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Carnivore Diet Cheat Days and Potential Side Effects

If you’re on a carnivore diet, it’s only natural that you’ll want a break or "cheat day" from time to time. However, before you take a cheat day, you should think deeply as your carnivore diet cheat day can have some potential side effects. The carnivore diet does not include any foods that don't derive […]
Josh Koop
April 3, 2020

If you’re on a carnivore diet, it’s only natural that you’ll want a break or "cheat day" from time to time. However, before you take a cheat day, you should think deeply as your carnivore diet cheat day can have some potential side effects.

The carnivore diet does not include any foods that don't derive from animals. Cheating on this rule can compromise the diet outcomes and have serious side effects, such as:

  • Quick Weight Gain 
  • Large Blood Sugar Spikes
  • Increased Hunger and Cravings
  • Digestion Issues
  • Acne Breakouts
  • Poor Mood and Increased Fatigue

Easier said than done, right? How can you not have even a one cheat day after weeks on meat, eggs, and cheese? Check out how to avoid the temptation and some tips to help you get back on track below. 

Are Cheat Days Allowed on A Carnivore Diet?

Whether you have become a carnivore to lose that extra couple of pounds quicker or you were in search of a drastic lifestyle change, cheating on your diet is never a good idea!

The recovering process can be relatively long and can compromise the outcome of the diet.

Some of the reasons for a cheat day on a strict diet are:

  • Social Reasons - Wanting to fit in during a social situation or dinner party
  • Poor Planning - Nothing left in the fridge aside from cake? That's not a valid reason to eat it!
  • Impulsivity - You couldn’t stop yourself!
  • Trying a local dish or trying a new delicacy during your far-flung holiday - You need to live once in a while, right?
  • To embrace low-carb diets long-term - You like the diet, but you feel like you won't be able to stick to it without exception once in a while.

During your first month as a carnivore, the temptation of cheating can be incredibly persistent, especially as you are still adapting to the new lifestyle and eating habits.

This detoxing period comes with appetite swings and digestive problems while you enter ketosis, and your body starts to source energy from fat and proteins only.

However, ketosis is the reason why you feel better, more energized, and you are getting rid of extra weight so fast! Interrupting this process for one day of cheating can seriously compromise your diet, sometimes to the point that you might have to start fresh. 

Moreover, as soon as you break your eating habits, it is reasonable to experience all the symptoms you went through during your first carnivore month. 

If you’re on the verge of finally giving in and grabbing that pancake, give yourself a second to read the effects that it can have below!

Cheat Meal Day in calendar with green pen - Carnivore Diet Cheat Days and Side Effects

The side effects of a carnivore diet cheat day

Weight Gain

As you start the carnivore diet, your body enters ketosis, which means that it is now used to source the needed energy from fat and proteins.

As soon as you reintroduce carbs, whether in the form of candies or pasta-and-meatballs, your body will start to store it as it is not able to metabolize it

Moreover, the water content in carbs will return, increasing your body weight. Lastly, don't underestimate the power of carbs to attract more carbs! You will find yourself craving more and more sugar!

Sugar Spike

If you’re healthy, the inevitable sugar spike might not be the worst of side effects. However, if you swapped your lifestyle for a carnivore diet to control diabetes, blood sugar spikes can be dangerous.

Instead, avoiding cheating altogether can be a great way to manage the sugar levels in the blood and even keep obesity and diabetes type-2 at bay.

Cravings and Hunger

As we have seen, carbs call for more carbs! Indeed, sugar and carbs create an addiction-like feeling that makes it impossible to stop eating. Some veterans of the carnivore diet call this a floodgate. Indeed, once opened, it might be complicated to return to a strict eating plan.

On the other hand, as you cheat, you will experience a spike in the blood sugar level. While this might give you a great feeling at first, you can expect a steep drop after a few minutes! 

Digestion Issues

If, during the first month of your carnivore diet, you felt like you were punishing your body, don't worry, that was only the adaptation period. 

Your body needs to adapt to the new digestion process, the high quantities of fats and proteins, and the lack of carbs and fibers. Through this period, it is not uncommon to experience constipation, nausea, diarrhea, heartburn, and even vomiting.

However, once your body has adapted, you won't need to deal with such symptoms again, unless you cheat! Cheating disrupts the new way of your body to function and will bring you back to the first days of your diet! Other common conditions include gas, bloating, and an upset stomach.

Acne Breakouts

Have you noticed your skin clearing up as soon as you eliminated carbs and sugars from your diet? 

That’s not uncommon, as a low-carb diet can often help to improve pimples, spots, and acne. Studies have found a direct connection between low-carb diets and the effects on hormones such as insulin and IGF, which are the ones responsible for acne outbreaks. 

After your cheat day, you should not be surprised to find a new pimple on your face as a result of overindulging! Of course, these issues can be easily solvable, but the earlier you get back on track, the easiest it is to get your skin back in optimal shape!

Fatigue and mood

The relationship between food, mood, and mental well-being is something that many studies have been exploring. A sudden change in your diet can, therefore, impact your outlook on life and even make you feel tired, sad, nervous, and sleepy. 

In the case of this happening straight after a cheat day, the mood swings are directly related to the drop in blood sugar levels after peaking. Instead, maintaining a regular, balanced diet can be the key to be more mentally and emotionally stable.

How to get recover after cheating on the carnivore diet

But what happens if you are reading this article too late? What if you’ve already cheated on your diet? Of course, getting back on track might take a little extra energy, but you can do it!

First of all, be aware that cravings will increase. Preparing yourself for the extra hunger and knowing that you might have to fight harder against temptations might be the best way to avoid it.

You also shouldn’t beat yourself up. Appreciate the mistake, and move on! Starting fresh can be hard, and it is a task that will need all of your energy. So stop looking back and prepare your fridge for your next attempt!

If you think you won't be able to stick to such a restrictive diet unless you cheat once in a while, embrace this factor and plan for it.

  • Cheat before or after training or gym sessions
  • Opt for low-sugar treats
  • Cheat after a meal, when you already feel full.
  • Cheat with carbs substitutes or fat
  • Plan your cheat day (or half-day) in advance and stick to it

Final Thoughts

Cravings and hunger are common factors that will characterize the first month as a carnivore. 

While the temptation might be challenging to fight, cheating comes with an endless list of downsides that you should consider before surrendering.

And if you need some exceptions to make sure that you stick to the carnivore diet in the long run, plan your cheating days as well as the food you are going to have ahead, and temptation won't catch you off guard!.

If you read this far you are amazing! I would love to hear from you in the comments below if I helped you gain knowledge and useful information, additionally I would like to know if I got anything incorrect that you believe should be researched more and updated. As always to get the word out please join our new Carnivore Rx group on Facebook and share this out on social media!


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