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The danger of a ‘cheat day’ on the Keto diet

A study has revealed that factoring ‘cheat days’ into your diet could have serious negative consequences for your body that stretch beyond falling short of weight loss goals.

The new research, published by the University of British Columbia Okanagan campus, revealed that taking even just one ‘cheat day’ while on the Keto diet can lead to damaged blood vessels.

The study was carried out on nine healthy young males who were put on a diet similar to that of a modern ketogenic diet for a week. They were asked to have a ‘cheat day’ at the start and at the end of the week, consuming one 75-gram dose of glucose, which is similar to drinking a large fizzy drink or eating a plate of fries.

“Even though these were otherwise healthy young males, when we looked at their blood vessel health after consuming the glucose drink, the results looked like they might have come from someone with poor cardiovascular health,” observed Jonathan Little, the study’s senior author.

“It was somewhat alarming.”

“We were interested in finding out what happens to the body’s physiology once a dose of glucose is reintroduced,” says Cody Durrer, UBC Okanagan doctoral student and study first author. “Since impaired glucose tolerance and spikes in blood sugar levels are known to be associated with an increased risk in cardiovascular disease, it made sense to look at what was happening in the blood vessels after a sugar hit.”

Although the researchers acknowledge that more work and insight is needed to verify their findings on the negative impact of cheat days on the Keto diet, they also point out that the study should make people think twice when considering taking on the Keto diet and mixing it with ‘cheat days’.

“My concern is that many of the people going on a keto diet — whether it’s to lose weight, to treat Type 2 diabetes, or some other health reason — may be undoing some of the positive impacts on their blood vessels if they suddenly blast them with glucose,” Little warned. “Especially if these people are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease in the first place.”

“Our data suggests a ketogenic diet is not something you do for six days a week and take Saturday off.”

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