While we all try our best to maintain a healthy diet, it isn't always easy. The occasional cheat day happens, but if you indulge in a slice of cake this weekend, don't overstress about it. When you know how to bounce back correctly, you can return to your normal diet plan with confidence—and without gaining a pound. Here's our best advice on how to bounce back to your low-carb ways.
The Basics of Weight Loss
You should know the basics behind weight loss, so you can understand why those no-good-for-you foods have such an effect. Insulin is the leading factor, so when you're able to balance insulin properly (even after a cheat day), you'll maintain a well-balanced weight. This also explains the science behind low-carb dieting. After insulin is secreted from the pancreas, it carefully makes its way through your bloodstream, which eases the uptake of carbohydrates and glucose. Since the most glucose-heavy foods are carbs, when there are no carbs present, your body must rely on fat for energy, and it's impossible to gain weight when your body is using fat as fuel rather than storing it.
Although glucose is utilized in the muscles and liver, these two components don't have the space to store it all. Anything left over is stored as body fat, which is why it's so easy to gain weight on a carb-heavy, glucose-fueled diet. Once carbs are turned into glucose after consumption, this glucose is then stored as glycogen. When glycogen stores are full, this is when glucose is transformed into fat, so without carbs, you'll start dropping pounds quickly. In order to bounce back from a cheat day successfully, carbs must be effectively removed from glycogen stores. Here's how to do so successfully.
Foods That Help You Bounce Back
Apple Cider Vinegar
Just a small amount of apple cider vinegar has incredibly beneficial effects. All it takes is 2 tablespoons before meals to lower the body's natural blood glucose response, and when you take the same amount before bedtime, your glucose levels are also lowered. It's quick and simple to take such a small amount, but if you don't like the taste, feel free to add it your salad dressing. Whether taken alone or with meals, the effects are identical.
Cinnamon is available in multiple varieties, from the least sweet to the most. Whether you prefer just a hint of sweetness or crave it during every meal, each type reduces your blood sugar response by a staggering 29%! Since cinnamon is inexpensive and easy to find in any grocery store aisle, adding it to meals or drinks is a convenient method of getting those carbs out of the way. Add it to a peanut butter shake for a high-fat combination that's both tasty and one of a kind. It's easy to sprinkle in any drink, and it tastes great with high-fat yogurt or cottage cheese, too.
If you're seeking a healthy addition to your diet, turmeric is it. The Asian cooking staple offers a bevy of benefits, from fighting cancer to combating inflammation, boosting your brain, and protecting your heart. Another bonus? It lowers blood sugar, too. While it's available in supplements, you can savor this spice in its full-flavored power, too. Easy to use in scrambled and frittatas, it makes the perfect keto-friendly addition to your diet. You can even use it to make a creamy, curried (and carb-free) cauliflower soup or add it to meats for a taste of the Far East.
Methods That Help You Bounce Back
While exercise should already be a healthy component of your routine, try picking up the pace. Both aerobic and strength training have their benefits, with high-intensity training the one form that relies only on carbohydrates. If you want to eliminate carbs from your glycogen stores, hit the gym after a cheat day, and hit it hard. High-intensity interval training will deplete glycogen levels down to nothing, so you're back to your old self in no time.
Why is exercise so effective at eliminating glycogen? Because the body can only store so much—600 grams, to be precise. While anything higher than this gets transformed into fat, it can't do so when an overabundance of glycogen isn't available. If you slip up, know that each workout is fueled by glycogen, so you're eliminating it from your system with every step. Even a half hour walk is effective at reducing glycogen, as the body depletes these stores first before turning to fat. When you go keto, there is no excess glycogen to deplete, your body begins the workout fueled by fat, and you drop pounds quickly. This is why weight lost happens so easily for low-carb dieters. If you do slip up, however, you know exactly what to do.
Intermittent Fasting and Cleanses
Your body uses fat during surprising times, occasionally during the moments you'd least expect. While fueling your body with a a high-fat diet and keeping powerful through exercise are excellent ways to reduce glycogen stores and bounce back from a cheat day, adding intermittent fasting to the mix is a smart move as well. The same way that fat is used during exercise, it's used during periods of fasting, burning away those glycogen stores and getting you back on your feet. Intermittent fasting takes on many forms, so if you're not already familiar, it's something that's worth looking at. Cleansing is one form of fasting that will get your body back on the fast track quickly, as you only have to reduce your dietary intake for one or two days. When your body is in fasting mode, fat burns fast, so a cleanse isn't just an excellent introduction to fasting, but a great way to recover from the occasional cheat day, as well.
While everyone messes up sometimes, cheat days do happen. Thankfully, removing the excess carbs from your glycogen stores is simple, and with just a few easy-to-find foods and helpful habits, you can get back to your low-carb habits in no time.