Cyclical Ketogenic Diet for Fat Loss

You’ve begun your journey towards becoming a leaner, healthier individual. You’ve been on every diet imaginable (usually of the low fat variety) & lost weight, only to regain it all & then some. At this point, someone suggests you try the “ketogenic” diet. You visit, subscribe to their newsletter and receive a free baseline diet & sample meal plan.
You also receive a free week of their online training program. You start reading the meal plan and think “this is the opposite of every diet I’ve been on”. Bacon & eggs for breakfast, fast food hamburgers (minus the bun) for lunch & even chicken wings for dinner. You decide “what the heck” I’ll give it a shot, nothing else has worked”.

You start your new eating lifestyle with a meal plan that is 2300 calories and you’re thinking     “no way I can lose weight eating that much, the other diets had me start at 1700”.  Then you look at the amount of fat, 65%...WHAT? I’ll have high cholesterol, heart disease, hardening of the arteries, or a stroke. This is what being brainwashed into believing fat is BAD does to you. So, you start on monday & drop 5.5 lbs on the scale on Saturday mornings weigh in ( a lot of it will be water the first week), you can’t believe it, you’re  actually having a hard time eating all that food, no hunger at all like the previous “low fat” diets. Week 2, you’re down another 4 lbs, an unbelievable rate of weight loss, a little less than the first week but still fantastic, especially considering you’re only doing 3 strength training sessions per week & ZERO CARDIO. Week 3, a loss of 1.5 lbs, much less this week, but still pretty good considering you’ve experienced zero hunger & not much exercise. Week 4, “only” 1 lb. but still, you’re very happy, you’ve lost 12 lbs in 1 month, again, no hunger, little exercise & you’d only lost 10 lbs on the previous “diets” while performing 3 times as much exercise as well as being hungry all the time. A few more weeks pass, and fat loss stalls completely. 

Weightloss can be very frustrating

You’re now getting a little frustrated, you have about 17 more lbs to lose to be at your goal weight, you haven’t had more than 30 grams of carbs in a day in what’s now been 7 weeks. You almost give up, thinking you are destined to always be on the “heavier side”, but instead you decide to schedule a 1 month consultation & seek some “professional help”. After a brief, yet informative email consultation, you explain how frustrated you’ve become, and you’re asked to please be patient , trust the process & the plan that you will be receiving, which will be detailing the modifications to your diet & exercise program. You’re expecting to have your carbs cut to zero & calories lowered to starvation levels like the other “diets” would have you do, but when you receive the  recommendations the very next day, you’re like, “HUH”? They suggest I cut my calories 1 day per week ( Monday) to 1500. 

 Pinnacle Fitness Consultants sends you a detailed strength training workout as well as a video of each workout for you to follow along with, so there’s no confusion about proper exercise technique or intensity (very motivating). Another change PFC made was to have you add what they call a 2 hour G.R.P, short for “Glycogen Replenishment Phase”. This is a term PFC coined for strategic carb loading. You are VERY skeptical about this,  how was eating all these carbs going to help you lose weight, when the whole point of the diet was to eliminate carbs and now you’re being told to eat a lot of them for 2 hours? So, you start on Monday at 1500 calories, a bit hungry but not too bad, this way of eating has almost completely taken hunger away, you never really think about eating anymore, another massive advantage of this “lifestyle”. You have your first training session on tuesday, a full body training workout that is only 30 minutes, very fast paced. You train again on thursday & saturday, again full body sessions but different exercises, 30 minutes & you’re drenched! You weigh yourself sat morning, and even though you “felt” leaner, you weren’t expecting much, if any weight/fat loss. Step on the scale, step off, then have to do a double take, 3.5 lbs, WHAT? HOW?   

PFC sends you a detailed strength training workout, a video of each exercise for you to follow along with, as well as an individualized meal plan, everything is laid out intelligently!


 Going by the “math” you were only consuming about 500 calories less per week than before & burning off “maybe” an additional 400 calories. Going by the numbers you should have lost at most ¼ lb. After an email check in with that afternoon you asked “how was this possible?” You were told that yes, most of that weight would have been water weight that you were holding before which could have been caused by a variety of factors including: thyroid suppression,  prolonged elevated cortisol levels, and a host of other variables contributing to water retention. So, what was actually happening before was, although you were still losing fat, you were holding an equal amount of water bloat, which disguised the true weight/fat loss. What seems to happen after the GRP (carb up window), is the cortisol levels drop & thyroid level is raised… as well as G.H & testosterone as well. (women, do NOT be afraid of testosterone)


So, this gets fat loss moving again—not as quickly as when you first started, but that’s to be expected. After another few weeks, fat loss slows to a crawl again. You still have about 10-12lbs to lose to be at your goal weight.  
Fat loss is “usually” harder for women than men, so, often, many of them resort to drastic measures in an effort to become lean. Unmotivated people will give up way before they ever reach this level. Motivated individuals will do whatever it takes to get there. This type of person will often starve themselves or perform several hours of cardio & weight training per day. At we want to help people, especially women avoid this frustration. We are here to help educate you before you become frustrated and end up quitting altogether.


 It’s normal for the metabolism to slow down on any diet or calorie restriction. This is all due to metabolic adaptation. It’s much less dramatic on a ketogenic diet in our experience, but it will still occur after months of being in a hypo-caloric state.
As soon as an individual cuts calories, for example, from 2,000 to 1,500, their metabolism begins to slow down. Most people do not realize that the body uses calories simply through digesting and processing food. This is what we describe as the thermic effect of food, or T.E.F for short. The act of eating less food causes lower metabolic output.

Losing bodyfat, especially a significant amount, will send a signal to the body to lower thyroid levels and diminish nervous system output in an effort to stop the weight loss. Once further calorie cuts are made and cardio is increased, ‘weightloss” will resume again,( but this time with more muscle being burned) with the body further lowering thyroid levels and nervous system output (this metabolic damage will make it increasingly more difficult to lose fat). Testosterone levels will also drop, while cortisol levels will increase. Since muscle is  what we call “metabolically active tissue” (it uses calories simply to live) the metabolism will drop even further.

So why would the body behave this way? survival. If our body did not have this adaptive ability we would lose weight without stopping until we eventually died. These metabolic adaptations are  necessary for survival.
Remember this: The human body’s number one priority is homeostasis. Whatever condition the body is put in, it will strive to survive within that new norm. You need to understand how to work with your body as much as possible, and understand that your body will automatically take measures in response to calorie intake or expenditure.
In our experience, metabolism slows down for a variety of reasons.. People run their metabolisms into the ground trying to get “ripped” for a show, a wedding, reunion or any other important event the individual wants to look good in. Leaving them seriously slowed.

Someone with a seriously damaged metabolism cannot consume many calories at all. Yet after becoming extremely frustrated over the lack of weight loss progress, most will tend to binge eat as they decide the diet is not working.
Their metabolism, running on such small amounts of food for months, or more…are not able
 to handle a high level of calorie intake, and the fat gain is fast and furious. This usually leads to gaining extreme amounts of adipose tissue, leaving the dieter heavier & fatter than when they started, as well as depressed.

The vicious cycle begins all over again.

How we advise clients to avoid this problem

Luckily, there are several ways to prevent serious metabolic issues from occurring. The metabolism will slow to some degree on any diet, but this should not lead to extreme calorie deprivation combined with hours of low intensity long duration cardio.
This is very unhealthy for your metabolism, and won’t get you lean enough. Some advice for achieving optimal results:

Take your time

 Fat loss will occur much faster on the ketogenic diet  plan than on any other plan in our opinion. But it still takes time, and with some individuals, a lot of time. A goal of 1.5% – 2.0% of  your current bodyweight, per week would be a realistic rate of fat loss for most individuals. 1.0%-1.5%  is  more realistic for individuals who are already lean. This will help to minimize any potential muscle loss. Muscle tissue consumes calories all the time. YOU DO NOT WANT TO LOSE THIS METABOLICALLY EXPENSIVE TISSUE.

Use carbs strategically


Carbs increase cellular hydration, and therefore cell volume. When muscle cells are hydrated and have greater volume, this signals the body that it is in a satiated state. The body, sensing it is fed, will increase the metabolic rate. Obviously if carbs are too high, fat loss cannot occur, but for continued fat loss, carbs should be cycled in the diet. PFC believes that in most inviduals, cycling carbohydrates the way we prescribe is an essential tool in keeping the metabolism elevated. Leptin is a primary reason for this. Leptin is a fat-burning hormone; its release is directly related to carbohydrate intake and body fat levels. Leptin serves many functions, including the control of energy expenditure.

As carbs get low and body fat levels dwindle, the body inevitably lowers leptin levels. You can combat this to an extent by adding in high-carb days. A high-carb day once every 4-8 days can boost leptin levels; leptin is highly responsive to glucose metabolism.
Add high carb days to boost leptin, and it will lead to a more positive hormonal profile in general. High carb days can lead to higher levels of the thyroid hormone t3, as well as help to keep testosterone levels elevated, both of which can further your fat-loss efforts.

Keep fat intake to 50% or more of your total calories

Fat, especially saturated fat must be available for the body to create cholesterol, which is needed to produce testosterone. If fat intake is too low, there won't be enough fatty acids available for optimal testosterone production. This leads to muscle loss as well as a myriad of other problems including, but not limited to depression. This loss of “lean tissue” will assuredly lower your metabolic rate.

A chronically low fat intake will actually program your body to hold on to fat stores. Proper amounts of fat in the diet will ensure that there is a caloric deficit for fat loss, but that the body does not perceive starvation. We hope this article has answered some of your questions on why we feel our dieting methods are extremely effective,  and what “weapons” you have at your disposal when you do hit that plateau.