Those of us in the health and wellness space know a thing or two about intermittent fasting, and how intermittent fasting can help burn stubborn belly fat and body weight. For those, already on a keto diet, intermittent fasting is another great weapon to add to your arsenal when losing weight. But why exactly is intermittent fasting beneficial to a keto diet?
Intermittent fasting or IF is beneficial on a keto diet because it has many positive health benefits like improved heart health, cancer prevention, and many more which are critical to your health and overall well-being.
It is incredible how much weight you can lose simply by adding the element of timing to your meals. You would still stick to your low-carb and high-fat routine, but you will have an eating window, depending on which type of IF suits you best.
Keep reading to find out what intermittent fasting is, types, health benefits, who should and should not incorporate intermittent fasting with a keto diet.
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What is intermittent fasting?
Some people might not be aware of what intermittent fasting is or how it works for weight loss. Unlike keto, intermittent fasting emphasizes feeding windows and fasting periods more than the meal itself.
Intermittent fasting is a relatively new health and fitness concept that focuses on restricting one's calorie intake via feeding and fasting cycles. When done correctly, intermittent fasting can almost shred as much body fat as a ketogenic diet.
The theory and idea behind intermittent fasting is that restricting the number of calories consumed forces your body into a state of starvation and reduced metabolism. You can still have water, black coffee, or any liquid that does not require digestion during fasting periods.
There are several variations of the intermittent fasting program, such as the 5:2, 16:8, and the Warrior Diet. The subsequent section takes a more in-depth look at the various intermittent fasting variations.
What are the types of intermittent fasting?
Just as the ketogenic diet has variations like the cyclical ketogenic diet and the targeted ketogenic diet, intermittent fasting also has several options to pick from.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach when intermittent fasting is involved.
It is advisable to pick the best option that suits your lifestyle and schedule—the option best suited to working-class individuals trying IF might differ for professional athletes.
Below are the types of intermittent fasting plans, with some explanation on what each plan entails:
Overnight fasting is the most straightforward plan for intermittent fasting and involves a fasting period of twelve hours. For instance, you could stop eating dinner once it is past 7:15 pm and resume eating by 7:15 pm the following day with breakfast.
Autophagy (a biological process in which the body gets rid of damaged or unnecessary components) will still occur within twelve hours. This process can be induced by fasting and has a lot of positive health effects.
The advantage of this method is that it is easy to implement and is usually advisable for beginners. Plus, you don't have to skip meals. All you are simply doing is eliminating a bedtime snack.
The Warrior diet
The Warrior diet owes its popularity to a particular fitness guru by the name of Ori Hofmekler. In the Warrior diet, your fasting cycle is during the day, with your feeding window at night.
The Warrior diet allows you to consume a small amount of tiny portions of hard-boiled eggs during the day. The other meal is not consumed till night, as it is a large meal and should keep one full till the next helping of meals during the day.
Some fruit and vegetables could be consumed during the day for added vitamins and minerals and sustenance. Beverages low in calories such as water or coffee can also be consumed during the day.
However, there are no restrictions on what one could have at night. This doesn't mean you should fill up with junk, but rather nutrient-dense healthy foods are better. Quinoa, sprouted wheat bread, and full-fat dairy foods are excellent additions.
This intermittent fasting plan involves a complete 24 hour fast and might not be the best for beginners. If you had dinner by 7 pm on Sunday, you wouldn't eat again till dinner by 7 pm on Monday. Not one hour more or less.
This 24-hour fasting cycle could be done either once or twice a week. It could be breakfast to breakfast, lunch to lunch, or dinner to dinner.
Zero or low-calorie fluids like water and black coffee are allowed during the fasting period. Solid foods during this twenty-four-hour window are not allowed.
Starting a full-blown 24-hour fast might be difficult for most newbies to begin. It is advised to try out 15 and 18 hours before advancing more extended fasting periods.
16:8 or time-restricted fasting
This type of intermittent fasting comprises an eating window (usually between 8 hours), while the remainder of the day is the fasting period.
A feeding window of 8:30 to 5:30 is ideal if you are the type who eats their dinner early and likely sleeps early. You can adjust feeding hours based on your lifestyle and schedule.
You don't have to skip meals during time-restricted fasting, as the fasting period is most likely spent sleeping. Autophagy also takes place during time-restricted fasting, just as it does in the overnight plan.
It is recommended that due to hormonal balance, females should not exceed fourteen hours when attempting a time-restricted fast. This translates to a broader eating window and less fasting for women.
In this method, you are allowed to consume what you would typically eat five out of seven days of the week. The other two days are not entirely fasting-focused but more about restricting your calorie intake.
When on a 5:2 fasting plan, calorie intake is usually cut down to 500 to 600 calories. Regular meals can be eaten on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, and Friday. Two smaller meals of 250 to 300 calories can be taken twice a day, on Monday and Thursday.
Whole day fasting
During a whole-day fast, you only consume about 25% of your required calories or stick to 500 calories daily. Whole-day fasting is used extensively in cases of obese individuals who want to lose weight.
Five hundred calories a day could leave you feeling hungry, and this is not advisable for beginners. Also, whole day fasting is usually not best for the long term as you might never feel satisfied throughout the program.
Choose Your Day Fasting
As the name implies, you are free to choose which day of the week you want to skip meals and when you want to eat. Like other intermittent fasting plans, beverages low in calories such as milk and water can be consumed.
You can do a time-restricted fast from lunch on Sunday to lunch on Monday and then switch to an overnight fast. It is just a couple of missed breakfasts, and lunches, and nothing more.
This intermittent fasting style is flexible and is easily adaptable depending on one's schedule and lifestyle.
In spontaneous fasting, you skip a meal whenever you decide to. If you feel too tired or are currently occupied with some work-from-home activity, you can skip a meal to finish up your task.
Without realizing it, you deprive yourself of calories but with a little less of the element of timing.
Are there any health-based benefits of intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting has a lot of health benefits, as stated earlier. Timing your meals could be inconvenient for some, but there are positive benefits worth checking out.
Below are the positive health benefits of intermittent fasting;
Autophagy can help combat neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's
Autophagy is a self-cleansing process done by the body to eliminate old cells and replace them with new ones. The human body carries out autophagy occasionally, but this detoxifying process can be improved through intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting can help you lose belly fat and weight.
Intermittent fasting, especially when done in the short-term, can increase your metabolic rate. An increased metabolic rate translates to faster burning of calories and breakdown of fat.
Intermittent fasting is a great tool when it comes to burning belly fat and losing weight.
Intermittent fasting can help reduce insulin resistance
Diabetes, especially Type 2, is now more rampant than ever. What characterizes Type 2 diabetes is high blood sugar levels in connection with insulin resistance.
Intermittent fasting has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels and help reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Studies in diabetic rats showed that intermittent fasting helped against kidney damage.
Intermittent fasting may be beneficial for heart health
Considering how vital the heart is, it only fits that we do our best to improve its health. Intermittent fasting, among many others, is one thing you can do for chances of a better functioning heart.
Intermittent fasting has been found to reduce several risk factors associated with heart disease. These include blood pressure, blood sugar levels, total and LDL cholesterol, and blood triglycerides.
Keep in mind that these findings are based solely on studies from animals. There will need to be studies conducted on humans before scientists can reach conclusions.
Intermittent fasting may help prevent cancer.
Intermittent fasting has been shown to have positive effects on metabolism that may help fight cancer.
There is evidence from studies showing that fasting reduced the side effects of chemotherapy in humans.
Intermittent fasting is good for your brain
Intermittent fasting can trigger specific metabolic features that are beneficial to the brain. Some metabolic features triggered include reduced oxidative stress and reduced inflammation.
Intermittent fasting also increases levels of a hormone in the brain known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor. A shortage in this hormone could lead to depression, which is not suitable for one's mental health.
How can intermittent fasting enhance my ketogenic diet?
When paired with a ketogenic diet, intermittent fasting makes for a greater ketosis rate than a ketogenic diet routine would do on its own.
Secondly, intermittent fasting could help those looking to lose weight to overcome a plateau in their weight loss journey. Certain types of intermittent fasting like the 24-hour window could help break this barrier.
Intermittent fasting could also help create a sense of fullness. After all, eating your low-carb and high-fat foods within the eating window is what matters. With time, your body will adapt to what it is being given.
Can I safely combine intermittent fasting with my ketogenic diet?
Pairing intermittent fasting and a ketogenic diet make for a speedy way to burn unwanted fat on a weight loss journey. The great news is that these two "fat-shredders" can work in perfect synergy for faster weight loss.
It's simply to pick what variation of the intermittent fasting plan works best for you and take keto-based meals during the eating window.
Should you choose to combine both, it is advised to commence with a more manageable intermittent fasting plan. Plans such as the 16:8 fast or more flexible plans with 10 to 12 hour feeding windows are recommended the first time you try merging both.
Gradually, as your body adapts to the lower carbohydrates, slowed metabolism, and deprivation of calories, you can advance to IF plans with lesser eating windows.
Who should try combining a keto diet with intermittent fasting?
If you have been on a keto diet and want to test your limits further, then intermittent fasting and keto are for you. By pushing your limits further, I mean a deeper state of ketosis.
People diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes could also partake in IF and a keto diet mixed. Intermittent fasting has been found to lower insulin resistance, which is good news for Type 2 diabetes patients.
Intermittent fasting has been found to break high levels of insulin resistance, and ultimately reset your insulin sensitivity.
Who should not combine intermittent fasting with their ketogenic diet?
People with health conditions such as heart disease or Type 1diabetes need to see a health professional before merging keto and intermittent fasting.
Also, pregnant women and other individuals with eating disorders like Bulimia nervosa should avoid intermittent fasting with a ketogenic diet.
If you fall into any of these categories, then you may need to see a doctor for further consultation
Two, they say, is better than one, and in this case, intermittent fasting is an excellent addition to a ketogenic diet. When combined on a weight loss journey, IF can help intensify ketosis and many positive health benefits like reduced inflammation, and improved brain function to go with it.
Refeeding syndrome is the imbalance of vital electrolytes and fluids due to long fasting periods after persons who have been deprived of calories eat again.
Both routines burn fat, but IF is not restrictive, compared to keto, and can be done over a more extended period. Both have their pros and cons, and I would call this a draw.