Keto vs Carb Cycling: Which Works Better For Women?Mar 07, 2023
Today, I'm diving into a highly debated topic - Keto vs Carb Cycling. Which one is better for women?
My answer might surprise you...
Hello, my name is Lesya Holzapfel. I have a bachelor's in nutrition and dietetics and help professional women shed fat.
I've been talking a lot about Carb Cycling on this channel lately and one of the most common questions I get asked is, should I do keto or cycle carbs?
That's what I want to answer for you today.
First, I want to define both ways of eating, then I'll share the pros and cons of both, my personal opinion, and I'll take you through a quick quiz to help you choose the best option for you.
Let's start with the ketogenic diet, also known as "keto".
This low-carb, high-fat diet has become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason.
The idea behind keto is to get your body into a state of ketosis, where it burns fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates.
This leads to rapid weight loss and improved insulin sensitivity.
Now, let's talk about carb cycling.
This approach involves alternating between periods of moderate to high and low carbohydrate intake.
During high-carb days, you consume more carbohydrates to replenish your energy stores.
During low-carb days, you reduce your carbohydrate intake to promote ketosis and fat adaption.
What are the pros and cons of each?
Let's talk about keto first.
The first pro of keto is weight loss.
By reducing carbohydrate intake and increasing fat intake, your body enters a metabolic state called ketosis, which can lead to weight loss.
Then there's Improved insulin sensitivity:
By reducing carbohydrate intake and stabilizing blood sugar levels, your body can become more sensitive to insulin, potentially reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Also, you experience increased energy levels.
With increased fat intake, the body has a more stable source of energy, potentially leading to increased energy levels.
Keto also improves your brain function:
The brain can use ketones as an alternative energy source to glucose, potentially leading to improved brain function and a reduction in symptoms for those with neurological conditions such as epilepsy.
And last but definitely not least is decreased inflammation.
The ketogenic diet has been shown to reduce markers of inflammation in the body, potentially reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
Here are some of the most common cons associated with the keto diet:
#1 is the Initial adaptation period: The initial adaptation period to the ketogenic diet can be difficult for some people, as your body adjusts to the drastic change in macronutrient intake.
Common side effects include fatigue, headaches, and nausea.
This is also known as the "keto flu" and is very common when you don't follow keto the right way.
Secondly is the restrictive nature of keto.
The ketogenic diet can be difficult to stick to, as it restricts many foods that are commonly consumed, such as starchier vegetables, fruits, and legumes.
Also, if you aren't doing keto correctly, you can experience nutrient deficiencies: The restrictive nature of the ketogenic diet can lead to nutrient deficiencies.
This is very common for those who are eating "dirty keto" and eat processed and packaged keto junk foods.
Another con of keto is that it can lead to thyroid issues.
Your body needs insulin to convert t4 to t3 so if you're on keto too long, that conversion won't happen and your thyroid will suffer.
Keto can also put a burden on your adrenals and cortisol if you're already experiencing HPA Axis dysregulation.
Keto is a stressor and even though it's good stress, if you're body is already stressed, adding more stress to it is not wise.
Lastly, keto is not sustainable long-term for most women.
I covered 4 reasons why long-term keto is not healthy in another video so if you want to know what they are, make sure to watch that video next.
Now let's talk about the pros and cons of carb cycling:
#1 Pro is Increased energy levels:
By alternating periods of high carbohydrate intake with periods of low carbohydrate intake, your body can maintain stable energy levels throughout the day.
#2 Helps break weight loss stalls on keto.
Stalls happen because your body adapts to what "diet" you're on.
Carb Cycling keeps your body guessing because it never knows what fuel source it's going to get.
Adding back carbs tells your body that you are safe and allows it to release the fat it's been holding on to for survival.
#3 is carb cycling helps lower cortisol which will heal your adrenals.
Adding more carbs helps lower cortisol levels, especially when you time your carbs correctly.
This allows your adrenals to take a break from constantly pumping out stress hormones which lead to weight gain, fatigue, and other health issues.
Additionally, carb cycling may improve sleep patterns and provide a more consistent energy source for the body, which can help reduce stress levels and further reduce cortisol release.
#4 Is improved athletic performance:
By providing the body with a source of readily available energy in the form of carbohydrates, carb cycling can improve athletic performance, particularly for endurance-based activities.
#5 is it's more sustainable than keto:
The biggest advantage of carb cycling is its flexibility.
Carb cycling allows for the inclusion of carbohydrates, which can be appealing to those who find low-carbohydrate diets restrictive.
This makes the diet more sustainable in the long term.
Now for the cons of carb cycling
The biggest con is that most women don't do it correctly and end up gaining lots of water weight, feeling bloated, and tired, or end up binging on the wrong type of carbs.
If you're going to carb cycle, you need to work with a professional to help you implement it properly.
#2 is Complexity: If you don't have a step-by-step system to follow, carb cycling can be complex and difficult to figure out on your own, especially for those who are new to this way of eating and nutrition in general.
#3 is Meal planning: Carb cycling requires thoughtful meal planning and tracking in the beginning, which can be time-consuming and challenging unless you have templates, meal plans, and a simple system that takes all the guesswork away.
So, you're probably wondering: Which one do I think is better?
My answer is "it depends." I know, I know, that’s probably not the answer you want to hear but It depends on 3 factors:
What are your current health circumstances (if any), how much weight do you have to lose, and what are your long-term health goals?
I can't say one is better than the other until I know all three of those answers when working with clients.
So now, I want to walk you through a quick "yes" or "no" quiz that will help you determine which way of eating is best for you right now.
Are you ready?
Get a pen and paper and track your answers.
Keto is better for you if you can say yes to these questions:
- I have more than 50 lbs to lose.
- I'm insulin resistant
- I have diabetes or prediabetes
- I have PCOS
- I've been eating the standard American diet for most of my life
- I'm a couch potato
If you said yes to any of those things, I recommend starting with keto.
You can download the description for my Clean Keto Cheat Sheet to do keto correctly.
Now, Carb Cycling. If you can say yes to these questions, this is a better choice for you right now:
- I lost all the weight you wanted on keto but don't want to do keto forever.
- I hit a stall on keto and cutting carbs more or fasting isn't working
- I have high cortisol or adrenal issues
- I have thyroid issues
- I have terrible period symptoms
- I’m an athlete and am very active
- I miss carbs and keep binging on them while on keto
- I’m not feeling as great as I used to on keto, gained weight, or am not fully satisfied eating ketogenic
If you said yes to any of these things, that is a red flag that you need to cycle in some carbs and I want you to go to the description and download my Carb Cycling Cheat Sheet to get started.
So, how did you do? Let me know in the comments what you're results were by typing "keto" or "carb cycling."
f you said yes to carb cycling and you haven't watched my Carb Cycling For Beginners Series, make sure to watch that next!
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