What!? What is this??? Permission to binge on donuts, cookies, cakes, pasta, pizza? Have I lost my mind?? In short: No and No. This post is about what can happen if you stay on a ketogenic diet for too long without taking a break and how to structure those breaks without undoing all the great work that you have done.
Quite often I will receive a message or see a post from a desperate reader who was doing SO well on a ketogenic diet - they lost lots of weight, they were feeling great - sometimes for weeks and months on end only to suddenly hit a wall. It seems that it stops working. The weight loss stalls or worse might reverse, the energy starts to flag, stress starts to spiral…and despair sets in…WHAT IS UP!?
The full answer could fill a book, and I previously wrote a post about some of the things that could be getting in the way, you can access that post here. But there is another thing that I see that can be a real issue: not taking a break. Unless you are using the Ketogenic Diet to deal with a chronic neurodegenerative disease, epilepsy or certain types of cancer you would probably be best best served by adopting a cyclical ketogenic diet which is exactly what it sounds like. You cycle in and out of Ketosis. You can do this in a multitude of ways depending on your goals and how easily your body flips in an out of ketosis:
The variations are endless but the principles remain the same - you need to mix it up to get the best results and, for most people who are insulin resistant (think of someone who gains weight just looking at bread), you probably need to stay in ketosis for a good couple of weeks at least initially before you slide out for a couple of days. Here’s something else you need to keep in mind - yes, you will increase your carbs, but the carbs you choose need to be good ones….this pretty much knocks out that box of Timbits or the extra large pizza to yourself, the giant bowl of Doritos.… Don’t get me wrong, the odd cheat here and there won’t kill you - it might even serve you but if your carb day (s) involve insulin spiking, processed and unhealthy foods it could take your body days if not weeks to recover. Plus, if you dive deep into your kryptonite foods - those foods that you cannot stop eating - it could take you weeks to get back on track and get your cravings back under control.
My best advice for what to eat on your “Carb ReFeed” days is essentially to flip over to a good Paleo Plan that involves a reasonable amount of root vegetables (sweet potatoes, turnips, parsnips, carrots, beets), some extra fruit, even some Paleo baked goods….you can eat up to 200 or so grams of carbs, some people can go even higher but as a precaution - if you can, try to time at least some of these after a workout or a nice long walk outside. You can even have a bit of rice with your dinner - just plan on an early bedtime - rice is great to induce sleep as it promotes the production of GABA in the brain a calming neurotransmitter. I would keep the carb reseed to one day, maybe two and if you want to take a longer break from Keto just eat low carb and higher protein fro the rest of the week - you’ll stay out of ketosis and avoid losing too many of your hard won gains.
The beauty of carb re feeds these days, is that they do not prevent you from still keeping ketones on board to continue getting the great benefits that they can bring you…PLUS there is some evidence that ketones might just help with insulin sensitivity so they might help your body process those carbs a bit better. How is this you ask? Many of you will know the answer but for the rest of you - the answer is Exogenous Ketones aka Pruvit’s Keto//OS shakes- basically a delicious shake that delivers ketones to you without having to follow the strict diet. You would use the shake pre workout or in between meals (1-2 a day) for better energy and to avoid the sugar crashes that can happen when we are eating more carbs….so it’s a win win….you get to reset your metabolism, take a break from your Keto Diet but still keep ketones on board…cool huh!? Have you ever tried this? Think you might? Send me an email and let me know what you think….or post a comment in the comments beside this post.
Use your Keto//OS KetoMax shakes on carb re feed or protein fast (150-200g of carbs, healthy fats and no more than 15g of protein) days to keep ketones on board and your energy stable.
Have your KetoMax shake in 1 hour before or two hours after meals or before workouts….use KetoKreme in your coffee, tea or even just hot water as a snack or, in the case of herbal tea or hot water as a before bed treat to curb or tame the sugar monster.
Thank you as always for reading, for your comments and emails. Here are some useful links:
Note: Say yes to Today and Smartship when you are placing your order to save 22% on your Smartship order and make sure you never run out of ketones! Smartship can be cancelled at any time with the push of a button with no penalty by simply logging into your back office and looking for the Box “My Smartship” on the home page.
Zeroodle Black Bean Fettucine wt Sundried Tomato, Black Olives and Greens
Delicious and Nutritious! There’s no doubt that well sourced animal protein in appropriate quantities (3-6 oz per person depending on age, stage and size) is great for you but it’s also a good idea to have a meatless meal on occasion both or your sake and the planet’s. The cool thing about Zeroodle Black Bean pasta is that you can do this AND stay true to your low carb lifestyle - a 50 gram serving (1/4 of a bag) delivers a whopping 10 grams of fibre, only 8 grams of NET carbs, 3 grams of fat AND 21 grams of protein! That means you get to make your favourite sauce, toss in some nutrient dense greens, mushrooms or other vegetables and enjoy a delicious pasta meal without the insulin spike, bloating and food coma that normally accompanies a pasta based meal.
For Example this recipe makes enough for 4 people:
1 Package Zeroodle Black Bean Fettucine
4 cups Baby Spinach
3 cups Baby Arugula
1/2 cup red pepper cut into rings
12 Sundried Tomatoes packed in Extra Virgin Olive oil or Dried chopped
3 tsp good quality black olive paste or tapenade
1-2 cloves garlic (to taste) grated
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
A few Black olives to Garnish
Cook the noodles according to package directions in plenty of boiling water (about 2-4 min)
Drain, rinse and set aside
In a skillet, warm extra virgin oil to medium - add the garlic and stir till fragrant and just starts to turn golden
Add the chopped sundried tomatoes, the olive paste and stir for a minute, add the red pepper rings and cook while stirring for a couple of minutes.
Add the greens and cook, stirring till wilted.
Add in the noodles and toss gently to combine the ingredients.
Serve in bowls topped with olives and, if you eat cheese, a bit of freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Nutrition Info Per serving: Calories: 297, Net Carbs: 14g (11g Fibre!), Fat: 15g, Protein: 23g