The 3 Ketogenic Diets Explained: SKD, CKD & TKD

Ketogenic Diet > Keto Diet Information


Whether you want to gain power, endurance, speed, or muscle, this call all be done through a ketogenic diet.

Training While in Ketosis

It’s important to know what’s going in your body when you’re training, how those nutrients are being utilized, and how to maximize their effects. Here are some reasons why people find it difficult to stay in ketosis while on a training regimen:

  • Too much protein = knocked out of ketosis
  • Too little protein = lose muscle mass
  • Too many fats = gain body fat
  • Too little fats = low energy levels
  • Too many carbohydrates = knocked out of ketosis

Nutritional Needs of a Ketogenic Diet

One of the first, and most important things to consider here, is your caloric intake. To find out what your caloric and nutrient needs are, you can visit our keto calculator.

If you want to lose weight, subtract 10-15% of your calories from your TEE. If your goals are to gain muscle, increase your calories by 10-15% of your TEE. Easy enough, right?

Well, it’s a little bit more complex than that. You have to bring your macronutrients into play and make sure you are hitting the targeted amount.

In terms of percentages – you will want to do:

  • 40-60% fat
  • 35-40% protein
  • Remainder (10-25%) carbs

For example 110g protein, 150g fat, and 15g carbs will break into a 55% / 40% / 5% split of fats, proteins, and carbs respectively.

You can eat once a day, twice a day, or 10 times a day – just be sure you’re hitting your macros and drinking enough water.

Once your body enters ketosis, it will start using ketones as your primary source of energy (instead of glucose). While studies show that ketones (fats) are more efficient for the body to use, most people find that they never reach their peak performance without glucose (carbohydrates).

Variations of the Ketogenic Diet

There are 3 different styles of the keto diet:

  • Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD)
  • Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD)
  • Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD)

Experimentation is key here – no individuals are the same, and you have to see what works best for you. Some people find a 15 day CKD diet works best for them, and others prefer a weekly carb-load. This allows more freedom to choose what works the best.

Carbohydrates can coexist with ketosis, but only with INTENSE exercise. If you are not pushing your body to the maximum for physical progression, or to overcome plateaus in performance – you should not need to overextend the amount of carbohydrates you consume.

Which to Use

Most people who are asking this question need nothing more than an SKD diet. The CKD and TKD are for people who know their own limits well, and cannot achieve or break through their limits without the use of carbohydrates.

Do I Need More Carbs?

CKD and TKD are typically used in high intensity exercise, and should NEVER be used as an excuse to eat something sweet before a workout.

If you are not “hitting the wall” on a weekly basis, there is not really a need to add carbohydrates to your diet. CKD and TKD are for people who are pushing their body to the limits, and not to just for craving suppression.

Which Promotes the Most Fat Loss?

Usually people that are interested in other variations of a keto diet ask which will give the best results – SKD, CKD, or TKD. There is no straight answer for this, as it’s based mostly on your caloric intake. Ultimately, a SKD, CKD, and TKD will result in similar fat loss under the same calorie intake.

  • TKD is NOT an excuse to eat sweets before a workout.
  • CKD is NOT an excuse to eat tons of carbs just because you crave them.

What is a SKD, CKD, and TKD?

The Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD) is what most people think of when a keto diet is mentioned. A diet that is low in carbs, moderate in protein, and high in fat.

Carbohydrates have to be restricted greatly, and depending on factors such as protein intake, an intake of 30g or less carbohydrates a day will usually induce ketosis. This varies from person to person, but the general rule is to avoid fruits and starches.

Good sources of carbohydrates are those that are in leafy green vegetables, because of their low glycemic indexes which have the least effect on insulin release.

The Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD) is known for eating carbs around workout times. This is for 2 main types of people. Individuals that cannot or will not partake in long carb loads of a CKD, or individuals that are just starting an exercise program and are not ready to perform the amount of exercise needed to optimize a CKD diet.

A TKD gives the basis for maintaining exercise performance and allows for glycogen re-synthesis without interrupting ketosis for long periods of time.

The Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD) is typically aimed toward people who are more advanced in terms of exercise. Bodybuilders and athletes are a prime example, since a high volume and intensity is needed in their training to optimize the diet.

Unlike the TKD, where the primary goal is to maintain muscle glycogen at a moderate level, the goal of the CKD is to completely deplete muscle glycogen between the carb loads.

How do I Start?

Since most of the people here are going to be using the SKD, here are 4 basic steps to successfully start:

  • Calculate your caloric needs (TEE), and subtract or add calories based on your goals.
  • Set protein levels according to your goals. 0.8 – 1g of protein per pound of LEAN body mass.
  • Set carbohydrate levels. Generally around 20-30g a day (lower than 20g for the first few weeks, unless exercising).
  • Set fat intake levels based on how many calories you have left.

Remember, fats are 9 kcal/gram, proteins are 4 kcal/gram, and carbs are 4 kcal/gram.

If the TKD or CKD sound appealing to you, then you can read an in-depth look at TKD and an in-depth look at CKD to decide what would work best for you.

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