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Ketogenic Diet Explained: Why You Can’t Have “Cheat Days” on a Keto Diet

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Diets are made for cheating, right? Wrong, according to nutrition and exercise expert Maria Emmerich, who cheated on her ketogenic diet for a long time before making a permanent commitment NOT to cheat. It was only after following a strict keto diet that she achieved ketosis and the reaped the full health benefits of a ketogenic diet. She now thrives on her keto diet regimen, she explains why cheating - having keto diet cheat days - perpetuated the vicious cycle of craving carbs. As a wellness expert in nutrition and exercise physiology, most days someone asks me, “I cheated… now what?” This question always gives me a heavy heart, bringing me back to a time in my life where Fridays meant “cheat time.” It was a cheat day. I use to LOVE Fridays. For me, Friday meant I could eat whatever I wanted. Eighty percent of the time I ate a perfect ketogenic diet. But by happy hour on Fri-yay, I was anticipating a carb and alcohol fest. These weekend “splurges” were the opposite of the strict keto diet I followed the rest of the week, and what I have committed to now, without cheating. Now I realize that my weekend splurges prevented me from achieving ketosis, being fully keto adapted, and from healing my PCOS. The ketogenic diet, which I also coach others on, is a low-carb, high-fat diet that can provide numerous health benefits to those who follow it strictly. After years of learning the hard way, I can say with certainty that you need to be fully committed to the keto diet for it to work. You simply can’t commit to the ketogenic way of life 75 percent or 80 percent or anything less than all in! And that means no keto diet cheat days. Why You Can’t Cheat On a Keto Diet One of the most common complaints I hear from clients that are giving the keto diet a try is that when they slip and consume junk, they almost feel hungover the next day. Unfortunately, this is a reality of how powerful the ketogenic diet is. I’ve been on a lot of diets in my day and what I find interesting is that that feeling doesn’t happen on diets with whole grains and low fat. While you may feel depressed because the scale goes up after a bender of donuts, you don’t feel physically ill life you do after cheating on a keto diet. But this means the ketogenic diet is working-your body is fighting back against the carbs that you are cheating with! By cheating with constantly adding carbs for a short period of time and then eliminating carbs, your body cycles through the awful state of “carb withdrawal,” which is often mistakenly call the “Keto flu.” The only way to avoid this is to commit 100% to a keto diet. Although that 100 percent commitment may initially seem hard, the longer I eat a ketogenic diet, the less I feel like I need to cheat. You heard me; I feel so good that I’d rather stick to my food plan than enjoy a treat! How to Stick to a Strict Keto Diet If you truly want to heal, stop taking certain medications or feeling ill, consider fully committing to the ketogenic diet. You must be all in and commit to a strict ketogenic diet - that means no cheating and no cheat days. I know from my own personal experience that a ketogenic diet can prove challenging when everyone around you is eating whatever they want. But remember, you have the power to change your palate and your health! Here are the 3 mantras that I tell myself as I commit every day to my ketogenic lifestyle and overcome my urges to cheat.
  1. Believe in yourself. You are NOT defined by what the scale says or the size of your jeans! You are defined by your individuality and the diet and lifestyle you choose. In the insanity and advertising that overwhelms us in today’s society, it’s so easy to be pulled into the arms of marketing for unhealthy products. I lived that life once too, but with time I overcame peer pressure to eat the way society believes is “normal.” I can’t eat “normally” anymore and I don’t want to be “normal” anyway. I want to be Maria. I want to be me. And the real me eats a certain way, without cheating, because it helps me feel most like my true self. For the real me, the keto diet, all in, is the only way to help me feel my best and like my true self. There’s no pill that can do that.
  2. Lead by example My sugar addiction started at a young age and it was a hard addiction to break. It was even harder for my husband to break his, but I sat through many date night dinners with French fries and decadent desserts staring me in the face. I never nagged him to join me in my lifestyle and follow the ketogenic diet, I just led by example, and I’m grateful he eventually changed and we are both fully committed to the ketogenic diet. I often hear clients say, “My spouse will never commit to this lifestyle with me,” but I’m proof that you never know what your partner might do.
  3. If you change the habit, you will change the outcome The choices you make today will create habits, which create consequences. Every day you will have to wake up and face the consequences of your actions. You can make good choices that make your spirit stronger, or you can make poor choices that only fulfill you for a moment and then leave you feeling ill and unhappy for days or even years. The more positive choices you make that improve the way you feel, the more you will want to keep up your healthy habits. For me, the positive choices was following the ketogenic diet and committing not to cheat. The more I made the choice not to cheat and to completely follow the ketogenic diet, the better I felt!
I’ve grown to realize that the ketogenic diet isn’t just a diet anymore; it is a lifestyle. I love food and I will always love food, but more than that, I love the way I feel on this food plan and being fully committed to the ketogenic diet! I’m here to tell you that you can do it, too, if you want to. One day at a time - with no keto diet cheat days - you can give up junk and commit to a healthier lifestyle and achieve ketosis with the keto diet. To learn more about the keto diet and how to use it to lose weight and heal disease, sign up for an online keto course by Craig and Maria Emmerich here. Learn more about the keto diet and its benefits in Maria Emmerich's book, Keto: The Complete Guide to Success on the Keto Diet; Including Simplified Science and No-Cook Meal Plans. Available on Amazon here.

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