A little planning and motivation will help you start a low carb, keto or Primal lifestyle and under normal circumstances it is easy to keep your carbs low. But we do not believe the illusion that all the time is easy. From time to time, you may be stressed and eat without thinking. Or, your aunt leaves the blue bow cake you’ve loved since you were in preschool and you give up, just this time. Or, you had a full day and all you can gather to do for dinner is that packet of gluten-free noodles in the back of your pantry. The next thing you know is that you’ve eaten enough carbs for a week and are wondering how you’ll get back to ketosis after a carb intake.
The short answer is, yes, you will recover from a carb intake. Yes, you will return to ketosis. As for how long it will take to return to ketosis, this depends on numerous factors, which we will delve into here. The most important thing to remember is that you did not erase your goals with a single false step. Especially after spending some time in ketosis, your body will allow fluctuations in carbohydrate intake here and there. This is called metabolic flexibility, of which we will enter shortly.
Can you have a day of cheating with Keto or a prime diet?
It’s true that I’m not a fan of calling them “cheat days” for a few reasons:
- “Cheating” implies that you have done something wrong and you must feel guilty.
- The “cheat days” assignment sends the message that you can eat whatever you want that day with abandonment. You’ll be amazed at how much you can backtrack on your goals in a 24-hour period.
I prefer to frame meals or snacks higher in carbs like carbohydrate cycling or carbohydrate refueling, that it is a deliberately higher carb meal to improve your results; or, frame them as sweets, which are planned. That way, the extra carbs are nice, planned in advance, and have limitations so you don’t overdo it. And there is no guilt.
So, can you have carbohydrate-rich days with keto? If you are in ketosis and have a sudden increase in sugar or carbohydrates, your body will burn glucose instead of producing ketones. To return to ketosis, you need to deplete the glucose you just consumed and the glycogen your body just stored.
The concern is whether the transition back to ketosis will be as difficult as you remember from those early days cutting carbs. If you have been in and out of ketosis for a while, you may return to ketosis quite easily because you have developed metabolic flexibility. If you’re just starting out, you may experience some of the hassle of transitioning from eating sugar to feeding on ketones. However, your body “remembers” and will most likely not last as long or be as severe. This article contains some things you can do if you experience a “low carb flu.”
What happens to your body after a carb intake?
So you decided to give in. First, don’t stick. It happens. What does your metabolism do with increased insulin and carbohydrates? Even a few quick forks can change you from small doses of quality carbs distributed cautiously throughout the day to possibly 100 grams or more of pure sugar at once. You are likely to experience some effects, but you can overcome it.
First, the good news. There are no carb cops coming to get your keto card out. There is no other permanent destination waiting for you either. You will spend your day as a living human being, usually functional. There is no really long-term elevation of risk. However, you are likely to experience a great deal of remorse for having deceived the keto.
- Your pancreas starts up. After a few minutes, the pancreas begins to pump a flood of insulin to try to absorb all the excess glucose that suddenly passes through the bloodstream. Remember, while glucose is muscle fuel when it is in the muscles, it is a toxic sludge when it stays in the bloodstream. Your body knows it and does its best to get it out of there. You may feel red, slightly high, spastic, anxious, or nauseous, depending on how much you have eaten, what size you are, what your normal carb load is, and how intense you tend to “feel” the effects of sugar and other substances. Ironically, if you were insulin resistant, you might not even notice these sensations.
- Excess glucose is converted into body fat. The insulin outbreak now creates a rocking effect. If glycogen deposits have space, some of the sugar enters the muscles. If there is no more space, the excess passes to the fat cells, where it is stored as fat. In response to this near-emergency that your brain perceives as life-threatening stress, the body intensifies its efforts to achieve homeostasis by releasing both adrenaline (adrenaline) and cortisol from your adrenal glands. Your heart begins to run, and you’re starting to feel uncomfortable, maybe even sweating. And we’re probably still within the first hour after you’ve finished the cake!
- Sugar crack. After a little more time, exhaustion sets in. This is called a sugar accident – when all the glucose has disappeared from the bloodstream and you start to feel slow, out of danger, as if the internal circuits are frying after igniting a spark in a pile of cables that are already smoking.
- Your immune system slows down. The havoc caused by sugar fever – the change in glucose and insulin, cortisol and adrenaline – has caused your immune system to collapse. Research has shown that the function of immune-related phagocytes, the cells that surround and encompass pathogens, is impaired at least during five hours after ingestion of simple sugars. Free radicals, or harmful oxygen atoms, also have their peak during the first hours after sugar increases oxidative stress in the body. Your blood even thickens in response to stressors. A large dose of sugar can compromise the immune system for more than 24 hours.
- Your sleep is interrupted. At the end of the day, you try to fall asleep, but you turn around as your heart continues to beat faster than normal. Little surprise here: the old hormonal system is confused in its interconnection. You were there cursing not only that cake, but the whole cultural custom of the birthday celebration. When the sun comes out and you get out of bed, you think you should be done with this sugar business. Maybe, maybe not.
How to recover from a binge of carbs
As bad as it sounds, it could be worse. If you follow a Primordial o ceto Lifestyle and carbohydrate overload was just a diversion, you will come out of it generally as healthy as before the flu. You will experience the effects, and you may feel them more intensely than before choosing the low carb path. This is not a bad thing. However, after the dust settles, the worst thing you can end up with is maybe a cold that you otherwise wouldn’t have had. Your system will realign easily. After spending a couple of days back with your regular schedule, you’ll be like new.
How to get back to ketosis after cheating on Keto
So you want to get back into the form of fighting as soon as possible. Here’s what to do:
- Reduce your carbs to where you were before you found yourself off track.
- Make sure you get the right electrolyte balance. Read this article to understand it why electrolytes are important during the transition to ketosis and how to make sure you get the right electrolytes.
- Consume enough high quality fats, especially at first.
- Do not exaggerate cardio. You can do more intense aerobic exercise again once you have made the transition completely.
- Consider intermittent fasting. It may be easier for you to get into ketosis in the long run if you restrict your food intake, which tends to cause your body to produce ketones.
How long does it take to return to ketosis?
You may be wondering how long it will take to get back to ketosis after falling. The answer is, varies. It depends on how metabolically flexible you were before you started, how much insulin sensitivity you are currently on, how many carbs you were used to consuming before you increased your carbs intake … there are many factors. The vague answer is that it won’t be long before he returns. Start now, and you’ll get where you want to be before you know it.