‘Can I have cheat days on keto?’
Are cheat meals acceptable on a keto diet? Can you be a sugar addict even if you’ve lost weight on keto? Can you eat carbs without coming out of fat-burning mode? And what to use instead of almond flour and almond milk?
These and other questions are answered this week by our food-addiction expert, Bitten Jonsson, RN:
Am I a sugar addict despite my success on keto?
I’ve been following the keto diet for one year and have lost 60 pounds (27 kilos), but have 60 more pounds (27 kilos) to go.
Recently, I’ve been wondering what my end game will look like and whether I’ll be able to eat carbs in moderation once I’ve reached my goal weight.
I’ve taken the UNCOPE survey that answers whether you suffer from sugar addiction or not. Since I had been following a keto diet for one year, I only answered yes to two items. One was the ‘preoccupation’ question, and one was the ‘unplanned use’ question (although the latter has only occurred twice during the last year – I find it very easy to adhere to keto). However, if I had taken the survey before keto, I would have answered a resounding yes to every item on the list!
I find that I can handle the occasional cheat meal during major holidays and celebrations and don’t have any problem getting back to keto right afterward: I don’t overeat, and I feel in control. The only effect of going off-plan is that I experience slightly more cravings for some time afterward.
Sarah, thank you for the great question. And congratulation on your weight loss and better health.
If you answered yes to all six questions in the UNCOPE survey before starting a keto diet, the risk of being a sugar addict is very high.
I don’t believe addiction can be cured, but it can be arrested. In addition to this, being overweight can be another sign of sugar addiction.
So far, you’ve managed to bounce back after cheat meals, but it may be like playing Russian roulette. As a sugar addict, you have very little control over your reward system, and it may be that the next cheat meal could send you right back to where you were (or to an even worse place).
This can feel like unfortunate news, but in my experience, it’s the name of the game when it comes to addiction. I suggest you follow the same guidelines that I gave to Rocky (see Q&A below).
Take care. You’ve made an amazing journey!
Can I cheat on keto?
I followed the keto diet for four months and lost 70 pounds (31 kilos). Currently, I weigh 250 pounds (113 kilos).
Whenever I go off plan, I end up gorging and binging. How can I keep eating carbs without coming out of ketosis or fat-burning mode?
Your question was very short and had very little information, but I could draw one important conclusion.
You say, ‘When I cheat…’, and with my knowledge of sugar addiction, that way of describing these happenings can mean relapse and loss of control.
As sugar addicts, it is crucial to be knowledgeable about how our brains work. Otherwise, we’ll fall into the trap of trying to solve our problem by only dealing with the food side. And that’s a very narrow road.
In order to start recovering from sugar addiction, we need to learn so much more about addiction and recovery. I suggest you start by reading the book Food Junkies by Dr. Vera Tarman. It will help you understand the power of addiction and our reward system. Another great read is Staying Sober by Terence T. Gorski. You just need to swap out the word alcohol for sugar.
Secondly, I advise you to make a list of the foods that are triggering you to cheat and lose control over what you’re eating. These foods are a no-no. Then, put the list away and concentrate on the foods you can eat. For the first 12 to 18 months of keto eating, don’t fast. In my experience, that may cause a relapse because our brains are sensitive.
Also, join our support group on Facebook to get more tools on how to stay sober from sugar.
And the answer to the question, ‘How do I eat carbs without coming out of fat-burning mode or ketosis?’ Well, I don’t believe you can.
What to use instead of almond flour and almond milk?
When I look at all these keto recipes, I find that so many of them use almond milk and almond flour (or other nuts), and I’m allergic to these nuts. This drives me nuts!
Can I use coconut flour and coconut milk instead, or are those too rich in carbs?
I understand this will drive you nuts. 😉
If you’re allergic to almond, but not coconut, go ahead and give it a try.
Otherwise, you can follow other recipes and skip those that require almond flour and almond milk, like smoothies and pancakes.
Coconut happens to be one of my personal favorites: coconut oil, coconut cream, coconut milk, and MCT-oil. I use it all the time!