Intermittent fasting and the keto diet are all the rage these days.
Even more exciting, the intermittent fasting approach may work especially well with people on a low-carb or keto diet.
But what, exactly, are they — and how do they work well together? Here’s a look:
Intermittent fasting is the idea is that you can avoid or strictly limit your caloric intake for a set number of hours each day, or days per week or days per month.
A recent study from the University of Florida showed that you can lose body fat (rather than muscle) because fasting forces your body to “flip the metabolic switch.” That means that rather than pulling from its main energy source (glucose – AKA sugar), it will pull from the fat stored in your body to produce the energy you require to get through the day.
It also may lead to longer-lasting effects, particularly since other studies have shown that people who restrict caloric intake are more likely to “relapse,” meaning they eventually give up and gain weight again, sometimes even more than when they started.
There are several different approaches to intermittent fasting:
Time-restricted (most popular): This approach works by restricting eating to a certain number of hours each day. For example, you might choose to eat only between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Alternate day-fasting: This approach works by not eating for 24 hours, then eating for 24 hours.
Weekly variations: This approach works by not eating for two or three days a week, then eating normally the other days.
Monthly variations: This approach works by choosing a set number of days to fast each month, like five, for example.
Dr. Gabe Mirkin, a fitness guru, longtime radio host and sports medicine doctor with more than 50 years of practice, lays out the reasons why intermittent fasting works in a recent blog post.
“A review of the medical literature shows that intermittent fasting can lower blood sugar and fat levels, reduce high blood pressure, help people lose weight and help to prevent and treat diabetes and heart attacks,” Mirkin said.
The ketogenic diet works by forcing your body into ketosis, the physiological state where your liver produces ketones to break down fat instead of carbs. (It’s what we do when our bodies are in survival mode.)
The result is often significant and rapid weight loss.*
Here are three reasons why intermittent fasting and keto diets are the perfect match:
1) Intermittent fasting makes practicing a keto easier.
When you’re fasting, your body shifts its fuel source from glucose to fat stores. That means glycogen stores go down, and your body starts to naturally only burn fat for fuel. If you’re finding reaching ketosis is tough, intermittent fasting can help kickstart the process.
2) Keto naturally makes intermittent fasting easier, too.
After the initial week, most people find practicing a keto diet makes them less hungry and less susceptible to cravings. Since intermittent dieting works by restricting eating during certain time periods, the keto diet may very well make it easier for you to stick with it because your hunger levels won’t be as high anyway.
3) Going keto and using intermittent fasting together may lead to even more fat loss.
Intermittent fasting boosts your metabolism and forces it to pull from fat stores, rather than glucose stores. Keto dieting forces your body into a state of ketosis, meaning it, too, leads to energy burning from fat, rather than glucose. Put the two together, and you may very well see even greater losses.
* An important note from Dr. Mirkin: “Certain conditions can be worsened by fasting. Check with your doctor, particularly if you are diabetic, have low blood pressure, take medications, are underweight, have eating disorders, or are pregnant, trying to become pregnant or breast-feeding an infant.”
Have you tried pairing keto dieting with intermittent fasting? What was your experience? Share in the comments below!
Author: Caitlin H
Diet-to-Go Community Manager
Caitlin is the Diet-to-Go community manager and an avid runner. She is passionate about engaging with others online and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. She believes moderation is key, and people will have the most weight loss success if they engage in common-sense healthy eating and fitness.