Cheating on Keto: Effects and Recovery (2024)

The keto diet is a very low carb, high fat diet that’s popular for its weight loss effects.

It encourages ketosis, a metabolic state in which your body burns fat as its primary source of energy instead of carbs (1).

As this diet is very strict, you may find yourself tempted by the occasional high carb food.

As such, it’s natural to wonder whether you’re allowed to have cheat meals or cheat days on keto — or whether this will kick you out of ketosis.

This article explains whether you can cheat on the keto diet.

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Cheat days and cheat meals are common strategies for strict diets. The former allows you to break the diet’s rules throughout the day, while the latter lets you have a single meal that breaks the rules.

The idea of planned cheating is that by allowing yourself short periods of indulgence, you’re more likely to stick to the diet over the long term.

While cheating may be helpful for some eating patterns, it’s far from ideal for the keto diet.

That’s because this diet relies on your body staying in ketosis.

To do so, you need to eat fewer than 50 grams of carbs per day. Eating more than 50 grams can kick your body out of ketosis (2).

As carbs are your body’s preferred energy source, your body will use them over ketone bodies — the main source of fuel during ketosis, which are derived from fats — as soon as a sufficient number of carbs are available (2).

Because 50 grams of carbs is relatively few, a single cheat meal can easily exceed your daily carb allowance and take your body out of ketosis — while a cheat day is almost certain to surpass 50 grams of carbs.

In addition, some research suggests that suddenly reintroducing a high carb meal to a ketogenic diet may damage your blood vessels (3).

It’s also worth noting that it’s easy to overeat while cheating, which may sabotage your weight loss efforts and promote unhealthy eating habits (4, 5).


Cheat meals or days are discouraged on the keto diet because they can easily break ketosis — the metabolic state that’s the hallmark of this diet.

If you’ve cheated on keto, you’re likely out of ketosis.

Once out, you’ll need to strictly follow the keto diet to reenter ketosis. This process takes several days to 1 week, depending on your carb intake, metabolism, and activity levels (6, 7, 8).

Here are a few tips to help you get back into ketosis:

  • Try intermittent fasting. Combining intermittent fasting with the keto diet may help your body shift its fuel source from carbs to fat (9).
  • Track your carb intake. Taking note of your daily carb intake ensures that you don’t underestimate it.
  • Try a short-term fat fast. Fat fasts like egg fasts, which may help expedite ketosis, are very high fat, low carb diets meant to last only a brief period.
  • Exercise more. Physical activity depletes your glycogen stores, which are your body’s stored form of carbs. In turn, this promotes ketosis.
  • Try a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) supplement. MCTs are a rapidly absorbed fatty acid that’s easily converted into ketones (6).

The best way to know if you’ve reached ketosis is to test your ketone levels.

You can use tools that measure your body’s ketone levels, such as ketone breath meters, blood ketone meters, and keto urine strips — which tend to be the cheapest and easiest method.


If you’ve cheated on keto, you’ll need to strictly adhere to the diet to reenter ketosis. A few techniques, such as intermittent fasting, fat fasting, and exercise, may help you reach ketosis faster.

You can implement several simple strategies to help curb the urge to cheat on the keto diet. Some tips include:

  • Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness involves paying attention to your body, which may help you resist cravings and emotional eating (10, 11).
  • Plan out your meals and snacks. A solid dietary plan makes it less likely that you’ll get hungry during the day.
  • Make your everyday diet enjoyable. Try incorporating different keto-friendly meals to vary up your diet and make it enjoyable.
  • Keep tempting foods out of the house. Keeping treats and other tempting, high carb foods out of sight can make cheating inconvenient.
  • Have an accountability partner. A buddy or accountability partner can help you stay motivated to stick to your diet.

To resist the urge to cheat on keto, try keeping carbs out of the house, planning out your meals and snacks, and practicing mindfulness.

You should avoid cheat meals and days on the keto diet.

Consuming too many carbs can kick your body out of ketosis — and it takes several days to 1 week to get back into it. In the meantime, your weight loss may be disrupted.

To resist cheating on keto, you can keep tempting foods out of the household, rope in an accountability partner, practice mindfulness, and make a strong daily diet plan.

Note that if you’re feeling prolonged symptoms of dizziness, stomach upset, or decreased energy, stop your keto diet and consult your doctor.

Cheating on Keto: Effects and Recovery (2024)


Cheating on Keto: Effects and Recovery? ›

The bottom line

What happens if you cheat once on keto? ›

If your cheat day knocked you out of ketosis, you need to get back to restricting your carb intake to 20 to 50 grams a day. Then, it will take between 2 to 7 days to reenter ketosis, but this will depend on your metabolism, exercise, and hydration.

How to recover after a cheat day on keto? ›

The best way to recover from a keto cheat day is to resume your low-carb keto lifestyle. Other tips to follow include: Track your carb intake: Keep note of your daily carb intake in a food diary.

How long does it take to get back into ketosis if you cheat on the keto diet? ›

That said, whether you're dieting or eating a keto meal plan for other health reasons, you can generally expect that if you go back onto the keto diet, you should be able to get back into a state of ketosis within one to three days, and you can speed up the process with simple steps.

What happens if you eat a lot of carbs after being on keto? ›

“When you reintroduce carbohydrates back into your diet — and this is more about refined carbs, I'm not talking about eating an apple — you don't feel very good.” She says some people experience a so-called carb hangover — the body feels kind of bloated and inflamed, and you may develop headaches.

Will one chip ruin ketosis? ›

Yes, even just one carb-rich meal can quickly get you out of ketosis. The carbs eaten on a cheat day will halt the production of ketones immediately until they are all metabolized by the body.

Will one cheat day ruin my progress? ›

While your metabolism may go up in the immediate aftermath of a splurge, it doesn't stay that way for long enough to make a significant difference. “Cheat day calories can add up fast and bring your weight loss progress to a screeching halt — or even reverse it,” Taylor warns.

Why do I feel sick after a cheat day on keto? ›

Because of the blood sugar spike, it is common for some people to notice an intense sugar crash after cheating with a carb heavy meal. And depending on how long you've been cutting carbs, you might also notice some repeat symptoms of "keto flu" when resuming your keto diet.

Will one slice of pizza take you out of ketosis? ›

Regular Crust

This type of pizza crust can have up to 33g of carbs without any added sauce or cheese. If you're limiting your carbs to 20-50 grams per day, one slice of this type of crust will likely kick you out of ketosis.

How do you reset your body after a cheat day? ›

What to do after a cheat day
  1. Be kind to yourself. ...
  2. Remind yourself of other healthy behaviors your practicing. ...
  3. Don't turn a cheat day into a cheat week or month. ...
  4. Eat foods you crave most days. ...
  5. Stay consistent with exercise. ...
  6. Have a balanced meal. ...
  7. Practice tuning into your hunger and fullness.
Jun 28, 2021

Should I fast after a cheat day on keto? ›

Overall, you can get back into ketosis as soon as 12-16 hours after your last cheat meal (with the help of fasting and exercise) or it can take as long as it did when you first started keto.

Can a cheat day break a plateau? ›

A planned cheat day can sometimes shock your body into breaking through the plateau and going back to weight loss mode. It can also give you a mental break from being so careful with what you eat. Finally, a cheat meal gives you the chance to eat some of the high-calorie treats that may have been scarce recently.

Is it bad to go in and out of ketosis? ›

The bottom line. You should avoid cheat meals and days on the keto diet. Consuming too many carbs can kick your body out of ketosis — and it takes several days to 1 week to get back into it. In the meantime, your weight loss may be disrupted.

How many carbs will ruin ketosis? ›

Most ketogenic diet guidelines recommend limiting your total carbohydrate intake to 15-30 grams or 5%-10% of your total calorie intake a day. Eating more than 50 grams of carbs may disrupt ketosis. With keto diets, however, carb restrictions vary from person to person.

How much weight can you lose in a month on keto? ›

How Much Weight Can You Lose in a Month on Keto? Individuals on a keto diet can lose an average of 10-12 pounds in their first month if they stay consistent with the diet and maintain a calorie deficit. However, weight loss can vary depending on starting weight, age, and activity level.

Do you gain back fat after keto? ›

In fact, studies have shown that about 50% of people who lose weight on keto regain it within one year. There are a few reasons for this: * Keto is a restrictive diet. It can be difficult to stick to long-term, and once you start eating more carbohydrates again, you may gain weight quickly.

How many carbs ruin ketosis? ›

Eating more than 50 grams of carbs may disrupt ketosis.

Some people can eat more and still stay in ketosis, whereas others may need to restrict their carb intake more in order to stay in ketosis.

How to get out of ketosis quickly? ›

Foods that will knock you out of ketosis pretty quickly are:
  1. Grains.
  2. Sugar/sugar-sweetened beverages.
  3. Too much fruit.
  4. Processed meats (they often have hidden sugars)
  5. Fat-free and low-fat dairy (too much lactose, a dairy sugar)
  6. Starchy vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, and certain winter squash.
Feb 15, 2024

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