How to Start Keto & Why Cyclical Ketosis Is Better
By: Alison Moodie
- The keto diet is made up of mostly fats, some protein, and a small amount of carbs.
- Eating a lot of fat and very few carbs puts you in ketosis, a metabolic state of burning fat instead of sugar for energy.
- Burning ketones instead of glucose helps you drop weight fast, gives you energy and focus, and reduces inflammation in the body.
- The first two weeks of keto can be rough and you might experience the keto flu and a metallic taste in your mouth.
- The keto diet has some drawbacks, namely, thyroid issues, insomnia, dry eyes, and exhaustion, which could make it tough to sustain long-term.
- Cyclical keto diets give you all the benefits of keto without the side effects, making it easier to stick with.
- On the cyclical keto diet, you eat clean carbs one day of the week to keep your body systems that need some carbs running smoothly.
- Add Brain Octane Oil to your meals to keep you in ketosis.
- You can check your ketone levels using urine sticks, blood sticks, or a blood meter.
You’ve heard about the keto diet and you’re ready to get started. It can’t be that hard, right? Eat lots of fat and limit carbs. But what types of fat? How many carbs exactly? And how do you know the diet’s working? Read on to get all the answers to your burning questions, and find out why a cyclical ketosis diet works better and is more sustainable for long-term weight loss.
What is the ketogenic diet?
The keto diet is made up of mostly fats (75 percent of your daily calories), some protein (20 percent) and a very small amount of carbs (5 percent). Eating a lot of fat and very few carbs puts you in ketosis, a metabolic state of burning fat instead of sugar for energy. When your body can’t get glucose from carbs, your liver converts fatty acids from your diet into molecules called ketones, an alternative energy source. Burning ketones instead of sugar helps you drop weight fast and reduces inflammation in the body.
The benefits of the keto diet
Burns fat: The keto diet causes you to lose weight quickly, and a lot of it. Ketones suppress ghrelin — your hunger hormone — and increase cholecystokinin (CCK), which keeps you feeling full. If you’re not hungry, it’s easier to go for longer periods without eating. This encourages your body to reach into its fat stores for energy.
Lowers inflammation: Keto reduces inflammation in the body, and could protect you against major illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and cancer. In one study, obese patients showed less inflammation in their liver after following the keto diet for 6 months.
Boosts energy: Ketosis helps the brain create more mitochondria, the energy generators within cells. Ketones are also a steadier source of energy compared glucose — rather than depending on you eating carbs for fuel, your body can dip into its fat stores at any time for energy, leaving you with a leaner physique.
Pitfalls of the standard ketogenic diet
When you follow the standard keto diet, you eat a small amount of carbs (that’s less than 50 grams net carbs a day), all the time. But restricting carbs for a long time can create problems, like fatigue, thyroid issues, insomnia, and dry eyes and sinuses.The fact is, your body needs some carbs to function at its best. That’s where Bulletproof cyclical ketosis comes in.
What is the Bulletproof cyclical keto diet?
Cyclical ketosis simply means you’re going in and out of keto on a weekly basis. Also known as carb cycling, a cyclical keto diet involves one day a week of carb-loading. The other six days of low-carb keto are identical to the standard keto diet.
When you’re following the cyclical keto diet, you eat lots of fat and very few carbs (less than 50 grams of net carbs a day), 5 to 6 days of the week. On day 7, you eat more carbs — roughly 150 grams — during what’s called a “carb refeed” day.
The benefits of a cyclical keto diet are:
- Satisfies carb cravings, so it’s easier to follow the keto diet long-term
- Keeps you lean
- Improves sleep
- Better immune function
- Healthier balance of gut bacteria (which influences your health and your mood)
Full ketosis isn’t for everyone, and adding clean carbs like sweet potatoes, squash, and white rice one day a week keeps your body systems that need some amount of carbs functioning properly. Your brain, your body, and your joints will all benefit from cyclical ketosis.
What makes Bulletproof cyclical ketosis different?
When you’re following the Bulletproof cyclical keto diet, you’re using some keto diet hacks that make achieving and maintaining ketosis easier and faster. These are:
Intermittent fasting: You eat all of your daily calories within a shortened period — typically 6 to 8 hours — and fast for the remaining 14 to 16 hours. Fasting gets you into ketosis and keeps you there — it drains your body of its glucose reserves, so you switch over to burning fat for energy, aka ketosis.
Drink Bulletproof Coffee: Drinking a Bulletproof Coffee in the morning keeps you in ketosis without the distracting hunger pangs. Each cup contains grass-fed butter and Brain Octane Oil — a purified form of saturated fatty acids called medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), derived from 100% coconut oil. Brain Octane naturally raises ketones — four times more effectively than ordinary coconut oil. The healthy fats also keep you full for longer, so you can get to lunchtime without an energy crash.
Add Brain Octane Oil to your meals: Using Brain Octane Oil throughout the day — drizzled over your salad or vegetables, for instance — allows you to eat a few more carbs than usual while still keeping you in ketosis. Brain Octane creates a background level of ketones — it can keep ketones up to a 0.6 or 0.7 (that’s millimoles per liter). A blood ketone level of 0.5 is enough to suppress appetite.
How to do cyclical ketosis
Here is a sample Bulletproof eating schedule to get you started:
Step 1: Eat dinner by 8pm
Step 2: Drink a Bulletproof Coffee in the morning. You can have another cup before 2pm if you start to get hungry.
Step 3: At 2pm, eat a lunch that’s high in fat, with a bit of protein and few carbs. You could have wild salmon with buttered kale, or a lamb chili.
Step 4: Try not to snack between meals, and eat another high-fat, low-carb meal before 8pm. Dinner could be pork chops with a herb crust and wilted dandelion greens, or shredded beef with brussels sprouts.
You can find a more detailed meal plan here.
On your carb refeed day, still start off with a Bulletproof Coffee, and make sure to keep adding a tablespoon or two of Brain Octane Oil to your meals. With Brain Octane, you raise your ketone levels in a matter of minutes, with very little effort. You can up your carb intake from 50 grams to 150 grams on your carb refeed day — that comes to about one cup.
Just like high intensity interval training (HIIT), you go really hard, then recover. This is the cycle of life. And when you’re in ketosis, go hard. Don’t eat carbs for a while, eat a ton of vegetables, lots of fat, and moderate protein. Then switch over once a week to clean carbs and keep adding some Brain Octane Oil to your meals.
What to expect when starting the keto diet
The first two weeks on the keto diet can be rocky, and you might experience something known as the “keto flu” — your body’s natural response while it adapts to burning fat, and not glucose, for fuel.
Keto flu symptoms include:
- Brain fog
- Stomach pains
- Sore throat
- Muscle aches
The keto flu typically comes on around the 24- to 48-hour mark after starting the diet. It lasts for a few days, although you could feel lousy for up to a month. If you ate a diet high in refined sugar and carbs before going keto, your symptoms will probably be more severe.
You might notice a metallic taste in your mouth during your first week on keto. This is common, and a sign you’ve entered ketosis. It means acetone — a form of ketones — has been released in the body, usually in the breath, sweat, and urine. Before you reach for sugary mints, don’t fret — keto breath doesn’t last long, and usually goes away once your body has adjusted to eating fewer carbs.
Once your body has adapted, your symptoms should ease off and you’ll start to feel better than before you started. If you’re still feeling fluey, being in ketosis all the time might not be right for you. Give cyclical ketosis a try — it should eliminate any uncomfortable side effects.
What to eat on the ketogenic diet
You want to eat mostly fats (75 percent of your daily calories), moderate protein (20 percent) and very few carbs (5 percent). Fill your plate with meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, and healthy fats. Check out the Bulletproof Diet Roadmap to make sure you’re eating Bulletproof-approved foods — these are clean, low-toxin foods that won’t leave you foggy or bloated or disrupt your performance (similar to Whole30):
Vegetables: Green and leafy vegetables are your best friend on keto. Choose vegetables that grow above the ground, such as broccoli, cucumbers, asparagus, and zucchini. Eat starchy root vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, and parsnips in moderation.
Protein: A common misconception about keto is that it’s high-protein, when in fact, it’s high-fat and moderate protein. Too much protein turns into glucose in the body, making it harder to stay in ketosis. Stick to fatty cuts of grass-fed, pasture-raised, or wild meat, and wild-caught fish. Red meats, offal/organ meats, pork, eggs (preferably pastured), fish, shellfish, and whey protein concentrate.
Dairy: Choose full-fat, organic, grass-fed butter — it’s jam-packed with healthy fats like omega-3s and fatty acids including conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which burns fat and is anti-inflammatory.
Oils and fats: This is the most important category of food in the keto diet, since most of your calories come from fat. Load up on saturated and monounsaturated fats like butter, lard, and ghee, along with coconut oil, fish oil, and Brain Octane Oil, a rare subtype of MCT oil, which delivers ketones to your body for instant energy. Your daily fat count also comes from egg yolks and fatty meats and seafood.
Stay away from inflammatory fats, like canola, cottonseed, corn, flaxseed, peanut, safflower, soy, and sunflower oils.
Fruits: Tread carefully here — the sugar content in most fruit can take you out of ketosis. Fruit is high in fructose, a sugar which the liver converts into either glucose or triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood). Fresh berries, avocado, and coconut are the exceptions. Lemons and limes can be used occasionally to flavor water. Make sure you fruit is organic whenever possible.
Nuts: Eat these once in a while. While high in fat, most nuts also have a lot of protein and carbs. Snack on lower-carb nuts like pecans, macadamia nuts, and brazil nuts, along with coconut.
Because nuts have a high risk of mold and spoil easily once shelled, buy high-quality, fresh nuts and store them in the fridge or freezer.
Beverages: It’s easy to become dehydrated when on keto. Your insulin levels decrease when you cut back on carbs, and low insulin makes it harder for your body to hold onto sodium and water. Drink lots of plain water, and sip on bone broth to replenish electrolytes, especially during the first couple of weeks when your body is adapting to the new diet.
Tea and coffee — including Bulletproof Coffee — get the thumbs up on the keto diet. The fat and oil in Bulletproof Coffee boost your energy and keep you full for longer.
How do you know when you’re in ketosis?
You’re in ketosis when your ketone levels measure at least 0.5 mmol/L. You can check your ketone levels using urine sticks, blood sticks, or a blood meter. You can also test for acetone levels in your breath using a breath analyzer.
A simpler way is monitoring how your body feels — this should tell you if you’re in the ketosis zone. Here are signs you’re probably in ketosis:
Reduced appetite: Ketones suppress your hunger hormones, so you feel full for longer.
Weight loss: Eating high-fat foods and few carbs burns fat, so if you’re losing weight, you’re likely in ketosis.
Keto breath: Does your mouth taste like metal? People get a metallic taste in their mouth when they have high ketone levels.
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