Cyclical Ketogenic Diets

Any opinions/experiences regarding the Cyclical Ketogenic Diet? Mon/Tues-no/trace carbs, Wed to Fri - moderate carbs, Sat/Sun - carb loading

Anyone tried it before? What kind of training did you do with it? Several websites suggest a training method, just curious as to what anyone else has experienced.

Appreciate any input, thanks! :slight_smile:

I was on Natural Hormonal Enhancement by Rob Faigin for a while (you cycle carbs but it’s different than CKD). I found it to be an excellent cutting diet but I had difficulty gaining mass.

I’ve tried various incarnations of Ketogenic dieting over the years myself, and worked with many clients who have as well. What I’ve found is that for the majority, straight forward sustained Ketogenic dieting is generally an effective way to get smaller rapidly, but a lousy method for maintaining lean mass while depleting bodyfat. Most people, including myself, tend to flatten out and begin depleting lean mass fairly quick when existing in a sustained Ketogenic state. This is not to suggest that there aren’t exceptions to this trend. I have in fact encountered people who seem to do very well with this approach, suffering only minimal lean tissue loss. Overall though, it’s not a method I recommend for most people, particularly if they are training more or less “clean”, and therefore have nothing to help them bolster lean mass retention.

My experience has shown that the situation does improve markedly when one employs a cyclical approach as you’ve outlined, although I still find that it tends to leave many people too depleted, for too long. Specifically, although lean tissue maintenance seems to improve greatly through cycling, glycogen replenishment still suffers during Carbohydrate restriction. This typically results in a substantial drop in functional ability and requires restructuring of training to compensate. Not that I think it’s a bad thing to structure your training so that it works with your nutrition plan. In fact I strongly believe the best possible approach is to plan your training and diet to compliment each other.

In addition to the issues related to the Ketogenic phase of this plan, the Carbohydrate loading period also creates potential problems for some. Some people, particularly women, find that they experience profound water retention and bloating when Carbohydrates are reintroduced each week. Although this is not necessarily a problem in itself with regard to overall success in relation to changing body composition, it can play with people’s heads. As I mentioned, women in particular seem to fall prey to this problem during the loading phase, and they tend not to like how it makes them feel one tiny bit. This can lead many to begin avoiding Carbohydrates altogether. In addition, many people find that fat loss is greatly slowed overall when using this approach, until they gain the experience to get their food intake exactly right during the reloading phase. Most people simply lack the experience to get the Carbohydrate levels right when reloading and tend to overdo it.

By far the best approach I’ve found for most people is to use a more moderate form of Cyclical Ketogenic dieting, combined with daily reloading. In essence this involves consuming low Carbohydrates for two to three days at a time, followed by one day during which Carbohydrates are moderate. Training is structured such that moderate Carbohydrate days always coincide with days where more energy is required because demands from training are increased; for example a heavy leg or back day. In addition even on low days, the meal immediately following a strength training session will always include higher Carbohydrate content. For more advanced clients I will have them consume more Carbohydrates for two meals following training. This ensures better glycogen replenishment, event though moderate Ketosis is sustained throughout the rest of the day.

Another very effective way to employ a similar type of Carbohydrate cycling is presented by Christian Thibaudeau in Part II of his Mutation Series article, and I highly recommend you look at it. You can also see how he has structured his training to work with his diet plan in that article.

Hope this helps.