Is it OK to Cheat on Your Ketogenic Diet?
Cheating on Vacation, is it OK to Cheat on Your Ketogenic Diet? Should you? Could you? What are the consequences? I would hope that everyone reading this has been able to vacation at least once per year. Sometimes that vacation includes a trip of a lifetime, a cruise, or visiting friends or family. Food tends to be a big part of travel plans. Some of that food will not likely be keto-friendly. Being exposed to tasty and beautiful food can be tough on some keto athletes. FOMO (fear of missing out) is a real thing. Many of us don’t want to have FOMO on all the fancy vacation meals and treats. Sure, food is a big part of the vacation. But is cheating on your keto diet worth it?
The Price of Cheating on Vacation
What to eat on vacation is a serious question for athletes. You have taken the time to get over the keto flu, trained your body to burn fat and increased your fat oxidation rates. That commitment has helped you to become a fitter and healthier athlete. Following off the wagon can have serious consequences. This can set you back weeks, and sometimes months, depending on how far you fall.
Cheating on Vacation – Blood Sugar Problems
As many as 30% of endurance athletes have reactive hypoglycemia. Still, many others have some form of insulin resistance. Cheating can reverse the progress that you might have made managing blood sugar with the ketogenic diet. For those athletes who have diabetes, cheating can lead to blood sugar spikes. If your sugar spikes to dangerously high levels you increase the risk of long-term complications such as blindness, dementia, amputations, and all those other horrible side effects. On a positive note, every time you manage to avoid a cheat, you’re one step closer to reversing your type 2 diabetes. Falling off the wagon can be dangerous to your health. The price of cheating is very high.
Cheating on Vacation – Weight Gain
There are many reasons athletes choose keto, but the most popular reason is weight loss. Cheating almost always leads to rapid weight gain. Getting on the carb-filled roller coaster leads to hunger and cravings and more weight gain. This will put a monkey wrench in how you feel on your vacation. Getting the cravings under control might be difficult. This can make for a miserable time getting back on track when you return home. Want to look and feel your best? Cheating might not be the best option for you.
Cheating on Vacation – Gas and Bloating
A big reason athletes chose keto is to keep the tummy happy. This is why many ultra-endurance athletes have made the switch to keto. For folks with tummy issues, the negative consequences of adding in the carbs can be immediate. These crowd un-friendly reactions include gas, bloating, explosive diarrhea, belching, and stomach pain. If you have a sensitive stomach, keep the gut and your traveling companions happy, don’t cheat.
Cheating on Vacation – Disappointment
Endurance athletes know about focus and commitment. Making the switch to a ketogenic diet is part of that commitment to being fit and healthy. One of the most dishearting effects of cheating is that you often feel like you have let yourself down. Sure, blood sugar issues, weight gain, and an unhappy gut are a problem. Feeling that you let yourself down because you lost your focus and commitment is downright depressing. When given the opportunity to cheat, think about how you are going to feel about your commitment to your health and fitness. Is what you are planning to get going to be worth it?
Cheating on Vacation – Addiction
Many recovering alcoholics know they can’t have “just one drink” because it leads to a second drink and so on. This is the same for carb addicts, it is really dangerous to have just one bite. Studies show that for someone with a carb addiction, one bite has an effect on the reward centers of the brain. For those folks with addictive wiring, one bite can lead to immediate relapse. If you are susceptible to carb addiction, cheating is a bad idea.
The Choice is Yours
When you are on vacation think about what you are planning to eat and why. If you are lean, healthy, and don’t have gut issues a few carb filled meals will likely not hurt you. On the other hand, if you adopted a ketogenic diet for health reasons, it might be best to think carefully about the decision to cheat on your diet. If you decide to include carbs in a meal or two, enjoy every bite.