The Cyclical Ketogenic Diet

People have always looked to have some sort of a secret weapon when it comes to dieting. Whether you are an outstanding athlete, someone who wants to shed a few extra pounds, or someone who simply wants to take their health more seriously. We all need to make adjustments in our diets once in awhile in order for our bodies to do what we are  asking of them. However In recent years there have been many “fad diets” that not only do not work, but also have no scientific backing. From the werewolf diet to the raw food diet, there is no doubt that people will try anything in order to get the results that they want. So what if there was a diet that could allow you to have significant weight loss, could allow you to eat things that actually taste good, and would help you in your  athletic training as well? It would seem too good to be true, but it’s not. Enter the Cyclical Ketogenic Diet.

The Cyclical Ketogenic diet has revolutionized the way people can manage their weight by helping them lose fat, and also improve their athletic performance as well. It can also be an effective tool for those looking to build muscle. If you had ever heard that you can’t build muscle on a ketogenic diet then you are sorely mistaken. If followed correctly this diet could be just the ticket for those explosive and lean gains you were looking for.

How’s this Different from a Standard Ketogenic Diet

A common question is what the difference is between a standard ketogenic diet and the cyclical ketogenic diet?  There are several differences, the main being that you cycle between a ketogenic diet and high carbohydrate intake periods. This allows the body to refill its glycogen stores which are very important especially when you are training at a high intensity. These periods of high carb intake are usually spread over two full days out of the week. There have also been people who have experimented with two week cycles with three to four days of high carbohydrate intake. This allows the body to get the carbohydrates  that it needs while still remaining in a state of ketosis. But what is ketosis?

What Exactly is Ketosis

Ketosis is a natural metabolic state that takes place in the body. This state results in the body when there is not enough available glucose to be converted to energy. The body makes up for the lack of energy by burning fat instead.  This burning of fat causes acids called ketones to build up in the body. This is possibly one of the most effective methods of weight loss because the weight lost consists of a high percentage of fat and not water. This is only one of the benefits of ketosis however.

There are many benefits that one can obtain from reaching ketosis. One aspect of this diet that makes so incredibly effective is that being in a state of ketosis curbs your appetite. This is partly because the high fat, high protein foods you are eating take longer to digest. If you are someone who dreads the misery of being hungry constantly while trying to lose weight then this could be a solution for you. Being that ketogenic diets are very low in carbs allows you to lose weight much faster. The low amount of carbohydrates in the diet causes the insulin levels in the blood to drop. This causes the kidneys to get rid of excess sodium resulting in rapid weight loss. This weight loss can also be more prominent in the abdominal cavity because the visceral fat around your organs can cause insulin resistance. So even if you just want to shed a few extra pounds around your midsection you can in turn reap the benefits of lowering your risk for type II diabetes in the process.

How do you get Into Ketosis

Entering Ketosis is not an instantaneous process.  To fully enter ketosis takes a total of two days with extremely limited carbohydrates. This is because the body is only able to store two days worth of glucose in the blood and muscles. So how does one know that they are in ketosis? There are several signs that can key you in on whether you have entered ketosis. The first and most noticeable is fatigue. You may feel lethargic for the first few days after entering ketosis. Many people think that this is a permanent feeling associated with ketosis and often abandon their diets early on. What people don’t realize is that this is a completely normal feeling associated with  the first stages of starting your ketogenic diet. This is not a prolonged state. It simply takes time for your body to adjust to a relatively dramatic change in what it is using to convert to energy.

Being knocked out of ketosis can have dramatic effects on your body. Not only can it drastically slow, or stop weight loss it can also result in one feeling ill. Luckily with the cyclical ketogenic diet you are able to eat carbs during certain parts of the cycle. Not only can this satisfy the craving for carbs, it can also make the effects of getting knocked out of ketosis less dramatic.

Which Diet Should I follow

There are some key differences between standard ketogenic and cyclical ketogenic diets that make the diets taper to the needs of certain people. Standard consists of constant low carb high fat and protein intake. This causes the body to be in  a constant state of ketosis. This basically means that your body is going to be constantly burning fat as its primary energy source. There are some obvious cons from maintaining this state over a long period of time. A few of these cons are that mineral deficiencies can occur if you’re not careful. It is also hard to maintain a balance of electrolytes because your body is not holding on to excess water. This in turn flushes the salt from your body. This can make it difficult to train while maintaining this diet. Another con of this diet is that it is just plain difficult to maintain at times. You can pretty much forget about having a cold beer on the weekend or having some potatoes with your steak. This is one of the reasons that the cyclical ketogenic is much easier to be consistent at.

With the cyclical ketogenic diet you are speeding up your metabolic rate dramatically by the phases of cutting out carbs. This causes your body to burn fat. However when you do finally eat the carbs you have been craving, your body is very efficient with processing them. Your body will use these carbs to top off your glycogen stores and spike your insulin levels. This will make your body able to increase its vascularity and make your skin thinner, giving you that cut look you’ve been looking for. The glycogen stores than you would normally obtain from a constantly high carb diet are not nearly as significant as during the carb feeds of a cyclical diet. This allows you to train even harder and see results much more quickly.  

What Foods can I eat with a Cyclical Ketogenic Diet

There are many foods one can eat while on a ketogenic diet. Foods that you normally would limit can be eaten in much greater proportions in order to meet your caloric and nutritional needs. In order to obtain enough calories without the addition of carbs you must be consuming a greater amount of fat. This is because fat will be your primary energy source.  Meat and seafood are very keto friendly foods. This is because not only do they contain high protein, they also contain high amounts of saturated fat and omega-3’s which are essential to successfully maintain ketosis. Vegetables are very important to eat while on this diet in order to avoid vitamin and mineral deficiencies. However you should stick to low carb vegetables such as broccoli kale or cauliflower. High carb vegetables such as yams and potatoes should be avoided. You should also consider using more saturated fat in cooking. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature such as butter or coconut oil. Coconut and palm oil in particular are an excellent source of medium chain triglycerides. Medium chain triglycerides are triglycerides that are very easily processed by the body because they are passively absorbed through the GI tract. This  is unlike long chain triglycerides that are found in milk and dairy products  which are processed through the lymphatic system. MCT’s have also been shown to improve oxidation in the blood and help with fat loss. There are certain fats one should avoid on keto however. Refined fats such as margarine, canola oil, and other trans fats are not easily digested by the body. This causes Your body to raise its low density cholesterol levels or (bad cholesterol) and lower its high density cholesterol levels or (good cholesterol). This can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke in addition to these fats having little nutritional value.

What Foods Should I Avoid?

Avoiding carbs can be one of the most difficult parts of maintaining a ketogenic diet. Luckily you won’t have to give up carbs completely. There are some ways to make the avoidance of carbohydrates easier during your keto phases. There are many foods that contain lots of carbs that you wouldn’t necessarily be aware of. When most people think of cutting out carbs they think that they just can’t eat bread or grains. This is very untrue, There are many other foods that should be avoided in order to maintain ketosis. Sugar contains a high amount of carbs. Soda and sweetened fruit juice contain a massive amount of carbohydrates and should be avoided. Milk also contains a lot of carbs. Using almond milk or heavy cream in coffee can help cut out some of the carbs you  would normally get from milk. Some strategies for avoiding carbs are possibly asking for grilled veggies instead of potatoes/french fries when eating at a restaurant.  Using  a sugar free substitute can help tackle cravings  if you are someone who really enjoys a sweet drink.  Eggs are also a great food to eat when trying to avoid carbs. Not only are they a very versatile breakfast food, they can also serve as a high density snack at any time of the day.  These are just some of the helpful strategies that can be used to avoid carbs, but you have to find what works for you and tailor your diet to your personal needs.

How will a Cyclical Ketogenic Diet Impact My Training

Training while on the cyclical ketogenic diet is something that should be planned in advance. A program should be developed in order to gain the greatest results from your training and diet.  High intensity exercise is something that you should not do every day on the CKD. The reason being that there is a limited amount of glycogen stores in your body during the low carb portion of your cycle. When you do High intensity exercises your body is burning mostly glycogen. If you use up your glycogen stores early on in the cycle by doing high intensity exercise many days of the week, then you will most likely feel drained the rest of the week. This could diminish your results because it could affect your performance throughout the week. This is not to say that you should take high intensity work completely out of the equation. The high intensity parts of your workout should be towards the end of your keto cycle just before your carb refeed. By doing this you will prevent your body from going without glycogen stores for the entire week. It will also allow your body to recover more quickly from the carbs that you are intaking following the high intensity work.

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise is another story.  Low intensity aerobic exercise can be done at any time during the phase. This is because when doing low intensity aerobics the body’s main fuel source is fat. This will increase your fat loss without depleting your glycogen stores too much. Since you are not depleting your glycogen stores you will also be able to weight train at peak performance and still gain muscle while simultaneously losing fat. There are not many programs that would can allow you to do this. Another benefit to doing aerobic exercise is that it will increase your capillary beds. What this does is increase blood flow to your muscles in turn giving them the nutrients and oxygen they need more efficiently. Not only will this increase your endurance and performance, it will also increase your gains and decrease your recovery time.

When to Eat Carbs to Optimize My Training

When training on the cyclical ketogenic diet you need to base your carb feeds on a time schedule that works for you. Everyone’s schedule is different, but it is crucial that you arrange your program in such a way that you can be as consistent as possible. Your carb feeds will be most effective if they take place shortly after high intensity workouts. Many people make it so that their carb feeds fall on the weekends. This is helpful in sticking to your diet. If your carb feed is in the middle of the week it will be more likely to splurge on the weekend knocking yourself out of ketosis at the wrong time. Doing this is counterproductive and requires much more effort to get back into ketosis.

There are many effects that this diet will have on your training, short term and long term. Ketogenic diets also affect different people in different ways as well. This is not to say that you won’t get positive results from following this program, It simply means that the rate at which your body transitions could be different based on your physiology. In the first few days of this diet some people will feel very groggy and can feel a bit out of it. You might also see a temporary drop in performance. This feeling can last longer for some people or does not occur at all. However this is not a permanent state. This is only the transition stage of the diet caused by your body changing its metabolism and primary fuel source from glycogen to ketones.  But how will this help you in achieving your long term training goals? Depending on what your specific goals are the CKD can be an effective tool in helping you reach them. If you are an endurance athlete this diet has the ability to help you tremendously. There have been studies that have shown that ketogenic athletes have had a better ability to maintain a constant pace for longer periods of time than athletes on a high carb diet. However on the cyclical ketogenic diet not only will you be given the benefit of increased endurance, you will also be able to push your body through threshold workouts and competitions because of the energy you are getting from your carb feeds. Bodybuilders are also a group that can see many benefits from consistently following a  cyclical ketogenic diet. Not only will the copious amounts of protein help you bulk up and give your muscles the nutrients they need, the carb feeds will also give you the energy required to push through your toughest workouts. The keto phases will also help you to burn off that extra layer of subdermal fat. This will give you the competition ready look that you work so hard for without the extreme dieting last minute or spending hours in the sauna.

You don’t have to be an elite athlete or a bodybuilder to see positive effects on your training. Maybe you’re just trying to lose a little weight or to better your health by exercising more. We all have felt that feeling at the end of a workday where you lose all motivation by the end of the day to fit your workout in. The CKD can help with this as well. It has been shown that ketogenic athletes generally have higher energy levels in just the  everyday activities that are required of us. This will help you not only be consistent with your training but also able to train to your fullest potential, even after a long day.

Can Supplements Help with a Cyclical Ketogenic Diet?

Supplements are not necessary to take while on the CKD but they can help. There are several that are perhaps the most effective when it comes to your training and overall health on this diet. Creatine can be very helpful for those who are training on a regular basis. Creatine is an amino acid that is produced naturally in the body. It plays a large role in energy production in your muscles. Not only can it help you increase your strength but it also can help you decrease your recovery time after workouts and between sets.

Fish oils are another good one. These are full of omega-3s. These are healthy fats than can help to contribute to your already high fat diet. They are also a natural anti inflammatory and can contribute to heart health.

Electrolytes are also very important to take. This is because the very nature of a ketogenic diet will cause you to lose excess water. This is turn can flush out some of the electrolytes you need in order to train to your fullest potential. They also are important in order to keep yourself hydrated throughout the day.

Wrap-up

Overall The Cyclical ketogenic diet is one that is very versatile. It can help the everyday person achieve their athletic  and health related goals more easily. It allows you to still enjoy foods you love on occasion, but still requires some amount of dedication. Before you begin your diet, make sure you have a plan. Set up your schedule to tailor your training schedule to your carb needs. Do not get discouraged if you get knocked out of ketosis once in awhile. Our lives are unpredictable and varying so don’t get discouraged. If you choose to follow this diet make sure you are consistent. If you are able to do all of these things there is no doubt that the Cyclical ketogenic diet can be a helpful tool that will give you an edge in your training but also in life.