Once I start on a Keto Diet and become ‘Keto-adapted’, can I cycle on and off?

This is a great question and is a perfect pivot point for introducing a fast-growing trend known as ‘keto cycling’ or ‘cyclic keto’. The challenge for many on the ketogenic diet is that it can often be difficult to sustain, especially during social occasions and special events such as holidays. Many nutritionists and dietitians, such as myself, have started recommending keto cycling as a way to optimize the long-term sustainability of this healthy eating style.

What is Keto Cycling?

This keto cycling method allows keto dieters to eat more carbohydrates once a week, offering them more flexibility in the hopes of improving adherence to the ketogenic diet in the long run. Although reintroducing carbohydrates into a ketogenic diet can ‘kick your body out of ketosis’, the simple fact is that we are able to re-adapt back into a fat-burning mode once we resume eating a more stringent low carbohydrate and higher fat diet.

This cyclic keto option is gaining steam, as evidenced by a growing number of articles online promoting this option. Unfortunately, scientific research is still lacking on keto cycling’s overall impact on long term health, including weight loss. Therefore, if you are already ‘keto adapted’, and if you choose to start introducing carbs back into your diet, be advised that this doesn’t translate to once-a-week ‘carb-loading’ (unless you have plans to run a marathon!). You should be focusing instead on incorporating controlled amounts of nutrient-dense and lower-glycemic carbohydrates, such as dried beans & peas, sweet potatoes and winter squash, and steel-cut oats.

This once-a-week flex-carb day should ideally be a planned event in order to help minimize the number of variables that can lead to an ‘all or none’ mindset. It should be perceived as more of ‘treat’ day instead of a ‘cheat’ day 👑.

Mary Paley

Fearless Dietitian; 30+ years as a professional dietitian; Master’s Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics at the MGH Institute of Health Professions; Lead research dietitian for several major pharmaceutical companies; Currently focused on health and wellness and the benefits of ketogenic diets for both obesity and diabetes management. MS, RDN, CDE, LD/N

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