Cheating, or eating hidden carbs, whatever you want to call it. Let’s have a brief talk.

Cheating, or eating hidden carbs, whatever you want to call it. Let’s have a brief talk.

What is cheating?

Cheating is, in the most simple terms, eating a lot more carbs than you would normally. There’s no hard and fast figure, suffice to say that if you had somewhere in the realm of 50g – 100g you would likely break your ketosis, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world. It also stands to reason that you would possibly not have to go through unpleasant keto-flu again.

How does it happen?

Cheating can happen for a number of reasons, but there seem to be two main causes.

  1. Emotions
  2. Alcohol

Comfort eating is something everyone I know does, and I’ll admit to eating an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s on my own, no problems at all, when feeling down. Though those days are also long gone.

You could be stressed, sad, angry, or any number of other things, and may choose to seek comfort in sugary foods. After all, they raise your mood, though it’s only short term. You’ll probably feel down that you’ve stalled your progress or simply eaten foods that aren’t great for your body.

You might even drink alcohol for a range of the same reasons, or, as is very often the case, it may be a social event. A birthday, after work drinks, oh how I could go on… One thing’s for sure, too much can and will impair judgement. The last time I cheated was definitely after a few refreshments and I said “Hey, you know what, chocolate is a GREAT IDEA!”

But it wasn’t really.

You’ll Feel Like a Failure – But that’s OK!

The worst part is knowing that you’ve failed, but you must remember that it’s ok to fail, if you don’t, then you’re probably not doing a lot of trying or learning.

I recently read some great advice on failing. It stressed one point, and one point only, and I really want to reiterate it here.

Fail fast.

If it’s done, it’s done. Feel bad for as long as you do, and move on. Get back ont the horse.

But lets move on to some of the more common questions people ask.

I’ve Cheated! What does it mean for me?

Probably not a great deal. The day after a carb binge, your stomach could very well feel upset, and you may very a lack of energy. You’ll almost certainly be kicked out of Ketosis, and providing you abstain from carbs here on out, you may have to go through ketoflu again on the way back in. If you remember one thing let it be to …

Don’t Panic

If you’ve just cheated for the first time, don’t worry, it’s not a big deal. Everyone’s done it.

Consider that most people eat 20-50g of carbs when keto, and give thought to how long you were on a high-carb diet before that. Now, take the time to find out how many grams of carbs you’ve had.

What are people eating?

Through the occasional carb binge of my own, and listening to the stories of others, the two main foods that are consumed at these times are

  • Confectionary, and
  • Pizza

I’m not tolerant to wheat, and chocolate is a long time weakness of mine, so when I cheat, it’s usually chocolate as mentioned earlier. Through tracking this, I’ve found that it’s a struggle to consume more than about 150g of carbs in one chocolate binge. And it seems than an average, large pizza has about 180g carbs, which isn’t too much more than a chocolate binge.

And I’d argue that people who have a few weeks of eating keto under the belt, would severely struggle to eat an entire pizza.

It’s worth mentioning that no carbohydrate digestion takes place in the stomach, rather the small intestine, which is why you feel so damn bloated, for so damn long.

What do I do tomorrow?

If you’re reading this after you’ve carb binged, you’re probably wondering what you can do about it in the future. The key is, of course, to steer clear of carbs as best you can, simply stop eating them again, just like you’ve done before. It’ll take a few days to get back into Ketosis, and it’s possible that you may go through Ketoflu again, but otherwise, everything will be in order.

If you’d like to expedite the process, you can always fast for 16 or 24 hours. Though it’s important to consider if fasting is for you, and if it is medically sound for you to do so. It probably is, but if you have questions, consult a physician.

Don’t make it a cop out either, “oh I’ve had 6 beers today I just wont eat until dinner tomorrow” is no excuse, and the wrong mindset for long term success.


It’s more than likely inevitable, don’t feel bad about it. Over time you’ll probably cheat less and less.

Image via ground000

19 Comments on Cheating and You

I’m a beer drinker. If I chose to move to hard liquor, what would you recommend

by Steve Fullerton on January 8, 2013 Reply

    Depends on your preference really. I like Vodka more than most other hard liquors, with soda water and a slice of lime it makes a pretty sensational summer drink.

    Whisky I don’t mind, but I can only ever have a few, though it goes alright with some diet coke.

    Personally, I’m more of a red wine drinker.

    by Aaron on January 8, 2013 Reply

    White rum is pretty mild-tasting which makes it really popular in mixed drinks. It can go with pretty much any diet soda. If you like something that tastes a little more complex, you can swap out gold or dark rum instead. Or you could go the total opposite route and have a bit of scotch over ice. Rum, vodka, gin, brandy, and whisky (inc scotch) are all carb-free.

    by Meg on March 18, 2013 Reply

      Great timing actually, just yesterday I was thinking about Canadian Club and Dry (diet of course!)

      by Aaron on March 18, 2013 Reply

It’s super duper hot, and I was looking at lactose-free, no sugar added ice cream. 10 carbs per 1/2 cup serving (8 from sugar alcohols, 1 from fibre), 1 gram of protein, 10 g of fat. Would this be an OK cheat food, if I can account for it in my daily carbs and protein? I’ve been trying to stay under 35 for carbs, would it be considered a cheat day to go up to 50 for something like this?

by Hollie on July 8, 2013 Reply

    Hey Hollie,

    Let’s trade weather, it’s winter here!

    That sounds like it would be fine to me, but I want to ask what sugar alcohol is used?

    by Aaron on July 9, 2013 Reply

Hi Aaron:

We just got done 9 months of winter. No deal. 😉

The sugar alcohol is maltitol.

Thanks for your reply!

by Hollie on July 13, 2013 Reply

    Wouldn’t shock me to learn that your winter is less extreme that mine as well :)

    As for the maltitol, it would be okay, better than sugar straight up or HFCS, but it still has a high glycemic index, so while you wont absorb the calories from the maltitol, it’ll still trigger an insulin release, which will cause you to absorb some calories from the rest of it.

    After a quick look this is what I found regarding glycemic indexes

    Sugar: 60
    Maltitol Syrup: 56
    Maltitol Powdered: 36

    Let me know if you have any questions, more than happy to help :)

    by Aaron on July 18, 2013 Reply

Id try erythritol or xylitol (powdered)

by Kristine on July 24, 2013 Reply

I’m new to keto and trying to get a feel for what I can (and can’t) have.. I have a MAJOR sugar and pasta tooth. I’m slowly getting used to the fact that pasta is a no-no, but have you uncovered any ice creams that would be acceptable every now and then as a treat? If I were able to find one of those, I think I might be able to keep my sanity :)

by Melissa on January 4, 2014 Reply

    In the US there are some options available I believe. I’ve been experimenting with various ways of making Keto Ice Cream lately though and I think I’ve nearly nailed it. It’s very high in protein though, so it would probably not quite be considered keto, but I’ll have to crunch the numbers on it before releasing it.

    by Aaron on January 4, 2014 Reply

    Melissa, I just found some great low-carb pasta that I just used in this recipe. ( It didn’t kick me out of keto and I couldn’t tell the difference in taste. Not sure how straight up linguine would be, but worth a shot. They CLAIM that it’s only 5 net carbs per serving…but I’ve been eating it for the last week and hasn’t bothered my keto at all. (–13-3-ounces/dp/B0018Q2N3C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1390428748&sr=8-1&keywords=low+carb+pasta)
    It’s a bit for a box of pasta, but if you like it, amazon sells it in bulk. Worth a shot!

    by K on January 23, 2014 Reply

      Oh and beware the quantity of hot peppers in that recipe. I used half and it was still plenty spicy…

      by K on January 23, 2014 Reply

I wanted to share my experience with cheating on keto, maybe it helps people who see it stay on the right track :)
I was on keto for 24 days, very low carb, 5 – 15 net carbs usually. On the 24th evening, I binged on keto foods, and for some reason told myself what the hell, and had like a lot of chocolate. Of course, I felt really bad, but the worst part was when I went to bed.
The first thing was a huge headache, followed by fever and weird nightmares, nausia, stomach ache.. I didn’t really sleep at all, when around 5 am I got up and vomited and had the worst diarrhea (didn’t mean to gross you out).
Today I feel bloated, swallen, probably gained some weight.. I don’t think I’ll be having any sugar for quite some time, not to mention a sugar binge.
I’m starting the 72 induction by Atkins, forced myself to eat a big breakfast so I don’t get any sugar craves today, and hopefully by tonight I’ll feel better, so I can workout tomorrow, and get back into ketosis in two days or so. Fingers crossed

My advice, if you are a binge eater, or experiencing sugar cravings, don’t binge on sugar! Binge on keto foods all you like, if you have to, in time your appetite will decrease. Sugar binges are soooo not worth it, I regret what I did, and I realize now how toxic sugar really is, any processed form of it.
Hope someone will see my post and finds it helpfull.

by isi on April 26, 2015 Reply

What are the safest hard drinks to have on Keto?

by priya aurora on May 6, 2015 Reply

    Wine is pretty safe, same as vodka, whisky, etc

    by Aaron on May 9, 2015 Reply

For a frozen treat try freezing whipped cream that’s sweetened with a no calorie sweetener.

by Rachel on May 9, 2015 Reply

Aaron, wine is pretty safe? I knew that hard alcohols were okay but thought that wine would be more of a no no. I miss wine! Do you have a link for info on that? Thanks in advance!

by Shannon on June 16, 2015 Reply

    Wine is pretty safe, I don’t have a reference right now, but you can find the carb count per wine variety and make your choice based on that, I too prefer wine so this is my approach.

    by Aaron on June 16, 2015 Reply

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