Supposedly with the Keto diet, the carb cravings go away. If you’re on Keto, you may have found this to be the case…or not be the case. Maybe a solution is doing keto only 6 days a week–it’s a thought.
When I went on my low-carb way of eating back in January of 2019, the cravings were never intense but they didn’t go away 100% either.
I was never “disgusted” by the sight or smell of sweets, or carbs, or soda. I wasn’t jonesing either.
Like I’ve said before, my greatest cravings were while I was driving on a trip 45 minutes or longer. After ignoring the cravings, they passed after a few minutes. I was fine again and went about my day.
We’re all different, and some people will legitimately struggle for beyond more than a few days.
If you’ve struggled keeping your carbs under control, have you considered a day of the week where you cheat?
First of all, what is a Ketogenic diet?
There are multiple forms.
The standard ketogenic diet is a low-carb diet that puts emphasis on fat consumption. Ideally, 60% of total calories should come from fat, 35% from protein, and 5% from carbohydrates.
This type of eating will kick your body into ketosis, which is an increase in ketones in your body’s tissues. This can have the added benefit of lowering blood sugar levels. At this point, your body runs out of sugar stores as an energy source. The body will still have to burn energy, and that energy will now come from ketones.
Cyclical ketogenic diet
Six days on with one day off? There’s a term for this, and it’s called the cyclical ketogenic diet.
While this is based in keto in terms of fat/protein/carb ratio, there’s one key difference: one or even two days per week, you don’t need to pay attention to ratios. You will, however, still need to keep your calories below a certain amount.
If you haven’t figured out what your max calories are, look into that here.
Days “off” the cyclical ketogenic diet are what’s referred to as refeeding days. This is said to have some benefits, such as boosting strength and muscle.
Like with standard Keto, for on-days one should have an intake of no more than 50 grams of carbs, and possibly as low as 20 grams, depending on how your body responds as far as weight loss.
On off-days, concentrate on good carbs, such as sweet potatoes, squash, brown rice, and beans. Avoid anything starchy, processed, or the color white. Bread, pasta, and candy are not ideal, and lead to spikes in blood sugar which sabotage your progress.
The targeted keto diet
Alternatively, there is a third way to go, and that’s targeted keto.
With this method, you get all of your carbs in one fell swoop. 30-60 minutes either before or after exercise is when you’ll take in all of your carbs for the day. As with standard keto, depending on what you hope to accomplish, you’ll consume anywhere from 20-50 grams of carbs at that time.
From then on, the rest of the day–and the day leading up to it–is strictly carnivore, or at least products that are zero-carb.
Think of it as a daily 23/1 carb fast.
The key benefit to targeted keto is advanced exercise performance. For example, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and Crossfit. Intense workouts.
The goal is to get that vaunted “carb rush” at the right time of the day, where carbs are to your benefit rather than to your peril.
Of the three main types of keto, this one is the least likely to lead to a massive weight loss.
Will I get kicked out of ketosis with such an eating plan?
Yes–at least temporarily.
If you’ve been doing a low-carb way of eating for several months, you’ll likely burn through your sugar stores quickly, and will return to ketosis in two or three days, giving you three or four days of fat as an energy source rather than sugar.
Intermittent fasting will help you get back to ketosis, by allowing insulin levels and glycogen stores to decrease more quickly.
Does cyclical keto have to be keto?
No. Any way of eating can be done in a cyclical fashion.
Tim Ferriss, the author of many self-help books, experimented with this in 2007. While not going full keto, he still avoided most carbs by sticking to a structured eating plan six days a week, while allowing himself an off day on Saturdays. His non-keto exception was legumes–actually one of the three staples on his plan.
Ferriss’ result? 15 pounds lost with 10 pounds of muscle gain in six weeks.
Can I resume an animal-based eating pattern by adding in carbs?
Yes. Animal foods are still the base of an animal-based diet. Always.
What we’re looking at here is just a matter of how to complement your animal food of choice.
My go-to side would be a cruciferous vegetable.
Instead of spinach, for example, go with sweet potato instead. Instead of broccoli, maybe choose brown rice. Instead of collard greens, opt for squash.
Spinach, broccoli, and collard greens all have carbohydrates, they’re just not as dense in those carbohydrates.
What would I do here?
It’s your own body, so you need to make a decision at the end of the day. I’m not here to give you permission one way or the other.
OK, OK. What would I do here?
For myself, personally, having a carb day one day a week just for the sake of having a carb day is not something I’m going to be doing anytime soon.
Will I have cake or ice cream or a slice of pizza, or even a beer, for a special event. Yes. But it has to be a special event, and it’s not going to be on a once-per-week basis.
I will aim for a week of zero carb days every day of the week. There’s no need for me to put on a ton of extra muscle in the gym. I’m not a bodybuilder. I’m fairly happy with my workouts and what I’m able to accomplish. I do what I do and it works for me.
But if you’re not satisfied with how much muscle you’re putting on, then of course explore taking a day off of keto per week. However, it’s imperative you set a day in which to deviate from keto–and stick to that day. Otherwise, it’s just an arbitrary cheat meal, which can turn into a cheat day, a cheat week, a cheat month, etc.
Before you know it, you’ve put on 10, 15, 20, 30 pounds of weight. That’s something you know you don’t want to do.
In a word: “caution.”
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