This site is reader-supported and we earn commissions if you purchase products from retailers after clicking on a link from our site. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.
The keto diet is restrictive, and, like most diets, it can be challenging to maintain day in and day out.
Whether you are just starting out and are craving your favorite carby treat, or you have been at it for months and looking for a change.
You may be thinking of relaxing your restrictions and wondering how to go about it.
Taking regular breaks from your diet can make it easier for you to enjoy and can help you become better adjusted to the keto diet.
How often should you take a break from keto?
Find out why you should take breaks from keto and how to do it the right way.
Why You Should Take Breaks from Keto
Ketosis, which can be achieved through the keto diet or fasting, has many health benefits. The most common one is weight loss.
Other benefits include reduced inflammation, stable blood sugar, increased antioxidants, appetite suppression, and more. However, ketosis may also have some downsides.
Ketosis feels great despite some temporary side effects in the beginning, but it can also cause hormonal imbalances, slow metabolic rate, and more.
Here are some signs that you might need to take a break from ketosis.
Nutrient deficiencies like fiber, vitamins, and minerals on keto may cause hormonal imbalance. This is why many people try using keto supplements to complement their diet.
In one study, it was found that low-carb diets lower testosterone and cortisol.
Remember that carbs are also important. The keto diet is a low-carb diet, not a no-carb diet. Make sure you are still including nutritional carb sources while staying within your daily carb intake.
Ketoacidosis occurs when high levels of both ketones and glucose are in the blood. This may result in more acidic blood that promotes oxidative stress.
If you’re on keto, ketones rise and blood sugar drops, maintaining a healthy level of ketosis.
High levels of ketones are healthy and acceptable, as long as blood sugar levels are low.
But if you’re experiencing the opposite, then it’s time to take a break.
Low Thyroid and Metabolism
Low thyroid can be due to chronic stress, malnourishment, under-eating, and energy restriction.
When you are on the keto diet, your T3 is reduced. You can raise it by eating carbs, which you obviously can’t do on keto.
When you are at a risk for diseases due to low metabolic function, it’s probably time to take a break.
It’s common for most keto dieters to lose some sleep during the start of their journey.
When you’re in ketosis, the ketones are providing fuel to your brain, reducing stress, and offering other neuroprotective effects.
This is perfectly normal, but if you feel that it is affecting your daily life, then it’s time to take a break.
What is Carb and Keto Cycling?
Carb cycling is simply adding in a higher-carb day or two then going back to your usual low-carb diet.
When planning higher-carb days ensure you are eating good quality nutritious carbs like sweet potatoes, lentils, and whole grains instead of junk food or sugary foods and drinks.
It’s usually done by athletes and bodybuilders to prepare their bodies for working out.
If you have been on the keto diet for a while and are keto adapted, then carb cycling won’t bump you in and out of ketosis. If it is done right.
Keto cycling is a form of carb cycling where your body goes in and out of ketosis for a longer period.
How Often You Should Take Breaks from Keto
This will depend on your individual circumstances and your reasons for wanting to take a break.
If you are just looking to expand your diet a bit or satisfy a craving, you can try starting with a cheat meal to see how your body responds.
For carb cycling, generally, the recommended pattern is five days on keto then a couple of days eating more carbs than usual.
This should help you keep your hormones balanced out while also continuing your weight loss.
This pattern can be started after an initial 30 to 90 days of doing keto every day. Don’t start this until your ketosis levels are stable and you are fat-adapted.
Carb cycling can help prevent the side effects of entering ketosis, also known as the keto flu. Here are some symptoms of the keto flu:
- leg cramps
- heart palpitations
But if you plan on taking a break because of the keto flu, this won’t work because you are not yet adapted to the fat burning ketosis state.
You may want to take a longer break from your keto diet if your weight loss has stalled or if you have reached your weight loss goal.
In this case, you can try a week off keto and see how you feel. If you take it slow and increase your carbs gradually, with nutritious whole foods, you can maintain your weight without much effort.
You can even push it out to a month if you are feeling good. Do it the right way, and you can easily get back into ketosis with little effort when you are ready.
How to Get Back into Ketosis After a Break
If you have taken a break from keto for too long and have been kicked out of ketosis, there are a few things you can try to help you get back into that fat burning state.
Increase Your Electrolytes
If you feel bad at the beginning of keto, it’s usually because of an electrolyte imbalance.
As your body is becoming adjusted to the keto diet, it can leave you feeling tired, irritable, and nauseous.
But you can combat it by adding a teaspoon of table salt to your water.
You can also try sugar-free electrolytes! We have the best electrolyte recommendations on keto for you.
Because keto has a diuretic effect, it can be dehydrating, another symptom of the keto flu.
Along with fatigue and dizziness, thirst can leave you with a dry mouth.
Instead of drinking the usual 8-10 glasses of water to stay hydrated, add at least two more glasses because you are recovering from dehydration.
There are plenty of other tips for getting into ketosis here.
FAQ Keto Diet and Ketosis
Is the Keto Flu a Sign to Take a Break?
If you have only just started with the keto diet, you may start experiencing flu-like symptoms because your body is entering ketosis.
Because you have only just begun you shouldn’t be taking a break.
Remember that the keto flu is normal and temporary, so just keep going.
You can try recovering from the flu by drinking more water and taking ketone supplements to boost your ketosis.
Are You Thirstier During Ketosis?
The quick answer to this is yes. This is because glycogen stores come with water storage in the body.
Don’t worry, though. The thirst and perspiration you feel while you’re on ketosis are very normal. It is also temporary.
When the rest of the carbs are released for energy before the use of fat for fuel, so does the water.
And we all know that water loss may lead to dehydration and thirst. This is why you need to drink more than the recommended fluid intake when you’re on the keto diet.
Learn more about ketosis and thirst!
Can I Have Dessert on Keto?
You deserve to indulge a little in keto. Aside from using your recommended carb intake for dessert, you can also enjoy low-carb desserts.
One of the most popular ingredients in keto desserts is whipping cream. You can use it to make pudding, truffles, and even ice cream.
Check out how to make keto desserts with homemade whipping cream.
Does Intermittent Fasting Help with Ketosis?
Many people pit the keto diet and intermittent fasting against each other.
However, intermittent fasting can help with ketosis when done right.
Intermittent fasting involves not eating for a designated part of your day, usually in the morning.
Find out more about the keto diet and intermittent fasting.
It’s Okay to Take a Break from Keto!
If you’ve been on the keto diet for months now and your body just doesn’t feel right, then maybe it’s time to take a break.
While the keto flu is normal and temporary, ketoacidosis isn’t. Try keto cycling to avoid hormonal imbalance and other issues on the keto diet.
On the other hand, if you want to take a break from the keto diet simply because you want to, try to have a cheat meal instead.
Make sure to enter any carb cycling gradually, watch your sugar intake, and eat nutritious whole foods to ensure you can get back into ketosis quickly when you are ready.