If you've ever undertaken a fat loss regimen, you've probably had a cheat day built in.
You trained and trained, watched your diet, weighed your food, counted your macros, and relentlessly looked forward to that special meal where you got to go ham on some ice cream or a plate of fries.
Even writing this right now, I can't wait for my next cheat day. It gives you something to look forward to, makes you work harder to earn it, and provides a nice psychological break in the mundane routine of dieting.
There's even an argument for a positive benefit in fostering metabolic flexibility.
But some new research out of The University of British Columbia might be bad news for ketogenic dieters.
"What we found... were biomarkers in the blood suggesting that vessel walls were being damaged by the sudden spike in glucose." - Cody Durrer, researcher, lead study author
Scientists found that introducing a 75 gram dose of glucose to study participants, after they had been following a high fat, low carb diet, that biomarkers in the blood suggesting blood vessel wall damage.
The participants were nine healthy males who followed a diet of 70 percent fat, 10 percent carbs, and 20 percent protein for seven days. At the end of the seven day period, the "cheat meal" was provided.
So let's point out a few flaws here.
First, I cannot find anywhere in the study where the researchers measured blood ketone levels in the participants to ensure they were in nutritional ketosis.
Second, any proponent of the ketogenic diet will tell you that 7 days is not long enough for the intro period. Most people think the bare minimum is two weeks, but a couple of months is more common.
Lastly, the "cheat meal" provided to participants was a 75 gram dose of glucose administered through a drink. The same one used when performing an Oral Glucose Tolerance test, commonly called Glucola. Very few people I know are going to reach for that when it's time for a cheat.
Now I am not a proponent of the ketogenic diet per se, but for some people it is incredibly helpful.
The takeaway here is two-fold for those of you wanting to follow the keto diet. First, measure your ketones. You don't know if you are in ketosis unless you check (incidentally, the finger prick method is much more accurate than the sticks or breath tests).
Secondly, 7 days is not long enough to follow the protocol before breaking it.