During recent years, the ketogenic diet has soon a significant spike in popularity. In fact, most people who are interested in using this method for weight loss are already familiar with how it works.
A variant of this diet, known as the ‘cyclical ketogenic diet,’ provides different utility, but not everyone is aware of how it works.
Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Let’s take a look at everything you need to know.
THE KETOGENIC DIET
As many already know, a ketogenic diet (often referred to as ‘keto’) involves minimizing your consumption of carbohydrates. As time goes on, this will put your body in a state known as ‘ketosis,’ which drastically increases the amount of fat that your body uses for energy.
This process occurs due to the absence of glucose from carbohydrates, causing your body to break down fats in order to use ketones as a form of energy.
As a result, those who undergo this diet for an extended period typically find that they make notable improvements to their physique in terms of weight loss.
WHAT OTHER EFFECTS DOES IT HAVE?
While undergoing a keto diet is great for losing weight in most circumstances, there are health concerns to be aware of. These include:
- Vitamin deficiencies from a lack of carbohydrate consumption (especially due to eating fewer vegetables)
- Rapid weight gain if you stop your keto diet and begin to eat without any restrictions
- The high consumption of saturated fats in place of carbohydrates could lead to health problems
This has led to the development of the ‘cyclical ketogenic diet’ in order to capitalize on the benefits of keto while reducing the negatives.
WHAT IS THE CYCLICAL KETOGENIC DIET?
As the name suggests, you ‘cycle’ through different parts of a cyclical ketogenic diet. It can be broken down into two main phases:
- The typical keto phase that includes rigid carb restriction
- A period of one or two days where the individual consumes a higher number of carbs than usual
The purpose of days with higher carb consumption is to replenish the body’s depleted supply of glucose. For those who are seeking to build muscle while on this diet, the increased carbohydrate consumption will fuel more intense workouts that promote more growth.
Maintaining low glucose levels for an extended period of time can often result in fatigue and decreased physical performance, which is often a concern for athletes.
In extreme cases, severely low glucose levels can also lead to health issues, such as hypoglycemia.
So, higher-carb days are added into the diet to briefly benefit from increased carb consumption. As previously mentioned, this is particularly useful for athletes or individuals who need carbs to reach optimum levels of performance.
Afterward, your body is able to get back into ketosis during the low-carb period.
ISN’T THIS JUST CARB CYCLING?
In short, no, it’s not.
While carb cycling is very similar to a cyclical ketogenic diet in the sense that there are designated days for different levels of carb consumption, the low-carb days aren’t nearly as drastic.
This means your body never enters a state of ketosis, which prevents you from benefiting from the utility a ketogenic diet provides.
A carb cycling diet is more suitable for those who frequently engage in high-intensity sports or other physical activity due to the increased amount of glucose your body will have on a consistent basis.
HOW MANY DAYS PER WEEK SHOULD I KEEP MY CARBS LOW?
This will vary from person to person depending on overall energy levels and performance requirements, but it’s recommended to allocate 5 to 6 days per week for lower carbohydrate consumption.
This will allow you to stay in ketosis for a longer period of time and re-enter it more frequently, which will benefit you more in the long run.
During these days, carb intake should be limited to less than 10% of your total calories and the majority of your calories should come from healthy unsaturated fats.
Things like eggs, avocado, and coconut oil are all staple foods of a solid ketogenic diet.
WHAT ABOUT MY HIGH-CARB DAYS?
Conversely, the days when you consume more carbs should have carbohydrates make up approximately 70% of your total calorie intake. It’s important to note, though, that your carbs should come from mostly healthy foods, such as green vegetables and whole grains.
Although candy, juice, and other products with refined have plenty of carbs, they also lack nutrients and don’t do much to satisfy your hunger, causing you to consume more calories and carbohydrates than you should.
HOW CAN I RETURN TO KETOSIS AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE?
Fasting for a short period of time (approximately 16 hours) has been proven to accelerate how quickly your body enters a state of ketosis.
After you’ve finished your period of higher carb intake, consider a brief period of intermittent fasting in order to get as much benefit as you can from the low-carb days in your diet.
Similarly, high-intensity physical activity can also help you get to this state more quickly, especially while you’re already fasting.
THE CYCLICAL KETOGENIC DIET IS WORTH EXPLORING
With the above information about the cyclical ketogenic diet in mind, you’ll be well on your way toward getting the most out of this weight loss method.
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