You’ve probably heard about the ketogenic diet by now — if you haven’t, tell us how — as it seems like everyone has been raving about their weight-loss success stories. You probably already know that as you’re eating mostly good fats and protein and slashing carb intake, you’re able to boost muscle gain and burn fat, and you’ve likely already decided if that’s something you can tackle or not. Well, for those who want a less popular and trickier version of the diet of 2018, there’s another variation: keto cycling.
Keto cycling mixes days of pure keto with days of higher carb intake. While it sounds like it’d be easier to manage, it can be more restrictive, and many dietitians often don’t recommend it over standard keto. Here’s everything you should know before trying keto cycling.
What Is Keto Cycling?
Keto cycling, or carb cycling, is a diet program in which you’re on the keto diet most of the time but have one day a week to consume a higher overall carbohydrate intake and a subsequent lower fat intake. “This type of cycling helps people who are not feeling great when they are strictly keto and helps the body to get carbohydrates without hindering their diet,” says Maggie Michalcyzk, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist based in Chicago.
You’re doing the normal keto diet for five or so days, followed by one to two days of a higher-carbohydrate diet, explains Seattle-based Ginger Hultin, RD, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Some people will also use longer cycles (weeks rather than days). This is usually done by people doing physical training to target muscle growth and refill muscle glycogen stores,” she says, adding that this keto on-and-off approach is a pretty in-depth process and should be overseen by a medical professional.