Intermittent fasting and the keto diet, when combined together, have produced very effective weight loss results for many people.
Individually, intermittent fasting and the Keto diet are two of the most popular methods of weight loss and weight management in the world today. Both have earned incredible attention thanks to their popularity among celebrities, influencers, and fitness experts. What’s more, both options can help people develop healthy and sustainable eating habits.
When you combine intermittent fasting and the keto diet, you could increase your body’s fat-burning potential significantly.
Working together, intermittent fasting and the keto diet could help you achieve your weight loss goals, but it’s important to have the right strategy in place.
Intermittent Fasting and the Keto Diet: How They Each Work
Let’s begin with a quick reminder of what intermittent fasting and the keto diet are, and how they each work.
The keto (ketogenic) diet was originally designed by scientists to help control seizures in children with epilepsy. Researchers then discovered that a low-carb and high-fat diet could also have a number of other benefits, including rapid weight loss.
With the ketogenic diet, the focus is on teaching your body to rely on fats instead of glucose as its central energy source. When you cut carbs, your body has to burn fat for fuel, since there is no glucose available to use for fuel. Through the metabolic process “ketosis”, your body breaks down excess fat and uses it for energy, helping you burn fat and shed pounds. The keto diet may also have additional benefits, such as improving mental health symptoms in people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Intermittent fasting, on the other hand, is a method of eating which involves cycling between stages of fasting (not eating), and normal food consumption. There are lots of different forms of intermittent fasting, but the most common is the 16/8 method, which involves fasting for 16 hours and eating for 8 hours.
This means that your ‘eating window’ is a predetermined 8 hour window each day, when you’re following an intermittent fasting plan.
Similar to the keto diet, intermittent fasting can be ideal for weight loss because it puts you in fat-burning mode when you’re fasting, but it also has a range of other potential health benefits. Intermittent fasting can improve brain function and reduce inflammation, as well as supporting blood sugar control.
Why Do Intermittent Fasting and the Keto Diet Work So Well Together?
The reason why so many people believe in combining the ketogenic diet with intermittent fasting, is that it can help to increase the time you spend in “Ketosis”. The keto diet naturally increases the levels of ketones in the body, and ketones also increase during times of fasting.
Combining the two strategies pushes the brain and body to rely less on glucose for energy, and use more fat resources in a shorter space of time. You’re much more likely to burn fat for fuel when you’re following this strategy, and you could see weight loss results within weeks.
People also tend to feel less hungry on a ketogenic diet, specifically because of ketosis. This means you’re less likely to break your fast ahead of time. For people who would otherwise struggle with the concept of cutting down on food for large periods of time, intermittent fasting and the keto diet together could be the perfect solution.
Researchers even believe intermittent fasting can help the body achieve a state of ketosis faster than dieting alone. This is because when you’re fasting, the body maintains energy balance by changing your primary fuel source from carbs to fat – which is exactly what your body does when you’re on the keto diet.
During fasting, your insulin levels and glycogen stores diminish, which allows the body to begin burning fat as a fuel source.
Some experts believe combining keto and intermittent fasting will also help people burn more fat than they would with the keto diet alone. This is because intermittent fasting boosts your metabolic function by promoting thermogenesis.
In one eight-week study on men using resistance training, people who practiced the 16/8 method of intermittent fasting lost around 14% more body fat than their counterparts. Other studies have also showed people who use intermittent fasting lost approximately 3.3 kg more fat mass than those simply following a very low calorie diet.
Intermittent fasting can also help preserve muscle mass during weight loss, while improving energy levels, which might be ideal if you’re struggling with side effects from the keto diet.
An Example Day in the Life Following Keto and Intermittent Fasting
For an insight into what following intermittent fasting and the keto diet together might involve, let’s examine the kind of eating strategy you might follow. This ‘example day in the life’ is based on a simple 10-hour eating window followed by a 14-hour fast on the keto diet:
- 8:30am: Breakfast of cheese-and-pepper filled egg bites
- 10am: Half a cup of berries and some plain greek yogurt
- 12pm: Tuna-stuffed avocado halves for lunch, with green peppers and celery
- 3pm: Raw carrots and celery sticks
- 6pm: Steak dinner with roasted vegetables and cauliflower rice
- 6:30pm: Handful of assorted nuts
You can gradually make your schedule more challenging and improve the results by expanding your fasting period. For instance, you might decide to eat only between the hours of 10am and 6pm, which is an 8-hour eating window, and increases the time spent fasting.
Is Combining the Keto Diet with Intermittent Fasting a Good Idea?
While research into the benefits of combining intermittent fasting and the keto diet is still ongoing, there could be significant benefits of trying this strategy. Both the keto diet and intermittent fasting are excellent strategies for weight loss, with the power to promote fat loss through ketosis.
However, this method of eating might not be suitable for everyone. For instance, pregnant or breastfeeding women, or those with a history of disordered eating, should talk to a doctor before changing their diet. It’s also worth noting that combining intermittent fasting and the keto diet can have its downsides, such as:
- Difficulty: Both removing carbs from your diet and adding fasting to your routine are challenging processes. Not everyone will feel comfortable restricting their food intake, and many struggle with intermittent fasting to begin with. Some people suffer from irritability and fatigue. The keto diet is equally challenging, since there are carbs in many of the foods and drinks you’re used to consuming. Combining these two strategies at once can be extremely difficult, and may require a lot of time and patience to perfect.
- Athletic performance: Intermittent fasting is an excellent way to reduce fat stores while preserving mass in your muscles. However, the low carb level of the ketogenic diet can sometimes be problematic for athletic performance. Although not everyone will struggle when combining the two dieting methods, some athletes will. It’s worth thinking carefully about whether you need carbs to fuel your hobbies or athletic activities.
- Unique needs: Everyone is different, and some people respond better to certain kinds of diets than others. Many people will find they can easily follow a keto diet, but don’t feel comfortable with intermittent fasting, or vice versa. It’s worth getting to know your unique requirements and understanding your restrictions.
Remember, intermittent fasting isn’t necessary to reach ketosis, but it can help you achieve this goal a lot faster. A well-rounded keto diet can improve your health on its own, and intermittent fasting can offer a lot of benefits as a standalone strategy as well.
Although combining these two strategies could expedite your weight loss goals, as standalone strategies, they could still yield results.
What’s the Best Way to Start Intermittent Fasting and Keto Together?
If, after speaking to your doctor, you decide combining intermittent fasting and the keto diet is a suitable option for you, it’s important to have a plan in place before beginning. For most people, it’s generally not a good idea to start keto and intermittent fasting for the first time, at the same time. This is usually a huge shock to the system, and can cause some side effects, such as fatigue and a general feeling of discomfort.
It’s best to start one of them first, such as the keto diet first, before introducing intermittent fasting.
You might also find it’s much easier to start slowly with intermittent fasting. You can start with something simple, such as a 10 hour fast each day, which may simply mean you have your breakfast a little later than usual, or avoid late-night snacking after your dinner.
Once you’ve adjusted to your new eating pattern, you can start to challenge yourself a little more, pushing your breakfast back to later in the day, or having your last meal at night a lot earlier than usual.
When you introduce the keto diet, have a plan in place first, by writing out your keto diet meal plan. Think of low-carb or zero carb breakfasts, snacks, lunches and dinners. Get rid of chips or crackers in the house, or juices in your fridge that contain carbs.
Combining Intermittent Fasting and the Keto Diet
Using intermittent fasting and the keto diet simultaneously can be an excellent tool to help you stay in ketosis, and accomplish your weight loss goals. However, it’s important to remember that this strategy won’t work for everyone.
For example, it could be in your DNA to be less suitable for a high-fat diet. Remember that the keto diet is high fat, low carb. If your genetics don’t suit a high-fat diet, this plan might not work for you.
Find out the optimal diet for you, based on your unique DNA, by reading your genetic diet and nutrition reports from CircleDNA.