cyclic ketogenic diet

The ketogenic diet involves eating high fat, low carb, and moderate protein.

Once your body adapts to this diet change, you will enter ketosis, where the body uses fat as fuel instead of carbohydrates.

The ketogenic diet can give you more energy and clarity, but may leave you fatigued with high-intensity workouts. Additionally, some dieters say it is difficult to gain muscle mass on a ketogenic diet.

If you are seeking to gain muscle mass and increase your energy during high intensity workouts, you may need to try a cyclic ketogenic diet (1).

A cyclic ketogenic diet is a low-carb diet with intermittent periods of high-carb intake. Most cyclic ketogenic dieters do 5 to 6 days of low-carb, and 1 to 2 days of high-carb.

I know what you're thinking...Won't that just undo your progress on a ketogenic diet?

The answer is no, cycling high-carb and low-carb days is a way to power your workouts while optimizing fat loss (2).

Cyclic ketogenic dieting allows you to refill your glycogen stores in your muscles to power you through your next high intensity workout (3). You can space your high-carb days however far or close together you like; it all depends on how you feel after working out. If you find you are more fatigued on certain workout days, try adding in a high-carb day around that time.

This allows the carbs you eat to be stored as glycogen, which is broken down to give you an extra kick during your workouts (3).

More energy during workouts = harder work = bigger muscle gains and progress!

The bottom line is, the ketogenic diet can be altered based on your individual goals. Like any diet, make sure you are eating a wide variety of foods and are meeting your nutritional needs. Try this niKETO calculator to get started, and visit the niKETO blog posts to guide you through your low-carb journey!


(1) Åkermark, C., Jacobs, I., Rasmusson, M., & Karlsson, J. (1996). Diet and muscle glycogen concentration in relation to physical performance in swedish elite ice hockey players. International Journal of Sport Nutrition, 6(3), 272–284.

(2) Wilson, J.M., Lowery, R.P., Roberts, M.D., Sharp, M.H., Joy, J.M., Shields, K.A., et al. (2017). The Effects of Ketogenic Dieting on Body Composition, Strength, Power, and Hormonal Profiles in Resistance Training Males: Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 1.

(3) McDonald, L. & McDonald, L. (1998). The ketogenic diet: a complete guide for the dieter and practitioner. The Author, Austin, TX.

Written by Caroline Wiswell, MS RD LDN

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