Eating too much sugar can definitely kick you out of ketosis. Here’s a detailed look at how sugar impacts ketosis and what you need to know about staying in ketosis while consuming some sugar.
How sugar impacts ketosis
On a ketogenic diet, you severely restrict carbs to induce ketosis, a state where your body burns fat for fuel.
This typically means limiting net carbs to fewer than 20 grams per day.
Sugar is a carb and contains 4 calories per gram, just like other carbs.
Any sugars you eat will count towards your daily carb limit.
Exceeding your carb limit will hamper ketosis. Your body will burn through the glucose from sugar first before returning to burning fat and producing ketones.
Additionally, sugar spikes insulin, the hormone responsible for shuttling glucose into cells. High insulin levels inhibit ketone production and fat burning.
So eating sugar can quickly halt fat burning and ketosis.
Amount of sugar that impacts ketosis
The amount of sugar that will kick you out of ketosis depends on a few factors:
- Carb limit – The lower your carb limit, the smaller the impact from sugar. Those on a 20g net carb limit will be knocked out faster than those that can consume up to 50 grams and remain in ketosis.
- Insulin sensitivity – Individuals with better insulin sensitivity may stay in ketosis at slightly higher sugar intakes.
- Activity levels – Exercising and fasting helps use up glycogen stores and return to ketosis faster after a sugar intake.
- Type of sugar – Simple sugars like glucose and fructose will impact ketosis faster than complex carbs like starch.
As a general guideline, consuming over 10 g net carbs from sugar in one sitting will halt ketosis for most people, this may lead to a keto stall.
Spreading sugar intake over the day causes less disruption.
Staying in ketosis with some sugar
While sugar can quickly stop ketone production, you can still remain in ketosis most of the time while occasionally having small amounts of sugar.
Before we get into this, please be aware that we do not advocate eating sugar whilst trying to eat a keto diet, however, we are realistic that sticking to a keto diet 100% of the time is not for everybody.
Here are some tips:
- Account for it in your carb limit – If you stay below your total daily carb limit, having a small serving of sugar from time to time is fine.
- Mind your portions – Stick to very small sugar portions of 5-10 g net carbs or less per serving.
- Space it out – Have sweets with a few hours between them rather than all at once.
- Time it well – Having something sweet after a workout or during fasting helps minimize the impact.
- Go for safer sweeteners – Some keto-friendly sugar substitutes like erythritol have minimal impact on ketosis.
Wrapping Up: Will Eating Sugar Kick Me Out Of Ketosis?
Consuming too much sugar can quickly halt ketosis by spiking blood glucose and insulin. To stay in ketosis, limit net carbs from sugar to 10 g or less per sitting and stay below your carb limit for the day. An occasional small sweet treat carefully planned into your diet shouldn’t kick you out of ketosis.
Having a cheat day with significant sugar intake will likely take you out of ketosis temporarily. But for most people, ketosis can quickly be regained within a day or two by returning to a low-carb diet. Exercising, fasting intermittently, and eating keto-friendly alternatives to carbs can all help speed up the process of getting back into ketosis after a sugar binge.
Some people do find that eating any amount of sugar triggers cravings and makes sticking to keto difficult. If you notice this happening to you, it may be best to avoid sugar completely.
With practice, cravings typically subside within a few weeks of eliminating sugar. Finding tasty low-carb substitutes for higher sugar foods can also help curb cravings.
Overall, an occasional small serving of sugar won’t sabotage your keto diet if you account for it in your daily carb limit.
However, overdoing sugar intake regularly will prevent you from becoming fat-adapted and reaping the full benefits of nutritional ketosis.