Nowadays it seems like it is quite difficult to go through your social feed without seeing or hearing someone praise benefits of the keto diet. Keto is efficient, it gets your body to burn calories, that’s the general concept of the state of ketosis.
However, there have been some rumors that if you really want to boost the effect, you need to combine keto diet with intermittent fasting.
Adding fasting to the low-carb diet?
- Does it work?
- Is it worth a shot?
- The keto diet and intermittent fasting are two dietary strategies, they have a lot in common but should we do it?
- Should we combine these two?
Let’s take a look!
Ketogenic diet 101
As you probably know, the ketogenic diet revolves around the intake of carbs. To be precise, this diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet. Its name was derived from a term ‘ketosis’.
Ketosis is a metabolic state where your body goes from burning glucose to burning fat for energy. Hence, the main purpose of this diet is to get your body into the state of ketosis. When our bodies burn fat (when there is no glucose) they do that in order to provide cells in our body the much needed energy but to also produce ketones that are in charge of fueling our brains.
Ketones or ketone bodies are byproducts of the body breaking down fat for energy that occurs when carbohydrate intake is low. They are water-soluble molecules that take place of glucose because of the low carb intake.
Benefits of Keto & some fun facts
Obviously people follow the keto diet to lose weight. That’s where this diet really comes in handy. However, there are other benefits of this diet and they include better mental clarity, improved energy, appetite suppression, diabetes handling, hormonal balance and cholesterol reduction.
On the fun side of things, this diet has been originally designed as a way to treat epilepsy in children. Keto diet idea came into existence somewhere around the 1920s and back then researchers concluded that a diet high in fat and low in carbs causes elevated ketones and they believed that a ketone-energized brain won’t suffer as many seizures.
And there it was, a solid foundation for the keto diet to be examined in the decades to come. As time went by, scientists discovered that keto diets also have benefits that go beyond epilepsy control.
Long story short, nowadays fitness enthusiasts all across the globe promote this diet and follow it themselves. It’s simple – low-carb keto diets are more effective for weight loss than common calorie reduction diets.
Now, there is a new trend that’s called keto intermittent fasting. It is a combination of intermittent fasting and keto. But, before we jump into explanations, we have to delve into the issue of intermittent fasting and see what it’s all about.
Intermittent fasting 101
Intermittent fasting is a dietary strategy that revolves around timing of your meals.
So, it’s all about when you eat and not what you actually eat. At least not to some extent. People usually want to hear about the benefits of this diet first so let’s name a few of them.
Intermittent fasting boosts fat loss. By eating all your meals in an 8-hour window, you cause significant weight loss without counting a single calorie. Although this type of fasting really causes weight loss no matter what we eat, we still need to do it in a healthy manner.
Combining intermittent fasting with clean foods (yes, elimination of junk food is a must) will only speed up the weight loss process. To make things even better, intermittent fasting helps with the muscle gain. And here’s an example.
A single 24-hour fast increased human growth hormone by 2000% in men and 1300% women. HGH plays a pivotal role in building muscle so the more increased it is, the bigger the chances of a huge muscle growth. And of course, higher levels of HGH lead to lower levels of body fat along with higher lean body mass and better bone mass.
Now that we have two really good benefits, let’s dissect this dietary strategy. Intermittent fasting is based on the timing of food intake. During it you fast and eat within specific windows of time. There are many types of intermittent fasting but there are three prominent ones that a lot of people practice.
- Meal skipping - skip any meal you wish. For example, many skip breakfast and then eat their next meal in the evening.
- Alternate days fasting – this variation means fasting for a few days every week and eating regularly during the other days of the week. You can guess that this is the most difficult approach. The trick here is to reduce the amount of food you eat in a single day. When dining you only take in a limited amount of food. So, through restricting your feeding windows, you eat much less than usually.
- Eating windows – this is by far the most popular variation of intermittent fasting. Eating windows revolve around restriction of food intake during specific periods called eating windows. For example, you can have a 16/8 window. That means 16 hours of fasting and an 8-hour eating window.
It’s worth noting again that many people fast simply because it boosts fat burning. When people enter fasted state instead of a fed state, their bodies have to burn fat stores to produce energy. During this process, your body starts turning fat into ketone bodies. As it was mentioned above, those ketones serve as juice for brain and various other organs.
The keto diet is similar to fasting but there’s a catch. The hunger sensation is certainly weaker.
Intermittent fasting – how does it work?
Before we jump into dealing with the main issue in this article – keto intermittent fasting – we’ll take a look at the beginnings of intermittent fasting and some reasons why it works. In order to understand where this fasting came from, we have to look at numerous cultures.
Cultures all around the globe include fasting as a significant aspect of spiritual practice and even alternative medicine. We all know that we are what we eat. Or as some like to add, we are what we eat ate.
Also, even the legendary Hippocrates who is considered to be the father of modern medicine, used to prescribe fasting as a treatment for numerous conditions. Moving back to this day, we have researchers who looked into effects of fasting on human beings. They reached an agreement  that fasting from time to time is healthy.
Numerous papers undoubtedly show that the calorie intake restriction (without malnutrition!) makes animals (models from the studies) live longer. Of course, fasting revolves around calorie restriction. That’s the gist of it and that’s the reason it works.
Eating too much food leads to obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and heart conditions. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that the mentioned conditions plague our world today. Fasting triggers changes in metabolism and biochemical processes on the cellular level. In short, that’s how it works. For all of you who’d like a more in-depth analysis, take a look at the paragraph below.
In-depth explanation of intermittent fasting
Let’s see what happens when we eat more than we need to. For example, you happen to be hungry and crave fast food. You order two burgers and two portions of fries along with a sweetened drink. That’s overeating. There’s no doubt about it.
Well, when people overeat, their bodies release insulin (pancreas does it). What happens next is insulin signals the body’s cells to stack the extra calories as fat for later use. In short, that’s what happens when we overeat.
How do we get these fat stores to decrease?
We need to allow the body to use that fat for energy. And we do that by restricting food intake. That leads to a decrease of insulin levels which triggers body to use up fat from the stores. So, fasting gets our body to use that fat for energy which is the general aim of every single person that wants to lose weight.
Moving on, it is worth noting that our bodies have two metabolic states. You’ve probably experienced both but you never realized it. The first one of course is the fed state. When our glucose levels are high and we are well fed. Maybe even ‘overfed’. The other state is the fasted state.
On the contrary, the glucose levels in that state are low. And here we reach the key role of carbs – carbs are the main factor when it comes to glucose levels rise and drop. No keto diet can work with high carbs intake. Right. Well, intermittent fasting and keto or, better said, intermittent fasting on keto won’t work either. Replacing glucose with fat is what the key is.
There have been studies that state how intermittent fasting also improves overall well-being of humans. Aside from being a great way to lose weight. According to researchers, this occurs because our cells are under ‘stress’ during fasting and they adapt to it by enhancing their ability to cope with it which makes them stronger and more resistant to disease.
They also claim that ‘toiling’ from time to time (fasting) serves as a foundation for a strong, sturdy body. However, allow some recovery time and fasting will never be harmful. It can only make you stronger.
Intermittent fasting on keto
Many of you probably wanted to read this text to learn about the combination of intermittent fasting and keto, that is, to learn about the effects of fasting on the keto diet. As it was mentioned, intermittent fasting and keto impact our metabolism in the same manner.
- Quick revision – they induce the state of ketosis. And even though many believe that going for either one of them (either keto or intermittent fasting) will solve the problem, there is a reason why combining them is good. And the answer lies in the issue of practicality. Intermittent fasting is quite hard if you are not on a ketogenic diet and the keto diet gets an additional kick with intermittent fasting.
Seems like it!
Now you’re starting to see the real benefits of keto fasting. People who follow a keto diet already have low glucose levels in blood and hence their insulin levels are in ‘fat burning’ mode. Also, their food craving is lower (reduced appetite) due to the satiating effects of a keto diet. And the high ketone levels, of course. So, what they get is no food cravings and no sugar crashes while fasting.
When it comes to people who are on the usual high carb diets, no food intake for long periods of time will only cause sharp drops in blood glucose levels and a rise in hunger hormones. In turn, individuals will feel weak, light headed, shaky and irritable. Oh and we all know that there’s not a thing that can be done when we are extremely hungry.
Studying, working, exercising?
All in all, keto intermittent fasting works! Fasting will raise ketone levels since it keeps insulin levels low and elevated ketone bodies translate to higher fat burning. Ultimately, that’s the best way to get energy.
On top of that, this kind of fasting allows people to reduce calories even more if they are on a ketogenic diet. And it’s simply because there’s less time to eat. It’s not such a difficult concept to learn, right?
Well, now after carefully looking into each aspect of these two dietary strategies and the one that results when we combine the first two.
How to start fasting on keto?
Actually, there is no difficult philosophy for this question as an answer. Simply put, follow a keto diet and don’t eat for a period of time. When it comes to intermittent fasting methods, that’s your choice. Just remember to keep yourself within your recommended daily macros. Or go a bit below them. There can be no harm.
If you want to make two-windows it’s best to stick to them during your fasting days. This is a small trick that will be useful to you on your keto fasting diet. This allows you to anticipate food intake and adjust things metabolism-wise at the same time every day. People like habits and hence appreciate routines. Do not underestimate that.
When it’s time to break the fast, go slowly and do not overeat. It would be best if you could plan your meals ahead. Put in some extra effort and calculate the daily macros and calories for each day. Then create your meals according to them.
Also, if you believe that you can cheat a little bit, well, that could be really bad for your diet. Remember that even a cup of coffee can break your fast. Well, if it’s not keto coffee. It works if it’s keto coffee. However, know that anything with calories in it can break a fast easily.
Maybe you thought that the part about keto coffee was only a joke but it’s not.
Actually there is keto coffee and it’s pretty good. There have even been some oils that boost ketone production that can be added to the coffee.
So, a good idea would be for you to combine the two and then have your first meal in the evening. For the beginners, this coffee is a great aid that will keep you in the state of ketosis.
Things to consider before starting
Do not try fasting if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. It affects the quality of milk. The milk won’t have enough important nutrients and you could hurt the baby since they are at risk of nutrient deficiencies. People suffering from diabetes also need to be careful with fasting. Monitoring blood glucose levels should go without saying. Also, consulting a professional goes without saying before starting the fast.
Intermittent fasting on a keto diet is fine?
Well, actually, they make a great team for weight loss. But do not forget that you can always just do one without the other. They are done simultaneously simply because of the greater metabolic effects.
Last but not least, if you want to fast intermittently, do it when already in the state of ketosis. This will greatly help you deal with fast since your body will already be in the state where it is utilizing fat for fuel. There will be no crave for carbs. And always pick one of the three mentioned methods of fasting that are best for you.
Again, it all comes down to your personal preferences. So consider all three options and then pick one.
Even though fasting doesn’t work for everyone, it is worth taking a shot. In the long run, you have so much to get. Even if you don’t succeed, you won’t be at a loss.
Remember, this can only benefit your health and that’s what’s important the most.
So go on and good luck.