Combining intermittent fasting and keto can be an effective strategy to accelerate your weight loss.
Some people who do this love it but that doesn’t mean it’s the best diet for you. If you’re curious, try it out and see how you feel. You can always stop and just try keto or just try intermittent fasting and see if you prefer doing just one.
What’s important is doing what makes you feel best so feel free to experiment!
Both intermittent fasting and the ketogenic diet, also known as “keto”, are two of the most popular health trends. Many people are turning to one or both of these diets to lose some weight and improve their overall health.
There is research that substantiates the health improvements associated with these two diets, but many are wondering if it is a safe and effective strategy to incorporate both.
The ketogenic diet is a very high-fat, moderate protein, and very low-carbohydrate diet. Most people on keto eat about 20-50 grams of carbs each day(1,2). Decreasing the daily consumption of carbs forces the body to rely on stored fat for energy instead of stored glucose.
When your body breaks down fat for energy, it creates products called ketones and the entire process is called ketosis. These ketones are able to be used by the body and brain as energy for all bodily functions(2,3).
The keto diet is popular because of its ability to allow people to lose weight, improve insulin resistance, better cognitive ability, and more.
Intermittent fasting is a dietary pattern where individuals will incorporate longer bouts of fasting into their daily routine. While we all typically fast for about 8 hours when we are asleep, Intermittent fasting patterns require people to fast for longer.
There are many different types of fasting such as alternate day fasting, one meal a day, and fasting for one or two days a week. The most popular form is probably the 16/8 where individuals fast for 16 hours of the day and eat freely for the remaining eight.
Studies have shown that intermittent fasting can help people lose weight, lower their risk for cardiovascular disease, improve glucose tolerance, and reduce inflammation(4–7).
There are many people who claim to be doing keto while intermittent fasting and love it. Maybe you have friends who are doing this or maybe you’ve seen it on social media; either way, success stories about incorporating both diets are everywhere. That’s because both diets operate very similarly so when done together, you may be able to see results faster.
Incorporating both diets at the same time may make the transition into intermittent fasting easier. When fasting, your body’s glucose supply starts to decrease so your body will start using your body fat for energy, which is the premise of the keto diet. This may help you feel less tired, irritable, and hungry.
Because your body starts to focus on burning fat, this also changes your body’s glucose metabolism. You will see a decrease in insulin and blood glucose levels, which is how both diets can help people improve their glucose tolerance.
Because both of these diets help “train” your body to burn more fat, you can expect to see faster weight loss.
Both of these diets not only push your body to burn more fat for energy, they do it in ways that help the body maintain its fat-burning potential even if you were to go back to a normal eating pattern.
Studies have shown that both diets help increase the mitochondrial density in your fat stores. This is basically a fancy way of saying that your body’s fat will contain a different amount of compounds you naturally find in the cells. This in turn, increases thermogenesis, or the amount of heat your body produces. The more heat your body produces, the more calories you burn(8–10).
Both of these diets cause similar health improvements. While there haven’t been any studies on combining intermittent fasting and keto, you may have faster improvements in different markers related to overall health. Both diets help people improve their blood glucose levels, insulin resistance, inflammation and some cardiovascular risks so you may see faster improvements with for those with these types of metabolic conditions(2,6,11–18).
After reading this article, you may want to jump right into a keto intermittent fasting dietary pattern. But you’ll have to keep in mind some of the potential downfalls to this diet.
For starters, there aren't any studies that have investigated keto with intermittent fasting. Everything about combining them sounds fantastic but this hasn’t been tested yet. There could be some drawbacks scientists aren’t aware of.
Many people find keto very hard. Doing intermittent fasting at the same time should help with the transition but it may still be too difficult for you to do. If that’s the case, that’s ok! Humans are unique and there isn’t a perfect diet for everyone. If you decide to try keto and intermittent fasting and decide you can’t live without bread, then maybe just intermittent fasting is right for you.
There is also the “keto flu” many people report when first starting out on a keto diet. This is when people report being extremely lethargic, very irritable, while having trouble thinking and focusing(19). This tends to happen because your body needs to adapt to burning so much fat for energy so you’re not in any physical danger, but you might be uncomfortable. While these symptoms tend to go away after about 2 weeks, you might find them unbearable. Just listen to your body and remember to do what is best for you.
Lastly, people on keto diets eat more fat (that’s the premise of keto) but they often will eat significantly more saturated fat. If you are someone who is at risk of certain metabolic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes, you should speak with a physician before trying keto just to be safe.
If you’ve decided you still want to try keto and intermittent fasting, then give it a shot and see if you like it! You can also try starting one and waiting until you adjust before incorporating the other; you don’t need to start both at once, but it’s entirely up to you.
You can also try combining both diets at the same time for a few weeks or a few months. This would be enough time for you to lose some weight, get some of the health benefits, and for your body to be better adapted to burning more fat long-term. After that, you can pick one of the diets to maintain or go back to a normal eating pattern.
If you’re thinking about combining keto and intermittent fasting, it may seem a little overwhelming trying to figure out how to start. We’ve provided an example of what a typical day might look like if you’re following a 16/8 diet plan.
6:00am: Water, tea, or black coffee (coffee will NOT break your fast(20))
8:00am: Water, tea, or black coffee
11:00am: You’ve completed your fast! Eat a keto-friendly breakfast such as an omelet with smoked salmon, cheese, and spinach.
2:00pm: For lunch, you could have a green salad with some grilled chicken, nuts and seeds, cheese, avocado, and some extra veggies!
7:00pm: For dinner, you could have about 8oz of any meat (steak, chicken, or fish) with some sautéed or grilled veggies like brussels sprouts or broccoli.
This is just an example of a diet plan when combining keto and a 16/8 intermittent fasting diet pattern. You can adjust the window of eating to accommodate your schedule and preferences.
Also, feel free to snack throughout the day if you’re hungry. Some keto-friendly snacks include nuts or nut butter, seeds, bullet-proof coffee (coffee with coconut oil and/or butter), hard-boiled eggs, raw veggie sticks, and string cheese.
Keto is very popular so there are so many recipes out there. If you plan on trying intermittent fasting with keto, it can seem restrictive at first so try planning out your first week by finding some recipes and buying the ingredients ahead of time – it’ll make the transition easier.
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