The Cyclical Ketogenic Diet – Building Muscles With Keto

The cyclical ketogenic diet is another step for all strength athletes who have reached their plateau and who can no longer do with small refeeds like the TKD. What the cyclical diet is and how it works can be read here.

Last week, I talked about the targeted ketogenic diet, which is a modified version of the ketogenic diet. It works by taking targeted carbohydrates on training days. Another and more well-known variant is cyclical ketogenic diet, also called CKD. This variant is more suitable for professional bodybuilders as a basis for a high training volume contributes significantly to the success of the diet.

cyclical ketogenic diet
Building Muscles With Keto: The Cyclical Ketogenic Diet

So if you are still at the beginning of your training development, or not yet in ketosis for too long, then I advise you against the CKD, the refeed brings large amounts of carbohydrates and is therefore only necessary if you reach your limits in the state of ketosis, and Targeted ketogenic diet (TKD) is no longer sufficient.


Just as with the TKD, the goal of the CKD is to preserve the health and fat-burning benefits of the ketogenic diet and to achieve an additional performance boost in training.

The big difference with the TKD is that the carbohydrates are not installed around the workout. With the CKD there are two cycles, in cycle one we dispense with carbohydrates and are in ketosis, cycle two consists of a short period of 1 to 2 days on which the so-called refeed takes place to replenish the muscle glycogen stores, this is slotted by the supply A large number of carbohydrates.

For the cyclic ketogenic diet to work, the glycogen stores in the muscles must be completely emptied before each refeed. The CKD is not suitable for you if you are only at the beginning of your muscle building and do not yet deliver the power needed to empty the memory. Briefly, regular high-intensity training is the prerequisite for the CKD.

In the CKD, we switch between ketogenic days and those with significantly increased carbohydrate intake. The most common method of CKD consists of 5-6 days in ketosis and 1-2 days packed with carbohydrates. Since “only” 5-6 days are available to us until the next carb up, a high training volume is necessary. Otherwise, the muscle glycogen stores have not yet emptied. Of course, the periods can also be changed, so longer periods (10-12 days in ketosis) or shorter periods have also proved successful. I think the 7-day week simply offers a handy bill, so you can eat more or less “normal” on weekends without having to pay attention to the ketosis.

On the carb-loading days, the body’s metabolism switches off ketosis for some time and fills the glycogen stores of the muscles to be prepared for the high intensity of the upcoming exercise cycle.


If you already have a lot of experience with strength sports and regularly train very intensively with heavy weights, you have also been in ketosis for at least 12 weeks, then this classic variant of the anabolic diet is a suitable option for the Toning. But there is a risk of just as much fat. For beginners, this type of modified ketogenic diet is not recommended, you can very easily overeat, gain some weight again, and the workouts are very strenuous.


The ketogenic phase is not different from the standard ketogenic diet. Macronutrient distribution is as usual, but how do you balance your need for carbohydrates, proteins, and fat for the keto days?

The carbohydrates should stay below 30 g, better still less than 20 g a day. You can calculate your approximate protein requirement using the following formula: 0.8 g of protein per pound of body weight.

In other words, with a 90kg man (90kg = 198 pounds), that would be 158g of protein a day. This may be a little too much, button-up there slowly. There are more accurate calculation methods, and I will go into this in more detail in my next article. You fill the rest of your calories with good fats. 

You can calculate the calories you need to make your body run properly here; the calorie calculator shows you your basic metabolic rate, performance turnover, and total sales.

The refeed brings the body from ketosis to an anabolic state and should be given the first load of carbohydrates before the last workout of the week, preferably 5-6 hours before training to boost the production of liver enzymes. A small amount of 25 to 50 g carbohydrates is suitable for this purpose. In addition, 25 to 50 g carbohydrates, preferably a mixture of glucose and fructose, are added to the body shortly before the workout. The aim of this intake is to recharge the glycogen stores of the liver this time.


In the first method, you don’t need to pay attention to your macronutrients, and you can literally eat whatever you want in the carb phase! Many athletes drive very well with this variant and pay neither attention to the number of calories nor to the nutrients. A relaxing phase when otherwise you always have to keep an eye on the nutrient distribution. However, if the results do not meet the desired targets, one should prefer Method 2.


Here you pay attention to the macronutrients, and during the first 24 hours of the refeed, you should consume 70% of the total calorie amount of carbohydrates. The remaining 30% is divided between fat and proteins. On the second day, you go down a little with the carbohydrates to 60% of the calories, 25% get the proteins, and the remaining 15% goes to the fat account.

Very important: The above numbers are only indicative. Having a little touch and experiment will help you find the perfect ratio between carbohydrates, proteins, and fat on the refeed days.


Ketosis occurs when the glycogen storage of the liver is empty, so we need to bring this to zero. To achieve this, I have created a small guide here, so nothing should go wrong with that.

  • Day 1: Fasting until 18:00
  • Day 2: After getting up sober into training. This is a high-intensity interval training (HIIT – More on this in an upcoming article) or very intensive conditioning training. The diet should include next to no carbohydrates.
  • Day 3: Again, the training should be done sober. Now you can push the carbohydrates back up to 20 to 30 g.
  • Your body should now be back in the state of ketosis or soon get into ketosis.

Of course, if you were in ketosis for a long time before starting the CKD, your body will find it easier to switch back and forth between the two stages and the more intensely you train, the faster you get back into ketosis. Important energy suppliers in ketosis are, as we know fats, an optimal oil here is the flow grade C8 oil from caprylic acid (100% MCT).

Now we have introduced you to the two modified variants of the ketogenic diet. Part 1 about the targeted intake of carbohydrates can be found here. Which option do you prefer? What do you generally think of carbohydrates as an addition to the ketogenic diet? Share your experiences with us here in the blog.


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