Since carbs are necessary for your sanity, the keto cheat day is built into most keto programs. Throughout the week, you’ve been subsisting on bacon and delicious grass-fed steaks, or maybe taking generous bites out of a block of cheese- and now it's time for a break.
We’ve been there: coming back from an evening of chips, salsa and beer to a morning of three eggs and black coffee with keto “creamer” can be rough. Carbs have a way of being the exact thing you crave, especially after a keto cheat day.
To help stave off the carbohydrate crazies, we’ve put together five guidelines for keto cheat day that won’t make you regret signing on to the keto lifestyle.
Keto Cheat Day “Rules”
First thing's first: a cheat day is a cheat day, so we're using “rules” in quotes- meaning they can be bent. Below, we offer five simple guidelines to make your keto cheat day satisfying- without making the next day miserable. If you bend the rules, or skirt the guidelines, don’t worry- we won’t tell. Just no promises on how you’ll feel in the morning.😉
Guideline 1: Keep liquid calories to a minimum
It’s only natural to want to celebrate with beer or wine on your keto cheat day, right? Wrong. Problems abound when trying to make your keto cheat day an excuse to go wild at happy hour. First, you’ll feel like a festivalgoer who forgot to pack their Liquid I.V. as soon as you wake up. Second, you may actually develop a problem with alcohol, as drinking extensively only one day a week imitates binging behaviors.
And, finally, even if “food” means potato skins and nachos, it's just not as enjoyable when it’s washed down with more than one or two beverages of choice.
On the non-alcoholic side of things, liquid calories in the form of sodas are, obviously, a bad idea for your health. Like alcohol, they dump sugar into your system through “empty” calories, meaning very little (if any) nutrients are absorbed.
Guideline 2: Avoid overeating
When you eat close to zero net carbs all week, keto cheat day can feel like an excuse to scarf down a potato the size of a football, followed by a chocolate malt, followed by (probably) another chocolate malt. We’ve even seen people go for the famous french-fry-dipped-in-milkshake routine. If this is you, don’t sweat it. We love fries (and milkshakes) just as much as the next person, but when it comes to a keto cheat day, playing smarter with your meals can help you feel good and indulge.
A couple strategies:
-When you order out, immediately box up half for later (or, better yet, give the leftovers away to the hungriest bidder).
-Restaurants are notorious for huge servings, so if you want to avoid overeating altogether, stay home and prepare a smaller meal of carb-y foods you love.
Guideline 3: Stick to your schedule
Keto cheat day should still follow your usual eating schedule. If you typically eat two meals, continue to do the same, just adding carbs at each meal. Don’t have a large serving of ice cream an hour before bed because it’s a cheat day- you’ll regret it, and it will inevitably make the day after much more difficult.
Breakfast is the most important meal to have on time, since it sets you up for a reasonable schedule all day, so if you stick to any meal, make it the first one!
Guideline 4: Balance macronutrients
Whether you are eating keto or not, meals that are heavy on one macronutrient can create blood sugar imbalances. This is particularly true of carbs, which need balancing with some fats and proteins. In other words, if you decide on a bucket of popcorn, at least add some butter. And don’t include candy and soda with that popcorn. Instead, have a handful of almonds (okay, okay, they can be chocolate covered).
Should you choose a fruit for your carb – an excellent idea – pair it with some cheese or peanut butter, both of which provide necessary fats and proteins.
Guideline 5: Keep it consistent
Most people who choose a keto cheat day make it the same day of the week, such as Saturday. But what if you get a chance to rock-climb on Saturday, and you usually bring jerky and a bag of nuts? On your cheat day, simply bring a sandwich or a portable, balanced shake along, and don’t forget to pack your Liquid I.V. There's plenty of time for a beer and nachos after the climb.
In short, don’t switch your keto cheat days around. It’s a dangerous game, as you might end up with two, and then three keto cheat days a week.
Have any strategies for making it through your keto cheat day? Let us know in the comments below!