Carb Cycling can help you have a few more carbs when life demands it.
To get the benefits of Keto you need to spend most of your time in ketosis, but to enjoy all of the benefits of being alive, sometimes you want to eat the food at the party, dinner out or birthday cake on your b-day.
Last week, we talked about how it is natural to go in and out of ketosis - that's the way our bodies have evolved.
But through most of human history, people have spent most of their time in ketosis because they didn't eat much and didn't eat often.
Our ancestors craved carbs, especially the sweet kind. But they were generally not available so it wasn't a problem. Fruits were seasonal, and cookies, cakes and candies were only for special occasions (if ever).
There are lots of ways that we can consciously create the same insulin levels to stay in ketosis most of the time.
Carb Cycling aka Carb Clusters
Here's how it works:
It's sort of the same principle as intermittent fasting. You clump all of your carb consumption into a very short period of time.
If you do this, all of the blood sugar and insulin response will be confined to the 2 hours right after you eat the carbs.
Let me give you an example
This is for real. I did this carb cycling last night.
I ate almost no carbs until after dinner.
For lunch I had a spinach omelette, for dinner I had stuffed peppers and some zoodles with spinach pesto.
I was in ketosis the whole day, but the after dinner - at about 7:00pm we like to watch a little Netflix and have some snacks.
The Carb Cluster
Last night my snacks were peanuts, a Klondike Bar, and couple of Oreos that I mooched off of Ada.
The total net carbs for all of this is about 60 grams (about 240 calories of carbs) which certainly knocked me out of ketosis.
But before you cancel your subscription to my Keto newsletter...
Hear me out.
I ate all of these carbs in less than an hour - between 7:00 and 7:45pm).
So, even though I had a blood sugar and insulin spike, I was back in ketosis by 10:00pm.
The insulin did it's job and cleared the blood sugar which was then burned off before I went to bed.
Two things that need to happen for you be in ketosis:
- First, your insulin needs to be low enough that it stops blocking fat burning.
- Second, you have to burn through all the carbs you just ate.
In my example, the 60 grams (240 calories) of carbs was out of my blood into my muscles and liver within an hour.
Almost as soon as I ate the carbs my body switched to burning carbs/sugar.
My Fitbit says that I burn about 133 calories per hour which means that 240 calories was burned off in about and hour and 45 minutes.
And since my insulin was back to fasting levels at about the same time I was back in ketosis.
Caveats About Keto & Carb Cycling
If you're brand new to Keto this ABSOLUTELY won't work. Mostly because it matters where your fasting insulin levels are before you start.
Most people who are just starting Keto have fasting insulin levels that are high to begin with and it could take a month or more for your hormones to get reset.
A new-to-Keto person who ate no carbs all day until dinner - followed dinner with 60 grams of net carbs would likely take much longer to return to ketosis.
A newbie's Keto journey might be set back by trying this.
The newly Keto person would also subject themselves to some extreme carb cravings which could set them even further back.
I DO NOT SUGGEST trying carb cycling/ carb clustering if you're insulin resistant or type 2 diabetic, because these conditions mean that your fasting insulin is too high for this to work.
If you're T2D or IR please don't despair, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes can be helped tremendously and even eventually reversed by a Keto lifestyle.
It will just take some time.
The Takeaway from Carb Cycling
When you get into a Keto groove you can enjoy some carbs as long as you limit the time during which you eat them.
ONLY DO CARB CYCLING ONCE IN A WHILE.
Brandy thinks that there will be some readers sending nasty grams about this carb cycling advice so...I guess we'll see.
But I can't keep this info to myself anymore...I want to share it with you guys.
Keto is my lifestyle and I'm good at it, but Keto is not a marriage and certainly not a religion.
I've studied and experimented with it to see what works. I am confident in saying that carb cycling aka carb clustering can work if you do it correctly and not too frequently.
I have been doing carb cycling for over 2 years and have not gained back any of my pre-Keto weight.
The trick is to find a healthy balance for YOUR body to stay in Ketosis most of the time.
Thanks for hearing me out.