carbs (three servings).
    You'll probably not get noticeably kicked out from the oreo as it'll probably be digested over 30 minutes and then you'll use up the carbs within an hour or two, it'll take longer than that for the ketones to clear your blood.
    The plate of pasta will probably be digested over several hours, a normal mixed meal takes 4-6 hours but your intestines can absorb around 60-100 grams of carbs per hour, so two or three hours to digest highly processed carbs sounds more likely. At 6-8 grams of carbs used per hour it'll take 15-20 hours to clear all the glucose if it was only burned, but some will probably get used by your digestive system and some will get picked up by other tissues of the body (stored in muscles). You have peripherial insulin resistance on keto, manifested as impaired glucose tolerance, which likely means that a large part of the glucose will end up as liver glycogen. So a full plate of pasta might kick you out of ketosis for at least 15-20 hours (assuming resuming ketone production takes about as long as ketone clearance), longer if your body uses less glucose.
    How strongly does exercise impact ketosis, and what types of exercises are best for getting back into ketosis if you get "kicked out" after a cheat day?
    High intensity exercise burns glucose, high intensity endurance close to the lactate threshold is probably the best way of depleting liver glycogen (muscle taking up blood glucose, forcing the liver to use stored glycogen to maintain blood glucose levels).
    Higher intensity cardiovascular exercise is a little bit harder to pinpoint in terms of carbohydrate requirements and can vary pretty significantly depending on the intensities and volumes. A sprinter running 60m repeats isn’t using a lot of glycogen, a trained endurance athlete working near their lactate threshold for extended periods can deplete glycogen fairly completely in 1-2 hours. Even at lower intensities, the 2-6 hour sessions done by endurance athletes can completely deplete both muscle and liver glycogen stores on a daily basis.
    Lyle McDonald, "How Many Carbohydrates Do You Need?".
    How strongly does cheating impact actual weight loss? It seems to be common knowledge that cheating can actually help overcome plateaus, so what's the REAL difference between someone who practices Keto religiously versus someone who does Keto most of the time with the occasional treat thrown in every few days?
    Actual short term fat gain (or lower loss) directly contributed to by the carbs is likely negligible, what matters for fat stored (or lower fat loss) directly affected by the cheat meal/day is total caloric intake.
    Short term weight gain might be because when carbs are stored as glycogen they bind 3-4 grams of water and the increased insulin levels can also lead to higher sodium retention (leading to water retention), which can help explain why some people gain large amounts of weight with cheat meals/days despite not eating a lot of calories (longer post on water loss on keto).
    Long term weight loss effects might be slightly different, a single cheat day might help you lower cortisol, raise leptin, and thyroid levels, which could help lessen water retention (and possibly increase metabolic rate, but not a lot of research on this that I know of). This might be why people break plateaus after cheat meals/days, Lyle talks some about it in "The LTDFLE".
    Eating a few carbs from time to time is unlikely to negatively influence your weight loss unless it adds significant calories.

  3. lovesfunnyposts

    Great helpful response!!

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