The Ketogenic diet is a highly popular and successful diet adopted by many around the world. The diet has been endorsed by fitness specialists and celebrities alike, which shows how great it is for losing weight and staying in great shape. However, as keto becomes more mainstream, people are coming up with more and more different takes on keto. One such variation is the Cyclic Keto diet.
What is the regular Ketogenic Diet?
The highly popular Ketogenic diet is all about maintaining a very low carbohydrate intake. Little to no carbs are preferred and if you absolutely must, then consume no more than 50 grams of carbs per day. Carbs can come from any source, even your cup of coffee contains a little.
The diet is popular because although it ditches the carbs, it encourages high fats. Therefore, many types of junk foods suddenly go from disallowed to allowed foods. Stuff like steaks, bacon, burgers, cheese, etc. all of these become daily food options. However, one still needs to regulate their carb amounts since these foods can have a lot of carbs as well.
How it works is that our body burns carbohydrates for energy because they take the smallest time to get converted. However, they’re not that great of an energy source. Fats store a lot of energy but are converted very slowly. Therefore, the body naturally uses carbs instead of fats for a constant supply of energy. When the body is restricted carbs, the body produces things known as “ketones”.
Ketones are used as an alternative energy source due to the lack of carbs. The key thing to note here is that the body starts burning fat at a faster rate in order to produce these ketones. Therefore, you feel more energized than ever thanks to the Keto diet. You’re essentially burning fat for fuel, and that’s why the diet consists of low-carbs, moderate protein, and high-fats.
What is the Cyclic Keto Diet?
Although the keto diet has a lot of benefits and has proven to produce results fast, it’s not feasible for a lot of people. Many people simply can’t let carbohydrates go, and some don’t have a choice. There are not many keto-friendly restaurants out there and many people don’t have the time to prepare their own meals. For some, it’s mostly about discipline, going keto for 7 days a week.
The cyclic keto diet comes in to help. It takes inspiration from the concept of carb-switching and applies it to keto. The end result is actually a pretty powerful method to lose weight, build muscle and improve your overall performance. Carb-switching is essentially going low-carb for a day or two and then having high-carb days after that.
Cyclic keto also follows the same principle as it consists of 5 regular keto days where you’ll strictly follow the original keto diet. The other 2 days of the week will be high-carb days known as “refeeding days”. Why is this beneficial? The high-carb days get you out of ketosis, but carb-switching is highly beneficial. It helps to lose weight faster and increase metabolism. The cyclic keto diet works best for building muscle and improving overall fitness, but you can use it to lose weight too.
It’s also a good option for those who can’t go full keto. The cyclic keto diet offers an easier version of Keto, easier but still effective. Another key thing to note here is that although it might take inspiration or may seem similar to carb-switching or carb-cycling, the two aren’t exactly the same.
With carb cycling, yes, you are following a low-carb routine for a few days and then having high-carb days. However, this way, you don’t really restrict your carbs enough to go into ketosis. Cyclic keto focuses on going in and out of ketosis which promotes muscle growth and athletic endurance. With cyclic keto, the refueling days don’t mean compensating for the days you spent without carbs. Moreover, the “low-carb” days are strictly keto, so it’s an extreme sort of low-carb, not like the one people usually follow with carb cycling.
Benefits of Cyclic Keto Diet
Makes it easier to stick to a Keto regime
Although the keto diet is linked to many health benefits and is known to help lose weight fast, it’s quite unrealistic for a lot of people. A lot of people aren’t able to develop the discipline of eliminating carbs from their lives every day. For keto to work, the zero to 50-gram carb rule is non-negotiable.
Keto also means that you miss out on healthy foods like vegetables, fruits etc. that pack a lot of fiber and vitamins. With the cyclic keto diet, you not only get a bit of leeway to get some carbs in on your refeeding days, but you can get those essential vitamins during those days too. Following a cyclical keto diet overall helps following keto easier.
Less Keto-related side effects
Despite having many benefits, there is one downside to the Keto diet. People following keto often get what is known as the “Keto Flu”. The flu can result in nausea, fatigue, headaches, constipation, weakness, difficulty sleeping, and irritability. If you experience any of these when going keto, it’s likely the keto flu.
Some people aren’t meant for keto, and the keto flu is a large indicator for that. When the body can’t adapt to using ketones for energy instead of carbs, it sends out signals such as the ones mentioned above to tell you. Therefore, adopting a cyclical keto diet might make it better. Since a cyclical keto diet doesn’t completely let go of carbs, your body might not react as badly to the diet when compared to the simple keto diet.
Another side-effect related to keto is constipation. That’s because when you shift to keto, you’re not getting any carbs. Foods that contain carbs are often the foods that are also high in fiber. By eliminating carbs, you are essentially eliminating fiber as well which is crucial for your digestive system. Not many people are able to fulfill their daily fiber requirement through a high-fat keto diet.
Therefore, it’s better to adopt a cyclical keto diet in order to provide yourself with the essential nutrients required for healthy living. You can eat fibrous, healthy foods rich in carbohydrates during refeeding days. That way, everything balances out and you don’t feel constipated.
Therefore, the cyclical keto diet has fewer side-effects associated with it. One shouldn’t quit keto altogether if they get the keto flu. They can try the cyclical keto diet and still reap the benefits of keto without feeling the side-effects.
Aids Muscle Growth
The regular keto diet is good enough for losing weight and building muscle. However, it might not be feasible in the long run due to the aforementioned reasons. That’s why cyclical keto can be so much better. However, there’s another reason why you should switch to cyclical keto. It’s argued that cyclical keto is better for muscle growth, so if your goal is to gain muscle, then this is the diet for you.
When low-carb diets are followed, muscle building hormones like insulin are suppressed, because they’re triggered by carbs. You might be wondering, what’s the link between insulin and muscle growth? The answer to that question is quite straightforward. Insulin helps amino acids and glucose (carbs) into your muscle cells.
Therefore, insulin helps a lot in protein synthesis by providing our muscles with the nutrients it requires for growth. A cyclic keto diet can be used to raise insulin levels on refeeding days to boost the muscle building process. It can be a highly effective method to lose weight and gain muscle at the same time.
It can improve athletic performance
Although there isn’t direct evidence for cyclic keto’s case, we can still come to some important conclusions. Athletes are in a different league when it comes to fitness. They burn and require a lot of energy. Keto does provide that energy but due to the immense demand, even keto may not be able to keep up. That’s where the quickest energy source i.e. carbohydrates come in.
Moreover, a study on athletes revealed that athletes that periodically took high-carb meals had much better performance than those who followed the standard keto diet. Although the diet they tested wasn’t exactly cyclical keto, it was pretty close. The conclusion was that periodic high-carb intake is highly beneficial, and better than a regular keto diet.
Periodic carbohydrate consumption is along the same lines of cyclical keto. Therefore, athletes can benefit greatly from refeeding days in cyclical keto. If nothing, a cyclical keto diet will produce the same result regarding performance, if not better because, at the end of the day, it’s still keto.
The Cyclic Keto Diet is slowly gaining popularity for a reason. It’s easier to adopt and it has similar or even better benefits than the regular Keto diet. Adopting the cyclical keto diet lets you go in and out of ketosis which helps you improve your athletic performance, gain muscle, and most importantly: it keeps you safe from the side-effects of the regular keto diet. If keto wasn’t your thing, then try cyclical keto!