Intermittent Fasting, or “IF”, is a relatively new craze that is used as a supplement to your diet. It revolves around the timing of your food intake and can have some benefits in the long run. There are quite a few people misinformed on fasting, so we’ll clear that up and explain how intermittent fasting can be useful.
On your ketogenic journey, it’s important to know that your success is not only dictated by eating enough fat and protein and restricting carbs. When you eat, how often you eat, and how much you eat have a substantial impact on your health and function as well.
If your results have plateaued or you are thinking of starting a ketogenic diet, this article will provide you with a way to lose more fat and improve energy levels called intermittent fasting. If you need to learn how to calculate your macros, visit our Keto Calculator.
Fasting isn’t required to lose weight on a ketogenic diet. If it doesn’t work for you, then do not force yourself to fast. Restricting yourself unrealistically is pointless – it’s not worth it if it makes you unhappy.
There are 2 basic terms we need to understand here first: feeding and fasting. Your body is in a feeding state when you are eating your food, and you are in a fasting state when you are between your meals.
There are a few approaches when it comes to intermittent fasting.
- Skipped meals. This is when you skip over a meal to induce extra time of fasting. Usually people choose breakfast, but others prefer to skip lunch.
- Eating windows. Usually this condenses your entire macronutrient intake between a 4 and 7 hour window. The rest of the time you are in a fasting state.
- 24-48 hour cleanse. This is where you go into extended fasting periods, and do not eat for 1-2 days.
I don’t recommend that you go straight for a 1-2 day fast, but begin by restricting yourself to certain eating windows. Typically people restrict themselves to the hours of 5pm – 11pm. People often refer to their fasting windows by numbers: 19/5 or 21/3, for example, means 19 hours of fasting and 5 hours eating or 21 hours fasting and 3 hours eating, respectively.
Once you have the hang of eating on a schedule, you can try short periods of 18-24 hour fasting. Then you can judge if intermittent fasting is for you.
Whether you decide to do it every day, once a week, or twice a week is up to you – do what makes you feel best and listen to your body.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
The whole point of intermittent fasting is to allow ourselves to increase the amount of food we can intake at one time. Our bodies naturally can only take in a certain amount of food at once, so we are creating a sort of limit on our calorie intake.
This is also a great method for people that overeat. I tend to see people that forget to count the snacks that they have throughout the day, and wonder why they are putting weight on.
Your body will adjust itself to fasting, and you will find yourself not as hungry as you used to be. This allows you to properly record and maintain the nutrient values of what you intake.
In this fasting state, our bodies can break down extra fat that’s stored for the energy it needs. When we’re in ketosis, our body already mimics a fasting state, being that we have little to no glucose in our bloodstream, so we use the fats in our bodies as energy.
Intermittent fasting is using the same reasoning – instead of using the fats we are eating to gain energy, we are using our stored fat. That being said, you might think it’s great – you can just fast and lose more weight. You have to take into account that later on, you will need to eat extra fat in order to hit your daily macros (the most important thing). If you’re overeating on fats here, you will store the excess.
While there are some weight loss advantages to fasting, it’s more for the convenience of timing. Do not fast solely for the weight loss if you do not enjoy doing it. There are other benefits, though, and we’ll discuss these too.
Intermittent Fasting – Why Meal Timing Matters
Simply put, intermittent fasting is the dietary strategy of restricting your food consumption to a specific window of time. For example, one of the most common intermittent fasting approaches is fasting during an 18-hour window of time and eating during the 6-hour window of time that is left in the day.
Let’s say your last meal was at 6 pm last night and you ate nothing else after that. To implement an intermittent fast, simply restrict eating until 12 pm the next afternoon (yes, sleeping time counts as fasting time). To do this every day, only eat between 12 pm and 6 pm and fast for the remainder of the day.
There are many different variations of intermittent fasting as well. Dr. Dom D’Agostino, a well-known ketogenic diet researcher, suggests doing a longer intermittent fast for 3 days, 3 times a year. This means not eating for 3 days, and eating normally until the next fast.
Another way to try fasting for yourself is by incorporating intermittent fasts of 16 or more hours per day into your lifestyle. This is a much more accessible strategy that allows you to experience many of the benefits of taking a short break from calories.
Despite the simplicity of this concept, it may not be readily apparent how beneficial intermittent fasting can be for you, especially if you are already benefiting from the ketogenic diet.
Interestingly enough, the keto diet and intermittent fasting work better when used together, creating a positive feedback loop of better results. To get a better idea of what I mean, let’s take a closer look at how this strategy works and the benefits it can yield.