How To Follow A Cyclic Ketogenic Diet -

How To Follow A Cyclic Ketogenic Diet

How To Follow A Cyclical Ketogenic Diet

There is a ton of information floating around the internet on fasting and ketogenic diets. What is lacking is the fundamental explanation of why it is so powerful and more advanced techniques to take it to the next level. I’m going to break down the science and show you how to follow a cyclic ketogenic diet in a way that is best for your body.

It seems that so much of the information available is one size fits all. Something you quickly learn as a clinician, however, is that no such thing exists. That’s why I created this article to help as many people as possible find that sweet spot where they can feel amazing following a ketogenic diet while avoiding common downfalls.

Cyclical Ketogenic Philosophy

While a strict ketogenic diet was all the rage at first, people began to pick up on negative effects of long-term carb restriction. While a strict ketogenic diet still has its place for special cases, we are starting to realize that a cyclic ketogenic diet tends to give us the best of both worlds.

The cyclical ketogenic diet is based off of the feast or famine cycle. This is exactly what it sounds like, you go into a fasted (famine) state for a period of time, followed by a feasting period. This cycle is similar to the kind of eating pattern our foraging and hunting ancestors would have followed as a natural consequence of their lifestyles.

Consequently, it seems like this kind of cycle has many great benefits for health and vitality.


Fasting is simply the time you spend not eating. Modern day, since we have an abundance of food all the time, fasting is used as a way to mimic a state of famine. When we fast, we are essentially sending our bodies a signal that food is scarce.

As a result, our incredible bodies make physiological adaptations that allow us to survive for longer amounts of time without food. One such adaptation is the ability to form ketones.

Benefits Of Famine

The physiological changes that occur in your body during fasting improve what I refer to as your metabolic flexibility. Being metabolically flexible means that your body can easily switch between different fuel sources (sugar and fats) to immediately meet the current demands of your environment.

Most people in our society are reliant on carbs and sugars as an exclusive energy source, in essence they are metabolically inflexible. Because sugar is such an inefficient fuel source, these people are controlled by frequent hunger.

After practicing fasting, your body will easily switch over to burning fat to keep your energy levels stable.

Other benefits of fasting include:

Boosted Immunity: As energy is directed away from digestion, more energy is directed toward immunity. Fasting also reduces the production of certain inflammatory cytokines that distract the immune system (1, 2, 3).

Gut Health: While fasting, the body can focus on healing gut tissues and rebalancing gut microorganisms that distract from your health.

Cellular Autophagy: In a fasted state, the body breaks down old damaged cells and recycles them for energy. This process is great for getting rid of cancerous cells and intracellular pathogens like viruses and parasites. What’s left are more optimally functioning cells, this is particularly beneficial for brain health (4)!

Genetic Repair: A significant boost in HGH during fasting speeds the body’s ability to repair damaged tissues and DNA. This has important implications for cancer, muscle tissue health, and anti-aging.

Insulin Sensitivity: Lack of carbohydrates improves the efiiciency of insulin; balancing blood sugar and helping to better regulate fat burning hormones.

Feasting Phase

The feasting phase of this cycle is sometimes also referred to as refeeding. Many people begin to notice hormonal, thyroid, and adrenal issues during prolonged fasting or strict ketogenic diets.

This is now thought to be due to the brain’s interpretation of famine (caused by carbohydrate restriction). When the brain perceives a prolonged state of famine, it starts drawing energy away from body processes not absolutely critical for immediate survival. This includes a reduction in sex hormones (adrenal related) and a slowing of metabolism to conserve vital resources (thyroid related)

By strategically consuming carbohydrates, you signal to your body that you are not in famine and these negative effects can be avoided.  Feasting days kickstart the thyroid, reset the adrenals, and essentially prevent the common problems people experience during prolonged fasting or ketosis.

The Beauty Of Cycling

The cyclic ketogenic diet may be one of the most powerful healing lifestyle strategies we know of today.  Not only do you get to take advantage of the benefits of being in a ketogenic state, but you actually optimize them by preventing the side effects of your body thinking it is in a starvation state.

The result is you get more fat burning, feel more energy, mental acuity, higher immunity, drastically reduced inflammation, balanced hormones, and the list goes on. This is an ultimate quality of life boosting tactic!

Creating Your Personal Plan

While doing a cyclic ketogenic diet takes care of many of the problems associated with strict ketosis, I still like to stress that there is no one size fits all approach.

By following my guidelines below, you can find your sweet spot and make a cyclic ketogenic diet work for your unique lifestyle.

My recommendation is that no matter what your current situation is, that you start with the beginner program outlined below. I would give it 2-4 weeks, see how you feel, and if you are responding well take it to the intermediate program and so on.


The beginner program is designed to gently guide your body into metabolic flexibility. For many of us, we have been burning sugar for energy our entire lives. This eating plan is designed to begin reversing this state without overstressing the body too quickly.

For a beginner phase I recommend:

3-4 low carb, keto meals per day, 4-5 days a week

1-2 days of higher carb and/or higher protein foods (some may need 2 carb up days per week)

1 day of Intermittent Fasting from carbs/protein


Consume low carb meals Monday-Friday, higher carb meals on Saturday (50-80 net carbs for the day), and fast from protein and carbs Saturday dinner until Sunday Dinner.  Repeat this cycle for 2-4 weeks to see how your body responds.

If you do not respond well to the 24 hour fast on Sunday, opt instead for a second higher carb day and see how you feel.


Once you have implemented the beginner program and feel that it is very easy to maintain with stable energy levels, try progressing to an intermediate program for an additional 2-4 week period.

For an intermediate phase I recommend:

14-16 Hour Intermittent Fasting from protein/carbs each day

1 day of higher carb and/or higher protein foods

1 day of Intermittent Fasting from carbs/protein


On weekdays, have dinner around 6pm every night and fast until between 8-10am the next morning. On Saturday increase your intake of carbs to 50-80 net carbs for the day. Perform a 24 hour fast from dinner Saturday night until dinner Sunday night.


Once you have progressed through the beginner and intermediate programs and feel that your body is thriving, an advanced program is a great final progression. This program is designed for individuals who have reached a significant level of metabolic flexibility with no side effects.

For an advanced cyclic ketogenic diet I recommend:

16-20 Hour Intermittent Fasting from protein/carbs each day

1 day of higher carb and/or higher protein foods

1 day of Intermittent Fasting from carbs/protein 


On weekdays, have dinner around 6pm every night and fast until between 10am-2pm the next day. On Saturday, increase your intake of carbs to 50-80 net carbs for the day. Perform a 24 hour fast from dinner Saturday night until dinner Sunday night.

A Note On Fasting

You may have noticed that in my Intermediate and Advanced strategies above I recommend fasting from carbs and protein. During these times I recommend drinking plenty of fluids like water, organic broth, cleansing teas, and pure organic vegetable juices with no sugar.

Additionally, during this fasting period you may consume fats. For many people, I will recommend our Turmeric Fat Burning Coffee or Keto Matcha Green Tea (without the bone broth protein) as it helps keep you full and energized through the fasting period while providing anti-inflammatory benefits!

You could also simply add coconut oil or a high quality mct oil to your coffee or tea as a simple source of ketones.

Note: Considerations Before Starting

While a cyclic ketogenic diet is feasible for most people, there are still special cases of people that should not follow it as I have recommended above.

Young Children and Pregnant/Nursing Women should not fast. They can however do very well with a moderate carbohydrate, higher fat style of eating.

High Level Atheletes and People Performing High Intensity Exercise For An Hour Or More per day will likely have a hard time fasting for longer amounts of time due to the increased demand on the body.

Those With Adrenal and Thyroid Issues will likely do much better with the beginner program as it puts less stress on the body.   Over time, as they get better they can move up to the intermediate and advanced phases.

These individuals will want to ensure that they are consuming extra minerals during the fasting phase to support the adrenals. Also, these individuals should expect to progress through the cyclic ketogenic programs at a much slower pace. This also applies for irregularly menstruating females, those who are under chronic stress, and people with poor sleep habits.

Sources For This Article Include:

1. Faris MA, Kacimi S, Al-Kurd RA, Fararjeh MA, Bustanji YK, Mohammad MK, Sale ML. Intermittent fasting during Ramadan attenuates proinflammatory cytokines and immune cells in healthy subjects. Nutr Res. 2012 Dec;32(12):947-55. PMID: 23244540
2. Vasconcelos AR, Yshii LM, Viel TA, et al. Intermittent fasting attenuates lipopolysaccharide-induced neuroinflammation and memory impairment. Journal of Neuroinflammation. 24886300
3. Aksungar FB, Topkaya AE, Akyildiz M. Interleukin-6, C-reactive protein and biochemical parameters during prolonged intermittent fasting. Ann Nutr Metab. PMID: 17374948
4. Alirezaei, M., Kemball, C. C., Flynn, C. T., Wood, M. R., Whitton, J. L., & Kiosses, W. B. (2010). Short-term fasting induces profound neuronal autophagy. Autophagy, 6(6), 702–710. PMID: 20534972

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22 Responses to How To Follow A Cyclic Ketogenic Diet

  1. Fran Sheps July 14, 2017 at 11:13 am #

    Can you have bulletproof coffee while you are doing the 24 hr fast

    • Dr. Jockers July 18, 2017 at 10:16 am #

      I briefly mention this under the Note on Fasting section. You can absolutely have a bulletproof coffee during the fast and many prefer to do it this way.

  2. Nancy Russell July 24, 2017 at 6:00 am #


  3. Anne Duckworth August 18, 2017 at 2:01 am #

    Two questions. What carbs do you recommend are best for carb up day and can you eat tomatoes and bell peppers on the Keto diet?

    • Dr. Jockers August 18, 2017 at 10:02 am #

      Hey Anne, I recommend low glycemic carb sources like sweet potatoes. You could also do sprouted quinoa or rice. I recommend drinking about 1 TBSP of apple cider vinegar in 2-4oz of water about 15 minutes before and sprinkling a little in your food as well, this will help stabilize your blood sugar. You can eat tomatoes and bell peppers if you tolerate them well, some people have sensitivities that could cause stress reactions and pull them out of ketosis if they are not careful.

  4. Steven Huneycutt September 5, 2017 at 10:12 am #

    With regard to using the keto coffee during the IF time, should be grass fed butter or pure cacao be omitted from the brew? Just stick with the MCTs? Maybe have a couple of tsp of MCT in addition if fasting for a longer period of time?

  5. John September 12, 2017 at 6:14 am #

    So keto coffee with MCT oil, bone broth, water with ACV or lemon/lime juice can all be consumed during the fasting phase? The fast only includes protein and carbs.

    • Dr. Jockers September 12, 2017 at 1:36 pm #

      The fast can be strict, where you only consume non-caloric liquids or it can be a fat fast where you only consume fats while avoiding carbs and protein.

  6. Lynn Mann October 18, 2017 at 9:56 am #

    I have been on the low fodmap diet for ibs-d and would like to do this also. How do I do both together?

    • Dr. Jockers October 19, 2017 at 10:57 pm #

      Hey Lynn, you are better off pursuing one at a time.

  7. Kim wilkinson November 19, 2017 at 9:03 pm #

    I have been on keto since last February but when I try to cycle my carbs as in eating only a half of a sweet potato my blood sugar will rise to 180. Before starting keto my alc was 5.7. Why can I seem not to tolerate any carbs now?

    • Dr. Jockers November 20, 2017 at 12:23 pm #

      Hey Kim, it could be a sensitivity response. Try something like carrots or beets instead and see how you respond to that. I would also try increasing your intake of omega 3 fatty acids along with a blood-sugar stabilizing multi-vitamin like High energy support here:

  8. Kim wilkinson November 19, 2017 at 9:05 pm #

    Also you mentioned vegetable juices while fasting, but wouldn’t that be considered carbs? Thanks for any insight!!

    • Dr. Jockers November 20, 2017 at 12:24 pm #

      Purely vegetable juices like celery, leafy greens, and others with negligible amounts of carbs are okay. Definitely don’t do anything with sugar in it.

  9. Carol Krentzman November 24, 2017 at 6:54 pm #

    So on the fasting day, can I eat dinner and then start fasting? I want to fast on green juices so would I eat Dinner around 6 and then green juice after Dinner until after 6 the next evening?

  10. Gary January 4, 2018 at 8:34 am #

    You had mentioned no diet is one size fits all. I love my craft beer and although I could give it up, I do not want to. Currently about 10 pounds overweight. I was thinking of doing keto 5 days per week and doing 2 days of higher carbs which would include 3 beers on each of these higher carb days. Thoughts on this?

    • Dr. Jockers January 8, 2018 at 2:52 pm #

      Hey Gary, Unfortunately beer is one of the worst alcohols you can drink in terms of health. Although I would not recommend the beer, following a ketogenic diet may help with weight loss. I would recommend replenishing probiotics and liver support to help with negative effects from the beer.

  11. Bruce Goepel January 13, 2018 at 9:19 am #

    I am on day 110 of feeling great after 4 years with horrible Lyme disease. I got to your advanced stage within 2 weeks and I feel so good I am afraid to do anything differently. I have not cycled at all. Any words of wisdom for me?

    • Dr. Jockers January 16, 2018 at 12:13 pm #

      Hey Bruce if you are feeling great and are not experiencing any negative affects then it sounds like you don’t need to change anything!

  12. Bruce Goepel January 16, 2018 at 6:58 pm #

    When you talk about cycling are you just referring to adding more carbs or is it also eating at more regular intervals ? With the first you are going out of ketosis and with the second eliminating autophagy as I understand it. Thank you again.

    • Dr. Jockers January 17, 2018 at 2:21 pm #

      Hey Bruce, cycling will be introducing carbs periodically such as once a week. Fasting is great for the autophagy benefits so I like to recommend something like Intermittent fasting for 14-18 hours from dinner to breakfast each day, having a higher carb day either once a week or every 2 weeks, and doing a 24 hour fast from saturday night dinner to sunday night dinner. This is something to work up to!

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