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KETO CYCLING FOR WOMEN:

A HOW-TO GUIDE, WITH THOMAS DELAUER

So, you’ve been doing keto for a few months, and you’re wondering the obvious question: What’s next? Do I just keep eating this way—forever?

At some point after you got over the initial side effects of keto, you realized that you were staying full for hours between meals, buzzing with steady energy, and leaning out—even those last five pounds that had always stubbornly stuck around. You resolved to keep doing keto, forever...

But it’s been a few months, and maybe the initial improvements you saw are now a distant memory. Maybe you’re feeling fatigued again. Maybe you feel great—until you hit mile 11 of your long run. Maybe you’re getting insomnia, even though you’ve never had trouble falling asleep. Maybe you’re craving carbs like a mother. Or maybe your body is still loving keto, but you’re just plain bored with your diet—or frustrated that the occasional beer and fries with friends, or your mom’s special apple pie, are off-limits.

This is the point where you’ll swear you can hear an internal voice whispering, “Take a break from keto!” Even ketogenic expert Thomas DeLauer has hit the wall before. We know—we asked him to help us cover this tricky period for adherents to the ketogenic lifestyle.

Thomas explained that there is a way you can harness the immune-boosting gains of the keto diet and eat the carbs you need or want. It’s called keto cycling. Lucky for you, all the specifics and plans below are directly from him.

Keto cycling is a tool you can use once you’ve adapted to ketosis.

It involves alternating between high-fat, very-low-carb periods and high-carb, low-fat, lower-calorie periods. These cycles allow you to harness the sheer energy carbs offer, without losing your ability to use fat for fuel. You’ll want to follow specific guidelines to fully maximize the benefits of both carbs and fat—find all the details, straight from Thomas, below.


TRADITIONAL KETO VS. KETO CYCLING

Traditional keto is remarkably effective for weight loss and long-term health maintenance. In one study of obese patients on a ketogenic diet, weight and BMI both decreased significantly across the board, while other vital health markers improved: LDL cholesterol, blood glucose, and triglycerides decreased, and patients saw no significant side effects.

High-fat, low-carb diets like keto:

  • Improve blood sugar control
  • Have cancer-fighting benefits
  • Neurological benefits

That’s because they reduce inflammation by blocking pro-inflammatory pathways in the body, increasing anti-inflammatory neuromodulators, and boosting metabolic change.

Cyclical keto, on the other hand, allows you to maintain all the benefits of a traditional keto diet—plus some. The goal of carb cycling, after all, is to strategically target carb intake during periods of maximal benefit.

CARBS CAN HELP BUILD MUSCLE & BOOST ENERGY

If you’re doing high-intensity exercise of any kind, you may need to incorporate some kind of high-carb period into your diet to build lean muscle and help repair damage. Boosting carbs lends you energy and helps you refuel muscle glycogen, which can improve performance and boost muscle repair and strength.

KETO CYCLING CAN HELP WITH HORMONE BALANCE

In some women, ketogenic diets can lead to adrenal fatigue and thyroid malfunctioning, reducing T3 production. Periodically cycling in carbohydrates can help balance your hormones. And remember how keto alone can improve blood sugar control? Strategically adding carbs around workouts can also help improve insulin sensitivity, making it easier to avoid blood sugar spikes.

CARBOHYDRATES ADD NEEDED MICRONUTRIENTS TO YOUR DIET

In some women, ketogenic diets can lead to adrenal fatigue and thyroid malfunctioning, reducing T3 production. Periodically cycling in carbohydrates can help balance your hormones. And remember how keto alone can improve blood sugar control? Strategically adding carbs around workouts can also help improve insulin sensitivity, making it easier to avoid blood sugar spikes.

CHANGING THINGS UP STIMULATES THE METABOLISM (AND THE LIBIDO)

Back to hormones, here—keto alone improves metabolic functioning by transitioning your body to a primarily fat-based system. Adding carbs can improve the functioning of leptin and ghrelin, two hormones that play an essential role in regulating weight and appetite. It also stimulates the thyroid to produce thyrin, in turn stimulating the metabolism. And for many, spontaneous changes in diet result in a noticeable boost in libido.

CARB CYCLING MAKES KETO MORE SUSTAINABLE

Eating keto day after day can be just plain hard to maintain. Carb cycling provides flexibility, and allows you to add carbs to suit your performance goals and lifestyle.


3 METHODS OF CYCLICAL KETO

Yeah, you better bet keto cycling sounds like a good option! But maybe you’re wondering how you can incorporate it into your lifestyle.

There are three ways to strategically incorporate carbs into a cyclical ketogenic diet. Targeted keto incorporates carbs strategically, after high-intensity workouts. Periodized carb cycling rotates carbs and keto on through weeks-long cycles. And the 6/1 plan keeps you on strict keto six days a week, with a single high-carb day of your choice.

Let’s take a more extensive look at each of these options:

HOW IT WORKS:

"To maximize the impact of the carbs you’re eating while you’re on keto, strategically consolidate your daily allotted carbs around workouts. This means eating 20 to 30 grams of carbohydrates immediately post-workout, 3 to 4 times per week. I recommend splitting your carbs between glucose and fructose—fruit and starch is an ideal combo. Try a small portion of cooked sweet potato with a handful of berries. This strategy may kick you out of ketosis, but only temporarily. Meanwhile, you can target carb consumption for better, faster recovery after high-intensity workouts without losing the overall benefits of ketosis."

WHO IT'S GOOD FOR: Athletes, weight-lifters, those whose primary goal is athletic performance and recovery.

HOW IT WORKS:

"When I talk about keto cycling, this is the option I’m generally referring to. This plan alternates long periods of ketosis (anywhere from 4 weeks to several months) with shorter, carb-heavy periods (2 to 4 weeks long). The ratio I recommend is 6:2—so for example, 6 weeks on ketosis, and 2 weeks of carb-loading. The 2 to 4 week time period for carb-loading is essential—you want to give your body extended time to refeed on carbs, but not long enough it forgets how to use fat as fuel. During the carb-loading period, you’ll eat high amounts of healthy, slow-digesting carbs but cut fat and calories. Your body maintains its ability to use fats for fuel during this period, but you also get the energy of carbs."

WHO IT'S GOOD FOR: Runners or other athletes who need to prep for races or meets periodically, those who find keto alone doesn’t provide enough energy, those who want to alternate between building strength and losing fat, and those who want to strategically plan higher-carb periods around holidays, travel, and other scheduled plans.

HOW IT WORKS:

"This is essentially a version of the “cheat day”—but I prefer to avoid that term, because it implies that changing your diet for a day is bad for your body or your diet. It’s not. Here, you stay on keto for 6 days a week, but bump up carbs on the 7th day to satisfy carb cravings and improve sleep, immune function, gut bacteria, and joint health."

WHO IT'S GOOD FOR: Those who want more diet flexibility or just can’t give up carbs for long periods of time, those who have one high-energy-expenditure event per week (a long run, for example) and could use an energy boost.


KETO CYCLING, STEP-BY-STEP

Ready to get started? Follow these steps from Thomas DeLauer to begin incorporating periodized carb cycles into your ketogenic lifestyle.

1. Follow the ketogenic diet for a minimum of 6 to 10 weeks. This step is not skippable. It’s essential that you give your mitochondria time to adapt to using fat as their main fuel source, and you can only do that by being in ketosis for an extended period of time.

2. When you’re ready to start your carb-loading cycle, gently exit ketosis by introducing healthy, slow-digesting carbohydrates, such as butternut squash and sweet potatoes, berries and small amounts of fruit, grains like buckwheat, quinoa, and teff, and legumes like lentils.

3. Reduce your fat intake dramatically, while lowering your total calorie intake. Carbs have fewer calories per gram than fat, which means that while the total volume of food you’re eating will naturally increase, the caloric quantity will go down. You’re getting your energy from glucose now. High fat will only create ketones in the absence of carbs, so reduce your fat intake by approximately 75% during your high-carb stage.

4. Do not eat processed sugar and carbs. The key benefit of ketosis is lower insulin levels, so it’s very important to not introduce high-glycemic carbohydrates and undo the progress you made while in ketosis.

5. Power up your workouts during this period, since you’ll be bursting with extra energy. After 2 to 4 weeks, when you’re ready to transition back to ketosis, slowly taper off high-carb foods and bulk up on fats over the course of a day or two.


KETO CYCLING FAQS

Still have some questions? We got you. We asked Thomas to answer some of the most frequently asked questions he gets about keto cycles.

1. Is the ketogenic diet really okay for women’s health and hormones?
Yes, girl. In fact, keto might actually work better for women than it does for men (as DeLauer says, sorry fellas!). Women’s bodies have a higher fat mass, which means women are actually better able to utilize fats, burning more fat than men. And keto can help stabilize hormones in the long term, increase fertility, and dramatically improve PCOS symptoms.

2. Should I incorporate intermittent fasting, too?
Just like keto, intermittent fasting can lower insulin levels—and you can do both at the same time! It really comes down to whether the restraints of intermittent fasting working for you. IF requires 16-20 hours without food, and it can be excellent for weight loss.

3. What foods are good for keto cycles?
Focus on high-quality meat and poultry, wild-caught fish, healthy fats, and lots of leafy greens. DeLauer has compiled complete meal plans for women on his YouTube channel.

4. What kinds of carbs should I be eating during carb-loading cycles?
Choose complex carbs with lots of fiber—think winter squash, sweet potatoes, lentils and beans, brown rice, oats, and ancient grains like quinoa, along with moderate amounts of fruit.

5. How much protein should I eat?
Should I change my protein consumption when I switch from keto to carb loading? DeLauer recommends between 0.5 and 0.6 grams of protein per pound of body weight if you are trying to maintain weight or build muscle, with increased protein for those attempting to lose weight without losing muscle.

6. Will keto cycles work to maintain weight?
Yes. It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle, and one that supports your weight goals, whether you’re trying to lose, maintain, or gain. You can try tracking your macros to make sure that on average, you’re sticking to your daily caloric needs.

7. Is keto—and keto cycling—okay during pregnancy?
Pregnant women need more carbs because glucose literally fuels the development of fetal organs and body systems—so consider your entire pregnancy a high-carb cycle. Fun fact:Ketosis happens naturally quite often in women who are pregnant, especially in the late stages. The fetus uses ketones before and immediately after birth to make essential fats in the brain during growth.


BALANCE COMPETING NEEDS WITH KETO CYCLING

Carbs and fats react with our body in drastically different ways, with different benefits. Fats digest slowly, and are broken down and sent off to various parts of the body before the remainder is stored. On a low-carb diet, fats are converted to ketones, which are used for energy.

Carbs, on the other hand, can be rapidly digested and used almost immediately for energy—which is why you need to reduce your fat substantially when you bump up carbs. Your body still needs a small amount of fat for essential functions, but it can’t utilize the rest as energy and just ends up storing it in your cells.

The beauty of keto cycles is that you can leverage the benefits of both fat and carbs—instant energy when you need it, and sustained fat-burning and metabolism-boosting benefits even when you’re not in ketosis. Keto cycling is the key to maintaining keto for years. Simply put, it’s the most sustainable lifestyle choice!


THOMAS DELAUER

Thomas Delauer is a ketogenic lifestyle expert and active athlete who leans on established medical research to provide advice about optimizing health through the keto diet. His ideas have been tried and tested—first by himself and his family, and then by his large audience. Find more of his work at his website, thomasdelauer.com.

FIND YOUR CHI.
BE HEALTHY.
LIVE HAPPY.

KETO CYCLING FOR WOMEN:

A HOW-TO GUIDE, WITH THOMAS DELAUER

So, you’ve been doing keto for a few months, and you’re wondering the obvious question: What’s next? Do I just keep eating this way—forever?

At some point after you got over the initial side effects of keto, you realized that you were staying full for hours between meals, buzzing with steady energy, and leaning out—even those last five pounds that had always stubbornly stuck around. You resolved to keep doing keto, forever.

But it’s been a few months, and maybe the initial improvements you saw are now a distant memory. Maybe you’re feeling fatigued again. Maybe you feel great—until you hit mile 11 of your long run. Maybe you’re getting insomnia, even though you’ve never had trouble falling asleep. Maybe you’re craving carbs like a mother. Or maybe your body is still loving keto, but you’re just plain bored with your diet—or frustrated that the occasional beer and fries with friends, or your mom’s special apple pie, are off-limits.

This is the point where you’ll swear you can hear an internal voice whispering, “Take a break from keto!” Even ketogenic expert Thomas DeLauer has hit the wall. We know—we asked him to help us cover this tricky period for adherents to the ketogenic lifestyle. He told us there’s a way you can harness the immune-boosting gains of the keto diet and eat the carbs you need or want. It’s called keto cycling.

Keto cycling is a tool you can use once you’ve adapted to ketosis. It involves alternating between high-fat, very-low-carb periods and high-carb, low-fat, lower-calorie periods. These cycles allow you to harness the sheer energy carbs offer, without losing your ability to use fat for fuel. You’ll want to follow specific guidelines to fully maximize the benefits of both carbs and fat—find all the details, straight from Thomas, below.


TRADITIONAL KETO VS. KETO CYCLING

Traditional keto is remarkably effective for weight loss and long-term health maintenance. In one study of obese patients on a ketogenic diet, weight and BMI both decreased significantly across the board, while other vital health markers improved: LDL cholesterol, blood glucose, and triglycerides decreased, and patients saw no significant side effects.

High-fat, low-carb diets like keto:

  • Improve blood sugar control
  • Have cancer-fighting benefits
  • Neurological benefits

That’s because they reduce inflammation by blocking pro-inflammatory pathways in the body, increasing anti-inflammatory neuromodulators, and boosting metabolic change.

Cyclical keto, on the other hand, allows you to maintain all the benefits of a traditional keto diet—plus some. The goal of carb cycling, after all, is to strategically target carb intake during periods of maximal benefit.

CARBS CAN HELP BUILD MUSCLE & BOOST ENERGY

If you’re doing high-intensity exercise of any kind, you may need to incorporate some kind of high-carb period into your diet to build lean muscle and help repair damage. Boosting carbs lends you energy and helps you refuel muscle glycogen, which can improve performance and boost muscle repair and strength.

KETO CYCLING CAN ALSO HELP WITH HORMONE BALANCE

In some women, ketogenic diets can lead to adrenal fatigue and thyroid malfunctioning, reducing T3 production. Periodically cycling in carbohydrates can help balance your hormones. And remember how keto alone can improve blood sugar control? Strategically adding carbs around workouts can also help improve insulin sensitivity, making it easier to avoid blood sugar spikes.

CARBOHYDRATES ADD NEEDED MICRONUTRIENTS TO YOUR DIET

The keto diet is good for a lot of things, but it can be hard to get some of the nutrients you need on a limited diet. Carb-heavy periods introduce variety and boost levels of nutrients that keto diets often lack, such as the B vitamins and selenium, choline, vitamins A, E, D, chromium, iodine, magnesium, and molybdenum.

CHANGING THINGS UP STIMULATES THE METABOLISM (AND THE LIBIDO)

Back to hormones, here—keto alone improves metabolic functioning by transitioning your body to a primarily fat-based system. Adding carbs can improve the functioning of leptin and ghrelin, two hormones that play an essential role in regulating weight and appetite. It also stimulates the thyroid to produce thyrin, in turn stimulating the metabolism. And for many, spontaneous changes in diet result in a noticeable boost in libido.

CARB CYCLING MAKES KETO MORE SUSTAINABLE

Eating keto day after day can be just plain hard to maintain. Carb cycling provides flexibility, and allows you to add carbs to suit your performance goals and lifestyle.


3 METHODS OF CYCLICAL KETO

Yeah, you better bet keto cycling sounds like a good option! But maybe you’re wondering how you can incorporate it into your lifestyle.

There are three ways to strategically incorporate carbs into a cyclical ketogenic diet. Targeted keto incorporates carbs strategically, after high-intensity workouts. Periodized carb cycling rotates carbs and keto on through weeks-long cycles. And the 6/1 plan keeps you on strict keto six days a week, with a single high-carb day of your choice.

Let’s take a more extensive look at each of these options:

HOW IT WORKS: To maximize the impact of the carbs you’re eating while you’re on keto, strategically consolidate your daily allotted carbs around workouts. This means eating 20 to 30 grams of carbohydrates immediately post-workout, 3 to 4 times per week. I recommend splitting your carbs between glucose and fructose—fruit and starch is an ideal combo. Try a small portion of cooked sweet potato with a handful of berries. This strategy may kick you out of ketosis, but only temporarily. Meanwhile, you can target carb consumption for better, faster recovery after high-intensity workouts without losing the overall benefits of ketosis.

WHO IT'S GOOD FOR: Athletes, weight-lifters, those whose primary goal is athletic performance and recovery.

HOW IT WORKS: When I talk about keto cycling, this is the option I’m generally referring to. This plan alternates long periods of ketosis (anywhere from 4 weeks to several months) with shorter, carb-heavy periods (2 to 4 weeks long). The ratio I recommend is 6:2—so for example, 6 weeks on ketosis, and 2 weeks of carb-loading. The 2 to 4 week time period for carb-loading is essential—you want to give your body extended time to refeed on carbs, but not long enough it forgets how to use fat as fuel. During the carb-loading period, you’ll eat high amounts of healthy, slow-digesting carbs but cut fat and calories. Your body maintains its ability to use fats for fuel during this period, but you also get the energy of carbs.

WHO IT'S GOOD FOR: Runners or other athletes who need to prep for races or meets periodically, those who find keto alone doesn’t provide enough energy, those who want to alternate between building strength and losing fat, and those who want to strategically plan higher-carb periods around holidays, travel, and other scheduled plans.

HOW IT WORKS: This is essentially a version of the “cheat day”—but I prefer to avoid that term, because it implies that changing your diet for a day is bad for your body or your diet. It’s not. Here, you stay on keto for 6 days a week, but bump up carbs on the 7th day to satisfy carb cravings and improve sleep, immune function, gut bacteria, and joint health.

WHO IT'S GOOD FOR: Those who want more diet flexibility or just can’t give up carbs for long periods of time, those who have one high-energy-expenditure event per week (a long run, for example) and could use an energy boost.


KETO CYCLING, STEP-BY-STEP

Ready to get started? Follow these steps to begin incorporating periodized carb cycles into your ketogenic lifestyle.

1. Follow the ketogenic diet for a minimum of 6 to 10 weeks. This step is not skippable. It’s essential that you give your mitochondria time to adapt to using fat as their main fuel source, and you can only do that by being in ketosis for an extended period of time.

2. When you’re ready to start your carb-loading cycle, gently exit ketosis by introducing healthy, slow-digesting carbohydrates, such as butternut squash and sweet potatoes, berries and small amounts of fruit, grains like buckwheat, quinoa, and teff, and legumes like lentils.

3. Reduce your fat intake dramatically, while lowering your total calorie intake. Carbs have fewer calories per gram than fat, which means that while the total volume of food you’re eating will naturally increase, the caloric quantity will go down. You’re getting your energy from glucose now. High fat will only create ketones in the absence of carbs, so reduce your fat intake by approximately 75% during your high-carb stage.

4. Do not eat processed sugar and carbs. The key benefit of ketosis is lower insulin levels, so it’s very important to not introduce high-glycemic carbohydrates and undo the progress you made while in ketosis.

5. Power up your workouts during this period, since you’ll be bursting with extra energy. After 2 to 4 weeks, when you’re ready to transition back to ketosis, slowly taper off high-carb foods and bulk up on fats over the course of a day or two.


KETO CYCLING FAQS

Still have some questions? We got you. We asked Thomas to answer some of the most frequently asked questions he gets about keto cycles.

1. Is the ketogenic diet really okay for women’s health and hormones?
Yes, girl. In fact, keto might actually work better for women than it does for men (as DeLauer says, sorry fellas!). Women’s bodies have a higher fat mass, which means women are actually better able to utilize fats, burning more fat than men. And keto can help stabilize hormones in the long term, increase fertility, and dramatically improve PCOS symptoms.

2. Should I incorporate intermittent fasting, too?
Just like keto, intermittent fasting can lower insulin levels—and you can do both at the same time! It really comes down to whether the restraints of intermittent fasting working for you. IF requires 16-20 hours without food, and it can be excellent for weight loss.

3. What foods are good for keto cycles?
Focus on high-quality meat and poultry, wild-caught fish, healthy fats, and lots of leafy greens. DeLauer has compiled complete meal plans for women on his YouTube channel.

4. What kinds of carbs should I be eating during carb-loading cycles?
Choose complex carbs with lots of fiber—think winter squash, sweet potatoes, lentils and beans, brown rice, oats, and ancient grains like quinoa, along with moderate amounts of fruit.

5. How much protein should I eat?
Should I change my protein consumption when I switch from keto to carb loading? DeLauer recommends between 0.5 and 0.6 grams of protein per pound of body weight if you are trying to maintain weight or build muscle, with increased protein for those attempting to lose weight without losing muscle.

6. Will keto cycles work to maintain weight?
Yes. It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle, and one that supports your weight goals, whether you’re trying to lose, maintain, or gain. You can try tracking your macros to make sure that on average, you’re sticking to your daily caloric needs.

7. Is keto—and keto cycling—okay during pregnancy?
Pregnant women need more carbs because glucose literally fuels the development of fetal organs and body systems—so consider your entire pregnancy a high-carb cycle. Fun fact:Ketosis happens naturally quite often in women who are pregnant, especially in the late stages. The fetus uses ketones before and immediately after birth to make essential fats in the brain during growth.


BALANCE COMPETING NEEDS WITH KETO CYCLING

Carbs and fats react with our body in drastically different ways, with different benefits. Fats digest slowly, and are broken down and sent off to various parts of the body before the remainder is stored. On a low-carb diet, fats are converted to ketones, which are used for energy.

Carbs, on the other hand, can be rapidly digested and used almost immediately for energy—which is why you need to reduce your fat substantially when you bump up carbs. Your body still needs a small amount of fat for essential functions, but it can’t utilize the rest as energy and just ends up storing it in your cells.

The beauty of keto cycles is that you can leverage the benefits of both fat and carbs—instant energy when you need it, and sustained fat-burning and metabolism-boosting benefits even when you’re not in ketosis. Keto cycling is the key to maintaining keto for years. Simply put, it’s the most sustainable lifestyle choice!


THOMAS DELAUER

Thomas Delauer is a ketogenic lifestyle expert and active athlete who leans on established medical research to provide advice about optimizing health through the keto diet. His ideas have been tried and tested—first by himself and his family, and then by his large audience. Find more of his work at his website, thomasdelauer.com.

FIND YOUR CHI.
BE HEALTHY.
LIVE HAPPY.