If you’re doing Keto this winter, you might be a little nervous. How can you survive the holidays without carbs?
Yes, the season is long and the temptations are many. It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but sometimes it just feels like an obstacle course.
The people in your life often don’t get it. You’re not passing on the Christmas cookies to be rude. You’re passing because you have health goals.
Fortunately, you don’t have to rely on willpower alone to stay Keto over the holidays. The trick is to have a plan. That’s where this article comes in.
Should You Stay Keto Over the Holidays?
If Keto works for you the other ten months of the year, it can work over the holidays. If your energy, mood, sleep, mental acuity, and weight loss efforts are improving on a low-carb diet, then maybe you’ve found your optimal diet.
When you find something that works, why give it up?
Even as your neighbors slip into bear-preparing-to-hibernate mode, you can stay in fat-burning mode. You can stay in ketosis. You can maintain (or lose) weight. You can keep benefiting from the Keto diet.
It might be more challenging over the holidays, but you can do it. And with the aid of Keto-friendly sweeteners like allulose, stevia, and monk fruit, you can still indulge in your favorite treats.
Taking Breaks from Keto
Even if Keto is your optimal diet, you don’t have to stay 100% Keto 100% of the time. That’s unrealistic.
You can take breaks. You can have carbs and re-enter ketosis later.
You might, for instance, consider a Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD) over the holidays. To practice cyclical Keto, simply eat high-carb one to two days per week and stay Keto the other five days.
You can also carb cycle daily. Just save the carbs for dinner.
After you have carbs, how long will it take to re-enter ketosis? That depends.
A high-octane athlete might be making ketones again in a few hours. A sedentary person, however, may require a day or more.
Because of this, carb cycling tends to work best for highly active people. The constant exercise keeps muscle and liver glycogen low, and then the depleted glycogen sucks up blood sugar (from carbs) like a vacuum.[*] This allows for a faster re-entry to ketosis.
But even if you’re not a Crossfit warrior, one slice of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving won’t derail your health goals. If you’re Keto the majority of the time, minor deviations won’t sink your ship.
You can also take the holidays off and return to Keto eating in January. Up to you. But if you want to stay Keto, you’ll find the following section useful.
8 Tips to Stay Keto During the Holidays
It’s not easy to eat healthy during the holidays: so many temptations, so much peer pressure. The following tips can help you overcome these challenges.
#1: Plan your meals
When you write something down, you’re more likely to follow through with it. In one study, people who wrote when, where, and how to exercise were 2-3 times more likely to exercise than controls.[*]
The same logic applies to meal planning. Plot it out beforehand, then stick to the plan. To streamline these efforts, plan your holiday meals with the Carb Manager app.
#2: Handle social pressure gracefully
“C’mon, one piece of pie won’t kill ya! Geez, I would die if I couldn’t have pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving.”
You’re bound to encounter an utterance like this. How should you handle it?
Don’t try to argue. Um, no, Janice, I’m pretty sure you’d survive without that massive hit of sugar. That will just make people defensive.
Instead, make it about how you feel. The truth is, you feel your best on Keto. Who can argue with that?
Better still, prepare your own Keto-friendly pumpkin pie. Your non-Keto friends and family will enjoy this just as much as the traditional carb-laden variety!
#3: Be prepared for holiday parties
Most Christmas parties won’t be Keto-friendly. Be ready for that.
If possible, have a Keto snack beforehand. You don’t want to be famished while surrounded by sugar cookies and peanut butter cups.
If the party is at a restaurant, volunteer for scheduling duty. It’s a minor hassle, but it allows you to pick the place.
#4: Optimize your environment
If you want to build good habits, surround yourself with cues that promote the desired behavior. And if you want to break a bad habit (like mindlessly munching candy), remove those environmental cues.
Yes, maintaining a candy-free environment isn’t always easy when you have other personalities to contend with. Do your best.
#5: Practice intermittent fasting
Keto and intermittent fasting work well together. Both can get you burning fat for energy.
Plus, eating in a compressed window provides fewer chances to derail your Keto diet.
#6: Keep exercising
It might be cold, but don’t let that stop you. Keep moving, lifting, jogging, cycling, and practicing yoga during the holidays.
#7: Treat yourself in other ways
High-carb foods aren’t the only holiday rewards. Other rewards include:
- A massage
- A hot cup of Keto cocoa
- A new device
- A hug
- Seeing your family
- Sleeping in on a cold day
- The warm feeling of giving to others
Pile up enough of these rewards, and you won’t need anything else to be satisfied.
#8: Eat Keto-friendly foods
To stay Keto during the holidays, there’s just one rule to follow: Eat Keto-approved foods.
Along with the usual suspects (meat, fish, eggs, nuts, healthy fats, low-carb vegetables), you can spice it up with low-carb holiday treats. There are so many Keto sweets to choose from.
To get you started, check out these Keto holiday recipes:
A Very Merry Keto Holidays
Hopefully, you feel better about staying Keto over the holidays now. It won’t always be easy, but having a plan makes it much more manageable.
As you navigate the festivities, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. You’re a human being, not a Keto robot.
If you depart from the plan, be kind to yourself. Brush it off, remember your goals, and begin again.