Did you know you can biohack and cheat on keto without gaining weight? Yes…let me explain! It’s a long one, but there is TONS of great information here.
I wanted to write about a little experiment I did with my own body. You all know I have been on a weight loss journey for a while now. It’s had many ups and downs but for the most part it’s been a huge learning experience.
First, I titled this how to cheat on the keto diet but I would really like to say this should be titled how to “treat” on the keto diet without gaining weight. This is because the word “cheat” is so negative and means you are doing something wrong. I believe you can intensionally treat yourself and do it in a healthy manner when you learn these weight loss hacks.
This is the reason for sharing this information today. I have learned a ton about my own metabolic system while eating keto and going off plan. For the last five years, I assumed you had to remain super strict keto in order to lose weight or even to maintain and not gain weight. Boy, was I wrong.
Feel free to skip all the way down to the bottom of this post if you want the 4 hacks to weight loss without all of the back story. I am adding the backstory because I believe it’s a teachable moment for anyone in my situation.
I love to biohack my body and figure out how it works especially in terms of weight loss or weight gain. I honestly don’t think anyone really completely understands it and I truly believe we are all so different. This is why some techniques work for some and not for others.
I have insulin resistance. Anyone who is at least 20 to 30 pounds or more overweight also has some form of insulin resistance.
You don’t have to be overweight to be insulin resistant. You can be skinny too.
Insulin resistance just basically means you body doesn’t regulate insulin correctly. The system is broken. It’s broken because of the Standard American Diet. It’s probably broken because of you genetics too.
I hate to even say the word “broken” because being insulin resistant actually just shows that your body is really efficient at how it works.
Insulin is the fat storing hormone. It’s the metabolic braking system within your body.
Having high glucose levels can overrun your metabolic system and cause insulin resistance. High glucose causes your body to store fat.
Your body can only handle so much glucose at one time. It’s worth repeating… YOUR BODY CAN ONLY HANDLE SO MUCH GLUCOSE AT ONE TIME!
This is why low carb and keto diets work. They lower glucose which cause insulin spikes that store fat. They work because they allow your body to process the glucose you consume at safe rates.
I am not a doctor but I will say that I have studied the metabolic system along side doctors in the field. I attend the same conferences they do! I just break the information down so that it’s easier for everyday people like me to understand.
Healthy fats do not cause a trigger or a spike for insulin. Healthy fats are another fuel source for the body. Your body can run on glucose or ketones. Healthy fats and protein with the limit of carbohydrates cause your body to start burning ketones.
Did you know that lower insulin levels have been associated with people who live longer than 90 years! It’s true. The ket to longevity is a healthy metabolic system that process glucose efficiently.
Low Vitamin D Levels and Weight Gain
Here’s another twist in this process. Vitamin D is important in your metabolic health. Low Vitamin D levels make insulin resistance worse! Did you know most people are deficient in vitamin D? Also, true.
The first thing I did to start improving my health after starting the keto diet was tracking my vitamin d levels. Vitamin D is one of those fat soluble vitamins that you can’t just urinate excess out of your system. You can take too much and it is not good if you do. Work with your doctor to determine your vitamin d level before you even consider taking a supplement.
My vitamin D level was at 20 in February of last year. I started getting a weekly shot of 100,000 IU’s directly into my body bypassing my gut so that the vitamin d would absorb better. My goal, based on my natural path doctor, is to have an optimal level at 80. My regular doctor says anything under 30 is low.
Almost a year later and regular weekly shots and my level is at 50. 50 is considered normal. I am working to an optimal level of 80. It’s going to take me another year at this rate!
I did notice thicker hair and strong nails starting at a level of 40 though. I think we need to pay more attention to the signs that our bodies give us. Your hair should not be falling our and your nails should be healthy and strong. Both my nails and my hair have always been weak. It’s getting better! I can feel it!
New to Keto? Check out the Keto Starter Guide!
The Keto Starter Guide is an amazing resource as you get started on your keto/low carb journey. This guide has everything you need to get started in 9 simple video lessons and also includes workbooks with step by step instructions for beginners.
- What’s a macro and why do I count them?
- How do I find the best recipes?
- What is ketosis and how do I get my body there?
- What fruits are allowed on a ketogenic diet?
- Will I get “Keto Flu” and what do I do about it?
Keto Diet and High Carb Food Choices
I have been strict keto for 4 1/2 years. STRICT! I have fixed a lot of my insulin processing issues within this time frame. You can test for fatty liver disease and high inflammation within your diet to see if you are becoming healthy during this process.
Here’s something to remember, the longer you go without carbs the more sensitive your body is to them. The goal should be to become metabolically flexible between ketones and glucose. You shouldn’t lean one way or the other unless you are trying to fix something within your body.
I did a test. I started wearing a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) just to see how my body responds to different foods both healthy and unhealthy. I haven’t had unhealthy carbs or unhealthy carb limits in such a long time. The first time I tested it my body was not prepared! I immediately spiked my glucose levels. Honestly, that was expected. The question became… how can I consume a healthy balance of carbs, fat and protein without being super strict keto all of my life. In other words, can I eat normal again after doing the keto diet?
In order to answer this we will have to define normal diet. If we go back to the standard American diet (SAD), that’s not normal and it’s certainly not healthy. That’s what I’ve learned.
I’ve done keto for a long time so my hormone signals for hunger and fullness work again. These hormones are Leptin and Ghrein. Leptin and ghrelin are two hormones that have been recognized to have a major influence on energy balance. They tell your body when you are hungry and when you are full. The standard American diet completely ruined my hormones. My hunger signal was always on. I truly believe this is how the food industry makes money. They keep us hungry and wanting more!
A healthy diet is a balance between carbs, protein and fat intake for your body. By wearing a CGM, I was able to tell which foods my body liked better than others because my insulin would spike and tell me.
I’m not calculating calorie intake at this point, I’m only calculating how my body reacts to certain foods. My diet consists of lots of low carb and stricter keto options but it was time to start testing higher carb options that may still add nutrients to my body.
I’m not talking processed foods. I’m talking about real whole foods and grains. These are nutrient dense foods that I don’t normally consume on keto.
I love beans so I tested that food first. I consumed scrambled eggs for breakfast along with beans and barbacoa for breakfast. My insulin spiked big time! Beans are not favored for my body! I love beans too.
Here’s the weight loss HACK!!! Since my body is very sensitive to carbs like beans instead of having them first thing in the morning, I should consume beans in the afternoon or early evening instead.
I redid this test and ate protein first. Protein and fat tend to stabilize your blood sugars meaning your glucose won’t spike if you consume foods that are higher in carbs once they are stabilized. WAIT-WHAT?!!!!
This is extremely important to understand when you test your own metabolic system. You find the foods you are sensitive to and you hack your body to be able to handle and process them better. LIFE CHANGING!!
Now if I want beans, I will consume healthy fats and protein about 20 to 30 minutes before consuming beans. I’ve tested this and my blood sugars don’t spike when I eat like this! If glucose doesn’t spike then I’m not triggering my fat storing hormone.
Here’s another test I did. I really wanted to consume bread. We all know bread is full of gluten and super high in carbohydrates. I definitely won’t make this a normal occasion but how can I use my biohacking information to test eating bread without gaining 5 lbs overnight.
Here’s what I did. I made sure to do a small workout before consuming these foods that trigger my glucose and I walked right after my meal to help quickly process the glucose in my system.
Here’s why that important. By doing a small workout before consuming these foods it opens up my cells to hold my glycogen. The cells only hold so much and by working out before I eat, it opened up more space for extra glucose.
I remember doing 50 squats to help build bigger glycogen stores. Leg muscles are the biggest muscles and the best ones to use to make this happen quickly.
Then, because I ate way more glucose then my body could handle… remember, my body is very efficient at storing glucose because it quickly triggers the fat storing hormone insulin, I walked after. This helps to use up the excess glucose in my system quickly.
This was the first time I ate bread where I didn’t gain 3 to 5 lbs of inflammation (water weight) overnight. In fact, I actually still lost a pound after doing this test. That was shocking!
Not even kidding.
Understanding how your body works is great but understanding how to help your body when you consume foods your body doesn’t handle well is even better. It helps your body run at its optimal process and hopefully this allows you to live a long and healthy life.
If I had to breakdown what I learned into simple hacks I would say.
4 Hacks to Weight Loss if you Cheat on Keto:
- Get a continuous glucose monitor and test your own body to see what’s really happening to your own metabolic system.
- Workout or at least walk before consuming foods that are known to cause you weight gain.
- Always eat protein first to help stabilize your blood sugars before consuming carbs and sugar.
- Walk after you consume a meal that you know your body is having a hard time processing because of the higher carbs that cause the glucose to spike.
I honestly believe a low carb lifestyle is worth your health and I honestly believe it will make you healthy. Keto tends to be very strict and most people will fall off this diet at one point or another along their journey. By sharing what I know and what has helped me, I truly believe this is a healthier way to treat yourself when you go off plan.
Be sure to pin this valuable keto information for later!