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Intermittent Fasting While Following a Keto Diet
We're going to talk about Intermittent Fasting, also known as "IF", is really gaining popularity in the diet world right now. Basically you supplement your diet by timing intake of your food and people are seeing HUGE gains in their weight loss goals by following. Unfortunately, there is a lot of bad information out there about fasting, but we'll attempt to dispel the false information, and explain how implementing Intermittent Fasting can actually be an effective supplement to your Keto Diet, whether you're taking Keto Supplement pills or not.
The most common misconception of a keto diet is knowing that in order to see results you can't just depend on eating large amounts of fat and protein while restricting carbs. If you are currently following a keto diet and have plateaued or if you've researched and are ready to start a keto diet, we will help you a way to increase your weight loss and improve your energy levels by implementing intermittent fasting into your daily routine. One of the most important pieces of information people miss out on is that there are several factors that go into weight loss like; when you eat, how many times per day and how large are your portions? All of these can have a substantial impact on your overall health and weight loss.
Keto diets are based on cutting carbs and increasing fat and protein intake. To get a head start, you should know how much you are supposed to be eating daily. We are linking a tool that will create an accurate, customized keto profile for you by using our Ketogenic Calculator.
When starting your keto diet, fasting isn't a requirement to lose weight but can help and also push you over the peak you may encounter. Keto isn't for everyone, so if you don't see results, don't like the foods or restrictions, it is pointless to continue because it's not worth following this diet if it makes you miserable. Another option, that many have found very helpful when starting a keto diet is beginning a supplement regimen. We have reviewed all of the top keto diet pills on the market such as; Keto Fast, Pure Keto, Ultra-Fast Keto Reviews, and Quick Lean Keto.
Two terms we will be using in this article is feeding: Which is the state of when you are eating food and fasting:
And fasting, which is the time in between your meals, which is where the term breakfast comes from because you're "breaking fast". So sit back and let's take a look at intermittent fasting and how it can help boost your results.
There are a couple of options when you're wanting to begin an intermittent fasting program. We'll talk about the most popular.
- Skipping meals - Some fasters use this method where you skip over a meal which will induce extra time of fasting. Most people choose to skip breakfast, and the second most popular is skipping lunch.
- Eating Windows - This method you choose to intake all of your daily calories between and 7-hour window, which leaves the rest of the day your body is in a fasting state.
- 24-48 Hour Cleanse - This is where you abstain from any calorie intake for 1-2 days.
We don't recommend trying to the 1-2 day fast to start off with, as your body will react better if you slowly implement your diet by restricting yourself to certain eating windows throughout the day. The majority of people restrict themselves from eating between 5 pm - 11 pm. You'll often hear people who practice an intermittent fasting diet by their window numbers: 21/3 or 18/6, this is referring to 21 hours fasting and 3 hours eating or 18 hours fasting and 6 hours eating. Once you become comfortable with these breaks you can try to go a full day fasting.
Whichever method you choose, whether it be skipping meals or eating windows, the most important and effective thing to increase your chances of success is to be sure to listen to your body.
How does Intermittent Fasting Work?
The goal of intermittent fasting is to increase the number of calories we can put into our body's at one time. We can naturally only eat a limited amount of food at one sitting, so we are putting a limit on the consumption of calories. What we have found is if your problem is overeating, this will really help you. Many times, people forget to add in the snacks they are eating throughout the day, and then they wonder why they aren't losing any weight.
The great thing about our bodies is, they will adjust to fasting, and eventually, you won't be as hungry as you used to be. This makes it much easier to record and maintain all of the nutrients you're intaking.
When our bodies are in the fasting state, they will break down fat reserves that are stored for the energy it's using throughout the day. Once our bodies enter into ketosis, our body then will mimic the fasting state, this means we have very little to no glucose in our bloodstream, our body then starts burning the fats we have stored for energy.
This means intermittent fasting uses the same reasoning, rather than burning fats we are eating to gain the energy we need, our body starts using stored fats. The one thing you have to remember though is when you fast and start losing more weight, you will have to begin eating extra fast in order to hit your daily macros, which is THE most important part of losing weight. Once you begin over-eating fats, your body will store the excess.
Intermittent fasting can provide great weight-loss advantages, but it's much more for the convenience of timing. If you are not enjoying fasting, I wouldn't suggest doing just for the weight loss benefits, there are several other benefits, and we'll take a look at them too.
When Intermittent Fasting, Meal Times Matter
The most basic definition of Intermittent Fasting is a dietary strategy of restricting your food consumption to a particular window of time in a 24 hour period. A good example is and also one of the most common approaches is fasting during an 18-hour window and then eating the remaining 6 hours left in the day.
So if your last meal was at 5 pm yesterday evening and you didn't eat anything else after, to begin intermittent fasting, hold off eating again until 11 am the next day (YES! The time you are asleep counts as fasting time). This would be a great plan to begin implementing daily and before long, you'll realize it has become your habit and your lifestyle. You won't even think about eating when it's not in your window.
Now we'll look at a couple of the variations of intermittent fasting. Dr. D'Agostino, who is a well-known keto diet researcher, suggests going on a much longer intermittent fast for 3 days, 3 different times per year. What this means is not eating for 3 days, and then eating normally until your next fast days. Another popular method is by starting to intermittent fast for 16 or more hours per day. This strategy is much more accessible and will allow you to experience many of the benefits of taking short breaks from your calories. Even though this concept may seem very simple, you may not notice how beneficial intermittent fasting can be for you, and this is really amplified if you are already on a ketogenic diet.
The Way Intermittent Fasting Works: Ketone, Production, Insulin Reduction and Autophagy Induction
Intermittent fasting works, from a purely weight-loss perspective, by making it more difficult for you to overeat throughout the day. If you make a rule for yourself like, "I'll skip breakfast" or "I'll only eat between 4 pm and 7 pm can really keep you from reaching for snacks or drinking calorie-packed beverages throughout the day, which can really negatively contribute to your weight goals. The great thing, even if you find yourself ferociously hungry while fasting, you will find it difficult to overeat. The great benefit of intermittent fasting is that it will decrease your daily energy consumption and promote fat loss.
This translates into you being able to eat as much as want and still reach your weight-loss goals by sticking to a shortened eating window and limiting your number of meals. It's not the easiest thing to get going. In the beginning, your body will need to adjust to this different eating schedule. You may experience hunger pangs and intense cravings at first, but before long they will go away as your cells begin to feast on stored fat and ketones.
What is Autophagy? It is a Nobel Peace Prize-Winning Lifestyle "Hack"
The Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Yoshinori Ohsumiin 2016 for discovering some of the mechanisms of autophagy which is defined as the process by which a cell devours itself. Upon hearing this it sounds like a terrible thing for our cells to do, that is until you consider what is actually happening.
At the time our cells undergo the process of autophagy, the non-essential parts like damaged proteins are recycled, and invading microorganisms and toxic compounds are then taken out. What this means is that autophagy plays an important role in slowing down or stopping the aging process, also reversing disease, and also preventing cancer, but this doesn't happen all the time. But as you can see, we are in the infancy stages of autophagy and the ultimate possibilities are really looking great. Once we have a better understanding, would start seeing humans living longer, healthier lives.
Fasting, protein, and carb restriction has been defined as the 3 most effective ways to initiate different autophagic processes in the body - all of these are not the same. This is the main reason we so many positive effects of a ketogenic diet, and it shows us why intermittent fasting is another way to improve our diet.
While this alone is a great reason to fast more, autophagy isn't the only upside of practicing an intermittent fasting diet. Actually, the combination of the two, keto and fasting, can actually provide us with a much wider array of benefits.
What are the Benefits of Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting provides many benefits, from improving blood sugar control, all the way to helping with cancer, the case made for restricting WHEN we eat extends much further than just weight loss. Now we'll look at the many reasons why intermittent fasting on a ketogenic diet may work out well for you.
1. Improved Insulin Sensitivity and Blood Sugar Control
When you give your body the occasional break from consuming calories, you help your body improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels in your cells. There is clinical proof that intermittent fasting is a better plan than simply maintaining the same calorie deficit spreading your meals out to 6 per day. Combining intermittent fasting with the keto diet, it has been found to really help with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. These two diets may work together to improve your overall blood sugar control. Researchers are still discovering more about the effects when they are used together.
2. Increased Mental Focus
It only takes a couple of days of being on the keto diet before your brain can effectively power itself using ketones, which are gathered from the breaking down of fat in our livers. We have long known that fat is one of the most energy-efficient fuels that we can use to power our bodies, and our brains are one of the largest consumers of energy. There are high-carb advocates who campaign on the deprivation your body experiences when you don't continuously refuel on grains and fruits. They believe you should always have an orange or bag of granola with you at all times, the great thing about the keto diet is, you don't have to.
When your body is in ketosis and your body is out of glycogen, it then starts relying on the abundance of fat from different foods you eat and the excess you have stored in your body. This means your power consuming brain will operate at full power all the time. This will increase your ability to stay focused and concentrate on what you're doing. Once you get in the habit of fasting, you will start to fast naturally. This means you simply eat only when you're hungry and do not "plan" you're fast, rather let them happen naturally.
3. Working Out and Fitness
We often hear the argument that by skipping your pre and post-workout meals, you start to lose muscle when you work out. Researchers have found this isn't always true, and there is much less chance of this if you're adapted to ketosis. If you fast when you're training, you can experience many, great benefits in the long run, including Higher Metabolic Adaptations - Researchers have found that your training performance actually increases when you're in a fasting state.
Improved Muscle Synthesis - Researchers have found muscle gains are heightened once you begin training in a fasting state and are following proper nutrient intake.
Improved Response to Post-Workout-Meals- Researchers have found that the accelerated absorption of nutrients, post-workout, leads to better results.
One of the more popular studies among Diet Researchers is fasting while training. They have proven time and again, you will not affect performance if you're following a fasting program, so there's no need to worry about this.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Affect Muscles
There have been a couple of ground-breaking studies recently published on the effects on males of intermittent fasting. The first group of researchers studied the effects of 16 hours of intermittent fasting on males who weight train. What they found was that muscle mass stayed exactly the same, the fat mass decreased a great deal, and there was much more fat burned by males who fasted for 16 hours versus those who only fasted for 12 hours.
The other study has shown that if you combine 20 hours of fasting with resistance training, this will result in an increase in muscle mass, strength, endurance, and the only other change was eating 650 fewer calories per day than they normally would.
Researchers found the benefits of intermittent fasting translates to untrained overweight and obese people as well. Another study has found that while eating fewer calories is effective for fat loss, it also comes with some muscle loss. BUT, if the subject fasted for 24 hours and ate as much as they wanted for a set time of 12 weeks, they experienced significantly less muscle mass.
That's right! 24 hours of intermittent fasting and without any resistance training at all and these folks preserved more muscle mass than the other subjects who ate significantly fewer calories every day but didn't fast. This conclusion definitely contradicts the way we think, but once we really look into autophagy we can locate the mechanism behind these results.
Preventing Muscle Loss and Autophagy
Before we knew much about autophagy, there were other researchers who were making ground-breaking discoveries about autophagy. There was an article in 2009, which was published in Cell Metabolism that was titled Autophagy Is Required to Maintain Muscle Mass. What the researchers describe finding is how deactivating an important autophagy gene resulted in a great loss in muscle mass and strength. They found this happens and autophagy is actually necessary to clean up damaged proteins and mitochondria in muscle cells. What happens when you don't have autophagy activated, the proteins and mitochondria remain damaged and then your muscle cells begin to die, this will cause a loss in muscle and strength.
Logically, this seems counter-intuitive because we think that nutrients we eat repairs the damage, but let's look at it in a different way. If you want to remodel a room, the best way to start is to clean the room and remove the old furnishings before putting in the new furniture. This is the same thinking that applies to our cells. We can use intermittent fasting to let autophagy clean the "room" of our cells before we stick the new furniture in. If this doesn't happen, our cells can then become cancerous.
Cancer and Intermittent Fasting
Unfortunately, there is very little literature on the effects of short 2 or 3-day fasts on the loss of muscles in humans, but there are several being conducted currently on the effects of short fasts on cancer patients.
Initially, when people were undergoing chemotherapy, they voluntarily fasted for anywhere between 48 and 140 hours. They all reported fewer side effects and improved their overall life quality regardless of how long they fasted. We truly hope that this suggests that when we fast for 2 days per week, it has a protective effect on our cells in the body while they are experiencing intense bouts of toxicity.
There are studies in animals that have found fasting was even as effective as chemotherapeutic medicines in delaying the progression of different tumors and increased the effectiveness of the chemo drugs against glioma, melanoma, and also breast cancer cells. Even if this research doesn't apply to your life, it does tell us that intermittent fasting can help support your body even in times of toxic stress. If it repairs, heals and changes us for the better when sick, imagine the great things it could do when we are healthy. We'll start to see more and more studies coming out over the next few years that will really help us understand the overall effects of practicing a keto and intermittent fasting diet, has on our lives.
How it All Works: Autophagy, Fat Loss and Ketones
The reason intermittent fasting is so powerful is that you can use it to restrict your calorie intake, induce ketosis, and activate the process of autophagy which is started by protein restriction and starvation.
This can be a very confusing nomenclature, so let's look at it in any simpler terms. Let's take cleaning your kitchen. Every evening after dinner, you clean up the kitchen or at some point after eating you do, but what do you have to do the next evening after eating? If you let it go and then let it go some more, eventually your procrastination in cleaning has caused it to become filthy.
The same idea happens to our cells when we eat 3 or even more meals per day to fulfill our daily caloric needs. Even when you're watching what you eat and only eat healthy foods, your cells can become clogged up with non-essential proteins and very toxic compounds, so how do fix this?
To make sure that your "kitchen" is clean, you can fast, not from calories, but from being too busy to clean your kitchen. To make sure that your cells stay clean and functioning at top form, we fast from food.
When you begin this fasting process, you will not only activate the cleaning process for your cells, you will also increase your ketone production and kickstart the fat burning process too. The bottom line is that when you are following a keto lifestyle and add intermittent fasting, you experience all of the benefits of Keto much quicker because of autophagy.
Also, if you begin intermittent fasting and exercise, whether it be walking, biking, or weight training, you can raise the ketone levels in your body, burn more fat, and increase autophagy much more than if you were doing any of the others alone.
How Long Can a Human Last Without Food?
It's our mind that is our worst enemy when we begin fasting. We start feeling intense hunger pangs and then our mind starts imagining your muscles being eaten for energy by your body. This is nothing more than your body's natural reaction to the threat of starvation. Just because it feels like you're losing every muscle in your body and starving to death doesn't mean you actually are. This is your body adjusting to this new lifestyle.
We are very resilient and can last a lot longer without food than we can water. Gandhi survived 21 days without any food and only had little sips of water. Many times in history, where people had no food or water at all, they were able to survive up to 2 weeks, but let's see what science says about this.
There have been numerous studies completed during hunger strikes and religious fasting that confirms humans have the ability to survive even longer than Gandhi did when he completed his 21 days. There's an example of a monk who set out to go on a 40 day fast while being medically supervised and maintaining his daily activities in the monastery where he lived. Once he reached day 36, medical professionals had to step in because he was experiencing profound weakness and very low blood pressure when standing. He lasted 15 days longer than Gandhi until the medical professionals had to step in and he recovered.
Another group studied 33 political prisoners that were on a hunger strike. The prisoner's lasted between 6-24 days before they had to be hospitalized for dehydration that was due to them not taking in enough fluid and electrolytes.
None of their symptoms were caused by starvation and when they broke their fast, they described it as being "uncomplicated".
Think back to these studies as your mind starts playing tricks on you when you begin your fasting. Even when you reach day 3 of fasting, our risk of health complications are very unlikely. There are dangers involved in fasting and it's best to be aware of what they are when starting your diet. Your best bet, if you choose to fast as your daily diet routine, is to eat every day. Occasionally fasting for longer periods.
Should I Worry About Refeeding Syndrome?
There are serious health problems that can arise when you fast or you malnourish your body for longer than 5 days. The most known problem is called refeeding syndrome, which is caused by your body fatally shifting fluids and electrolyte balance and can happen when we eat after a period of undernourishment or fasting.
The concentration of fluids and minerals inside our body heavily relies on the things we eat. When you are following a low-carb, or Ketogenic diet, they can increase the excretion of vital minerals like sodium and potassium. When you are on a prolonged fast and add in a ketogenic diet, this can cause you to lose an unhealthy amount of these essential minerals your body needs to function.
The good news is that fasts that are shorter than 5 days aren't near as likely to cause any of these issues. One way to safeguard against this happening is to break your fast with a low carb meal, that is filled with mineral-rich foods. Try to find dark leafy greens, avocado, and maybe some fish. This would be a great meal to break a long fast.
When you are breaking a fast that was less than 24 hours, you don't have to worry about refeeding syndrome, as your body is still functioning on what you had put in it the day before. It really doesn't matter which fast you're doing, it is a great practice to find a proper mineral supplement, or a keto supplement like Keto Fast, which we discuss here.
Last let's look at muscles. It's really common sense that if you're consuming no protein and fewer calories, this will undeniably lead to an unhealthy amount of muscle loss.
What Did We Learn?
We tried to cover everything we could, related to keto diets and intermittent fasting. We learned there is nothing to fear when it comes to fasting or skipping meals. You will definitely feel hungry at first but in no time your body will adjust and activate autophagy and before you know it you'll be burning a lot of fat and using ketones for fuel!
The best way to fast? Most nutritionists suggest that you practice a longer intermittent fast followed by shorter, daily fasts. It's best to implement a fasting protocol that includes fasting for up to 3 days, 3 times per year with a much shorter 16 to 20 hour fast on the days before and after your 3-day fasts.
Don't forget it doesn't matter if you're fasting for hours or days, it is always very important to monitor your mineral levels and do what you can to avoid the symptoms of refeeding syndrome. There are natural ways to deal with this mineral deficiency, the most popular is supplementing with sodium from unrefined salts and potassium, phosphate, and magnesium which can be found in mineral-rich foods and supplements.
Watching these levels and supplementing may be necessary in order to avoid an excess mineral loss that can be caused by ketogenic diets and fasting.