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SKD, TKD and CKD: How to Choose the Keto Diet That’s Right for You

Let’s help you choose the form of Keto diet that’s right for you.

Pete Andros KetosisTools Keto Ketogenic Diet TheManCanCook CKD Vascularity

Hi all.

After actively listening to you, I feel its time to clear up one of the most common questions for new keto’ers out there: What type of keto diet would most suit you? Today I hope to help in dismantling some of the myths around, as well as touch on loads more. These are some of the most common questions.

  • Can you build muscle on a Keto diet?
  • When do I carb load?
  • Should I carb load?
  • What type of keto diet should I be doing?

We begin to answer these questions by realising that not all keto diets are created equally.

There are three main styles of Keto diet:

Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD)

Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD)

Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD)


The Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD)

Usually used for rapid, stable fat loss as well as retaining lean muscle mass.

The term keto has become a widely used term describing a diet that is high in fats with moderate protein intake and very low carbohydrates, with the intention of activating the process of ketosis in the body. The term ketosis on the other hand, describes the utilisation of dietary fats by the body as an energy source; as opposed to using carbohydrates (glucose, and sugar for example) for fuel. When on a keto diet, we place ourselves into a state of ketosis and our liver starts to convert our food into ketones. We then start to source our energy from ketones. So why is this preferable? Burning ketones ensures we won’t be spiking our blood sugar levels or disturbing our insulin levels, as carbs and sugars would do to us. The SKD diet is a high fat, low carb, and medium protein diet, But we need to ensure we are consuming healthy dietary fats, such as butter, cheese, olive oil, avocado, and fatty cuts of meat. Things like mayonnaise and aioli are also great. The most common ratios in a Keto diet are as follows:  Fats: 60%  Protein 35%  Carbs 5%  per meal This can change according to one’s goals; this is just the most common guide & with experience you can start to play around with these ratios. Remember, fats are 9 kcal/gram, proteins are 4 kcal/gram, and carbs are 4 kcal/gram. Also remember that fats are harder to digest so you should be using a good enzyme with a good dose of Protease S, Protease SP, Lactase, and my favorite and absolutely essential – Lipase. Find them in a good local pharmacy or alternately online. Personally I use the keto-specific enzymes and greens blend I sourced alongside the team from Ketosis Tools. Feel free to have a look at their offering here at Keto Enzymes by Ketosis Tools. In regard to all of your questions asking about calculating macros, yes they can be done manually but for those just starting out or wanting to get an idea of their macros here is a link for a Keto Calculator that will make things a little easier.

Who should be using or can benefit from the  Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD)?

  • Endurance athletes/marathon runners/ long distance cyclists ext.
  • Bodybuilders (competition prep time only)
  • Obese / morbidly obese / overweight

The ketogenic diet is also having very positive effects in the medical world with disease sufferers who hold one of the following conditions:

  • Celiac disease
  • Autism
  • Diabetes type 2
  • Parkinson’s disease sufferers
  • Cancer ( cancer cells need glucose to thrive)

NOTE: Please consult your doctor before undergoing a diet change.

Let’s talk a bit more about Ketones.

Ketones are a slower burning energy source; so the standard keto diet should and is very commonly being utilised for long distance events. In endurance sports such as long distance cycling and runnin, carbohydrate burrners are known for ‘hitting the wall’ or ‘bonking’. This describes a condition caused by the depletion of  glycogen stores in the liver and muscles, which manifests itself  by sudden fatigue and loss of energy. Milder instances can be remedied by brief rest and the ingestion of food or drinks containing carbohydrates, or alternatively being keto adapted will ensure this will not happen and there will be plenty of energy in the tanks to finish out the race.

SKD is not known for muscle gain; but rather its ability to rapidly lose fat. SKD does maintain muscle well, yes, but does not rapidly put on muscle. So if its rapid fat loss you’re looking for – the SKD diet is what I believe to be the best fat loss diet in the world. This diet dose not typically do a carbohydrate reload day (re-feed).  A re-feed is where one of your meals is by majority full of carbohydrates. I believe there are many benefits to carb re-feeding.

Cutting any food group for good or long periods of time isn’t ever a good idea. I strongly believe in having at least one re-feed meal every 14 days and this will ensure no hormones or systems in your body will shut down or ‘get lazy’. And one carbohydrate meal every 14 days is hardly cycling, and I would not refer to it as Cyclical Ketogenic Diet. The thyroid hormone In particular (T3/T4) has been said to slow down and this leading to hypothyroid in extreme cases, this slows down your metabolism making it harder to lose weight. So this may also be a reason your results have been hitting a plateau. Now im not saying binge on carbs or go to the extent of CKD which we will cover shortly – here I am simply pointing out the benefits of a system reset to ensure regularity of your body’s systems. Next up we have the Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD).

The Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD)

Usually targeted towards athletes such as running sprinters and sprints cyclists.

This diet is for those athletes who still need to utilise some fast burning carbohydrate-based energy before a race – carbohydrates being a fast burning explosive fuel. Also this is also used by some bodybuilders that just can’t handle long periods without carbohydrates. TKD gives the basis for maintaining exercise performance and allows for glycogen re-synthesis without interrupting ketosis for long periods of time. TKD is known to also put on some adequate lean body mass (LBM). TKD is great as it still allows athletes to live the high fat low carbohydrate (HFLC, or LCHF) healthy lifestyle.

The carbohydrates in TKD are targeted for a purpose, and if executed correctly they should be all used up by the end of a TKD athlete’s race or energy-consuming activity. This is what we call ‘macro timing’. Macro timing in this case is the specific timing of introducing carbohydrates to your keto diet. With TKD the carbohydrates are usually induced 30 mins prior to an event or exercise, some people have also introduced carbohydrates both intra and immediately post exercise with the intention of using the carbohydrates all up so they slip back into ketosis quickly right after. If done right this method work wonders and I use this method often.

The most important thing is to get your amount of carbohydrates right to ensure you don’t have too much; as having too many carbohydrates would have you in a surplus of carbohydrates and this then could lead to the spilling over of unburned fuel, and into fat cells.  You also must not consume too much fat right after exercise either; I suggest waiting at least 2 hours before your next keto meal following exercise.

My personal stack and timing whilst on TKD –

20g Dextrose, 15g Maltodextrin, 10g BCAA intra-workout

20g Dextrose, 15g Maltodextrin, 10g BCAA post-workout

This all totalling 70g of carbohydrates in the stack.

This works well for me, dextrose is burnt immediately as it is already in glucose form and does not need to covert, and maltodextrin is also quite fast acting and burns just a little slower, but also a little longer . The shorter chain length a carbohydrate has; the higher it raises the solution’s osmolarity (concentration). A pure glucose (dextrose) solution induces very high concentrations of solute.

A combination of dextrose and maltodextrin gives a solution with a decreased osmolarity so glucose will enter the blood as a faster rate. However, using only maltodextrin for this reason isn’t optimal. A solution containing two substrates, in this case maltodexrin and dextrose stimulates the activation of more transport mechanisms in the intestinal lumen, as opposed to just maltodextrin or dextrose alone. This way more carbohydrates are transported out of the small intestine and absorbed into the blood, leading to faster and greater circulation of carbohydrates. So this is my reasoning.

Again everyone is different and TKD needs some fine tuning for every individual so I wont give you your rate by kg or pound as I don’t believe in the weight method as everyone is different. We all digest foods differently, this will be a personal method that you will need to experiment and over time you will get it right. Now we move onto the final form of ketogenic diet; the Cyclical Ketogenic Diet.

The Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD)

Usually used by the advanced bodybuilder that knows his or hers body.

This form of Keto diet means business, and it business means muscle. Unlike the TKD, where the primary goal is to maintain muscle glycogen at a moderate level; the goal of the Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD) is to completely deplete muscle glycogen stores between carb loads. Where TKD works well to keep you lean and maintain current muscle levels with slow but good lean gains, CKD turns it up.

So with CKD you can now put on some large muscle gains while remaining lean and keto-adapted. Now im not going to tell you how a forum would have you think CKD is, they would have you believe that all you need to do is carb up once a week and you’ll be fine. Well maybe for the smaller beginner, with lower levels of  LBM; this will  work. However, for the advanced bodybuilder that wants to really hone in using this style of Keto diet this is not the case. This is where you may find yourself throwing away some text books as they only become words on paper in light of your discoveries.

CKD is about the advanced bodybuilder being so in touch with his or hers body in that they will know when the right time for a re-feed is needed, and this will never be the same each week. You will get a feel for CKD eventually but you must learnt to listen to and monitor your body and it’s needs. As I mentioned before, the CKD Keto diet aims to completely deplete your muscle glycogen stores between the carb loads.

Some CKD routine ideas,

For the beginner trying to build muscle carb loading one day a week with about 300g to 600g of low GI burning carbohydrate works well, long grain basmati rice is a favourite of mine in this style of keto diet.

For the advanced bodybuilder they may need to do this 2 times a week or  even more, for example, an advanced bodybuilder may have a carbohydrate load day of  approximately 500g of slow burning carbohydrate on Sunday, then they may also have one meal of  200g slow burning carbohydrates on the Tuesday morning if they are doing legs in the afternoon, for instance. They may then have a small 200g meal on Friday if they feel depleted reminder that this is CDK for the advanced. You must remember the advanced bodybuilder has very high levels of LBM and has a very vigorous work out regime this leading them being able to exhaustively burn through the carbohydrates in very small time periods, really next to no time at all.

We are all different and will work differently with each variation. My greatest advice is to try all of them out and find out for yourself. Remember you can change diets if you feel like you’re hitting a plateau, or to need to meet different goals you might have at that moment of time. I myself change it  up regularly. Hopefully I have cleared up the most common questions you had here in this article and perhaps focused on the most common of them all – ‘Can I build muscle on Keto…’ The answer to that question my friends is yes. So to sum it all up there is a form of Keto here that will work for you. Best wishes, Peter Andros

Keto King

Pete Andros KetosisTools Keto Ketogenic Diet TheManCanCook CKD