Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD)

Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD)

The standard ketogenic diet has been rising in popularity due to its health benefits and massive weight loss.

However, the original keto diet may be hard to maintain, as the 5% carb requirement is difficult for many people to sustain in their everyday lives.

As a result, the cyclical ketogenic diet emerged, which allows five days of following the standard ketogenic diet, and then two days of refeeding with high-carbs.

Read on to find out more about the cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD), how it differs from other keto diets, what foods to eat, foods to avoid, and more.

How is the Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD) Different from Other Keto Diets?

Before the cyclical ketogenic diet, there was the standard ketogenic diet. The original keto diet has a strict carb requirement, such as 5-10% of their total calories, which can be 20 to 50 grams a day.

With a cyclical ketogenic diet, you follow five to six days of the standard keto diet and one to two days of high-carb refeed days. The high-carb day can be seen as a cheat day without disrupting the process of ketosis permanently.

Let’s look at the differences between the keto diets:

  • Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD): Five to six days of the standard ketogenic diet, followed by high carb refeed days for one to two days. Regular keto days can be 5%-10% carbs, while the refeed day can be 15% or 20%.  
  • Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD): The original ketogenic diet consisting of 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbs. It can be adjusted to 10% carbs maximum.  
  • High-protein Ketogenic Diet: Similar to the standard keto diet with a modification around protein, such as 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbs.  
  • Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD): Only consume carbs before and after workouts

Other keto diets concentrate on the low carb requirement, while the cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD) calls for a high-carb day one or two days a week.

Many people find it challenging to stick to the low carb restriction, prompting the birth of the cyclical keto diet as a way for people to cheat without kicking them out of ketosis for too long. For some, the ketosis process can remain as long as the carb intake is lower than the fat intake.

What Should You Eat on a Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD)?

For the cyclical ketogenic diet to work for you, it is essential to eat the right foods, especially on refeeding days.

Most people calculate their macros by the percentage of fat they should eat by the number of calories they will consume.

For example, someone on a 1,750 calorie diet will multiply their CKD percentage to obtain the number of fat, protein, and carbs they will consume. In all, someone on a 1,750 calorie diet would consume 1458.8 grams of fat.

The general rules for macro tracking are:

  • 9 grams of fat in 1 calorie
  • 4 grams of protein in 1 calorie
  • 4 grams of carbs in 1 calorie

Overall, a 1750 calorie diet should consume:

  • 145.8 grams of fat (75% fat requirement)
  • 87.5 grams of protein (20% protein requirement)
  • 21.8 grams of carbs (5% carb requirement)

However, because the cyclical ketogenic diet calls for a high-carb day, these amounts can change to the following with a 15% to 20% carb intake:

  • 126.3 to 116.6 grams of fat (65% to 60%)
  • 87.5 grams of protein (20%)
  • 65.6 to 87.5 grams of carbs (15% to 20%)

Lastly, it is important to keep the carbs lower than the fat to remain in ketosis. In some occurrences, it may disrupt ketosis if the carb intake is too close to the fat requirement.

To meet these macros, you must eat specific foods.

Foods to Eat

This section will cover which foods to eat on the cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD). It is similar to the standard ketogenic diet.

Eggs and Poultry

Most ketogenic diets, including the cyclical diet, will include eggs. They are best for getting in fats and protein. Poultry such as chicken and turkey are also solid choices.

Select Dairy

Butter, cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, and high-fat dairy are allowed.

Meat and Fatty Fish

You are allowed to eat copious amounts of meat as long as they are grass-fed or wild-caught. For example, you can eat:

  • Grass-fed beef
  • Pork, such as bacon, pork belly
  • Organ meats such as liver
  • Game meat including elk or bison
  • Wild-caught salmon and other fatty fish
  • Sardine as a low-cost alternative

Healthy Oils

For cooking, many people use avocado oil, coconut oil, and olive oil. Sesame oil is also popular. However, coconut oil, in particular, is used for many dishes. It has become a staple in the keto diet, including cyclical, with many supplements using MCT derived from coconut oil.

Avocado

Avocado is another staple of the keto diet due to its healthy fat content and other minerals, such as potassium.

Non-starchy Vegetables

Vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, onions, eggplant, tomatoes, and green peppers are allowed on this diet. The same vegetables that are allowed on the keto diet are also recommended for those who have diabetes.

Nuts

Nuts contain high amounts of fat, including nut butter.

Peanuts, walnuts, cashews, macadamia nuts are all allowed on the cyclical ketogenic diet.

Peanut butter is notoriously used for “fat bombs” on keto diets. Make sure you are using nut butter with no added sugar in them.

Best Carbs for Refeeding Days

While this is a low carb diet, you must choose your carbs wisely to refeed on the cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD).

Some of the best carbs to consume on refeed days are:

  • Oatmeal
  • Quinoa
  • Beans and lentils
  • Brown rice, brown pasta
  • Whole wheat
  • Sweet potatoes

Foods to Avoid

Here are some of the foods you should avoid on the cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD).

Soda and High-sugary drinks

While you can refeed with carbs, you must avoid unhealthy carbs such as soda and high sugary drinks.

Starches

While some starchy foods may be allowed on cyclical keto diets, it is still important to limit them. Bread is still not the best carb to consume on keto.

If you had to eat bread, try swapping it out for low-carb spinach wraps or brown rice.

Pros and Cons of the Cyclical Ketogenic Diet vs. the Others

Here are the pros and cons of the cyclical ketogenic diet vs. the other diets.

Pros:

  • Refeed days, similar to cheat days, which allow you to eat your favorite carbs while on the keto diet
  • Continue to see massive weight loss due to a primarily low carb schedule
  • Consuming healthy fats which may help with brain and skin health

Cons:

  • Carb refeed days are still restrictive for some to follow

Summary

The cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD) allows people to enjoy the benefits of keto without feeling restricted by the original carb requirement.

For many, 5% to 10% carbs per day based on their caloric intake is challenging.

Those who do refeed on their chosen one or two days in their keto schedule can eat some of their favorites, such as whole wheat grains, sweet potatoes, brown rice, beans, and lentils.

A great example is Taco Tuesday using keto-friendly grains while remaining in ketosis for the rest of the week.

Overall, the cyclical ketogenic diet is worth trying for those wary of its strict carb requirement while still receiving the same benefits of the keto diet.