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How Often Should You Take a Break From Keto?

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  Published on June 28th, 2023
  Reading time: 4 minutes
  Last modified June 14th, 2023
Taking a break from keto with pasta

How often should you take a break from keto? It’s a question many people new to the diet ask, and for a good reason—the idea of adhering to keto indefinitely sounds challenging, or even impossible. From finding delicious low-carb substitutes to navigating social events, sticking to keto long-term may seem overwhelming.. 

Find out whether going off keto for a few days is a good idea and how you can reintroduce carbohydrates in a way that doesn’t affect your health negatively. 

How Often Should You Take a Break From Keto?

While it’s up to you whether you decide to take a break from the keto diet, many experienced individuals do keto cycling, also called the cyclical keto diet, in which they stay keto for 5-6 days followed by 1-2 days of higher carbs. Others stick to keto for 2 weeks or more, then take a 3-day break. 

No matter what you choose, remember that any time you get off keto, it also means you’re not in ketosis anymore. You can confirm this by checking your ketone levels, which you can do at home. 

A word of advice: Make sure you become fat-adapted (which may take 4-12 weeks after starting the keto diet) and metabolically flexible before experimenting with higher-carb days. Once you’ve achieved this, you can easily switch from burning ketones (fat) to glucose (carbs)—and vice versa—for energy.

Is It Good to Have a Break From the Keto Diet?

There are different reasons one might decide to take a timeout from the keto diet, such as exercise performance plateaus, vacations and special occasions, to increase leptin levels temporarily, and to reduce the psychological stress of dieting. 

Let’s dive into each below:

Doing HIIT during a break from keto
  • Exercise performance: You may benefit from a higher carb intake if you do long and high-intensity workouts. You’ll have more energy to sustain your sessions. If you take a high-carb day, make sure you exercise on that day or the following day to quickly deplete those glycogen stores. 
  • Vacations and special occasions: There’s no doubt that many holidays and other occasions are filled with indulgent foods, which makes you want to forgo any food rules. Your goal here isn’t ketosis but to simply enjoy and try non-keto foods, perhaps from other cultures. 
  • Increase leptin levels: Incorporating a few high-carb days into your keto lifestyle can temporarily boost leptin, a hormone produced by your fat cells that helps prevent hunger. [1] In the world of sports, bodybuilders and figure competitors use periodic refeeding (with mostly carbs) to increase leptin and stimulate their metabolic rate. [2]

Has your doctor put you on the keto diet to reverse diabetes or manage epilepsy? Speak with them if you plan on taking a break. 

How to Take a Break From Keto

Eating sweet potato for carbs on keto break

Just because it’s okay to go off a keto diet from time to time doesn’t mean you should go overboard. If you do choose to go higher-carb occasionally, do so thoughtfully by prioritizing whole, minimally processed foods and staying physically active. 

Examples of carbs to eat include sweet potatoes, squash, apples, and bananas. Don’t forget to eat quality protein, such as beef, chicken, and cottage cheese. Note that dietary fats should be lower during high-carb days. That said, limit your intake of butter, MCT oil, bacon, and fatty cuts of meat.

Feeling tired or sluggish due to carbs? Walk for 20-30 minutes after each meal. Do some light cardio, such as cycling, swimming, kayaking, or riding the elliptical machine at a slow to moderate pace. Or if you’re feeling super energized, do a full-body high-intensity workout. 

Getting Back Into Ketosis 

Returning to ketosis after a break should be easy if you’re fat-adapted. Some people cut out their carbs completely while others do it gradually—i.e., lowering carb consumption from 200 grams to 100 grams to 50 grams. 

Whichever approach you prefer, fill up on protein and fats from eggs, meat, and seafood to help with fullness and keep hunger pangs away. Combine this with intermittent fasting and exercise if you want to enter ketosis faster. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I stop keto and start again?

Yes, and this is what keto cycling is all about—alternating between lower-carb and higher-carb days. Just note that adding more carbs will kick you out of ketosis. Also, you should consult your healthcare provider if you’ve been prescribed a keto diet. 

Is it good to break keto once a week?

It depends on your goals and how long you’ve been on the keto diet. For instance, going off keto one day—let’s say every Saturday or Sunday—won’t hurt if your goal is to maximize your workout, which may require more carbs, on that day. 

However, only do this once you’re already metabolically flexible. This way, you can easily switch back to the keto diet the next day without experiencing negative symptoms or spending a long time getting back into ketosis.

What are the hardest days of keto?

The first week of doing keto is the hardest, especially if you’ve been on a high-carb diet for years. Initially, you may experience flu-like symptoms known as the keto flu

What is the fastest way to get back into ketosis?

Besides eating only 20-50 grams of carbs, you can speed up ketosis through exercise and intermittent fasting. 

Can you lose weight doing keto 5 days a week? 

Yes, as long as you properly plan your higher-carb days. This would mean avoiding processed carbs and added sugars and staying physically active. In the short term, however, you might notice bloating—which shows up on the scale—because carbs retain water.

Tiffany is a health writer and registered nurse who believes in low-carb nutrition, exercise, and living simply. She has carefully followed the ketogenic diet (mostly clean keto) since 2019, which helped her lose 44 pounds, heal PCOS, and gain more energy. She hopes to educate and inspire others through her content here at Ketogenic.com and on her personal blog Ketogenic Buddies.



2022, February 23. Leptin: What it is, Function & Levels. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22446-leptin 


Trexler, E. T., Smith-Ryan, A. E., & Norton, L. E. (2014). Metabolic adaptation to weight loss: implications for the athlete. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 11(1), 7. https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-11-7

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