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Low-carb diets

Cheat day - keto

8 replies

YFSN44 · 18/02/2024 17:45

I'll start by saying that I know everyone is different, but I just wanted to share my experience in case it helps anyone else stay on track with keto. And also to see if anyone else has had a similar experience.

I started out the year (actually on New Year's day) with full-on keto. I lost just over 8 pounds in the first 3 weeks. I've lost weight and felt amazing with keto in the past so I know all about its merits.

BUT, I never stick to it for more than a couple of months. Boredom kicks in, as does the desire to eat like everyone else on social occasions, and I buckle.

So, I recently read up on cyclical ketosis - for me, admittedly, I was looking into the option of having a cheat day once a week to make it more sustainable.

Apparently there isn't a huge amount of research on cyclical keto yet but I've noticed there's a bit more attention being paid to it online lately. The argument (I think), is that you don't need to stay in ketosis all of the time for it to be beneficial - it can actually help for your body to be in a bit of a confused state so it doesn't become tolerant. The body actually reacts strongly each time you go into ketosis rather than it just adapting to keto and normalising it.

Anyhow, I've given it a go. For the past 3 weeks I've cheated (on a Saturday) with a carby meal (and shock horror...a dessert!). I made the carby meal my only meal on each cheat day.

So far, from using the urine sticks, I'm back into ketosis by Monday evening, and I've done strict keto until the next Saturday. Knowing I have a cheat day coming makes it easy to stick to.

I've continued to lose weight at a decent rate. Admittedly, I don't have a huge amount to lose and I am almost at my target weight so I'm hoping once I reach that, I can use this way of eating to maintain.

I think I was always a bit dogmatic about keto in the past - it was either all or nothing - until I broke and buckled again, but I actually think I've found something more realistic this time. I have had no cravings/keto flu etc following the cheat day and getting back into it.

I'm no scientist (as I'm sure you can tell), so I'd be interested to hear other people's opinions/experiences on this.

OP posts:
Cormoran · 18/02/2024 22:08

On your cheat day, you only eat that one carby meal that will probably be less than 1000-1200 calories, right?
Could it then be that it is the calories overall reduction in one form or the other. that make you lose weight more than a label?

Be mindful that on the few studies on this, the cyclical ketosis group seems to lose more lean (muscle and bone) mass compared to calorie reduction group, and also have less strength increase.

As you rightly say, everyone is different, and you seem to have found a way to stick to a healthier and less processed way of eating. Good on you ! A

The Influence of Cyclical Ketogenic Reduction Diet vs. Nutritionally Balanced Reduction Diet on Body Composition, Strength, and Endurance Performance in Healthy Young Males: A Randomized Controlled Trial

(1) Background: The influence of ketogenic diet on physical fitness remains controversial. We performed a randomized controlled trial to compare the effect of cyclical ketogenic reduction diet (CKD) vs. nutritionally balanced reduction diet (RD) on bod...

YFSN44 · 23/02/2024 13:55

Thank you Cormoran :)

Interesting study, although I must admit to not reading all of it!

I think most of the carb cycling/carb loading information/studies focus on people who do a lot of high intensity exercise. I'm assuming the high carb days enable them to train harder and for longer?

I absolutely do not fall into that group!

I think you're right though, the cheat day being an OMAD day helps. I'm thinking you may not be a fan of keto and think that calorie restriction should be the goal generally for weight loss?

I'm interested to know about the science behind the ketosis state being interrupted - would that stop me reaching the 'fat adaption' stage? I've read it can take months of ketosis to be truly fat adapted. Or, does it not matter? Is being in ketosis enough in itself to get the long term health benefits?

It doesn't get much traffic this thread!

OP posts:
Discoballs · 25/02/2024 14:19

I’ve been eating keto on and off for 5 years. The first time being most successful; I did 18 months before falling pregnant. Less successful with subsequent attempts although this time 6 months in and still feeling motivated.

Personally it takes me 2-3 months to become fat adapted. I love being fat adapted as opposed to being in ketosis. I just no longer feel motivated by food so carbs by and large go out of my head. I’m also able to fast more/for longer periods which I think is beneficial due to autophagy.

For me, if I wanted to eat a carby meal every week I would aim for fat adaption first. Although I would be worried that the one carby meal a week would be a gateway to more carbs eventually. And that it might knock me out of fat adaption. I’d carefully monitor for both and see. When I was keto for 18 months I was def able to manage the odd carby meal once fat adapted. But I never tried weekly. I can see why cyclical keto could be beneficial; cyclical fasting has def helped me, but I just don’t think I’d enjoy doing keto for that long without the benefits of being fat adapted.

The thing that interests me and I’ve been working on this time round is why it’s hard to stick to. There was an interesting Zoe podcast a few weeks ago about maintaining habits that had some really helpful ideas. I’ve also taken on the Zoe ideas around eating a greater variety of veg/herbs/spices/nuts/seeds/ferments this time and that’s def kept it more interesting.

YFSN44 · 26/02/2024 22:05

Thanks Discoballs. That's a really interesting insight into long term keto.

Possibly a daft question, but how did you know you were fat adapted? Was it just that you felt different, lost more weight, didn't feel hungry? Were there any other indicators? I know I feel good when I'm in ketosis but I'm not sure I've ever been fully fat adapted.

I'll have a look for the Zoe podcast and listen to it on the way to work! :)

OP posts:
Discoballs · 27/02/2024 17:38

The biggest two signs are that cravings disappear and that I naturally fast for longer and longer periods.

Good luck finding what works for you. 😁

YFSN44 · 28/02/2024 13:41

Thanks Discoballs.

I would like to reach the state of fat adaptation at some point.

For now, I'll see how long I can stick to keto with a cheat day. One step at a time! :)

OP posts:
OneNightWasShitWhereWasTheTwist · 06/03/2024 11:14

Chris Powell advocates carb cycling, he may have more information if you google. I know he has some kind of group you can join.

YFSN44 · 07/03/2024 13:16

I've just had a quick look at some Chris Powell's stuff, thanks. I'll have a proper read later when I finish work.

I've actually been quite good - didn't have a cheat day at all the weekend just gone!

I think just knowing I could made it is a bit less desirable.

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