Ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting, Friends or Foes?

Ketogenic diet and Intermittent fasting , trend or trash?

Ketogenic diet is a low carb, high fat diet. While intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating pattern. In IF you cycle your caloric intake into fasting and eating windows throughout the day. So, do they go hand in hand or do they cancel each other’s effects?

If you open any search engine and type weight loss diets, we are 100% sure the first two results will be intermittent fasting and ketogenic diet! Because they are the hottest trends in weight loss regimens! But what are they? How do they work? Can you do both? Or is it impossible to go for both regimens at the same time?

What is ketogenic diet?

It is a low carbs, high fat diet where more than 75% of your caloric intake comes from fatty sources like eggs, salmon, coconut oil and others. While your carbs can only constitute a maximum of 5% of your caloric intake! Why is that necessary? Because you want to force your body into a state called ” Ketosis”. What is ketosis? It is the production of excess ketone bodies in your blood and urine as a byproduct of fatty acids breakdown. This process means that your body has depleted all its glycogen stores and is now using fats as their main source of energy. When your body depends on fats only, then you are burning pure adipose tissue without compromising your muscle mass and without feeling hungry all the time, in fact you will feel full, focused and happy all without losing your lean muscles!

Is this similar to intermittent fasting?

Let’s know first, what is intermittent fasting? It is an ancient eating pattern that is as old as our civilization, may be older! It now has religious backgrounds too. From its name, it depends on fasting for intermittent periods. Known as cycles. you already fast when you are sleeping so why not add extra few hours and lose weight too.

The 24 hours day, are divided into eating windows (the food you eat depends on your diet) and fasting windows (you can only drink zero calories drinks like tea, black coffee and of course water).

How to divide your cycle depends on your goal! but the most common cycle is the 16/8, where your fasting window is 16 hours (don’t worry it includes your sleeping hours too) and 8 hours of eating.

Some people find this hard to start with, so they divide the day into 14\10 cycles (where they simply skip breakfast) and eat from 10 am till 8 pm only. Other find it easier to go for a 18/6 cycle and eat only from 1 till 7 pm (according to their preferred schedule).

Why would you do that? In intermittent fasting, you attempt to deplete your glycogen stores and start losing weight without worrying about your calories or your muscle mass.

A bonus, you can enter a state of ketosis with intermittent fasting but it is not as long lasting as following a ketogenic diet!

How to combine both?

All you have to do is decide what cycle you want to start with (6 or 8 or 10 hours as your eating window) then eat all your ketogenic meals in this window!

For example : You decided to eat only from 10 am to 6 pm , this means that you have breakfast at 10 am ( keto-friendly meals like egg frittata with avocado) then your lunch at 2 pm ( grilled salmon and roasted veggies with coconut oil) and dinner at 6 pm ( Greek yogurt with coconut flakes and some nuts). You shouldn’t eat anything afterwards, you can only have water and zero caloric drinks like green tea, black coffee and may be sparkling water!

What happens when you combine both?

Weight loss:

Actually, combining intermittent fasting with ketogenic diet is highly recommended by many nutritionists. this combination eases your journey into ketosis! Because you deplete your glycogen store faster, use fatty acids more effectively because you simply have no other choice on your menu! You hit ketosis and stay there as long as you are doing both!

You also feel full most of the time, and when you feel hungry in your fasting window, you don’t go for any extra meals, reducing your extra calories even more! Losing weight faster and faster! Intermittent fasting also reduces nighttime snacking which positively affects your sleep quality and duration.

Adding ketogenic diet to your intermittent fasting helps in adipose tissue breakdown, healthier caloric intake (you are only allowed healthy fats, nutritious proteins and no carbs). Because some people abuse intermittent fasting and eat junk food in their eating window!

But their benefits don’t end there! In fact, they have numerous synergistic positive effects on our body when followed properly, this includes:

More fat loss:

Because you are in a ketonic state, you are using only fats as energy source for your body! When you fast too, you need more heat, so you burn more energy and the only source you have now is fats not muscles!

Less keto-flu symptoms:

All the symptoms you feel when you dive heads first into Ketodiet without gradually cutting off carbs could be lessened when you fast while on keto.

Improvement of your blood sugar levels and lipid profile:

We talked a lot about how ketogenic diet affects your glucose levels and decreases risks for diabetes type 2 and its complications (check benefit here). Adding intermittent fasting to the equation means more stabilization of your blood sugar level since there is no more sudden snacking or late-night meals. This directly influences your cardiac health and eliminates many risks like diabetes, atherosclerosis, hypercholesterolemia and others.

Better healing and less cancer risk:

Autophagy is an important process where our body automatically cleanses itself from unwanted molecules and cells, this process could be expedited by triggering ketosis and/or fasting! This lets your body’s immunity stronger and is able to fight many serious diseases (cancer included).

Mental health improvement:

Intermittent fasting and ketogenic diet are both scientifically proven to boost your memory, it also improves mental clarity and focus. Some studies also suggested that ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting can prevent serious neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s diseases, epilepsy and Parkinsonism. Because in ketogenic diet, your brain never suffers from energy deficit! It is always alert, functioning properly, full of antioxidants and its cognitive function is on fire!

How? Ketones protects your brain cells by processing excess glutamate into GABA (the main neurotransmitters in your brain). This directly aids in preventing cell damage, avoiding cell death and improving your mental focus.

Stronger body:

In exercise, you challenge your body so it goes into mild stress. Afterwards you allow it to rest so it re-adapts to the new situation. This happens by letting the strong cells live and the weak cells are programmed to die. This process resembles fasting. As long as you allow your body to rest when alternating between eating and fasting cycles.

Dietlife advice: Ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting tips:

To maximize your benefits from combining ketogenic diet with intermittent fasting, you need to follow few rules:

First tip:

Start slowly for better results. You can simply skip breakfast as the first cycle pattern, then gradually extend your eating/fasting cycles. Start with 14 hours fasting window . Although a 16/8 or a 18/6 is better.  If you are capable, go for a 20/4 cycle. Eventually, better health results when you wean yourself from carbs. Add fats step by step till you reach full ketosis and minimize keto-flu symptoms.

Second tip:

Always seek healthy and organic options for your body!. Keto-diet doesn’t spike your glucose levels. And, when you follow a standard keto diet then you will hit ketosis and lose stubborn fats.

Third tip:

Track your ketone levels, to make sure you are always in ketosis even in your fasting window. How to track it? Buy a breath analyzer here!

Fourth tip:

Know  how to stop! When you reach your ideal weight, you have to gradually increase your caloric intake, or carbs percentage. Also, consult with your nutritionist before suddenly abandoning a weight loss regimen.

Fifth tip:

Maintain your healthy lifestyle. Intermittent fasting has no long-term side effects or disadvantages if done correctly. So, benefit from your deserved weight loss. Maintain your healthy lifestyle even if you discontinued ketogenic diet or any other diet.

References:

  • Rusek, Marta, et al. “Ketogenic Diet in Alzheimer’s Disease.” International journal of molecular sciences16 (2019): 3892.https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/20/16/3892
  • Lange, Klaus W., et al. “Diet and medical foods in Parkinson’s disease.” Food Science and Human Wellness (2019).
  • Fedorovich, Sergei V., Polina P. Voronina, and Tatyana V. Waseem. “Ketogenic diet versus ketoacidosis: what determines the influence of ketone bodies on neurons?” Neural regeneration research12 (2018): 2060.
  • Mattson, Mark P., and Ruiqian Wan. “Beneficial effects of intermittent fasting and caloric restriction on the cardiovascular and cerebrovascular systems.” The Journal of nutritional biochemistry3 (2005): 129-137.
  • Liu, Haiyan, et al. “Intermittent fasting preserves beta-cell mass in obesity-induced diabetes via the autophagy-lysosome pathway.” Autophagy11 (2017): 1952-1968.
  • Mattson, Mark P., Valter D. Longo, and Michelle Harvie. “Impact of intermittent fasting on health and disease processes.” Ageing research reviews39 (2017): 46-58.
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