If you have been wanting to begin the ketogenic diet, but are feeling afraid that you may fall off the diet bandwagon, you are not alone. Studies show that many people who have tried the regular keto diet fail because they are not following it properly.
The cyclical keto diet is much easier to follow as it involves cycles of high carb and low carb periods, which takes away from the overly strict lifestyle of eliminating carbohydrates.
In other words, the cyclical keto diet means that you can have your cake and eat it too!
The only problem is, how do you properly follow a cyclic ketogenic diet? If you do it wrong, you could be pulling yourself out of ketosis longer than you want and hindering your results.
Thankfully, we’ve created this comprehensive guide to teach you all about how to start on the cyclical ketogenic diet. Keep on reading to learn more.
HOW THE CYCLICAL KETO DIET WORKS
We have already covered what the cyclical keto diet is in a previous article, so before we dive into the cyclical keto diet plan, we will cover the two phases of the diet so you can fully understand what it will look like.
The macronutrient breakdown is much different on both phases of the cyclical keto diet, and goes as follows:
PHASE 1 – THE KETOGENIC PHASE
The ketogenic phase nearly eliminates carbohydrates, which in turn, produces specific metabolic adaptions in the body to help utilize your fat storage and ketones for energy.
This phase should be followed for 5-6 days with a ratio count of:
- 5% – 10% of calories from carbs
- 70% – 80% of calories from good fats
- 20% – 25% of calories from protein
PHASE 2 – THE CARBOHYDRATE LOADING PHASE
This is where the benefits of the cyclical keto diet come in, the “refueling or carb-upping” days helps to replenish your energy sources, and assists with greater gains with your performance with more muscle deposition.
The carb-loading phase refuels your glycogen storage, helps raise energy levels, and increases insulin levels. All of which prepares your body for exercise.
This phase does NOT mean that you can go have multiple “cheat” days and eat junk food consistently. This will lead to a sudden spike in insulin levels, which leads to metabolic functions in the body that defeat the entire purpose of this diet.
However, the cyclical keto diet does give you a bit more space to enjoy your life without feeling deprived.
This phase should start with one day, and eventually progress to two once your body responds well.
The macro ratio should be:
- 60 – 70% carbohydrates
- 20 – 25% protein
- 5 – 10% fat
Now that you understand what the cyclical keto diet looks like, let’s dive a bit deeper into the foods you should be consuming.
FOODS TO CONSUME DURING KETO PHASE
During the ketogenic phase, you have to be very specific about the foods you are consuming to keep your ketones high and make the most out of the keto benefits.
Recommended foods during the keto phase are:
- Full-fat dairy (no sugar!)
- Red meat
- Chicken and Poultry
- Nut butter- peanut butter, almond butter, anything without added sugar
- Seeds and nuts (not candy-coated)
- Coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil
- A small number of berries
- Lower carbohydrate vegetables- broccoli, mushrooms, zucchini, green beans, bell peppers, asparagus, spinach, kale, cauliflower, onion, celery, Brussel sprouts, and cucumber.
The stricter you follow this phase of the diet, the more results you will have.
FOODS DURING THE CARBOHYDRATE PHASE
During the carbohydrate phase, you have a bit more freedom, however, you must stick to complex carbohydrates and steer away from simple carbohydrates.
Complex carbs have a longer fuel response in your body, they are higher in fiber and low in sugar, which makes them a perfect fit in the cyclical keto diet.
Recommended foods during the Carbohydrate phase:
- Brown rice
- Whole or steel-cut oats (not quick-cooking)
- Sweet potatoes or yams
- Whole wheat products (watch the sugar content)
- Lentils and beans
- Butternut squash
- White rice
Your carb-loading days are not “cheat” days. The more sugar you consume, the higher your insulin will spike and the harder it will be for your body to get back to ketosis.
Schedule your carbohydrate meals around your heaviest lifting/training days to fully maximize the benefits of carb-loading.
HACKS TO GET BACK INTO KETOSIS
After eating carbohydrates for a day or two, your body has come out of the state of ketosis. Getting back to this state can be difficult at first, so we covered a few body-hacks to help you get back efficiently.
The fastest way to get back into ketosis after carb-loading is, to begin with a day of intermittent fasting. This pushes your body into ketosis by draining the glucose levels and utilizing fat for energy, aka ketosis.
This means that you consume all your daily calories within a shortened period, and fast for the rest of the day. The fasting can be anywhere from 16-24 hours, for example, stop eating at 8 PM and continue fasting until noon the following day.
ADD EXTRA FATS
Adding extra oils, such as medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) throughout your day will help boost ketone levels in the body. This can look like a bulletproof coffee first thing in the morning, or added in your meals.
This will also help you to ward off the keto-flu symptoms as your body gets used to the transitioning.
DO INTENSE EXERCISE
High-intensity exercise, such as HIIT training or interval training uses up the excess glycogen storage in the body. This forces the body to start using ketones for energy once the glycogen has been depleted.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE CYCLICAL KETO DIET
The cyclical keto diet is not a short term fix, it is a lifestyle and a great way to make the most of your body’s capabilities.
By cycling your carbohydrates properly, you can perform better in your workouts, feel more energy, and lose more fat.
To learn more about the cyclical keto diet, read our article on how to start a cyclical keto diet!