How to get back into ketosis after a carb binge
A little planning and motivation will help you begin a low-carb, ketogenic, or primal lifestyle and, under normal circumstances, keeping your carbs on the low side is easy. But let’s not create the illusion that it’s easy all the time. From time to time you may get stressed and eat thoughtlessly. Or your aunt brings her blue ribbon cake that you’ve loved since preschool and you only give in this time. Or you’ve had a packed day and all you can bring up for dinner is that packet of gluten-free pasta in the back of your pantry. The next thing you know is that you’ve been eating enough carbs for a week and are wondering how to get back into ketosis after a carbohydrate high.
The short answer is yes, you will recover from a carbohydrate high. Yes, you will go back to ketosis again. How long it takes to get back into ketosis depends on a number of factors that we are going to cover here. It’s important to remember that you didn’t blur your goals with a misstep. Especially after spending some time in ketosis, your body will allow fluctuations in carbohydrate consumption here and there. This is called metabolic flexibility, which we’ll get into in a moment.
Can You Have A Cheat Day On Keto Or A Primal Diet?
Granted, I’m not a fan of calling them “Cheat Days” for several reasons:
- “Cheating” implies that you did something wrong and should feel guilty about it.
- The marking of “cheat days” sends the message that on this day you can eat what you want with devotion. You will be surprised how much you can step back on your goals in a 24 hour period.
I prefer to have higher carb meals or snacks than Carb Cycling or Carb Refeeding, this is an intentionally higher carb meal to improve your results; or frame them as treatedthat are planned. That way, the extra carbohydrates are enjoyable, planned in advance, and restricted so you don’t go overboard. And there is no guilt.
So can you have high carb days on keto? When you are in ketosis and have a sudden spike in sugar or carbohydrates, your body is burning glucose instead of producing ketones. To get back into ketosis, you need to use up the glucose you just consumed and the glycogen you just stored.
The concern is whether transitioning back to ketosis will be as difficult as you remember from the first few days of carbohydrate breakdown. Once you’ve been in and out of ketosis for a while, you can fall back into ketosis pretty easily because you’ve developed metabolic flexibility. When you’re just starting out, you may experience some of the discomforts of switching between sugar-fueling and ketone-fueling. Your body “remembers” however, and most likely it won’t take that long or be that heavy. This article contains a few things to do when you have the “low carb flu”.
What Happens To Your Body After A Carb Binge?
So you made up your mind to give in. At first don’t get ready. It happens. What does your metabolism do with the increase in insulin and carbohydrates? Even a few quick forks can switch you from small doses of high-quality carbohydrates that are carefully distributed throughout the day to potentially 100 or more grams of pure sugar in one sitting. You are likely to notice some effects, but you can overcome them.
First of all, the good news. No carbohydrate police will come to take your keto card away from you. No other permanent fate awaits you either. You will spend your day as a living, generally functioning person. There is no real long term risk increase for this matter. Nonetheless, if you cheated on keto, you are likely to experience quite a bit of regret.
- Your pancreas is going into overdrive. In a matter of minutes, your pancreas will begin pumping out a flood of insulin trying to soak up any excess glucose that’s suddenly rushing through your bloodstream. Remember that while glucose is muscle fuel when it’s in your muscles, it is toxic sludge when it stays in your bloodstream. Your body knows this and is doing everything it can to get it out. You may feel flushed, a little high, spastic, anxious, or nauseous depending on how much you’ve eaten, how tall you are, what your normal carbohydrate levels are, and how much you are prone to the effects of sugar and other substances . Ironically, you may not even notice these sensations if you’ve been insulin resistant.
- Excess glucose is converted into body fat. The surge of insulin now creates a rocking effect. When your glycogen stores have room, some of the sugar goes to your muscles. When there is no more space, the excess ends up in the fat cells, where it is stored as fat. In response to this quasi-emergency, which 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 starts racing and you start to feel uncomfortable, maybe even sweat. And we’re probably still within the first hour after you’ve finished that cake!
- Sugar crash. After a while, burnout sets in. This is called a sugar crash – when all of the glucose is gone from the bloodstream and you feel sluggish, out of whack, as if the internal circuitry has all been fried after sparking in a pile of now-smoldering wires.
- Your immune system slows down. The havoc caused by the sugar rush – switching from glucose to insulin, cortisol and adrenaline – has left your immune system in a tailspin. Research has shown that immune-related phagocytes, the cells that surround and devour pathogens, function for at least 5 hours after taking simple sugars. Free radicals or harmful oxygen atoms also bloom within the first few hours after sugar increases the body’s oxidative stress. Your blood even thickens in response to the stressors. A hefty dose of sugar bowl weaken the immune system for more than 24 hours.
- Your sleep is disturbed. At the end of the day, you try to sleep it off, but you throw and spin while your heart continues to beat faster than normal. No surprise – the old hormonal system is confused in its interconnectedness. You lay there cursing not just this cake, but the entire cultural custom of the birthday party. When the sun comes up and you roll out of bed, you think you are done with this sugar business. Maybe, maybe not.
How to recover from a carb binge
As bad as that sounds, it could be worse. In general, if you follow a primal or keto lifestyle and the carbohydrate overload was just a detour, you will get off as healthy as you did before the flu. You will feel the effects, and potentially feel them more strongly than you did before you opted for the low-carb route. That’s nothing bad. Even so, after the dust settles, the worst that can happen to you is maybe a cold that you wouldn’t otherwise have caught. Your system will realign itself pretty easily. After returning to your regular program for a few days, you will be as good as new.
How to get back into ketosis after a keto scam
So you want to get back into fighting shape asap. Here’s what to do:
- Cut down on your carbohydrates to where you were before you got off track.
- Make sure you are getting the right balance of electrolytes. Read this article to understand why electrolytes are important in transitioning to ketosis and how you can make sure you are getting adequate electrolytes.
- Consume enough high quality fats, especially in the beginning.
- Don’t overdo the cardio. You can return to more vigorous aerobic exercise once you are fully converted.
- Consider intermittent fasting. You may find it easier to get into ketosis in the long run if you time limit your food intake, which allows your body to get used to producing ketones.
How long does it take to get back into ketosis?
You may be wondering how long it takes to get back into ketosis after a fall. The answer is, it varies. It all depends on how metabolically flexible you were before you started, how insulin sensitive you are now, how many carbohydrates you were used to consuming before increasing your carbohydrate intake … there are many factors. The vague answer is it won’t be long before you get back. Start now and you will accomplish your goal before you know it.
Thank You For Reading!