Fasting After a Cheat Day: Best Tips to Bounce Back Faster

Last week, I was experimenting with OMAD (One Meal a Day). I was supposed to write a blog post about my results today, but it turns out I cheated. And it was more than one day, I cheated for 3 days! So, all that to say, I am starting OMAD over today and I thought writing about how to get back on track with fasting after a cheat day would be a great blog post topic under the circumstances!

Fasting After a Cheat Day: What’s the Difference?

Anyone who has practiced intermittent fasting for any length of time knows, fasting after a cheat day is harder. Why is it harder? The reason can be summed up in one word: ketosis.

Fasting to Deplete Glycogen Stores

When you are consistent with intermittent fasting, even when you are not on the keto diet, your body gets into a comfortable pattern of achieving ketosis fairly early each morning because your glycogen stores are always pretty low, particularly if you practice an intermittent fasting method like OMAD or the Warrior Diet (20:4 intermittent fasting).

As you fast, your blood glucose level drops and your body starts depleting your glycogen stores. As your glycogen stores decrease, your body uses fat stores to produce ketones as another fuel source. Fasting feels much easier when you are in ketosis.

How Long Does It Take to Be in Ketosis Through Fasting?

The process of depleting your glycogen stores enough to enter into ketosis will most likely take anywhere between 12 and 24 hours, but it depends on how much glycogen you have stored away. A cheat day usually means you have more glycogen reserves and you will notice that it takes longer to feel the effect of ketone production simply because it takes longer to achieve ketosis.

From The Physiology of Fasting

Ketosis helps you feel better and makes fasting easier. The following top 8 tips are going to help you stick to fasting after a cheat day, even though you are most likely not producing enough ketones to notice that you don’t mind feeling hungry.

Fasting After a Cheat Day: Top 8 Tips to Bounce Back

So, fasting is harder after a cheat day. Now what? Over the months I have been practicing the Warrior Diet and now OMAD, I have used a few simple strategies that have helped me stick to fasting after my cheat days, even though it is harder.

1. Drink Coffee

Not only is coffee an appetite suppressant, but it helps induce autophagy (which means your body is repairing itself). Just keep in mind that I am recommending your drink unsweetened coffee during your fast. For some, coffee impedes sugar absorption and causes your body to produce more insulin. However, higher habitual coffee consumption is associated with higher insulin sensitivity. As usual, there is no hard and fast rule. Listen to your body and see how you feel when you consume coffee when you fast.

2. Drink More Fluids

Drinking is always a good way to beat hunger. Plain water and carbonated flavored water (just flavor, no sweetener) are excellent options. Any time the hunger feels overwhelming, drink water! Herbal teas (without fruit and additives) may also help.

3. Consume Health Fats

While fats technically break your fast, they do not take you out of ketosis. If a tablespoon of coconut oil is what you need to persevere and wait until you grab your first meal then go ahead, add some coconut oil to your coffee or tea! Read this to learn more about what breaks a fast and what doesn’t.

4. Keep Busy

If you have the option, run your errands on the day after your cheat day. Keep busy and try to stay out of the house. It’s easier to fast when you are not surrounded by food and when you can put your attention somewhere else, like getting to your next stop. Or get as much done as possible at work. Whenever you can, keep busy!

5. Take a Nap

If like me, you are a mommy and you stay home with your children, you either have the option to go run some errands, or to take a nap. Both can be helpful. Sometimes, I read books with my little ones and take a short nap. I find napping helps decrease the feeling of hunger.

6. Choose Your Workouts Wisely

instense workouts increase the release of glycogen into your bloodstream and may increase your cravings as your body will strive to replenish your glycogen stores. If you struggle with sticking to your intermittent fasting goals after a cheat day, favor the following activities over HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts:

  • Walking
  • Light strength training
  • Swimming
  • Cycling

That being said, I sometimes still do HIIT workouts the day after a cheat day. I follow a program and I don’t always want to switch things around. It’s a matter of experimenting and being conscious of the possibility that intense workouts may make fasting harder. Furthermore, your cheat day may make your workout in a fasted state harder. If you notice a difference, then adjust your workout routine accordingly.

7. Consume a Satiating First Meal

That first meal when you are done fasting after a cheat day should be very satiating. Don’t include too many carbs. Instead, choose a healthy fat dense meal or a keto meal. This will help decrease your glycogen stores further and make your second day much much easier. For easy and simple keto meal ideas, don’t forget to download my free 7-Day Meal Plan.

8. Go to Bed Early

The lack of sleep can contribute to carb cravings by increasing your cortisol level. Subjects in several studies had higher levels of cortisol following sleep deprivation. Ensuring you get a good night’s sleep will help you bounce back faster and improve your fasting after a cheat day. Of course, getting a restful night is always important, but really make an effort to go to bed earlier on your cheat day and the day after. Avoid looking at a blue light (your electronic devices) 30 to 60 minutes before bed. Instead, read a book or listen to a podcast to help you relax. Consider trying tart cherry concentrate, which helps your body produce natural melatonin and improves the quality of your sleep.

9. Progress Gradually

Let’s say you practice OMAD and you are struggling with your fasting after a cheat day. You can always eat a keto lunch or snack the day after your cheat day instead of jumping in straight into OMAD. You will notice the next day will be a lot easier. It might be worth it to perserve your sanity.

Fasting After a Cheat Day: Best Tips to Bounce Back Faster Video

In Summary

Yes, fasting after a cheat day will be harder. Too many cheat days will harm your progress and discourage you. However, some cheat days are part of life! It’s OK to enjoy your favorite treats and desserts sometimes and to eat outside your regular eating window. As long as you know how to bounce back and get back on track. Implement the tips in this post to do just that and you will notice to getting back on track takes about a day each time. It’s not super difficult!