Cyclical Ketogenic Diet Plan: Flexible Dieting with Fat Loss

Cyclical Ketogenic Diet Plan: Flexible Dieting with Fat Loss

The Cyclical Ketogenic Diet plan is an attractive diet for people who want the benefits of keto dieting with the flexibility of eating carbs on the weekends.

For this reason it's my favourite of the 3 ketogenic diet types and many others love it because they only have to diet during the week and they can indulge their cravings on the weekend.
The diet is split into two phases each week:
  1. Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD) phase (5 consecutive days)
  2. Carb Loading Period (2 consecutive days)

The Goal of The SKD Days

The goal of the Standard Ketogenic Diet Plan days is to establish ketosis.
For more on ketosis and the basics of Ketogenic Dieting see:

Ketogenic Dieting: A Plain English Guide For Beginners

Ketosis is established by cutting out carbs. When you do this the body uses a mix of fat and carbs for fuel, it does this in an effort to conserve the carbs it already has stored.
As you continue the SKD through the week the levels of carbs you have stored becomes seriously depleted as they're being used for energy and not replaced via your diet.
Your workouts during the week also help to deplete the carb stores so the goal at the end of the 5 days is for you to deplete carb levels completely.

The Goal of The Carb Load

The goal of the carb load period is designed to refill carb stores completely and reset the bodies anti-fat loss switch.
Refilling Carb Stores Refilling muscle glycogen (the state carbs are stored in) helps the dieter maintain workout intensity through the week and also helps make fat loss easier.
Resetting The Anti Fat Loss Switch Eating in a caloric deficit for extended periods can cause metabolic slowdown and actually stop you losing fat.

Yes...eating in a caloric deficit can STOP you losing fat!

This is mainly attributed to your bodies hormones which recognise that you are in a state of starvation (all dieting is starvation to the body). To combat this it does everything it can to make fat loss difficult and it hangs onto every pound.
Remember that you SKD diet days have you eating in a caloric deficit; if we kept eating like this it would mean that fat loss would slow down sooner or later.
The carb load has the dieter eating more calories than they need and this is the key to resetting the Anti-Fat Loss Switch.
When you overfeed (eat more than you need) your body thinks the starvation is over and it goes back to normal and allows you to lose fat again.
Clearly this can't happen if you eat so much during the carb period that you wipe out all the calories you'd saved during the week.
Bottom line: Underfeed on SKD days, overfeed on weekends and provided total calorie balance is still negative you lose fat. This is the power of the Cyclical Ketogenic Diet Plan.

Cyclical Ketogenic Diet Plan Sample Week

A typical Cyclical Ketogenic Diet Plan week with 3 weekly workouts would look like this:


Diet Type

SKD Dieting
SKD Dieting
SKD Dieting
SKD Dieting
Can be on any day
SKD Dieting
Carb Load
Carb Load

*workouts can be on any days between Monday and Friday, I used Mon/Wed/Fri purely as an example. The workouts are kept during the SKD phase as they help deplete carb stores. These workouts can be tough and you won't be as strong as you usually are but they serve a purpose.
You may not enjoy them or set any new personal bests but they do what they need to so suck it up and get on with it.

Who is a Cyclical Ketogenic Diet Plan For?

The CKD diet is a great option for anyone wanting a physique which would be described as lean or (as much as I hate this word) "toned".
Ladies think of female fitness models and guys think Men's Health cover models, bodybuilders etc
Basically anyone wanting to retain their lean muscle while dropping fat.
This is the type of ketogenic diet I use and it's a great choice for people who can workout without carbs and who can stick to 5 solid days of ketogenic dieting.

Pros and Cons of The CKD

  • The carb load restores glycogen levels which improves recovery so you have energy for the next weeks workouts
  • The carb load and overfeeding resets leptin and other important fat loss hormones which allows fat loss to continue the following week (Carb loads under 24 hours don't reset these hormones)
  • Helps to maintain lean mass and you rebuild any of the muscle you lost during the week
  • Allows psychological break for dieters who crave carbs
  • It's easy to eat diet food during the week as you can relax on weekends and live your life!

  • Keeping the fat content of your carb load low can be difficult if you don't track your diet
  • Out of control carb loads (too many calories) can cause you to gain back the fat you lost (not water weight increase of 5-10 lbs which is normal and goes after 1-2 days)
  • Workouts during ketogenic diet days can cause some nausea as glycogen levels run low