When it comes to diet trends, both a ketogenic diet and an intermittent fasting plan are touted as the best diets to reach your weight loss goals. So which way of eating should you choose for best results: a keto diet or a strict intermittent fasting schedule? Or does combining these approaches work best?
While we’re investigating this topic, what about the experts who insist you must combine keto with intermittent fasting to be effective? Does intermittent fasting without keto work to burn through stubborn fat cells?
Keep reading to learn why a low-carb diet combined with intermittent fasting is a great way to boost fat burning, as well as if intermittent fasting without keto can work.
That Hairy, Scary Keto Diet:
Before we talk about if it’s a must to combine keto with IF for best results, you should understand what a keto diet is. When most people hear a fit friend mutter that scary phrase state of ketosis, many run screaming in the opposite direction.
As someone who wanted to avoid another low carb diet at all costs, I understand the need to flee.
Quite frankly, cutting carbs in the name of weight loss sounds like too much work. Also, what about all of the side effects that come with a high fat diet, like heart disease or high blood pressure?
First of all, many of the health consequences touted are hogwash. Adding more healthy fats to your diet, while reducing highly processed carbs, has several health benefits. These include:
- Lower insulin levels (meaning less hunger for you)
- Steady blood sugar levels (meaning less hunger for you)
- You’ll eat way less junk food (meaning less hunger for you)
So why is less hunger for you a good thing? Because most people report higher energy levels and an end to weight gain when they’re not constantly stuffing food in their face.
And just like that you’re thinking, “What is this magical keto diet anyway?”
So we just went from scary plan you want to avoid at all costs to magical diet. I see what you did there.
What Is The Keto Diet?
Keto is a very low carb, moderate protein, high fat diet. Most who follow keto focus on food groups that consist of meat, vegetables, fats, and sometimes dairy.
Instead of relying on a calorie deficit to lose weight, keto dieters focus on keeping carbs to less than 5 percent of daily calorie intake. Also, adding in more healthy fats is a must in order to get the body into a fat burning state.
To take this one step further, when you follow keto the right way, the low carb part consists of mostly nutrient dense veggies. The high fat part of a ketogenic diet consists of healthy fats, such as coconut oil, butter, and high quality meats.
Sticking to a keto diet long term can be challenging for the average person. This is especially true if you’re someone who’s spent any time following mainstream diet plans – which has a tendency to screw up digestion.
How Ketosis Helps With Weight Loss:
Since a keto diet isn’t the only way to lose weight, and it’s a difficult plan for many to stick to, why bother following a ketogenic diet in the first place?
Beyond the countless success stories from women who ditched a lifetime of low-calorie diets in favor of delicious high fat meals, you may want to consider a ketogenic diet since this plan has been shown to speed up weight loss.
Instead of depending on a low caloric intake to burn body fat, a keto diet aids in balancing the hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin. A properly formulated ketogenic diet also improves metabolic health by training your body to utilize fat for fuel.
Other ways an eating plan very low in carbs helps reduce fat storage is with balanced blood sugar control, while also improving insulin resistance for many who have these medical conditions.
While so many tout a balanced diet with fewer calories as the way to go for weight loss, that’s not always the best diet to follow for long term success. And by not always, I mean pretty much never.
Sustained fat loss often means building a sluggish metabolism up by eating more nutrient dense foods, not continuous calorie restriction. Keeping daily calories low in the name of weight loss only serves to slow your already slow metabolic rate.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Now that you understand what keto is, and the reasons it’s a healthy diet when weight loss is your goal, let’s talk about intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting refers to a way of eating where you maintain extended periods of fasting, followed by a timed eating window. This can mean anything from a pattern of simply waiting a few hours after you wake up to eat, to alternate day fasts, all the way up to extended fasts lasting 48 hours or more.
Keeping your body in a fasted state is often a good idea for weight loss, as well as overall health. Some benefits of intermittent fasting include:
- Improved Insulin Sensitivity
- Reduced Brain Fog
- Less chronic disease from reduced oxidative stress
Many health experts claim that intermittent fasting only helps with weight loss due to the caloric deficit that results from eating less often, however, that’s far from the truth.
While it’s sometimes true that you end up eating less when adding IF to your plan, especially with an alternate-day fasting plan, the benefits of intermittent fasting are proven to extend far beyond a calories in vs. calories out approach.
Does Fasting Affect Ketosis?
So how does intermittent fasting affect ketosis? And is it a good idea to combine a ketogenic diet with an intermittent fasting plan?
When done correctly, fasting is another way to help your body get into the fat burning state of ketosis. Going without food for long periods of time can help your body deplete its glycogen stores.
When you don’t follow a ketogenic plan, the depletion of glycogen can lead you to feeling weak or tired. Helping your body become fat adapted by relying on ketone bodies for fuel leads to a more steady energy balance. This helps you dig into fat stores for fuel instead of relying on more carbs as an energy source.
While it’s true the more you train your body with longer fasting periods, the easier it can be to get into ketosis through fasting overtime – this isn’t the best way to train your body to become fat adapted. In fact, most people won’t wait out their fasting period long enough since fasting before your body is in ketosis can be a miserable experience.
This doesn’t even take into account the amount of stress extended fasting prior to fat adaption causes. This alone can send your body straight back into a fat storing mode – even if you eat less food.
While some hormetic stress is good for weight loss, too much can shoot cortisol sky high. Then your mind’s only focus becomes how to find nutrients for the obvious famine that’s happening.
Benefits of Combining Keto and Intermittent Fasting:
The rockstar combo of weight loss is combining a ketogenic diet with an intermittent fasting plan.
Most dieters find success by lowering carbs and raising healthy fats first. Once you reach ketosis through a low carb, high fat diet, adding intermittent fasting is easy since keto results in less hunger for you. (Remember when we established why this is a good thing, plus all of the benefits of less hunger for you?)
Beyond making it easier to get into a fat adapted state, there are several other benefits of combining keto and intermittent fasting. These benefits include:
- Easier weight loss
- Get into ketosis faster
- Improved brain function
- More energy since ketosis amplifies autophagy
- Fewer side effects, like experiencing a lesser version of the keto flu
- Metabolic stability since your body doesn’t have to constantly switch fuel sources
Easing into a low carb plan, followed by upping the stakes with a ketogenic diet, and then adding in intermittent fasting once you feel ready is the same approach many Keto Challengers use to bust through stubborn weight loss plateaus, and finally turn keto into a an easy lifestyle.
While combining a keto diet with intermittent fasting isn’t a plan you should implement overnight, as too many stressors all at once isn’t ideal, it’s a great diet combo to work up to overtime. In fact, this is the same pattern I used to lose 100 pounds, while finally breaking free from 20 years of yo-yo diets.
Can You Intermittent Fast Without Keto?
While there are unicorns who find weight loss success following intermittent fasting without keto, going long periods of fasting without first being fat adapted through a keto diet isn’t recommended. When your body isn’t fat adapted, and you force long periods without food in the name of weight loss, this will create too much stress.
Most people who begin with a keto diet first find adding intermittent fasting to their plan so much easier. Once you train your body to switch over to the metabolic process of using ketones as fuel, you can push through extended fasting periods longer with less stress.
At the end of the day, keto and intermittent fasting work so much better when these plans are combined. While both can be effective on their own for some people, so many finally bust through stored fat and reverse long standing health conditions with a keto and IF combo.
How to Start Keto Fasting:
If you’re brand new to both a ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting, it’s a good idea to ease your body into these plans.
We’ve all experienced diet urgency. You know – those plans where you’re guaranteed to lose 10 pounds by tomorrow, or your money back – guaranteed!
Has anyone ever lost 10 pounds overnight? And who ever gets their money returned from these scams anyway?
My point is, in order for all of your hard work to pay off long term, you need to make low carb your lifestyle. Enjoy the journey instead of being in a rush to lose the weight as fast as possible.
You’ll enjoy a low carb lifestyle much more if you allow your body time to adapt at a more natural pace. You will also stick to a low carb lifestyle longer, which means you can finally exit the diet hamster wheel of constantly trying to lose the weight you regained last year.
Ease your way into a keto diet with the same low carb plan I followed to lose my first 70 pounds. While you don’t need to follow low carb quite as long as I did before moving onto keto, it’s a great way to help your body learn the ropes without creating too much stress.
Once you’re ready to add intermittent fasting into the mix, watch my video about how fasting with a 12 hour eating window is the best place to start. While I encourage most people to wait until your body adjusts to low carb prior to adding intermittent fasting, most people can start with this simple intermittent fasting jumpstart now.
How Many Hours Should You Fast with Keto?
While there is no single answer for everyone who follows a keto and IF diet combo, beginning with 12 hours of fasting is a great place to start. Work your way up from there to a place where you feel comfortable, and not overly stressed.
Many keto dieters find success working their way up to a 16:8 fasting plan. This is where you go without food for 16 hours, and then eat in an 8 hour window each day. Some keto dieters push even further to an 18:6 or 20:4 plan.
Keep in mind that the first number in a fasting plan is the amount of hours you fast, while the second number is the length of time of your daily eating window. Also remember that no one starts by fasting for 20 hours each day. This is something you need to work up to overtime, while allowing your body time to adjust.
One last thing to keep in mind when combining keto with intermittent fasting is that you never want to over do it. While fasting has many great health benefits, you will never realize those benefits if you put your body through too much stress by over-fasting.
You also have to remember to fast when you fast, and feast when you feast. AKA, don’t restrict calories during your feasting window. Eat until you feel satisfied, but never stuffed.
Can You Follow Keto Part Time?
Since not everyone is a fan of cutting carbs for the rest of your days, you may wonder if you can follow keto on a part time basis.
The answer is no, then yes.
What I mean by no, then yes is if you want a keto diet to be effective, you have to commit. If you constantly switch between keto and a high carb plan at the beginning, you risk confusing your body. A confused body doesn’t tap into fat stores for fuel.
Once you become fat adapted by following keto for some time, you can test out following more of a low carb plan, while also keeping intermittent fasting in the mix.
Intermittent Fasting Vs. A Low Calorie Diet:
One last topic I want to touch on before we bid this blog adieu is, contrary to popular opinion, intermittent fasting is not the same thing as a low calorie diet. In fact, if you treat an IF plan as just another way to restrict calories, then you could be doing more harm than good.
While it’s true some people may end up eating less calories when adding intermittent fasting, more calorie restriction isn’t the reason IF works for weight loss. Intermittent fasting helps balance hormones, which is where the real magic is.
When you purposely withhold calories to lose weight, this can create a stressful environment that will eventually backfire.
As previously mentioned, fast during your fasting window and feast during your eating window. With that said, don’t take the feasting part too literally either. Eat until you feel satisfied, never stuffed. Then allow the magic of a keto and IF combo to take over.
The Keto and Intermittent Fasting Wrap Up:
Combining a ketogenic meal plan with an intermittent fasting routine is an effective way to speed up fat loss – but only when done correctly.
While this blog is a great place to start, if you really want to take your keto and IF routine to the next level, get into the Keto Quick Start Course. This is the same course Keto Challengers use to lose between 10-25 pounds in only 3 weeks.
The bottom line is while no one should be in a rush to take off the weight, when you follow a proven plan that also has your health in mind – that’s truly a weight loss win-win! Take the course so you understand the do’s and don’ts of combining keto with intermittent fasting.