Should You Take a Break from Keto?
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Should You Take a Break from Keto?

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Should You Take a Break from Keto?

Posted 3 months ago

“Breaks can lead to breakthroughs.”

Agree or disagree?

While some people prefer to take the buckle-down, no compromises, eyes-on-the-prize approach to achieving their goals, others may do better with some breaks to help them recharge and refocus.

Here’s how to decide if you should take a break from Keto, and how to stay on track to meet your goals even if you do take some time off.

Benefits of Taking a Break

Taking a break from Keto can provide some benefits. Especially if you’re new to Keto, or if you’re the only person in your household on Keto, this eating style requires lots of advance planning and can limit your options for quick and easy meals.

Therefore, the first benefit of taking a Keto break is that it may allow you to relax a little bit about your diet. If Keto has become a significant source of stress for you, or if you’re struggling to buy or make foods that are Keto-friendly, a break can be helpful. You can do a bit of research or planning with the pressure off, so you can return to Keto better prepared for success.

Another good reason to take a Keto break is for experimentation. We love Keto, and we know first-hand and from hearing Carb Manager success stories that it’s a great eating style for many people. However, it may not be optimal for everyone.

If you plan to experiment with your diet, then taking a break from Keto is essential to give you space to try different carb levels and see how they affect your health and performance.

Downsides of Taking a Break

However, there are some downsides to taking a break. It’s important to be conscious of these potential pitfalls so that you’re equipped to handle them once you get restarted on Keto.

Difficult to Get Back On Track

Ask almost anyone on Keto, and they’ll tell you that it’s very difficult to get back on track after you take a break.

It can be challenging to switch back and forth from “off Keto” to “on Keto” — especially if your time off Keto is spent indulging in some of your favorite high-carb foods that can be difficult to resist.

Prepare to experience this ahead of time, so that you have a plan to fight those cravings when it’s time to restart.

Slowed Progress

Naturally, taking a break from Keto may slow down your progress toward your health goals — particularly if your goal is to lose weight.

However, it’s important to recognize that most of the weight you gain during a short break from Keto is just water weight. It will fall off quickly once you get back into ketosis. This is because, when you’re eating carbs, the body stores some excess glucose to use later. This storage glucose, or glycogen, is stored alongside water [*].

Getting Back Into Ketosis

How long does it take to get back into ketosis after a break? That depends on several factors:

  • Keto-adaptation: Once you’ve been in ketosis for a while, you’re “keto-adapted,” and it’s easier for your body to shift in and out of ketosis. For people who are new to Keto, it may take longer to return to ketosis after a break than for people who have been on Keto for a while [*].
  • Length of time you’re off Keto: It will probably take longer to return to ketosis after a long break versus a short break.
  • Carb intake during break: Your carb intake during your break will also affect how long it takes to get back into ketosis. If you’re still eating fairly low carb during your break, then you’ll return to ketosis fairly quickly. However, it may take longer if you’re eating higher-carb foods during your break.
  • Fitness level and fasting: Finally, fitness level and fasting can play a role. Exercise and fasting can hasten your return to ketosis, as they help to burn through your body’s carb stores.

Reasons to Take a Break

There are several reasons you may choose, or need, to take a break from Keto. Here are a few examples.

Weight Plateaus

If you’re on a weight loss journey, weight plateaus can be an endless source of frustration.

According to many people, taking a break from Keto can help to “jump start” your metabolism to get the scale moving again.

While this effect hasn’t been noted in research, many people who have successfully lost weight on Keto swear by this method to get their weight moving again.

However, it’s best to keep your break to one or two days, and to jump right back in whole-heartedly so that you can quickly get back into ketosis.

Changes in Life Circumstances

Let’s be real here: Keto can be difficult. It requires a good deal of planning, limits your dining out options, and is often more expensive than other eating patterns — especially if you’re focusing on Clean Keto.

That’s why changes in life circumstances — like job loss or income changes, increased responsibilities at work or at home, or periods of extreme stress or grief — may lead you to take a break.

This is 100 percent OK.

You can still focus on healthy behaviors and a lower-carb eating pattern during these times, but without the added stress of sticking to a stricter Keto protocol.

Burnout

Another reason to take a break? Burnout.

If you’re mentally or physically exhausted, and your eating style is a contributor to your stress and fatigue, then please take a break — even if it’s a short one.

Stress is terrible for your health. There’s a powerful argument to be made that it has an even bigger impact on your health than what you eat — so it’s essential to find ways to manage it. [*]

You can come right back to Keto after you’re feeling rested and refreshed, and you’ll probably find it easier to stick with.

Women’s Health

For women, there are certain periods where Keto may be more difficult to stick with, and where an increased carb intake can be beneficial. This includes pregnancy and breastfeeding, as well as certain points during the menstrual cycle.

Many women find it difficult to stick with Keto during pregnancy due to food aversions, nausea, and fatigue. Increasing carbs during this period can be helpful.

Additionally, breastfeeding requires a significant amount of calories. Including carbs in your meals may make it easier to meet your caloric needs while breastfeeding, without running into the issue of getting too full (which can happen with Keto meals).

Finally, the luteal phase — the second half of a woman’s menstrual cycle — is often characterized by increased appetite, food cravings, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms. Mindfully increasing carb intake during this period could help to prevent carb binges. [*][*]

Health Optimization

Although many people thrive on Keto, it may not be the most optimal eating pattern for everyone. If you’re interested in reintroducing carbs, trying another eating style (like Paleo or Mediterranean), or otherwise tweaking the way you eat to see how it affects you, then, of course, a break from Keto will be necessary.

One common reason people may pivot away from Keto is because their activity level increases. Although there are some athletes who thrive on low-carb, high-fat protocols, most athletes can and do eat higher levels of carbohydrates without issue.

Special Occasions

Finally, you may want to take a break from Keto to enjoy your favorite meals on holidays, or to eat freely on vacation. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, as long as you’re fully aware that it can take some time and willpower to return to ketosis after.

How to Stay Healthy While on Break from Keto

Is it break time? Here are two ways to help ensure that you stay healthy while you’re not on Keto.

Maintain Healthy Habits

A common pitfall of taking a break is simply giving up on all healthy habits, including diet. This can lead you into the vicious cycle of yo-yo dieting, where you’re either 100 percent all-in on good health, or eating only junk food and not exercising at all.

The thing is, neither of these extremes is realistic. If you’re taking a break from Keto, you can still make healthy food choices, drink plenty of water, exercise as normal, and focus on your health.

Let go of the toxic idea of achieving perfection, and aim for consistently healthy habits — giving yourself the space for occasional indulgences or “lazy” days. This will serve you well whether you’re on a Keto break or not.

Track Your Intake

Even when you’re taking a break from Keto, you can still track your food intake — even on Carb Manager! Carb Manager can work with any eating style or macro pattern, and we even offer recipes, macro calculators, and support for several eating patterns other than Keto — including low-carb, Mediterranean, Carnivore, Paleo/Primal, and more. 

We also make it really easy to switch right back into Keto macros (and a Keto mindset) when your break is over. So let us know in the comments or on our socials — have you ever taken a break on Keto? How did it go? Would you do it again?