By this point, you have probably gotten word of the fashionable ketogenic diet, a weight-loss approach which requires drastically lowering the quantity of carbohydrates that you consume, controlling your protein quantity, and increasing your fat amount.
Following the ketogenic diet (also known as keto) for a few days causes the body to enter ketosis. There are several potential benefits to this state, such as weight loss, better blood sugar control, and improved cholesterol levels, according to some studies.
Though some health professionals may endorse the diet, other experts believe that it may cause kidney stones, an excessive intake of “unhealthy” fat, a lack of essential nutrients, a decrease in bone density, and digestive issues, depending on the studies conducted.
It is difficult to remain in ketosis, which is a major disadvantage of being on the ketogenic diet. When adhering to the ketogenic diet, your daily consumption of carbohydrates is usually restricted to between 20 to 50 grams.
To put that into perspective, according to the U.S. The United States Department of Agriculture found that the average pear contains 27 g of carbohydrates.
That can be a shock to the body. A lot of people who initially attempt the ketogenic diet find that there is an abrupt drop in energy during their early days.
At this point, Susan Kieffer, DBA, the head of the School of Nursing of Purdue University Global, states that the body is adapting to utilize fat as a source of energy as opposed to easily available carbs. This period can be quite exhausting and your brain may not be functioning as well as it usually does.
It has been given the nickname “keto flu” due to its popularity, which further makes it difficult to sustain. Carb cravings.
Enter keto cycling. Keto cycling involves doing the ketogenic diet on a regular basis and then giving yourself a break by taking one (or maybe even more) days off. Molly Devine, a registered dietitian based in Durham, North Carolina affiliated with KetoLogic, a website dedicated to providing knowledge on the keto diet, mentions that this type of diet can also be referred to as carb cycling. That’s another way to put it, as there are days when carb intake is higher, and days when carb intake is lower.
The goal is to facilitate following the keto diet. Realizing that shortly a period of time shall come wherein you will once more be allowed to devour carbs can possibly help you adhere to the diet for a longer span of time.
How Does Keto Cycling Work Exactly
Keto cycling doesn’t have a set definition. Some people opt to follow a pattern of maintaining a ketogenic diet for five to six days, followed by one or two days off. Some people will perform the ketogenic diet for 10-12 days, and then take a break for 3-4 days.
Devine generally does not advocate taking breaks from the keto diet for more than 48 hours. She suggests beginning by trying it out for one day so it is possible to observe the reaction of the body and determine how fast it returns to ketosis.
She suggests that consuming an excessive amount of carbohydrates will result in a buildup of glycogen stores, thus making it difficult to reenter the metabolic state of ketosis. She suggests considering one’s glycogen reserves, which are the carbohydrates that have been stocked in the body, as a gas tank.
“She mentions that so long as the tank doesn’t run out, it shouldn’t take long to get back into ketosis.” Once we go past three or four days of the keto diet, our bodies become overwhelmed and start converting glucose into fat. It then becomes difficult to go back into a state of ketosis.
Devine advises to eat healthy carbs that have low levels of sugar rather than going all out on a carbohydrate overload.
Consuming fruit, sweet potatoes, and unrefined grains rather than white bread and sugary treats will aid the body in reverting to ketosis.
Devine says not to jump right into keto cycling. She recommends waiting two to three months before attempting keto cycling when starting a keto diet. You need to ensure your body is able to efficiently use fat for energy so that it can return to a state of ketosis quickly.
Devine has observed that if the body is accustomed to a ketogenic diet, it will return back to ketosis faster after a large intake of carbohydrates compared to when someone is just beginning keto, although there are no formal studies to prove this.
Devine advises that after a meal high in carbohydrates, one should do a strenuous workout the following morning. The concept is to motivate the body to burn the glycogen that was consumed so it can start using the fat for energy.
How Does Keto Cycling Impact Weight Loss
This recently published scientific statement from the National Lipid Association has indicated that a keto diet plan is hard to stick to in the long-term, and while it may offer an initial weight loss, the overall results are basically similar to any other balanced diet.
It is imaginable that keto cycling could make it simpler to keep to this plan, but Molly Devine, RD, owner and founder of MSD Nutrition Consulting and Eat Your Keto, says the truth could be totally different.
She states that only a few individuals have the ability to enter and exit a ketogenic diet with reliability. The largest issue that occurs is an intense desire for carbohydrates and sugar to comeback when they’re reintroduced into the diet. Devine’s knowledge has taught them that this is applicable regardless of whether you are taking a pause for a holiday weekend, or even just a meal.
For individuals previously trying to control their sugar cravings and remove it from their eating plan, adhering to a thorough keto diet is often the beginning of not feeling overwhelmed by yearnings because of the metabolic alteration from relying on glucose for energy to ketones. She states that it is tough for this group to partake in keto cycling or cheat meals since they cannot resist their cravings when they have a taste of those foods, making it difficult to return to the original diet.
Potential Health Benefits and Risks of Keto Cycling on the Ketogenic Diet
No investigations into the advantages and disadvantages of keto cycling have been conducted as of yet because it is such a novel concept. Kieffer suggests that fluctuating between consuming carbohydrates and forbidding their consumption may be hazardous.
If you switch between eating a high-fat diet (like that in the keto diet) and then reverting to consuming carbohydrates, I believe this could potentially be hazardous as it can lead to elevated levels of triglycerides and cholesterol due to the storage of fat.
She states that the body may not be able to switch from fat to energy quickly enough, so it could opt to use carbohydrates for energy and store fat at the same time.
Certain personal accounts indicate that individuals are more likely to stay faithful to the keto diet if they use a cycling strategy. If you remain on the diet for a longer period than you initially intended, you could end up shedding even more weight.
Some folks think elite sportsmen have an advantage due to keto cycling because their system utilizes extra carbohydrates as a source of energy to aid them in strenuous exercises and competitions. Investigations demonstrate that adhering to the exact keto diet hinders physical exercise performance.
A study released in 2017 from The Journal of Physiology discovered that a ketogenic diet negatively affects athletic performance more than a diet that is high in carbohydrates or alternating between periods of high carbs and low carbs (which is the same as the keto cycling diet).
It appears that the body utilizes complex carbohydrates as energy while exercising. A Nutrition Today article from 2018 determined that carbohydrates are the only nutrient that can be processed rapidly enough to be provided to the body during strenuous exercise.
The Challenges Associated With Keto Cycling
It is advised to engage in keto cycling once your body has adapted to being in ketosis, however, you cannot disregard the troubles that arise from launching into the keto diet, most notably the keto flu.
Devine suggests that switching between a high-fat, low-carb keto diet and a higher-carb diet can be effective for people who sometimes want to indulge in more carbs, however not all individuals necessarily need to do this.
It is anecdotally reported that some individuals have difficulty sticking to a ketogenic cycling diet. When you start eating processed carbs again, you might not feel so good. People can even get a “carb hangover,” which includes feeling bloated, inflamed, and having headaches.
It can be hard to refrain from partaking in too much on days off of the diet. Devine states that for people who have had a problem with carbs or sugar before attempting a diet, the cravings for these foods often resurface with great intensity. It’s analogous to asserting, “I’m going to give up smoking, but I’m going to have one cigarette every month.” That won’t be easy.
The Healthiest Way To Try Keto Cycling
Despite worries, if you would like to attempt keto cycling, specialists propose cycling in healthy forms of carbohydrates rather than those addicting, extensively processed sugary or refined carbs. Consider replacing muffins, rolls and chips with sweet potatoes, beans, milk and fruit.
It is beneficial to devise a scheme for when you will be having meals with a lot of carbohydrates. An example of someone who endorses eating them on an exercise day is Franziska Spritzler, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator who is part of the medical evaluation board at dietdoctor.com.
She recommends paying attention to how one feels on the days when they consume a higher quantity of carbohydrates. She proposes inquiring yourself: “Does your energy level decrease or increase?” Are you happier and satisfied or anxious and hungry? Take note of your responses to the question: Is your sleep better or worse? If consuming carbs every so often does not appear to affect your weight in a negative way, then attempting to cycle between the ketogenic and regular diets could benefit you. Conversely, numerous individuals appear to gain from sustaining a steady keto diet or exchanging it with a low-carb diet (around 30-60 grams of net carbs each day), as indicated by her.
Regardless of whether you decide to include higher carbohydrate meals in your keto diet or not, you should still focus on the principles of healthy eating.
Devine recommends that individuals should focus on consuming whole foods, high-quality proteins, and unsaturated fats which are beneficial to the heart including olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish, instead of processed saturated fats like cheese and processed meats.
Spritzler believes that minimal processing should be emphasized when it comes to food. To ensure this, she proposes that you consume the suggested amount of protein (3-6 ounces) at all meals, include lots of vegetables with most of your meals, and eat enough to feel satisfied without eating too much.
Keto Cycling Suitability To You
Some people may find it attractive to have the requirement of not consuming any carbs, however for others it can come across as too rigid. It is essential to identify what point of the range you are in and use it to determine what food you should eat.
No matter what your goals are for weight loss or becoming healthier, it is sensible to consider the type of foods that you like as well as your preferred cooking style, and then opt for a program that aligns with this.
Be real with yourself and identify some non-negotiable foods. If one of the foods you are eating is pasta, adopting the keto cycling diet may work better than going on keto. However, it may be better to try a completely different approach.
Do not think of the keto diet as being the only answer to your weight loss journey — it is not the definitive solution. As Kevin C. Maki, one of the people responsible for writing the National Lipid Association Scientific Statement, expresses that the overall upshots on health in the long-term are uncertain.
Maki, an Adjunct Professor of the Department of Applied Health Science at the School of Public Health at Indiana University, Bloomington Indiana, states that although ketogenic eating may help to reduce appetite, one does not have to go that far in cutting carbs down in order to slim down and see added benefits like better blood sugar levels and triglyceride levels. He understands that a low-carb diet can be beneficial to some individuals in the short-term, though he acknowledges how hard it is to stay on a keto-style plan in the long run. The general opinion is that it would be advantageous for most people to participate in regular physical activity, like walking, as well as to adhere to a diet with an abundance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, seafood, and non-tropical oils, such as those found in a Mediterranean pattern.
Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, an expert in women’s cardiovascular prevention, health, and wellness at Mount Sinai Heart who is also a fellow of both the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association Plus a spokesperson for the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign suggests that the Mediterranean diet is a much better choice than the keto diet or keto cycling approach.
She states that following the Mediterranean diet has been proven to decrease the occurrence of heart disease by up to 30 percent, furthermore, they can reduce weight and improve management of blood sugar by increasing vegetable consumption and substantially reducing consumption of pre-packaged carbs and desserts.
No matter what strategy you choose, keep in mind the goal of forming healthier dietary practices – not just in the short-term but for the long haul, which is the true secret to losing weight in a healthy and effective way.