For a lot of people, the keto diet is an absolute godsend.
Not only is there research suggesting it may be effective for treating a number of medical conditions, but when it comes to fat loss, many dieters SWEAR by it. In fact, some would even go as far as to say it’s the only thing that’s worked for them.
But while it might be effective, it’s definitely not easy. Even those who love the diet will admit that at times, it can be challenging to stick with, and over time, the limited food choices can give way to monotony. Combine this with social pressure (good luck eating keto at a Christmas party), and it’s easy to see why so many dieters cheat.
Which brings us to the subject of “cheat pills” otherwise known as carb blockers. These are those “magical” supplements that promise to keep you in ketosis and on your diet while being able to put down all the delicious carbs your heart desires.
So what’s the deal here? Are these supplements something you should look into?
Today we’re going to be talking all about keto cheat pills. Specifically, we’re going to be looking at two of the most popular types on the market today. We’ll also be covering specific supplements, as well as our recommendations for how to PROPERLY cheat on your diet (if you must).
When people think about supplements to beat the system on any kind of low carb diet, this is typically the first thing they think of.
In principle, these supplements sound like an absolutely FANTASTIC tool for cheating on a low carb/ketogenic diet.
However, as we’ll soon find out, the devil is in the details.
Basically, most of these carb blockers work as amylase inhibitors, which inhibit (or “block”) certain enzymes from breaking starches and complex carbohydrates into simple sugars.
The reason this is effective (allegedly) is that by preventing carbs from being broken down into simple sugars, the body is unable to absorb them into the bloodstream, preventing (again, allegedly) fat storage and blood sugar spikes. This leaves the remaining undigested carbohydrates to pass through the system.
Sounds awesome, right? Well, unfortunately it’s not quite that simple.
While studies have shown that SOME of these carb blockers do show some positive benefits for weight loss, they come at a cost. Almost every carb blocker that’s ACTUALLY effective comes with side effects. These include gas, bloating and other forms of gastrointestinal distress (not a pretty sight).
There’s also the question of how effective they actually are. Even if you are willing to deal with the side effects, at the end of the day, these products won’t work miracles. And taking a carb blocker with a huge bowl of pasta won’t negate most of its negative effects (and it definitely won’t work well enough to keep you from falling out of ketosis).
Unlike carb blockers, exogenous ketones don’t “block” anything. Rather, these are essentially ketones that are made outside the body (hence the term “exogenous”). Typically taken orally, they are simply designed to enhance the total amount of ketones within the body once ingested.
If you’re reading this article, you’re probably quite familiar with the concept of ketones. But in case you’re coming at this as a complete newbie, this is the primary fuel source used by the body when it switches from its default state of burning glucose for fuel. This is driven through a process known as beta-oxidization, in which the body breaks down fat, forming these ketone bodies as a byproduct.
The idea is that by taking exogenous ketones with glucose-heavy food, you can cheat the system and ensure that your body remains in ketosis
Like carb blockers, exogenous ketones SOUND like a fantastic little hack, but again, the devil’s in the details.
Because while the production of ketones is a requirement for being in ketosis, it doesn’t necessarily cause it. The only way to actually reliably be in this state is by removing the availability of glucose for fuel (i.e. by removing carbohydrates from your diet).
Now that we’ve established the two main types, let’s shift gears and start talking about SPECIFIC popular supplements on the market today that you may be familiar with.
While all of these products are different, what they have in common is there ability (allegedly) to “turbocharge” your ketogenic diet and make it easier for you in some way.
Enter Keto by Upfront Nutrition
Enter Keto is a supplement that claims to assist in the process of getting into ketosis (the state in which your body preferentially burns ketones for fuel instead of glucose).
In terms of its classification, Enter Keto fits into the category of exogenous ketone. The product delivers “beta hydroxybutyrate”, which is one of the main types of ketones (the others being acetoacetate and acetone). Hydroxybutyrate is a fairly common component of most exogenous ketone supplements, since it’s generally considered to be a more stable fuel source than the other two.
Take a quick glance at the sales page for Enter Keto by Upfront Nutrition, and you’ll be told all about not only the virtues of being in ketosis (specifically for enhanced fat burning), but also the the ability of this supplement to help get you into that state.
Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re quite familiar with the benefits of being in ketosis – the question is, will this PRODUCT actually help.
Well, before you get too excited, here’s the reality of the situation – getting into this state is primarily a matter of controlling carbohydrates (and to an extent protein) via food intake. Remember, ketone production is a requirement of ketosis, but not the sole cause.
So if you think you’re simply going to pop this pill and not have to do any of the leg work on diet, you’re mistaken.
Now, does that mean that this product is useless? Not necessarily. In the event that you do cheat on your diet and knock yourself out of ketosis, taking in beta hydroxybutyrate MAY assist you in getting BACK into the ketogenic state a little faster.
But again, this HAS to be paired with diet.
Keto Ultra Diet
Keto Ultra Diet is another product that fits into the category of exogenous ketone. Like Enter Keto, the main player in this particular supplement appears to be beta hydroxybutyrate (you’ll notice that most exogenous products rely on this)
Most of the “reviews” surrounding Keto Ultra Diet tend to focus on the same alleged benefits as Enter Keto. This is mainly the enhanced ability to help get the body into a state of ketosis, and to activate a lot of the fat burning processes that this brings.
However, there’s also a focus on the tertiary benefits of taking a supplement like this. These include things like enhanced mental focus and more stable energy.
And it’s technically true. One of the common complains most people have prior to making keto part of their life are the constant energy crashes and brain fog that can come from eating a diet high in processed carbohydrates.
But here’s the thing – better energy, focus and mood is specifically a bi-product of ketosis – NOT taking exogenous ketones. Because while this supplement may (again, MAY) help you get into this state a little faster, it certainly won’t do it for you if you don’t have your carbohydrate intake in check.
And quite frankly, at almost $70, you’d be better off just sticking to diet.
Sheer Keto CHEAT
Unlike the first two supplements, Keto CHEAT is not an exogenous ketone, and fits firmly into the category of carb blocker.
And based on the description, it appears that, while they may use the name “keto” in the title, this is basically constructed like any other carb blocker (with the word “keto” most likely thrown in to cash in on the trend). The purported benefits advertised on the bottle include “blocking carb absorption”, “mitigating cheat meal damage”, and “supporting weight loss”.
All pretty standard stuff. And unfortunately, that’s where the problem lies. Because as we’ve previously discussed, any carb blocker that actually works a.) won’t be nearly as effective as you think, and b.) will likely come with a host of nasty side effects.
Keto CHEAT, however, does have ONE thing going for it – the inclusion of green tea as one of the ingredients. Green tea extract, in case you’re unaware, is one of the few fat burning ingredients out there that’s actually legit.
Unfortunately, the dosage included in Keto CHEAT definitely isn’t high enough to have much of an effect, and quite frankly you’d be better off just buying green tea extract separately given how cheap it is.
NutraSmart Keto One
Out of all the supplements on this list, the marketing content of Keto One by NutraSmart was the most vague on what this supplement actually does. Their website content shows that they’re big on pushing the benefits of ketosis – enhanced fat burning, better metabolic performance, etc.
Again, if you’re reading this article, chances are this isn’t news to you. The benefits of being in a ketogenic state have been well documented, and a lot of very exciting research is coming out regarding the benefits of eating this way.
At this point you’ve probably noticed a pattern emerging – remember, the issue isn’t whether or not being in ketosis is beneficial (it is). The issue is whether or not the supplement in question will ACTUALLY help.
Unfortunately for NutraSmart, there’s really not a lot going on in Keto One that helps distinguish it from the other exogenous ketones on this list, with this supplement making use of standard beta hydroxybutyrate.
The good news, however, is that it includes green tea and caffeine, both of which have been shown to enhance fat burning. Much like Keto CHEAT, however, the dosage of green tea isn’t high enough to have much effect.
As for the caffeine? Well, quite frankly for the amount of money they’re charging for this supplement, you’d probably be better off just having a cup of coffee before your workout.
Trim Pill Keto
Last but not least, we have Trim Pill Keto – another exogenous ketone supplement promising to “increase energy”, “reduce belly fat”, and “cleanse your system” (whatever that means).
All in all, this is pretty standard stuff – and if you guessed that this was going to be a beta hydroxybutyrate-based supplement, you would be correct.
Like Keto One, this one does have a few extra ingredients thrown in their for good measure. One in particular that stands out is Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) oil.
And make no mistake, MCT oil is awesome, and it’s a staple that should be included in the diet of anyone doing keto.
But, as you probably guessed, much like the green tea and caffeine in Keto One, this product suffers from a serious dosage problem, with two Trim Pill Keto capsules containing well under 700 mg.
In other words, there’s not enough in there for it to do a whole hell of a lot (save your money and pick up a bottle of straight MCT oil.
How To Cheat The RIGHT Way
So far, we’ve established that the use of exogenous ketones and carb blockers for the purpose of cheating on your diet can be described as “suboptimal” (at best).
So, what other options does that leave you with? What are some things you can do in order to break away from your strict diet for a while and still “get away with it”?
The first principle to understand is the key phrase “once in a while”. At the end of the day, if you’re having a cheat meal a few times a month, it’s certainly not going to kill you – simply accept that, during these periods, you will temporarily come out of ketosis.
Again, not a lot of harm done.
If, however, you find that maintaining a strict, 100% ketogenic eating plan on a regular basis is too difficult, but you still want a lot of the benefits that come with it, you may want to consider a modified approach.
One of the best ways to go about this is by going with a “cyclical” diet. The idea is simple – you alternate between long periods of strict, ketogenic eating, followed by short “re-feeds”, switching temporarily to a high carb diet to replace glycogen.
The most common setup is five days of keto followed by two days of high carb. Rinse and repeat.
And while you may not get all the befits with this approach, it is undoubtably easier (especially if you’re just starting out).
Finally, if you just want to break up the monotony, consider adding in some keto-friendly treats. Using products like almond powder and coconut milk, you can easily make a number of alternative breads and baked goods that, at the very least, will keep things interesting for you.