Though there are many benefits associated with the ketogenic diet, most people make the switch in order to lose weight. The ketogenic diet is a great tool for weight loss, particularly if you’re trying to shed some stored fat – even stubborn belly fat.
As wonderful as the ketogenic diet is on its own, there are a few tools you can use to maximize your benefits – intermittent fasting is one of them. Keep reading to learn more about what intermittent fasting is, how it benefits the ketogenic diet, and how to get started.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
When you think of fasting, you might think of it in a religious context such as Ramadan. Though fasting has a long history, it is still a highly applicable practice today. Fasting is simply the practice of abstaining from food for a certain period of time. That timeframe could be as short as 8 to 16 hours, or it could last for an entire weekend (or longer).
Intermittent fasting (IF) is the practice of working short periods of fasting into your normal routine. It is different from a diet because there are no particular rules about what or how much you eat, simply when you do and do not eat.
There are several different patterns of intermittent fasting. The most popular method is the 16/8 method in which you fast for 16 hours each day – usually after dinner until lunch the next day – and eat all of your meals within an 8-hour feeding window. Another option is doing a full 24-hour fast from dinner one day to dinner of the next day.
You could also try 5:2, a pattern in which you don’t abstain from food completely but eat a reduced number of calories (500 to 600) on two nonconsecutive days each week.
How Does IF Work with the Keto Diet?
Intermittent fasting is very popular with dieters because you don’t have to count calories (depending which method you choose) and you can still enjoy your favorite foods. The key is to consume sensible portions and to only eat when you are hungry – the act of fasting periodically will do the rest.
Here are some of the benefits associated with intermittent fasting:
- Boosts human growth hormone which helps you gain muscle more quickly
- Speeds protein synthesis and muscle repair after injury or workouts
- Slows down the aging process and improves skin health and appearance
- Boosts learning and memory, improves your concentration and focus
- Reduces inflammation and decreases oxidative stress throughout the body
Now that you know the benefits of intermittent fasting in general, you may be wondering how it works with the keto diet. The idea behind the keto diet is to burn fat and that’s exactly what intermittent fasting encourages. You’ll lost weight while intermittent fasting anyway, but IF encourages fat loss in particular, even if you’re not counting calories.
Tips for Getting Started with Intermittent Fasting
If you want to maximize your benefits with the ketogenic diet, intermittent fasting is an excellent tool to use. Not only will it help boost your fat burn, but it will help save you from carb cravings and hunger. All you have to do is choose the intermittent fasting schedule that works for you and commit to it just as much as you commit to your keto macronutrient ratio.
Looking for some simple tips for getting started with IF? Here are a few to get you going:
- Think about your normal routine when picking an intermittent fasting schedule – if you work a 9-5, for example, it might make sense to fast from dinner to lunch of the next day.
- Stay hydrated during both your fasting and eating periods – drink 12 ounces of water within 30 minutes of waking and drink another glass every time you start to feel hungry.
- Focus on eating wholesome foods during your eating window – don’t use IF as an excuse to gorge yourself on unhealthy foods.
- Watch your portion sizes and only eat when you are hungry – you should be careful not to eat so few calories that you drop below your BMR, but if you’re no longer hungry don’t force yourself to finish a meal.
- Stay active but don’t go overboard – starting your day with a brisk walk will help you enter ketosis more quickly and it will improve your fat burn for intermittent fasting as well.
- Drink coffee or green tea for an energy boost if you need to during your fasting period but don’t fill up on cream and sugar.
- Make an effort to get as much sleep as you can – not only will you not be hungry while you sleep, but you’ll feel more refreshed and energized for the day ahead if you sleep well.
- Keep a positive attitude about it – if you are focused on how much you are restricting, it’ll make intermittent fasting that much harder to stick to. Think instead about all the fat you’re burning!
- Find ways to stay busy – this is the best way to avoid thinking about the fact that you’re not eating. Use it as an opportunity to read a book or to start a new hobby.
Something else to keep in mind as you get started with intermittent fasting is that you don’t necessarily have to stick with the first method you choose. If you try the 16/8 method and find that you just can’t give up breakfast, try 5:2 instead. This method allows you to eat during the day, you’ll just have to focus on limiting your caloric intake and spreading it out so you have a steady source of energy.
The key to success with any diet is to be as committed as you can as much of the time as you can. The beauty of intermittent fasting is that you only have to commit to fasting for a brief period of time and you can choose how often to do it. So, take what you’ve learned about IF and put it to work. Before you know it, you’ll be experiencing all the benefits both IF and the ketogenic diet have to offer!