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Why You Should Try a Cyclical Keto Diet for Optimal Health

Why You Should Try a Cyclical Keto Diet for Optimal Health

The ketogenic/low-carb, high-fat diet is a wonderful diet that most people should at least try once in their lifetime for optimal health, and seeing as it can be quite daunting, the cyclical keto diet might be the answer to those struggling to commit fully. The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet. It differs from the Atkins diet, because it is a moderate protein diet that allows you to consume more butter, cream, and bacon. The Atkins diet contains more protein and less fat.

Both these diets are good, but we have personally felt more benefit from the keto diet. The ketogenic diet has a lot of benefits for optimal health, which include:

  • Improved brain health thanks to the production of ketones, such as beta-hydroxybutyrate, as well as the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which aids nerve growth and optimal brain health.
  • Becoming fat-adapted, as by eating more fat, you train your body to burn fat for energy instead of glucose. Being able to rely on both fat and glucose for energy brings you closer to optimal health.
  • Fat loss, thanks to the body becoming fat-adapted, and the reduction of insulin levels. Insulin is elevated by sugar and carbohydrates that are turned into glucose in the body. When insulin is elevated, it stimulates fat gain and prevents fat loss.

Except for cases where people have conditions like epilepsy or they get seizures, I wouldn’t recommend following a ketogenic diet permanently, but rather taking a cycling approach. This diet mimics the fasting state, so if you are eating ketogenic all the time, especially if your diet consists of 90% fat or more, your body will think that you are starving all the time and that you are bad at finding food. This is not exactly the picture of optimal health.

Our ancestors went through periods where they could eat more carbohydrates because indigenous fruits and vegetables were in season, and they also went through periods where food was scarcer, and they fasted and ate low-carb diets. Some days, they may have only had meat to eat. The point is that they didn’t follow a low-carb, high-fat diet completely.

There is a part of the brain that does require glucose, and by following a cyclical ketogenic diet, you can experience the benefits of following a ketogenic diet, while also being able to enjoy carbohydrates at times in your life.

When you follow a cyclical ketogenic diet, you alter between following a low-carb, high-fat diet, and adding carbohydrates and eating less fat. Personally, I love cycling between a keto diet and a Mediterranean-type diet.

You can decide how you want to incorporate a cyclical keto diet into your lifestyle. There are a few options you can look at when trying to decide how to follow a cyclical ketogenic diet for optimal health, which include:

  • Following a low-carb, high-fat diet during the day and adding carbohydrates to your meal at dinner. Eating carbs before bed will help the amino acid, tryptophan, get to your brain. Tryptophan is an amino acid that your body uses to make serotonin, which calms you down and makes it easier to fall asleep. When you eat carbohydrates, it helps tryptophan reach your brain, which promotes sleep and optimal mental health.
  • Only eating carbohydrates after working out for optimal muscle growth. When you exercise, you deplete your glycogen stores in your muscles. Eating carbs after exercising, especially when using multiple muscle groups, will help to replenish the glycogen stores. Most of the glucose will be used towards repairing your muscles and get you closer toward optimal health.
  • Eating a low-carb, high-fat diet during the week and allowing carbohydrates on the weekend. This is a more socially friendly approach, and allows you to be more flexible when eating out or at a party.
  • Eating carbohydrates in the morning, and then being low-carb from lunchtime. This is a good approach for people who love their breakfast carbs and want to lose weight. Eating carbohydrates in the morning means that you will have time during the day to burn it off.
  • Doing the low-carb, high-fat diet for a few months, and then switching to a diet that includes carbohydrates for a few months. If you are an athlete, you can follow a low-carb, high-fat diet in the off season, and then eat carbohydrates when training a lot again. 
  • You can also reserve carbohydrates for days where you work out harder. A gentle yoga session might not be strenuous enough for your body to deplete its glycogen stores enough, but if you do something that works up a sweat, then you can have carbs on those days, and limit your carbohydrates on days where you don’t work out or do light exercise.

For most people, eliminating carbohydrates completely is rather unrealistic, but following a cyclical ketogenic diet approach allows you to get most of the benefits of a low-carb, high-fat diet, while also being able to eat carbohydrates. Cyclical eating is the closest you will get to the best of both worlds in terms of diet.

A cyclical ketogenic diet also reduces the chances of developing nutrient deficiencies, as it allows you to have more variety in your diet. The more varied your diet is, the more nutrients you will consume, and the better your chances will be of obtaining optimal health.

One great benefit of following a cyclical ketogenic diet is that you are training your body to be able to burn both fat and glucose efficiently. If you are an athlete, for example, then this will help you greatly during a race or an event.

Your body can use the available glucose in your system, and burn your fat more easily when you run out. You will become tired a lot later than the athlete whose body purely relies on glucose.

Being able to rely on both sources of fuel thanks to a cyclical keto diet also helps with mental challenges. Your brain loves using glucose as fuel, but also gets quite a boost from ketone bodies, such as beta-hydroxybutyrate, which can improve mental sharpness. Your brain will be able to have a source of energy when you run out of glucose if you are fat-adapted.

Perhaps you have been wanting to try a keto diet, but do not know if you can give up carbs forever, or perhaps you have been keto for a while, and can’t help but miss carbs. A cyclical keto diet might be the answer. It could help you have a more balanced diet, and even remain mentally sane.

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