There are plenty of ways to achieve ketosis, limit carbohydrates, and lose weight successfully. There are also many different personal situations that may suit different styles of the ketogenic diet and the cyclic ketogenic diet is one that presents itself as an option for consideration.
What is the Cyclic Ketogenic Diet Approach?
The cyclic ketogenic diet (CKD) is a twist on the standard ketogenic diet (SKD). Rather than being in a constant state of ketosis by limiting dietary carbohydrate to below 25g day in day out, on a CKD, you would restrict carbohydrates for a period and then break this with a period of carbohydrate loading (60-70% of calories as carbohydrate).
The primary aim of the cyclic ketogenic diet is to deplete and refill the body’s glycogen stores through carb cycling. For this reason, this method is better suited to somebody experienced with a ketogenic diet due to the limited amount of time you will have to transition from burning glucose to burning fat for fuel – being fat-adapted will be of benefit here. Because of the glycogen depletion and refill that occurs, CKD can be useful in some specific situations (i.e. athletic performance and high-intensity workouts). (1)
Who is this good for?
- An experienced trainer trying to build lean muscle.
- An athlete that requires performance at high intensity.
Example Cyclic Ketogenic Diet Routine
- Monday – Friday is a standard ketogenic diet
- Saturday – 50% of calories as carbohydrates (usual protein intake) rest as fat
- Sunday – 40% of calories as carbohydrates (usual protein intake) rest as fat
The Downside of a CKD
The CKD is a tool for the more advanced user, it requires knowledge of both the ketogenic diet and how your body reacts to it for you to achieve optimal results. If you have been on a ketogenic diet for some time and you enjoy the health benefits, hunger suppression, cognitive enhancement, or stable mood that come with a ketogenic diet but require performance in highly glycolytic sports, this may be an option for exploration.
If you are a beginner, we would caution against following a cyclic approach. Because cyclic ketosis requires you to follow a standard keto diet for several days, followed by days where you consume a higher amount of carbs, you will likely struggle to get adapted. Research shows that when following a cyclical keto diet approach, you will struggle to achieve ketosis since your ketone levels will just start to reach the point of metabolic ketosis, before dropping back down due to increasing carb intake. (2)
Final Thoughts on Cyclic Ketogenic Dieting
Following a cyclical approach to the ketogenic diet may be beneficial for certain individuals (like athletes) but should be viewed with caution for normal individuals looking to lose weight or reap the health benefits.
1. Wilson JM, Lowery RP, Roberts MD, Sharp MH, Joy JM, Shields KA, Partl JM, Volek JS, D’Agostino DP. Effects of Ketogenic Dieting on Body Composition, Strength, Power, and Hormonal Profiles in Resistance Training Men. J Strength Cond Res. 2020 Dec;34(12):3463-3474. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001935. PMID: 28399015.
2. Kysel, P., Haluzíková, D., Doležalová, R. P., La?ková, I., Lacinová, Z., Kasperová, B. J., Trnovská, J., Hrádková, V., Mráz, M., Vilikus, Z., & Haluzík, M. (2020). The Influence of Cyclical Ketogenic Reduction Diet vs. Nutritionally Balanced Reduction Diet on Body Composition, Strength, and Endurance Performance in Healthy Young Males: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients, 12(9), 2832. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12092832
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