I’m sure you’re all wondering what happened…
If you have been following along, you’ll know that I started a keto diet on April 16th. I committed to trying keto macros for 30 days and quickly realized the biggest side affect was a significant loss of strength when weight training. With this leaving me feeling frustrated, I came up with a plan to incorporate a cheat meal and document the process.
The question was: Can you cheat on keto without sacrificing your progress?
For 13 straight days, my keto-pal and I have been entirely keto and eating at a calorie deficit. We have both lost significant weight in a two week period on keto – for me, 8 lbs, and for her, 12 lbs!
Last Saturday evening we headed to Olive Garden to have our planned cheat meal.
I was well into ketosis and weighed 152 lbs.
At dinner I ordered:
Italian dressed salad
Bread sticks with alfredo
Stuffed chicken marsala
Two glasses of wine (hallelujah!)
Realistically, the only item of my dinner that was heavy in carbs was the beautiful, buttery bread sticks. And man, were they worth it!
Total calories for the day came in around 2,000, which is right around my maintenance number, and I got up to 90g of carbs for the day when all was said and done.
It took about 2 hours for my ketone levels to drop, showing only trace amounts on the test stick.
The next morning I weighed and tested again:
As suspected, I was completely out of ketosis, showing no traces of ketones at all. I also gained a little over a pound in what I presume to be water weight from the carbs. I did not feel bloated or otherwise any different than normal, expect a little stronger perhaps.
That same morning, I headed over to the gym and did a heavy leg day. I had energy and motivation, likely from the carbs processing from the night before! But, even before I embarked on leg day, I went right back to my keto macros, having a breakfast of spam and eggs before I hit the gym.
So what is my conclusion for the The Keto Cheat?
The question again was: Can you cheat on keto without sacrificing your progress?
A lot of bodybuilders and power lifters swear that being on a keto diet has not impacted their strength ability, and that may be the case, but as usual, individual results will vary. For me, keto has impacted not only my ability to lift my usual amount of weight in the gym, but my energy (aka, motivation) to hit the gym is at an all time low. I just don’t feel the same ‘get-up-and-go’ as I usually do, and I feel especially frustrated when I’m at the gym because I am unable to maintain my normal gym routine and lifts.
Having the cheat meal helped me get through a heavy leg day; while still not as heavy as I’d normally go, definitely a big improvement on the prior two weeks.
As for the science, in my case the cheat meal kicked me out of ketosis for less than 24 hours and realistically, given the knowledge that carbs hold water, it really didn’t impact my weight either. I was able to get back into ketosis by going right back to my normal ketogenic diet macros the following morning.
Lastly, I firmly believe that cheat meals and indulgences should be enjoyed to keep balance in your life. And on the keto diet, you can use the cheat carbs to fuel a heavy workout once a week and really not alter any progress you’ve made up until now.
Have you heard the 80/20 rule? 80% on track and 20% living life? That’s how I think of keto and keto cheats – 80% (okay, maybe 90%) keto, and a little cheat once in a while. This is one of those cases where it’ll do more good than harm.
Keto cheats approved.