Intermittent fasting and keto are proven to be beneficial for weight loss and due to their similarities, it is often debated whether to combine them or not. First, let’s take a glance at what each one is:
Intermittent fasting can be described as an eating pattern that defines when you should be fasting and when you should be eating. It doesn’t focus on what to eat, rather it focuses on when to eat. It aims at making the fat cells burn glucose to produce energy. Intermittent fasting is generally done for 12 hours to 24 hours twice in a week. Fasting allows us to consume larger meals and gives more time for the absorption of nutrients. The most famous and simplest method to hold on to is the 16/8 method. It involves eating for 8 hours and then fasting for the next 16 hours.
Other methods such as:
- The 14/10 method also similar to the 16/8 method and it can be easier for the beginners, as you get 10 hours to complete your calorie intake and fasting is to be done for 14 hours.
- The Eat-Stop-Eat approach is similar to the 5:2 diet, but instead of consuming some calories, this approach calls for no calories on the fasting days for 24 hours once or twice a week.
- The 5:2 diet where calorie intake is to be limited to 500-600 calories on any two non-consecutive days and to eat normally for the rest of the five days.
While practicing any method, it is preferable to eat during the day time and fast at night time.
Keto diet includes intake of high-fat, moderate protein, and low carbohydrate foods. When carbohydrate intake is reduced drastically body goes under a metabolic state called ketosis. When the body burns fat for producing energy instead of carbs the metabolic state is known as ketosis. A ketogenic diet not only aids in weight loss but also provides many health benefits.
There are different types of ketogenic diets, such as:
- The standard ketogenic diet- This includes very low-carb, moderate protein, and high-fat foods. Carbs are to be maintained to the extent of only 5%.
- The high-protein ketogenic diet- It includes more protein percentage as compared to the standard ketogenic diet and carbs are maintained to 5%.
- The cyclical ketogenic diet- This includes 2 days of high-carbs after following the same 5 ketogenic diet days.
- The targeted ketogenic diet- It allows you to add carbs on the day you work out other than that normal ketogenic diet is to be followed.
Should Intermittent Fasting and Keto be combined?
A combination of intermittent fasting and keto diet is generally healthy for the majority of people. However, people with certain medical conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, kidney damage should either avoid going for it or must consult a doctor before starting their diet.
Moms to be or breastfeeding women are advised to avoid such diets as it can lead to a delay in the development of the baby and it can cause a nutritional deficiency in both the mother and the child.
It is also to be noted that each person has a different metabolism and body reacts differently hence, it may not work for everyone. For some people, the keto diet is not very easy to be followed and when combined with intermittent fasting it becomes more difficult due to which people may overeat, feel stressed and irritable.
Benefits and Detriments of Combining Intermittent Fasting and Keto Diet
- It may lead to more and faster weight loss
Keto diet helps to burn fat for energy and when combined with intermittent fasting it boosts the metabolism and helps in faster weight loss. It can aid in reducing appetite due to which it becomes easier to practice intermittent fasting. A good metabolism helps in producing heat in the body due to which stubborn fat is also burned leading to more weight loss (1). However, weight loss from the combination is difficult to maintain in the long term as compared to a low-calorie diet.
- It becomes easier to reach ketosis
It becomes difficult to maintain a very low intake of carbs when on a keto diet. However, intermittent fasting helps to maintain the situation of ketosis for a longer time by burning fat to produce energy.
- It helps to reduce appetite
Consuming fats and proteins helps to keep a person full for a longer time and also causes a change in appetite-regulating hormones, which can result in reduced appetite. This change can be beneficial to practice the fasting part of the diet.
- It can be unhealthy
These diets are known to work in the short term and can be unhealthy. Mostly water weight is lost and after entering ketosis when you lose muscle it can lead to fatigue and starvation. The diet is based on unsaturated fats mainly and food like avocados, nuts, coconut oil, olive oil is preferred.
- It can affect athletic performance
Athletics involved in high-intensity sports might see a negative effect on their performance. The extremely low level of carbs in a ketogenic diet can be seen as a negative influence on athletes. This may not be the case for endurance athletes, however, carbs are still considered a better source of energy for athletes. Too much protein intake can affect the production of ketones as they are formed by breaking down of fats however, intake of protein in excess does not allow the production of ketones. It is advisable to avoid such diets unless they have a medical reason for following such a diet.
- It can be difficult to follow
Keto diet can be highly restrictive and when combined with intermittent fasting it can be difficult to follow psychologically. It is necessary to avoid the intake of high protein foods as it can be dangerous for health. Restricting low carbs for a long time can be hard to follow. Such diets benefit weight loss for a short period only.
How to Curb Hunger When Combining Intermittent Fasting and Keto
It is important to control hunger when on a diet or when practicing fasting with it. People tend to overeat after completing the fast which can produce unfavorable results.
- It is necessary to stay hydrated on a fast as it is the only source of energy at that time. If water doesn’t work for your coffee or tea can also be taken to continue fasting.
- Beginners may crave food only after a few hours and can modify their plans accordingly. For instance, if the fast was to be completed at noon but you ate at 10 a.m., then extend the fast for another hour.
- The type of food also plays an important role in controlling appetite. Healthy food might not taste the best but helps to keep you fuller for a longer time. While following a keto it is essential to focus on healthy fats and proteins as they can help to curb the cravings for carbs as well.
- Ensure to stay busy so that you remain distracted from food for a longer time. It is easier to do fasting when your mind and body are not thinking about it. Avoid going to any food festival or restaurants for the time being and carry your food when traveling.
- Maintain your sleep cycle as sleep also plays an important role in managing the hunger as well as to feel active and energetic. Stress hormone also gets affected by poor sleep and indicates the body to save energy.
Combining the keto diet with intermittent fasting can be beneficial to achieve faster weight loss in the short run. It can also help to reach ketosis faster than keto diet alone. However, it may work for some people only. It is advisable to consider a registered dietitian to figure out an effective plan that is customized accordingly. Keto if taken wrongly can have ill effects on health. It is necessary to be patient while following such diets and not to starve yourself if a cheat meal is consumed. Due to its restrictive nature, it can be hard to stick to therefore, it is advised to start easy and gradually increase the restrictions.