Cyclical Ketogenic Diet also known as CKD is one form of ketogenic diet. You may already know that a ketogenic diet (low carbohydrate, high fat and moderate protein diet) is designed to put your body into a state of nutritional ketosis. During nutritional ketosis, you use fat instead of glucose for your energy requirements. This makes ketogenic diets effective weight loss tools and they also provide various health benefits. Standard ketogenic diet is commonly followed for weight loss and to manage other health conditions. Cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD), targeted ketogenic diet are other variations of the Keto diet.
What is cyclical ketogenic diet?
In a cyclical ketogenic diet, periods of low carbohydrate consumption are alternated with periods of high or moderate carbohydrate consumption. The periods during which you consume high or moderate amount of carbohydrates in a cyclical ketogenic diet are called re-feed periods.
During the re-feed phase of cyclical ketogenic diet, the carbohydrates you consume are directly converted into glycogen stores in your muscles. Unlike normal conditions, the carbohydrates are not converted into fat. This is due to the fact that your glycogen stores had been completely depleted due to nutritional ketosis induced during the low carbohydrate consumption phase of the diet.
The cyclical ketogenic diet is designed to make you lose maximum amount of fat while you are also able to perform high-intensity exercises and build muscle. If you want to build muscle then I strongly recommend Cyclical Ketogenic Diet as in order to grow your muscles you must refill the depleted glycogen which can be done by taking moderate to high amount of carbs.
When should you do the cyclical ketogenic diet and when should you avoid it?
Cyclical ketogenic diet is recommended for body builders and athletes. The high carbohydrate days of the diet will help fuel high-intensity workouts, which will help them, build muscle and burn fat.
Cyclical ketogenic diet is not recommended for people who are on ketogenic diet to control disease conditions such as hyperinsulinemia and hypertension, as there are chances that the conditions may get worse.
Further, if you are just beginning your training for muscle building or to perform athletics you should avoid cyclical ketogenic diet. This diet is not for beginners who cannot perform the intense workouts during the low carbohydrate days. To avoid accumulation of fat, performing high-intensity work outs during low carbohydrate days is essential. This will ensure that you burn all the glycogen stores you have accumulated during the re-feed days.
How does the cyclical ketogenic diet work?
The cyclical ketogenic diet works by alternating low carbohydrate days with high carbohydrate days to help lose fat and gain muscle. Insulin is produced when glucose is detected in the blood stream and it helps in burning glucose and in the storage of glucose. During the low carbohydrate days, there is less production of insulin.
During the high carbohydrate days, insulin levels increase to ensure that the glycogen stores in the muscle are refilled. The high carbohydrate days help fuel the intense workouts you perform during the low carbohydrate days when your body is in the state of ketosis. During the high carbohydrate days, your body is temporarily relieved from the ketotic state and the glycogen stores in your muscles are replenished.
While following this diet, it is also important that you do intense workouts throughout so that the entire glycogen stores are burnt into energy to prevent the excess glycogen from being converted to fat and get stored in the body.
How to follow a cyclical ketogenic diet plan?
It is recommended that you follow the standard ketogenic diet for a couple of weeks before starting on the cyclical ketogenic diet. For the cyclical ketogenic diet, you follow 5 days of low carbohydrate ketogenic diet followed by 1-2 days when you consume a high carbohydrate diet. If you are performing high-intensity exercises at the gym and you feel that your glycogen reserves are going down you can add a carbohydrate re-feed day in between your week.
People have also tried a 2-week cyclical ketogenic diet, where you are on a low carbohydrate diet for 12 days followed by 3-4 days of carbohydrate re-feeding. However, it is less convenient compared to a weekly cyclical ketogenic diet.
During your high carbohydrate days make sure carbohydrates constitute 60-70% of your diet. It is ideal to eat a high carbohydrate, high protein, and low-fat diet. It is recommended that you start your re-feed on Friday nights and continue it through out Saturday. You can then re-enter the low carbohydrate phase on Sunday and continue it throughout the week.
Eating sweet potatoes, legumes, oats and green vegetables as your carbohydrate source during your high carbohydrate days is really effective. During your carbohydrate re-feed days, you will tend to retain water which can increase your weight. For every one gram of carbohydrate, you may retain 4 g of water. You should not worry about this as you will eventually lose this weight during your low carbohydrate days.
During the low carbohydrate days, it is recommended that you limit your carbohydrate consumption to 30 g per day. This ensures that you enter into ketosis and derive your energy requirements from fat and proteins in your diet. You should eat lots of fibrous vegetables, greens and lots of proteins. Meats, eggs and oily fish are good sources of fat and proteins. During the first two days of your low carbohydrate diet, it is recommended that your diet constitutes 80% of fats and 20% of proteins and devoid of carbohydrates. It is advised that you consume less protein as protein can also convert into glucose slowing down the onset of ketosis. During the next 2-3 days, your diet should constitute 65 % of fat, 30% of protein and 5% of carbohydrate containing foods. To prevent constipation it is better that you consume fibrous vegetables as your carbohydrate source.
You should ensure that you plan your workout schedule such that you burn all your glycogen stores that you have gained during your re-feed phase of your dieting. For an effective workout, if you are exercising with moderate weights you should do 5-6 sets and if you are exercising with heavy weights you should do 2-3 sets.
Advantages of cyclical ketogenic diet over standard ketogenic diet
- During standard ketogenic diet due to calorie restriction your metabolism slows down and your thyroid hormones levels also go down. When following the cyclical ketogenic diet, during the carbohydrate re-feed days your insulin and thyroid hormones levels go up which can spike up your metabolic rate and you tend to lose more weight.
- Compared to normal high carbohydrate diets you will build more muscle when following the cyclical ketogenic diet.
- Your carbohydrate re-feed days help you indulge in your carbohydrate cravings. You can also plan social events during your carbohydrate re-feed days. This will increase your compliance to the diet.
Hope you learn something about Cyclical Ketogenic Diet. As always for any specific question, please drop a comment below and I would be happy to answer!