cyclical ketogenic diet

Cyclical Ketogenic Diet for Women

If you are a woman, sorry guys, not to leave you out but this article is more focused on women and factors that can stall us on our weight loss journey with a ketogenic diet.

Can you relate to Julie?

I can, as this is what happened to me. I was a fat burning machine for the first part of my journey but then my weight loss stopped in its track and just wouldn’t budge. I stayed on course and demonstrated patience but after 4 months of being at the same weight, I started to do some research because I knew that something wasn’t right.

I can understand if I was at a low body percentage and I was fighting for those last couple pounds to meet a number on the scale versus trying to burn the excess fat on my body. I still had about 20 additional pounds on my body that I was carrying around. So I knew that I needed to seek some answers.

This is what I found

It is quite common that woman on a ketogenic diet will lose at the beginning but their weight loss can stall after a long period of time being on a low carb diet and the reason for this can be that your hormones and metabolism get impacted and you stop burning. I also learned that our bodies are very smart vessels and if you do the same thing over and over, it will start to know what to do with what you are doing to it and just start to function in its new state, it gets comfortable is another way to put it.

To avoid these things happening to you, I have learned a couple practices that have worked for me and I was finally able to break that weight loss plateau after a couple weeks. These might not be for everyone but they are worth a shot if you experience a plateau. And by plateau I mean you are at the same weight for over a month, not a couple weeks.

The two things I am going to cover with you are:cyclical Ketogenic diet

  1. Carb-up’s for women, also known as cyclical ketosis
  2. Practicing eating at different times

I started to practice cyclical ketosis and mixing up my eating windows and what do you know, the weight dipped below my lowest number. I was ecstatic! And who knew? I can honestly tell you that I don’t enjoy “carb-ups”. It feels wrong to me to be munching on carbs and my head feels funny after and I’m exhausted but tricking my body was exactly what I needed.

Let’s dig in further about what exactly is a cyclical ketogenic diet and why it is good for women? And how can you learn more?

What is a Cyclical Ketogenic Diet?

A Cyclical Ketogenic Diet, or also referred to as CKD for short. CKD means that for the majority of the time you were eating a low-carb, high fat, moderate protein diet, however, there is a period of time in which you will carb-up or re-feed on carbs. On the day(s) that you decide to carb-up, you won’t eating high fat on those days, you will switch your diet macros to a higher carb, higher or same for protein and low-fat.

A meal you may choose to have is pasta, rice or sweet potatoes.

Benefits of it for Women

While on a ketogenic or a low-carb diet, if you are experiencing some following, this might indicate that you need to implement a carb-up:

  • loss of your menstrual cycle
  • losing hair
  • lack of sleep
  • dry skin
  • brittle nails
  • inability to lose weight on a ketogenic diet

These are just a few, not anywhere near an exhaustive list but if you experience any of these and or you just don’t “feel right” but can’t explain it while on a ketogenic diet you might need a carb-up.

This is not a free for all on what you eat, nor is it a day to eat junk food all day. What do you eat on carb-up’s? Natural carbohydrates like potatoes or rice, or maple syrup or honey if you want something sweet. You still remain grain free and white sugar-free while carbing-up.

For women, it can be beneficial to eat carbohydrates to help balance your hormones, an example of that is your leptin. Wikipedia defines Leptin as the “hormone of energy expenditure”, [it] is a hormone predominantly made by adipose cells that helps to regulate energy balance by inhibiting hunger. Leptin is opposed by the actions of the hormone ghrelin, the “hunger hormone”.

Leptin is mainly produced by fat cells, so the more fat you have, the more leptin you produce, when you start to lose fat you will stop producing Leptin, and leptin is the responder that tells your brain you are hungry. But that’s not all, as you may know, your hormones can all work together to support their functioning, and Leptin is no exception. Leptin helps regulate the thyroid gland and the adrenals.

If Leptin is malfunctioning on your body, you can now understand why you might be at a weight loss plateau and by resetting your leptin levels might work in your favor. If you do try a carb-up, try to pay attention to how hungry you are the next morning and really listen to your body and if you are really hungry before you eat your meal one. You might find that you could fast all day long. This is the indicator that your leptin levels are restored.

Meal Plans that Support Carb Up’s

Leanne Vogel is an advocate of carbing up for balancing your hormones and resetting your leptin. You can visit her meal plan option on my page: Ketogenic Meal Plans.

Leanne is a keto enthusiast and bestselling author, her latest book The Keto Diet. Her website is packed with ketogenic information including Balanced Keto Weekly Meal Plans which include carb up meals.

Let’s see what Leanne says about carb-up’s:

Eating at different times:

Another way to help with a weight loss plateau is to change your eating window routine. Intermittent fasting (IF) is a common practice on the ketogenic diet, which means you are eating within an eating window always and then fasting the remainder of the time. A common IF time frame is 8 hours eating window and 16 hours of fasting.

When I first started to practice IF, I ate between 10AM – 6PM and I fasted from 6PM-10AM. This was easy to achieve and often I would get to noon and I wasn’t hungry to eat yet, so my eating window that day would change from 12-8, however, I would never extend my eating window passed 6PM unless it was a special event that I was attending.

IF is a great way to lose the weight while on a ketogenic diet because you give your blood sugar a break from peaking while eating foods and you are a fat burner for 16 hours including while you are sleeping. Brilliant right? Right! However, you might find that you are now in complacency. When your body learns and expects when you will be fueling it, then it knows exactly what to do with the fuel you are giving it, including holding on to it and not burning anything extra.

This could be another reason your weight has plateaued. I recommend continuing with your IF eating windows but change up your schedule. For example, some morning I will drink a fat burning milkshake at 8AM and I will finish eating that day by 4PM, or the next day I might fast until 12PM, which means I actually fasted 20 whole hours! By changing things up, you are shocking your body and it can kick it into fat burning mode because you are fueling it with the nutrients it needs, there is no risk that you will move into starvation mode. Remember if it needs fuel, it will just tap into your own reserves.

It’s worth a try

Carb-Up’s and changing your eating windows up can be two methods to try if you hit a weight loss plateau or experiencing some uncomfortable things I mentioned above in the Benefits of it for Women section. But as a reminder, only if you are fat adapted can you decide to reintroduce carbohydrates. If you are not fat adapted, your body still prefers to fuel by carbs, so you will struggle to get back into ketosis and you might experience the keto flu again.  I also highly recommend following a plan like Leanne Vogels to ensure you are doing carb-ups effectively.





6 thoughts on “Cyclical Ketogenic Diet for Women”

  1. Jennifer Etter

    I loved reading through this overview as I have often wondered about the ketogenic diet. I have noticed it becoming very popular on my smartfeed on pinterest. I’m curious— was it hard to adjust to this kind of lifestyle or a relatively easy transition? As a busy mom worry about having the time to prepare a separate meal for me from the rest of the family. Thanks for sharing this information!

    1. HI Jennifer, Thanks for your comment and I love that you are hearing more about the Ketogenic diet and it is peaking your interest. I personally think keto can be much simpler than it might appear.  There can be a lot of prep work for some meals, but I typically do those on Sunday’s so that all weak I can grab stuff out of the fridge or freezer.  I also find I alter meals that are Ketogenic to feed my family, for example rice or mashed potatoes on the side.  Best of luck if you decide to do Keto, I think you’ll love it! ~ Lyndsay

  2. I have heard good things about the Keto Diet and am thinking about trying it. But I have a husband who loves his potatoes, pasta, sweets–you name it! But he will support both of us eating better, so I think he would be on board.

    But I also work as a rural postal carrier and am on call during the week. Do you think I will be able to make this diet work without a stable schedule of eating times?

    I’d really like to try it!

    1. Hi Janelle, Absolutely I do!  I think Keto is quite easy to be on once you get into a grove and understand your macros.  I have things like boiled eggs, pepperoni sticks, bacon in my fridge at all times when I need to grab something on the go!  You can also make yourself a fat fueled cooled beverage that you can take on the road and it could be filled with yummy nut butters and MCT oil, stevia, cocoa … you name it!  Chocolate Milk Shakes are my favorite on the keto diet.  You can check out my recipe here: https://enthusiasticaboutfood…. ~ Lyndsay

  3. After 9 1/2 months of keto (89 pounds lost) I hit a stall for the last 6 weeks, no weight loss, in fact I gained 2-5 pounds on any given day. I was frustrated but didnt want to give up. I also have been sleeping less and have had dry skin. I tried all the normal stuff for keto stalls, made sure I was tracking my macros and I had crept up to 28-30 carbs per day, so I adjusted that back down to 20 net carbs, made sure my fat% was correct, adjusted calories…even did a strict keto for 2 weeks of 20 TOTAL carbs per day (which is about 10 net carbs)…NOTHING worked.

    I decided to do a carb up and went to sonic (I know horrible choice, but oh well) bought a 5 piece chicken dinner ate the whole thing, gravy, bread, tots, etc. and a diet dr pepper (1/2 of it, and first one I have had in 9 months)…the whole meal was disgusting to me , but added about 120-140 carbs for my day.

    I slept better that night and dropped 1 pound 4 oz overnight! The second day (which I ate 2 meals and normally would have only ate 1 meal) I lost 6 oz, putting me at my lowest weight in 6 weeks, I still need to lose 8 more ounces to break my stall but I am hopeful that I am back on track.

    No keto flu symptoms so far and this was 3 days ago, I did not feel exhausted after eating that meal, I did feel so full that I felt like I would pop! I will contribute no symptoms to being faithful to the keto diet for 9 1/2 months so I was 100% fat adapted. I rarely measure my ketones anymore (and unfortunately am out of strips as I test it by blood which is more reliable) but would have been neat to take my reading before the meal and then once a day for a week after the meal to see when I reached ketosis.

    (I started at 280, I am 5’2″ female , I am today 191.8 , my lowest weight is 191.2, before carb uping I had gone up to 196 and would fluctuate for the past 6 weeks between 193-196 pounds, so I am crossing my fingers my weight starts dropping again)

    1. Amazing Christy, thank you so much for sharing this and your story. I think what you are proving is that women’s bodies with our hormones are complicated and that the right carbs can be helpful in our pursuit for weightloss. For me, my body tells me when it’s time for a carb-up, I literally dream about it and I can’t get starches out of my mind! I am the same for protein, if I am craving it, I am literally dreaming about fried eggs. I find is fascinating, and I love learning about experiences like yours. I’d love to hear how things progress for you, if you think to come back and update us! ~ Lyndsay

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