Plus, there’s the whole mental factor—giving yourself one day of carbs might make it easier for you to stick with the keto diet, and sustainable diets lead to, well, more sustainable weight loss results, says Santos-Prowse.
So, will I lose weight doing keto cycling?
Here’s one caveat for keto cycling: If you take this day-off approach, you’ll likely see the scale tick up almost immediately, says Santos-Prowse. But don’t freak: It’s just because eating carbs will prompt your body to hold onto more water, he says.
It’s not fat gain, but water weight—and when you kick out the carbs again, it’ll drop off. “When you get back into ketosis, this water weight should come back off,” he says. Long-term, if this approach helps you stick to a keto diet, you could lose more weight over time.
Should I try keto cycling?
First, know that cheat days can easily get out of hand and lead to cheat weeks or months, says Santos-Prowse. But if you don’t have a problem with binging behavior, a cheat day can be helpful.
“The keto diet is incredibly restrictive, and for many people, it’s probably too restrictive to follow long-term,” says Santos-Prowse. “If you give yourself allowance to deviate and you know you’re going to do it, it makes staying with the diet more manageable,” he adds.
But you still need to keep healthy eating habits in mind. “It’s not going to help meet any of your health goals to go crazy with donuts, pizza, and sugary lattes, but brown rice, higher-sugar fruits, sweet potatoes, and even whole-grain bread can supply your body with nutrient-dense sources of carbs,” says Santos-Prowse.
The bottom line: Keto cycling may help you stick to the keto diet by giving you a little more wiggle room.