Cheating and You

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

65 comments on “Cheating and You”

    • Aaron

      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.

      • Grace Hall

        Hello All! Thank you, Aaron!
        I’m also a red wine drinker, its one of my favorite treats in life- but now that I am on this diet I’m afraid to drink it. I know moderate amounts of non-sweet red wine is acceptable, but I’m not sure how to tell how sweet a wine is. Can you recommend a certain kind of wine or a name that you know to be low on the carb scale?
        Thank you!

    • Meg

      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.

    • Juan P Pina

      Also a brewskis kind of guy.. but here’s my experience.. if you enjoy a beer for it’s taste and I don’t mean craft beer! Just the plain taste of beer.. You can safely drink 4-6 Michelob ultra lights as long as your diet is on point! Count your carbs!!!! If your diet has 20 grams of carbs or more.. be careful! Stay away from beer or even wine! Straight Vodka is one of your very few choices. Vodka with plain water or carbonated water with a squeeze of lime or lemon will work. I have not fallen out ketosis with plain Vodka, but if you get a good buzz, munchies are somewhat uncontrollable! Be careful!!! Enjoy..salud!

    • Janene

      Tequila FTW! Lowest in calories and carbs. I’ve switched to tequila and soda with a wedge of lemon or cucumber. I’m not into sweet drinks anyway, so I like the flavor.

      (I know it’s a very old post, but someone else might find this helpful ?)

  • Hollie

    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?

    • Aaron

      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 🙂

  • Melissa

    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 🙂

    • Aaron

      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.

      • Diane


        I was wondering about your keto ice cream?? Can you share the recipe?
        I’ve been on keto for 5 months and have lost 33 lbs. I’m starting to have cravings that super dark chocolate aren’t satisfying like they used to 🙁


        • Aaron

          I’ll have to write it up sometime, but it’s basically just thickened cream (heavy cream if you’re in the US, 35% milkfat cream), some protein powder (WPC or WPI), a little water, and a little vanilla essence.

        • Melissa

          I make keto ice cream with 1 cup ricotta (full fat), 1 cup greek yogurt (full fay), 1 drop of vanilla extract, stevia drops or powder to taste, and peppermint extract for my favorite mint ice cream flavor (lemon is my other favorite extra flavoring(). Mix all together in a bowl and freeze! An ice cream machine is best but I don’t have one. Makes 4 servings and its creamy and delicious and truly tastes like the real thing!

    • K

      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!

    • Rosheen Winsor

      I’ve found one in the UK: coyo coconut ice-cream with vanilla and nutmeg. There are other flavours like chocolate or salted caramel but the calories and carbs are slightly higher. It’s a different texture (as most keto food) but delicious.

  • isi

    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.

  • Shannon

    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!

    • Aaron

      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.

      • Alix

        Dry wines are around 4g Carb per 175ml generally. I still drink wine, or a gin and tonic… careful with the tonic tho in U.K. fevertree is a common brand and their diet version “naturally light” has 7g per serving ?

  • Maryanne

    I’m new to Keto and I’m not sure what I’m doing. How do I know I’m in ketosis? Will having the occasional carb undo all my hard work?

    • Aaron

      You can usually by a metallic taste in the mouth, perhaps slightly smelly body odour, and generally not being hungry in the mornings is a good sign. Having the occasional carb feast won’t undo all your work as ultimately it’s an energy in vs energy out equation, but if you do then you stand to regain all the water weight you’ll have previously shed. Of course, it goes away, takes up to a week for some people, but it’s really a bump in the road in what is ultimately a long term play.

  • Robyn

    I’ve been off and on the Keto Bandwagon since my first time in May this year, back then, I was doing really well for the first 7 days, and losing a kg per day, but then had to travel to visit a dying family member overseas, and being on the road a lot of that time meant falling off big time.
    When I arrived home a week later, I endeavored to get back on the Wagon, but keep failing to stick to it, and what I think it is comes down to the planning ahead, and also not eating enough when I do cook stuff. Then of course I crave carbs, and its all over.
    When I was in my first week back in May, I did crave carbs but wasn’t successful in finding low carb treats at the nearby Supermarket, so I just went home and ate more Keto foods and wasn’t hungry any more. Wish I could do that now, as I too began to lose the carb cravings after the week was over, even managing to stick to the way of eating for my first 3 days of Holiday, but driving and flying meant it was all over for 4 days or so.
    Still, will keep trying and planning ahead in order to stay on the Wagon again.

    • Aaron

      I feel your pain, I’ve travelled a lot in the last few years and it does make it really hard. I think with Keto, preparation is key, the more you have precooked the easier it is.

  • Jay


    I have been doing very well on the keto diet for 2 weeks. Totally no sugars, a very small but of oat bran and all has been going well. I have most of all the keto symptoms. But about 2 hours ago I ate a plate of fried rice say about 4 handfuls. I feel very bad, I wasn’t even hungry so don’t know why I are it. What is likely to happen now?

  • Amy

    Hello! I’m on keto since few weeks. I’m just wondering If I can have kind of a cheat meal, eat a Gelato (full fat) (also full sugar I know). I just had like 50 grams of gelato today, and I want to know how bad is that on my keto 🙁 I passed my carb grams (which is normally 20grams) 15 more grams and I feel really bad. Idk If that is going to affect me. I did that today, but actually didn’t eat more calories than I should though.

    Well I hope you understand my issue and have an answer for me. Thank you very much!

    • Aaron

      Well the sugar aspect of it is not ideal, but if you’ve had a total of 35g carbs on that day it’s not a huge problem, particularly if you’re an active individual.

  • Yvette F.

    I’m laughing as I read this because tonight, Jan 4, 2017, I was on my 3rd day of super low carb diet…..UNTIL I decided to finish up the last of the milk and rice and make arroz con leche for my kids (boiled rice with milk, evaporated milk, cinnamon, vanilla and sugar!) Ugh, so around 730 pm it’s done aaaand I go in and taste it, then taste it again. I had about 5 good spoonfuls of the stuff. Oh my it was heavenly like it always is. I immediately feel guilty and text my 2 keto friends what I’ve done and they re like, what’s done is done, start again tomorrow, pray for strength. And I’m over here dying of guilt and feeling like a failure! It’s 10pm and i can’t stop thinking so I search online “what to eat the day after eating carbs on a keto diet” and I found this! It was exactly me, I felt/feel like a failure! So tmrw I think I’m gonna either fast or just have clear broth, boiled eggs and salad with avocado lime dressing until I eat a decent low carb dinner at home. Thank you for this article!

  • Noraa

    Hello! Ive been doing the keto diet for 4 weeks now. I had been pretty good until yesterday at a bday party. I had about 1 cup of pasta salad and 4 bbq ribs. It totaled my daily carbs to about 150g! I feel so regretful and bloated. I had been doing IF 16/8 so how bad do you think this will set me back for? Im planning to either do a dull 24 hr fast or at least back to my 16/8.

  • NicoleS

    This question is kind of related…
    I was taught that when a person is recovering from a stomach/intestinal flu, they should reintroduce foods that are very easy to digest, like the traditional BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast) diet, or crackers.
    I am recovering from this now, and don’t know what to eat that won’t sabotage my ketosis, and keto diet.
    OR – in this case, should I start with these easy-to-digest foods, and reintroduce the keto diet when my insides feel better?
    Thanks in advance,

  • S

    I felt like mashed potato last week, so I made some with my meal, and then my hubby bought in a plate of icecream for supper. I thought “oh well, I’m already over – I’ll just enjoy this and start again tomorrow.”
    So that whole night, I couldn’t sleep – it was like my brain was on too much caffeine.
    Needless to say, I won’t be doing that again! It just showed me how much sugar affects me!

  • Christy

    I had a total of 44 carbs today because of a small piece of chocolate cake I ate at a party. Is that gonna take me out of ketosis?? 🙁

  • Sharun kashyap

    I’m having a birthday party and today is the first day of my keto diet I followed for the breakfast and lunch and I’m worried that if I eat normal food will I gain more wait I started it today

  • Dayna

    Ive been on keto for about a week. Ive been really good about not cheating but I accidently cheated today :(. I went to pita jungle with my friends and got a salad and thought it wold be safe. I failed to realize there was quinoa in the salad until like I was almost done. That thing had like 27g of carbs in it. I was so sad because I have been doing so good. Hopefully because it was only one meal and I had only eaten like 5g before that. it won’t take to long to get back in.

  • Jen

    My husband has been attempting the Keto diet since last August. He’s lost a total of 30+/- lbs. however, he does great for a week or two then cheats, feels guilty and sick, starts again and repeats the process over and over. He has 10-15lbs to lose but noted that he feels best in Keto and wants it to be a lifestyle. He decided to fast for the first time a few days ago and after 18 hrs he felt awful. This is bc his dr recently prescribed 10mg of ridilin for adult ADD. He needs to take the meds with food but wants to fast. I cook for him and if he only eats what I prepare or buy he stays in ketosis but left to his own devices, he cheats. Usually at work. Vendors bring fruit trays, sandwich trays, donuts, cookies, cupcakes…even pizza! He’s at work eating a lunch prepared by me while watching his co-workers eat his most desired foods. What can I give him so he can “semi-fast” but take his meds without feeling like he’s going to faint or his heart racing?? Please help.

    • Aaron

      That’s a tough one, you just have to experiment to be honest. Fasting isn’t for everyone, or may not be during a time in someone’s life where it is situationally difficult to do. Maybe a bulletproof coffee would be okay to help get something in the tank at the same time as he’s going to dose his ritalin.

  • Ronald Daher

    Hi, great page, while I was having lunch, I got a salmon in a pesto buttery sauce. I found out later it had little flour in it to make the sauce thicker. I did not know. How does that affect me. Thank you

  • Tom Boyce

    I’ve been in ketosis for about 3 weeks. Last night I ate approx 10 snicker minis and this morning when I tested my blood, my blood ketone level was 1.5. This afternoon, my blood glucose is 75 and ketones are up to 1.7. Admittedly, even with the snickers, my total carbs for yesterday were less than 1200, so maybe that prevented me from leaving ketosis. I have been fasting since the snickers as well.

    I was trying to get an insulin response by eating the candy as my weight loss seems to have stalled, so I was trying to shake things up a bit. Hoping this will kick in my weight loss again. FYI, I practice both ketogenic diet with Intermittent fasting.

  • Mike

    I have been on Keto now for just under 4 months with no cheat days, I have however found if i have craved something sweet, i drink a coke zero, but recently turned to powerade zero. In hopes to cut aspartame and drink unsweetened tea for caffeine. My question is, or more of a worry, is what is, or would happen if i decided to eat a few slices of pizza. 100% is my favorite thing, along side buffalo wings. Im just worried that it will be an unhappy experience and have continued to just going with keto. I have heard from friends that have been in keto, who have decided to cheat, that they experience wonderful feelings of energy, with no bad side effects and just return to keto with no problems. I eat less than 20 carbs a day… What would pizza do to me.

  • kerry

    Ive just eaten 150g of cashew nuts, I’m feeling really bad. Today has been the first day in 2 wks I’ve craved chocolate and its drove me crazy. what can I do to stop this.

  • Bryceson

    I was starting to do good on my diet but then I ate a Funfetti cake with vanilla icing. Will only one piece of cake knock me out of ketosis? If so, what do I do next?

  • Matthew

    There is a third reason you might cheat and it’s called refeeding. This is when you carb up for a day to reset your baseline leptin levels again. When your leptin levels get low, your metabolism may drop. Carbing up raises leptin levels and can speed your metabolism again. I do it every 3 or 4 weeks. It sucks every time and is not worth the great food I get to enjoy, but it really helps my metabolism and energy levels in the long run. So, just saying, not everyone who cheats is screwing up.

  • Holly

    Hey, im going to a wedding in 2 weeks, its and italian wedding, from what i can gather, both mains are pasta dishes.. i can easily skip dessert… but looks like my only choice on the night is pasta… ive been keto almost 3 months, and not one cheat… so im worried about this… im wondering if i fill up on a large bacon egg and avo lunch (i do IF and onky eat lunch and dinner) and then i just eat less pasta and try to pick around it? If i keep fasting for longer afterwards, say move my lunch back a few hours the next day, will this put me back into ketosis sooner? (I love how i feel in ketosis, ive never felt better) thanks

  • Larissa

    Today was my birthday and my daughter went thrift eat extents to make me cake and then she made banana splits. I didn’t want to eat it but I couldn’t let her down she had never put herself out there to do anything like this and she’s very sensitive . I feel sick to my stomach and I’ve only just started my keto diet it’s been 4 days and I was feeling as if I was really making progress. I’m worried that I made myself sick I even feel a little dizzy. Tomorrow I start over

  • Regina Gradys

    It’s my second week, and no weight loss. But I really only am aiming for ten pounds (basically belly fat). Before starting keto, my only non-veggie carbs were rice, beans, and milk (no bread, pasta, sodas, etc – I have no sweet tooth. Am I stalled because I only need to lose a bit of weight, or because I wasn’t really eating that many carbs to begin with?

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