What to Expect When You Take a Break from Keto


There’s plenty of information on the web and throughout the various categories on the Ketogenic Forums about getting started on Keto and the dreaded carb withdrawal, or “Keto Flu” that accompanies the first few days of making the change to this way of eating. Harder to find is information on what to expect if you take a break from Keto.

We all have difficult moments throughout life where our best intentions can go by the wayside. An extended holiday, a broken heart, a stressful period at work, etc., can lead to relaxing key elements of Keto…a slippery slope, indeed!

So, long story short, I made the decision to take a break from Keto about 6 weeks ago. Now, don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a hard and fast decision, rather I took what I thought was going to be a quick trip along a well worn and known path, and instead turned into a more casual meandering down memory lane. Let me explain.

I had a busy period at work comprising 16 hour days, 7 days a week for a few weeks. For the most part I stuck to Keto with the exception of the odd meal here and there when I was tired and couldn’t be bothered prepping, cooking or finding Keto friendly food. I reintroduced some old favourites into my diet, like the occasional piece of bread or some hot chips and was pleasantly surprised that they didn’t taste nearly as good as I remembered them tasting so there was no risk of old habits becoming new again, right? After all, work would settle down soon and I’d be back on track again. Right? Right!

That busy period of work was then followed by a visit from dear friends who came to stay with us; it was their first trip to Australia and we filled it with koala and fairy penguin encounters, time at the beach soaking up the sun from a wonderful extended summer and of course, obligatory sampling of Melbourne’s café culture delights. A few more old faves danced over my tongue during this time; chocolate, biscuits, ice cream, etc. Again, I was pleasantly surprised that they didn’t taste nearly as good as I remembered them tasting so there was no risk of old habits becoming new again, right? After all, our visitors would go home soon and I’d be back on track again. Right? Ummm…sure.

So back to work I go; our household that had so recently been packed with 4 adults, 3 teenagers and a dog was back to being a sanctuary for this quiet couple and their beloved pet. Thankfully I was also greeted by a quiet week in the office which gave me time to decompress and recover from a crazy few weeks. I was tired, not just from the recent frenzy of activity, though that was certainly a significant contributor. I didn’t really enjoy eating food that wasn’t Keto. Nothing I ate during that time tasted as good as the memory or feeling it invoked. So there was no risk of old habits becoming new again, right? Wrong.

My original intention was to take a more relaxed approach to Keto for a period of two weeks; for the time I knew was going to be busy and sources of food unpredictable. So what actually happened? I woke up this past weekend and realised that two weeks had actually turned into six, that’s what happened…and that wasn’t the only realisation that dawned on me. Here’s a few more:

  1. I was tired. Bone tired. I felt tired in a way that I hadn’t felt tired for over six months.

  2. I ached. My joints ached, my back, knees and feet hurt and this, combined with a flare up of plantar fasciitis and hip bursitis, had me rolling out of bed each morning like a 90 year old. I ached in a way that I hadn’t ached for over six months.

  3. I felt ill. I was bloated and puffy, reflux was keeping me up at night, skin tags were starting to reappear along with dark circles under my eyes, my bowel was irritable and, quite frankly, so was I. I felt ill in a way that I hadn’t felt ill for over six months.

  4. I over ate. My appetite increased, slowly at first, but then quite rapidly the more I reintroduced non-Keto foods. I over ate in a way that I hadn’t over eaten for over six months.

  5. I missed Keto. Eating nutrient rich food that fills both tummy and soul. Not having to take medication on a daily basis to keep the symptoms of metabolic disease at bay. Feeling in control of my appetite, my health, my life. I missed Keto and all the accompanying benefits I had experienced over the previous six months.

Upon reflection, everything I discussed above really doesn’t come as a great surprise, perhaps with the exception of just how easy it was to fall back into old eating patterns. What was surprising though was that throughout my six week break, I craved all things Keto. I craved steak in a way that was far greater than any craving I ever had for sugar and carbs during my initial two weeks of adjusting to a Ketogenic diet.

Don’t worry, I’m not about to go on to lecture everyone about following a strict Ketogenic diet. Nor am I going to club you all over the head with the wonders of a Ketogenic lifestyle. After all, you’re all here on the Ketogenic Forums because you’ve come to that realisation on your own.

I am simply sharing this experience to demonstrate how easily a little nibble on carbage here and there combined with a little break in the keto mind set now and again can snowball from a snack, to a meal, to a day, to a week and so on.

So what can you do if you find yourself in a similar situation? First and foremost, I’d suggest you find a way to continue with Keto. If however, like me, you learn this lesson the hard way, then go back to the basics:

  • Eat less than 20 grams (net) carbohydrates; approximately 1-1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of lean body mass and fat to satiety each day

  • Drink plenty of water and allow yourself to sleep as your body recovers

  • Donate any remaining non-Keto foods to a local food bank or homeless shelter, hide it or throw it away

  • Prep Keto snacks and meals in advance so you don’t have to think about where your next meal is coming from

  • If you’ve been absent, re-engage with the Ketogenic Forums and the wonderfully supportive community here

  • And most importantly? Keep calm and Keto on!

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(Keto in Katy) #2

Well said.

Been there, done that, not worth it. Feeling great is better than any temporary enjoyment of some old favored carby thing.

(Michelle) #3

Great note. Thanks for sharing your journey on this. I have a big vacation coming up, and very worried about falling off keto, but I would like to stay keto as much as possible!! My vacationing companions will definitely try to pressure me into “just having this one thing” and “this won’t hurt you”.


(Paula Green) #4

Thanks for sharing. Sometimes it’s good to have a reminder of why we eat the way we do… i can imagine it was very easy for two weeks to turn into six :slight_smile:

(Richard Morris) #5

I regret that I have only one like for that post … maybe it might get into a podcast :slight_smile:

(Dustin Cade) #6

I think an important take away from this post is that for those of us before keto didn’t know how bad we really felt… going Keto you begin to really feel alive, clear, hopeful even. I think even this is taken for granted till there is a slip up, perhaps too many carbs in a sitting or something supposedly carb friendly turns out to be not so friendly and we feel it… I think this journey as in life in general, until we experience something there is no way for us to full understand it!

thank you for sharing this with us!

(Keto in Katy) #7

Yes. It’s a really good post because I think many of us have gotten off the road at times, and struggled with that. It’s not a personal failure, just a slight detour. Get back on the road as quick as you can and you’ll be fine again.

This concludes my keto driving metaphor. :smile:


Preach it brother!

My personal motto is: Own it. Learn from it. Relinquish it.

Take responsibility for your actions, there’s no point in blaming others for your choices. They’re yours and yours alone. Others may influence the choices available to us, but at the end of the day, its still our choice to make. Take the time to reflect on your actions; the circumstances around the situation, your behaviour and response to it. Then let it go. Regretting your actions is a waste of time, you can’t change the past. Same goes for guilt. Hanging on to negative emotions only holds you back from achieving great things. OLR peeps. O.L.R. :+1:


What a fantastic write up! I’m going to use this for my other posts.

The pain in my joints alone deters me from carbs. It’s incredible how when you find how to feel better, going back to eating the old way is so obviously wrong. For me anyways it is.

(Jennifer) #10

Thanks for your post. Staying in tune with your body is really important. I had a bad day a few days ago and ate a few too many pieces of keto peanut butter fudge. I was tired, felt like crap and bloated just from one day! Low carb per serving items add up quickly when you eat half the pan! Even those that are mostly keto. Fasting is now my “get back in the zone, fool!” quick fix. KCKO!

(Roxanne) #11

I have similar concerns about a trip to France this summer…on our last trip there, we made daily trips to the bakery for awesome almond croissants, baguettes, etc. and I know I will be sorely tempted. Not to mention the copious quantities of wine. ON the other hand, this time I will thoroughly indulge in the wonderful cheeses!

(Dustin Cade) #12

everyday I am amazed at my continued ability to KCKO… I mean even on those days where i am like “i dont care… I’m going to have extra onions with my steak and eggs” is still not i’m going to go get whatever carby junk food i used to fall back on… I do not think there is another way of eating or diet or whatever else on the planet that i would have this level of success/stability

(David) #13

I agree with what you say, particularly the bit about this forum. It has become a daily touchstone for me to keep me thinking in the right way about food.


Well said, thanks for sharing. It reminds me of my own experience towards the end of last year. My parents came to visit in the autumn and I decided I wouldn’t be strict LCHF while they were staying and reintroduced some baked goods, “temporarily”. Then it was Christmas time, and I wanted to enjoy my mince pies and mulled wine and other Christmas treats…I never thought I was going particularly crazy on the carbage and I was wondering why I was feeling achey and tired all the time, then come New Year when I got properly back on the horse all the bleh went away within 2 days and it was a big lightbulb moment. A valuable lesson! In some ways I think it’s good to be reminded of why you persist with keto, it’s easy to forget how rubbish the high carb version of normal can be.


Great post @KetoKate xxx

I have been down this road a few times. My problem is going back to visit friends and family in the UK. In the past, it has always been my opportunity to have old favourites that I can’t get here. That is not the case now and friends and family know that yet I still get served up carbs. Not wanting to make a fuss, I tend to just eat what is on offer. My brother even said, “oh is this OK for you. I forgot to ask”. Well no actually but I don’t want to make a fuss so… Then of course the addiction gets its claws back in and one small “not making a fuss” turns into another and another and then I am loading my case up for the return back to France with salt and vinegar crisps, hot cross buns and chocolate.

But then the backlash catches up. The migraines start up again and my mood plummets. Not only am I in a post family visit fragile mental state but the impact of the carbs is now doing its work too. All I want to do is sleep and hide away. The feelings of dread rear up and I shut down, close out the world and try and sleep myself into not being awake because being awake is too damn hard.

Fortunately I have footholds now on the side of this pit. Some are provided by my counsellor who I see online regularly. The rest I put there when I am well. I just need to shine a light back on them to see my way out. First step - back on keto. I know it will get me back to normal and it is way easier to implement than I would have believed years ago when I was totally lost. Gradually my mood improves, my migraines go and I start coming back to being me again. That downward spiral can be stopped and slowly turned back to go the other way.

The more work I do with my counsellor and the longer I am keto, the more I have come to value myself. I should be honouring myself not sucking up toxic carbage just so as to “not make a fuss”. This wont be happening again. I have two visits planned in May and July - neither of which are going to be easy because my step father is very ill. However, my mental health is important. I am important. I will be preparing this time by sending an email to friends and family to let them know that I simply cannot eat carbs. To do so makes me ill. It really isn’t a big deal and I can work around what they are having and simply take my own food if necessary.

There comes a point when it is simply not worth it. There comes a point when you ARE worth it, when you realise that your health and happiness is as important as other people’s and that you need to strive to protect it. Even if that means making a fuss :wink:


Couldn’t have said it better myself!!

(Patty W) #17

And charcuterie…and pate. The French can do amazing things with meat!

(David) #18

Great Point Dustin.


@Daisy - Could you perhaps share some keto recipes with your family and friends and/or offer to cook one or two meals? It can be hard to come up with ideas if you’re not used to this way of eating, sparing people having to think and giving some examples to work with might make it easier to find a happy middle ground for everyone.

(Duncan Kerridge) #20

Just don’t even look in the patisserie windows, the French are masters of making appealing looking cakes! I succumbed on holiday there a couple of months ago and ate a huge slab of chocolate cake, tbh I was over it after a couple of bites but couldn’t stop. Haven’t felt so lethargic and bloated in the hours following for months and months. Lesson learnt.