SKD CKD or TKD: Which is right for me?

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Most Ketogenic dieters are aware of the terms used in ketogenic diet especially terms like SKD, TKD and the CKD.

To the uninitiated:

  • The SKD is the Standard Ketogenic diet,
  • TKD stands for the targeted ketogenic diet and
  • CKD for the cyclical ketogenic diet.

In this guide, we will study the main differences between these three forms of Ketogenic diet and also help you establish which form of the diet is exactly right for you.

The Standard Ketogenic Diet: the SKD

This is, simply explained, the standard Ketogenic diet as you already know of. It consists of low carbohydrate with moderately high fat-high protein intake. It also forms the basis of the CKD and the TKD. Thus, CKD and TKD can be considered modifications of the SKD or the Standard Ketogenic diet.

The formula to remember when following the standard ketogenic diet is

SKD=Fats 60% + Proteins 35% + Carbs 5%

Thus, the basic premise of the standard ketogenic diet or the SKD is to consume very little carbohydrates but unlimited quantities of fats and proteins. The calories should be restricted to between 1400-2100 calories daily, based on individual needs. The fats should also come from good sources like Olive oil, avocado, fatty fish and meat as well as nuts, seeds, butter and cheese. Additionally, since fats are hard to digest, experts recommend getting an adequate intake of ketogenic enzymes including Lipase, Lactase and Protease and Protease SP.

Often times, after following the standard keto diet for a few days, many users hit a weight loss plateau. Also, bodybuilders and athletes experience a quick weight loss initially but it might come at the price such as lower metabolism and loss of muscles. Thus, calorie intake has to differ based on whether one is exercising to see fat loss. Also, when you follow the standard Keto diet for a while, you are essentially placing your body in a state of ketosis where the liver converts consumed fats and proteins into ketones, to use for energy. Thus, you start losing weight rapidly as the body is not getting carbs; rather it is getting only fats and proteins. However, the standard Keto diet is only recommended for those who wish to lose fat and weight very rapidly. For competition levels such as in case of sports or bodybuilding etc, it is recommended that you follow the Targeted Keto diet or the Cyclical keto diet.

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Who is the SKD right for?

The SKD is recommended for the following groups of people:

  1. Very obese people looking to lose weight fast
  2. Bodybuilders who are competing-but during the preparation period only
  3. Long distance cyclists
  4. Marathon runners

SKD is also recommended to people suffering from the following diseases:

  1. Epilepsy
  2. Celiac disease
  3. Diabetes
  4. Autism

These patients may continue to stay on the standard ketogenic diet for as long as they like.

How do I get into SKD?

Step 1: Understand and determine your calorie levels.

Step 2: Add protein to the diet approximately 0.8 to 1.0 gram per kilogram of your body weight.

Step 3: Carbohydrate levels need to be below 30g per day for first weeks to enter ketosis.

Step 4: Set the fat intake for daily basis. This will be determined by the total calorie intake as well as the remainder after you have set protein and carb intake levels.

The Targeted Ketogenic diet: the TKD

Often SKD dieters find themselves feeling very tired after a workout. The TKD can help eliminate this drawback. To define it simply, TKD or the targeted ketogenic diet is the modified standard keto diet where carbs may be consumed at specific times around exercise. Thus, on the days you are exercising you can add some carbs to your diet. If you are still looking to lose weight, you could add less dietary fat in order to ensure keeping total daily intake of calories the same.

So, to summarize TKD still has the same formula:

TKD= 65% fat + 30% Protein + 5% Carbs

However, the carbs may be varying in amounts in that; 25 g pre and 25g post workout. Thus, macro timing of the carb intake is critical to the success of the TKD. This means that the carbs are there for a purpose and must be introduced 30 to 60 minutes before and after the intense activity period/workout/race. This way, the body goes in Ketosis immediately before and after so that one does not get a surplus of carbs; rather an adequate amount of fuel is ascertained so that carbs do not spill over into the fat cells. Experts also recommend waiting for at least 2 hours after exercise to resume the complete Ketogenic meal. The best sources of carbs for those on TKD include dextrose and glucose and it is best to avoid fructose. Natural maple syrup is best to be taken just before workout.

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Who should go on TKD?

  1. Those who have been following SKD for a while
  2. Those who wish to build muscles rapidly
  3. Those who have been sports training or weight lifting for a few months now

Additionally, cancer patients, diabetics and patients with some other chronic disorders could do well on this diet.

Steps to incorporate the TKD

Step 1: Same steps as the SKD guidelines as give above. However, you will now adjust your calories based on the carbs you are adding to the TKD.

Step 2: Maintain ketosis by determining a safe time to add carbs. This is best before a workout and depending on your total workout level, 25 to 50g of carbs need to be added at least 30-60 minutes before the workout. It is recommended going in for easy to digest high GI carbs. These are absorbed quickly and also do not give rise to adverse gastrointestinal distress or stomach upset during training.

Step 3: If your calorie calculator suggests 50gram carbs for TKD, you could split these up as before and after workout carbs. Thus, try to eat half the amount 30 minutes before training and the remaining during the training.

Step 4: For post workout carb consumption, opt for glucose or related polymers avoiding fructose which can intrude with ketosis. Also completely avoid consuming fats as these can get stored when the insulin levels are high after workout. Also, in case you do not want to have carbs following the workout, you could opt for protein which is better from recovery point of view.

The Cyclical Ketogenic Diet or the CKD

Bodybuilders who wish to add tons of muscles will do well with the cyclical keto diet or the CKD. This diet, like the TKD is highly beneficial in maintaining sports performance. Unlike the TKD where carbs are provided only around exercise time, the CKD inserts a period of a day or two of introducing carbs on a very large scale. Thus, one would restrict carbs for the entire week but eat tons of carbs on the weekends.  CKD is however not recommended to beginners to exercise or those who are unable to put in adequate periods of training.

CKD= 65% fats+30% protein +5% carbs on 5-6 days per week. On 2 days you can load yourself up with good carbs such as long grain rice etc, keeping it up to 300g of carbs or less on these days. Thus the formula is 70% carbs+15% proteins+15% fats.  Protein intake should be at 0.9 g of bodyweight or 150g per day whichever is greater.

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In the low carb week of CKD, the diet will be like your normal standard keto diet. The days you temporarily switch to carbs your metabolism will temporarily click out of ketosis and this will actually help you sustain your exercise over the coming week.

Who should go on CKD?

  1. Bodybuilders for muscle development.
  2. Those who have followed SKD or TKD for a while.
  3. Those capable of doing high intensity full body workout.

People with diabetes or hypertension must not follow this diet.

Steps for CKD

Step 1: At least 5-6 hours before working out, add 25 to 50g carbs. Also add a bit of protein and fat to the meal.

Step 2: Before you workout, at least an hour or two before it, eat some fruits for glucose and fructose.

Step 3: Based on your carb intake and as long as at least 10g carb per kilogram of your lean body mass is consumed, continue in the next 24 hours an intake of at least 5g/kg of your lean body mass.

Step 4: In first 24 hours of CKD, maintain the 70-15-15 ratio where 70% carbs are consumed with 15% each of fats and proteins.

Step 5: In the next 24 hours, go in for 60-25-15 ratio where 60% carbs and 25% is proteins with remainder of fats.

Step 6: The timing of carb intake is not too relevant here. However, experts do recommend consuming high GI carbs on day 1 here while switching to low GI carbs in the next 24 hours.

A simpler CKD diet version is as follows:

A summary of simpler or noob CKD is stated here for those who have been on Ketogenic diet for a while. (This is definitely not recommended for beginners to Keto diet).

  1. Carbs must be restricted to less than 30g. Proteins should be 1.5g per pound of body weight and fat should be 0.5g of per gram of protein.
  2. Follow this up with strict No-Carb days for 2 weeks.
  3. Go in for one load of carb with 400g carbs.
  4. Once every week opt for high Carb, moderate protein and low fat.
  5. Measure weight before the Carb-load days as well as after. If you have dropped too much weight opt for greater carb intake and vice a versa.

In conclusion: which is right for me: SKD TKD or CKD?

Experts believe that with time, one will learn to understand the body’s need for refuelling with carbs. So, there is no right or wrong diet and one must analyze and monitor the need for carbs which will definitely come with regular practice.