When you think about going on a diet, the first thing that probably comes to…
Ketogenic diets are one of the most popular diet trends around today. There are a few variations of the diet, but for the most part, it involves consuming a diet very low in carbohydrates, moderate in protein, and low in fat. This does something very specific to the body, and it's exactly what makes keto so unique: it puts the body into a state of ketosis which is an alternate energy-burning pathway.
People go on keto for all kinds of reasons, but the most common one is for weight loss and fat loss specifically. Keto is also great for combating brain fog, boosting metabolism, regulating blood sugar, and giving stable all-day energy, and most keto enthusiasts are able to benefit from all of these effects. That being said, the majority of people who follow a strict diet have the flexibility to have a few cheat days or cheat meals once in a while.
Cheat days allow people to still enjoy the foods they love without totally sacrificing their health goals, and it can make special occasions feel extra enjoyable. It can also make it much easier to go to restaurants and socialize with friends and family who aren't on the same diet as you. Overall, cheat days can be a great thing as long as they're not so frequent that they're ruining your progress. However, cheat days while you're on keto are a little bit more complicated. Let's find out if you should have cheat days, why, and how to do them successfully.
What's Your Reason for Having a Cheat Day?
It's important to first understand why you want cheat days before addressing the question: can you have a cheat day on keto and still lose weight? If you find yourself desperately craving carbohydrate-rich foods every day, for example, it's possible that the keto diet just isn't well suited to your personal preferences. This is totally fine because there are many different ways to eat healthily, and no single diet is the perfect approach for everyone.
However, if you generally enjoy following a keto diet but wish it was easier to partake in social outings, this probably isn't a sign the diet isn't working for you, and you may just need a bit more planning to make it work instead. Learning how to order keto while out at restaurants is an extremely helpful skill to make socializing possible without compromising your diet. This helps make it possible to have a cheat day on keto without falling off track as often.
Tips for Ordering Keto While Eating Out
It's entirely possible to eat out without breaking out of ketosis. You'll firstly want to skip any sweet or alcoholic beverages. Stick to water, sparkling water, teas, coffees, or a sugar-free mocktail instead.
For food, try ordering a meat-based entree with vegetables as a side if possible. If this isn't an option, you could always order a bunless burger, a salad loaded with meat and healthy fats like:
- and olive oil
or you could create your own meal out of low-carb appetizers and sides.
For breakfast food, try to stick to :
- and butter.
Avoid any toast, biscuits, pancakes, or oatmeal options.
Tips for Eating Keto On-The-Go
Another common reason you could be craving more cheat days on keto is that it's hard to keep it up while on the go. If you're out most of the day rushing from home to work to an after-work event, it can be difficult to get through the day without purchasing food. You might feel deprived as you see coworkers and friends easily order delivery or make a stop at a local cafe.
This is one of the times you'll be most tempted to cheat on your keto diet, and the trick to avoiding this scenario is to be prepared. Meal prepping will allow you to take food with you and not worry about how you'll find something keto while away from home. Stashing some of your favorite keto snacks and treats either in your workplace, car or in your bag is another great way to avoid mid-afternoon snack cravings that could otherwise sabotage your diet.
A final way to make eating keto easier is to research what keto options you have for ordering or purchasing food in your area. If you already know where to go to buy something keto, you're much more likely to stay on track than you would be if you were hungry and in a rush with no time to research your options.
What Should You Eat on Your Keto Cheat Days?
Even if you do manage to stick to a keto diet while on the go and out with friends, there may still be scenarios where you'll want to make exceptions, and this is perfectly understandable. Unless you have a severe allergy, it's not necessary to strictly forbid certain foods 100%. You can eat a keto diet and still enjoy birthday cake and special dinners while traveling. This will temporarily take you out of ketosis, but in the long run, it will allow you to have a more balanced and sustainable healthy lifestyle.
With this in mind, the foods you eat for cheat days and when you eat them should be whatever is most enjoyable and meaningful to you. If your favorite food is pizza, you should allow yourself to indulge every so often. While there are certainly some tasty keto pizza options, part of what's so important about cheat days is not the food itself but the ability to allow yourself to enjoy life and relax. This is psychologically beneficial, and it can help mitigate the possibility of developing an unhealthy relationship with food.
Following a keto diet perfectly isn't always easy, but with some practice and planning, it can slowly start to feel more natural. It's perfectly fine to enjoy some very non-keto cheat meals from time to time, but if you find yourself constantly slipping up from a lack of planning, it may be helpful to address the root cause and reassess if keto is right for you. There are plenty of ways to make keto food tasty and lots of creative ways to make it easier to stay on track.