This article gives you the cyclical ketogenic diet food list, including what to eat on low carb and high carb days.
Cyclical Ketogenic Diet With Carb Refeeds
In case you don’t already know, the cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD) is a variation of the standard ketogenic diet (SKD) that includes periods of low carb periods, followed by 1-2 days of high carb refeeds.
Here’s what a typical cyclical ketogenic diet schedule looks like:
- 5-6 days of low carb.
- 1-2 days of high carb
The week’s menu is divided into two
- During low carb days, you eat the typical ketogenic macros – ultra-low carb, moderate protein and high fat.
- On refeed days you eat low fat, moderate protein, and high carb.
The idea of carb cycling is to suppress the body’s insulin and blood sugar levels, which will increase fat burning and has other hormonal benefits. Depleting muscle glycogen initially and then refilling them with carbs has a supercompensatory effect, which increases amino acid synthesis and torches metabolic rate.
Cyclical Ketogenic Diet Food List
Here I’ll give you the foods eaten during low carb days. These are all standard keto foods that keep insulin low and blood sugar stable.
- Keto Carbs – total macronutrient proportion <5-10%, in general, 20-50 grams NET a day
- Dark leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, asparagus, artichokes, Brussel sprouts, collard greens,
- More greens, like green beans, chard, celery, cucumber, lettuce, salad, zucchini, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, garlic, squash, mushrooms
- Low carb berries, such as blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, currants, raspberries, rhubarb.
- Keto Protein – total macronutrient proportion 15-30%, in general, 0.7-1.2 grams/lb of lean body mass
- Fatty meat, such as pork chops, chicken with skin on, ground beef, game meat, bacon, sausages without wheat, organ meats, duck, boar.
- Fatty fish, such as salmon, trout, herring, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, sprats.
- Eggs of all kind. With the yolk, of course.
- Keto Fats – total macronutrient proportion 60-80%, in general, the remainder of your calories
- Healthy oils, such as olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, MCT oil, hempseed oil.
- Healthy fats, such as butter, lard, tallow, ghee, olives, avocados, coconut milk, almond butter.
- Some nuts and seeds, like Brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, pistachios.
- Some dairy, like cheeses, sour cream, cottage cheese, raw kefir, milk, yogurt, heavy cream.
Eat these foods during your low carb periods. They’re delicious and very satiating. You could eat bacon and eggs all day every day without getting sick of it.
Cyclical Ketogenic Diet Carb Up Foods
Nevertheless, eating some carbs from time to time can be beneficial for body composition and metabolic flexibility purposes.
Here are the foods to eat on high carb refeed days. The idea here is to create a healthy insulin response that would orchestrate the shuttling of glucose into depleted muscle glycogen stores and to cause supercompensation in the size of cells. Here’s the cyclical ketogenic diet grocery list.
- Carb Up Carbs – total macronutrient proportion about 60-80%, in general, 300+ grams of carbohydrates, depending on the amount of lean muscle mass.
- Healthy Starches, like potatoes, white rice, sweet potatoes, carrots, beetroot, rice cakes, pumpkin squash. They should be the majority of your food.
- Some grains, like oatmeal, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, cream of wheat, cream of rice, pasta, bread. Don’t overeat foods that have gluten.
- Little fruit, like bananas, grapefruit, oranges, dates, figs, kiwi, peaches, pineapple, apples. Don’t eat too much fruit either because fructose cannot be synthesized as muscle glycogen and is more likely to be stored as fat.
- Very little processed food, like pizza, ketchup, pastry, popcorn, candy, fries. Some junk food is fine, as long as you follow the 80/20 rule.
- Carb Up Proteins – total macronutrient proportion about 15-30%, in general, 0.7-1.2 grams/lb of lean body mass
- Lean meats, like chicken breast, lean ground beef, pork tenderloin, rabbit, game.
- Lean fish, like tilapia, tuna, cod, whitefish.
- Low fat dairy, like cottage cheese, yogurt, whey protein, curd, skim milk and egg whites.
- Carb Up Fats – total macronutrient proportion about 5-10%, in general, as low as possible.
- You want to keep your fat intake as low as possible. Remember that the fats in processed foods are the worst kind – vegetable oils and trans fats – which are extremely inflammatory and bad. They’re also commonly laden with high-fructose corn syrup that causes diabetes.
- But you can still have low fat ice cream, kids cereal, low fat pizza, pastry, candy etc. Watch out for cookies, chocolate, and cream.
Cyclical Ketogenic Diet Menu
You should make your first meal as clean as possible. I.E. you have a dish of curcumin-curry-chicken with some lemon juice and ketchup on the side. Or have mashed potatoes with some fish and vegetables.
Afterwards, you can opt for less conventional health foods, such as frozen yogurt or ice cream. Add in some mashed bananas, grapefruit, berries, and cereal. It’s a great high carb dessert.
It’s okay to indulge in some junk food, as long as you’re the one in control of it. You shouldn’t have any more than one fattier meal, maybe some pizza or cookies. In small amounts, it may actually have a positive effect thanks to the insulin response.
One problem you may come across is binge eating or refeed syndrome. Once you start stuffing those carbs into your mouth you’ll keep doing until you’re so full you can’t even move anymore. Foods all high in salt, sugar, and fat have the tendency to make you hungrier the more you eat them.
To avoid overeating you want to structure your refeeds and the foods you eat appropriately.
- Keep a short list of the foods you crave the most during low carb periods and then eat just a little bit of them while carbing up.
- Don’t keep junk food inside the house and buy it only in preparation of the refeed.
- Space out your meals and eat slowly. If you feel like you’re about to binge then stop eating and go for a walk instead.
The cyclical ketogenic diet can be very effective for burning fat, building muscle and boosting the metabolism.
However, it still has its dangers and pitfalls that an inexperienced practitioner can easily fall into.
I’ve done the ketogenic diet since 2015 and have used CKD to build about 15 pounds of lean muscle with virtually zero fat gain. AND I did it while getting my steak, getting my cake and eating them too.
If you want to learn more about carb cycling on the ketogenic diet then you should definitely check out my Keto Carb Cycle. It gives you the knowledge, food lists, recipes, and a 30-day cyclical ketogenic diet meal plan. It’s epic.