Staying full longer, less inflammation in the body, and more energy are just some examples of a ketogenic diet’s potential benefits. However, train with little carbohydrates can be challenging.
The cyclic ketogenic diet or anabolic diet is designed to combine the benefits of a ketogenic diet and the high carbohydrate diet.
An anabolic diet is a specific form of the ketogenic diet. However, unlike in the classic ketogenic diet, this diet is divided into two phases. The first phase consists of a normal ketogenic diet and lasts 5-6 days. Followed by 1-2 days of consuming large amounts of carbohydrates (carb-load).
Because of these different phases, the Anabolic Diet is also called the Cyclic Ketogenic Diet.
The idea behind the cyclic ketogenic diet is not new. Endurance athletes, in particular, have been using this principle for years to improve their performance.
Training plan for a cyclic ketogenic diet:
In principle, you need to completely deplete your body’s muscle glycogen during the ketogenic phase and then replenish it by the carb-load phase.
And to empty the glycogen stores, you need a well-planned and extensive workout.
Below we will look at an example of a weekly cycle in which we eat ketogenic for six days and schedule only one-day carb-load.
With this classic structure, your training plan would look like this:
|Monday: Upper body
(4 sets of 10 rep)
|Tuesday: lower body and abdomen
(4 sets of 10 reps)
|Saturday: Full Body Workout
(2 sets of 10-12 reps)
It may seem silly at first glance that the first workouts are on consecutive days, and the next exercise is on Saturday.
But at the beginning of the week, glycogen stores need to be emptied to the point where maximum fat burning is achieved while maintaining muscle. Only shortly before the start of the carb-load, in our case on Saturday, the glycogen stores should be completely emptied.
Glycogen levels and the cyclical ketogenic diet:
To tailor the cyclic ketogenic diet to your individual goals, you need some understanding of your biochemistry. But don’t worry, we’re going to simplify things for you:
Your training volume should depend on how much glycogen you have stored in your muscles. Muscle glycogen is the term used to describe the glucose produced in the muscle cells of skeletal muscles. Muscle glycogen is an essential energy reserve for working muscle.
The average person’s Muscle glycogen is approximately 80-100mmol/kg. Athletes store more glycogen, circa 110-130mmol/kg.
With exercise in the aerobic range, muscle glycogen drops to circa 70mmol/kg, which boosts fat burning on a ketogenic diet.
But If muscle glycogen drops below 40mmol/kg, your performance can be affected, and the body starts burning protein. And From 25mmol/kg can assume absolute exhaustion of the muscles.
So in the keto phase, you need to aim for a value between 40mmol/kg and 25mmol/kg. If you stay above 40mmol/kg, your glycogen stores are not completely depleted, and the carb-load will not only fill up your muscle glycogen but also your liver glycogen.
But This puts you at risk of putting on fat. And depleting glycogen stores to below 25mmol/kg can damage enzymes necessary for glycogen synthesis.
Although there are few studies on this, you can roughly calculate glycogen consumption for strength training. Assuming you are training at of your maximum weight, approximately 1.3mmol/kg will be consumed per repetition.
To reduce the entire glycogen store (120mmol/kg) after a 24-hour carb-load to the target 70mmol/kg in the first two workouts, you need to deplete 50mmol/kg of your muscle glycogen.
50mmol/kg divided by 1.3mmol/kg equals approximately 39 repetitions or 4 sets of 10 repetitions per body part.
Your goal here is to reduce your glycogen stores from 70mmol/kg by about 35mmol/kg to get below the target 40mmol/kg.
35mmol/kg divided by 1.3mmol/kg equals about 27 repetitions or 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions per body part.
If you find this complicated, follow the sample training plan above. We did all the calculations for you.
If you plan a carb-load, you can assume that you have more muscle glycogen stored. For a 36 hours carb-load, it is roughly 150mmol/kg. For 48 hours, it is about 180mmol/kg. Accordingly, you would have to increase your training volume to empty your glycogen stores.
Carbs intake during carb-load
We recommend consuming high glycogenic index carbohydrates for the first 24h, followed by low glycogenic index carbs.
- In the first 24 hours of the carb-load: consume 10g/kg of lean mass carbs.
- For the next 12 to 24 hours: consume a 5g/kg lean mass of carbs.
The frequency of meals during carb-load doesn’t matter; instead, the amount of carbohydrate consumed.
For example, a 60kg woman with a lean mass of 48kg needs to consume 480g of carbohydrates in a 24 hour day during a carb-load. She can eat it in one meal or multiple settings.
For optimal glycogen synthesis, you should starts carb-loading immediately after exercise. As a rule of thumb, you should estimate 1.5g carbs/kg lean mass and 0.75g protein/kg lean mass.
Although this article only gives an overview of the principle of an anabolic/cyclic ketogenic diet, it clearly shows that this diet must be well planned if you want to achieve good results.
Besides, anyone considering the Anabolic Diet to achieve their goals should ask themselves if they are training that an Anabolic Diet is worthwhile.
Since the training to empty the glycogen stores is very strenuous, and the anabolic diet’s primary goal is to maintain athletic performance while losing fat, it is only profitable for advanced athletes.
For beginners in weight training and amateurs and active gym-goers who want to reduce body fat, another diet is probably more target-oriented.
The same applies to athletes and bodybuilders who are currently in the mass phase. Although there are testimonials from athletes who have successfully used the anabolic diet to build muscle, few studies are available.
Considering that the structure of the anabolic diet sets tight limits on training volume – as long as you proceed as described above – it is safe to assume that there are more effective ways to build muscle mass, even without a meta-analysis of all studies on the subject.