If you're trying to decide between intermittent fasting and the keto diet, you may want to consider doing them together. Turns out, pairing the two diets can offer even more benefits than what each of them can provide individually. In addition to better aiding weight loss, experts say this combination can also launch you into ketosis more easily.
"Intermittent fasting is beneficial on its own and can be helpful in supporting weight loss, appetite control, digestion, and detoxification, but it's further kicked up a notch when you're in ketosis," clinical nutritionist Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, told POPSUGAR.
The most common type of intermittent fasting involves a 16-hour fasting window. While shifting your meal schedule to fit within a four- to eight-hour period may require some acclimation, it's typically easier to fast when doing keto. That's because many people find that they need to eat less and less frequently on the keto diet, thanks to its high-fat, moderate-protein way of eating. The keto diet helps balance your blood sugar levels and production of "hunger hormones" (such as ghrelin), curbing hunger and cravings as a result. That on top of decreasing your eating window — and decreasing your overall caloric intake — can make weight loss easier.
"With less intake, the body is forced to burn existing fat stores for energy once in ketosis," Molly Devine, RD, LDN, told POPSUGAR. "Fasting also prompts the body to enter into ketosis more easily as there is no other fuel source being put in during this time."
Though fasting isn't required on the keto diet, "it can accelerate your results," according to Dr. Axe. When you fast, your body looks to your available glucose storage as well as any stored glycogen in your liver for energy. Once these run out, ketones are produced as an alternative fuel source for your brain and vital organs. "Fasting therefore accelerates the process of entering ketosis and making ketones because it rapidly depletes glucose and signals to your body that it's time to burn fat instead," Dr. Axe said.
Who Would Benefit From This Combo Most?
A good sign that keto and intermittent fasting are working for you is if you find your appetite suppressed and your energy levels up. But before you try both simultaneously, it's recommended that you try either of them first to gauge how your body reacts. Once you get the hang of one, then you can try incorporating the other.
However, Dr. Axe said that if you feel sluggish, moody, lightheaded, and hungry on either IF or keto, combining the two might worsen your symptoms. Since every person is different, it may take some experimenting to find out what works best for you. You should also keep your workout schedule in mind. Plan your tougher workouts around days or times when you're not fasting for optimal performance and recovery. If you train often, keto-cycling/carb-cycling is one approach you can combine with IF.
Note that those with hypoglycemia or diabetes or women who are pregnant or nursing should stay away from fasting. Before attempting this yourself, work with a professional who can develop the best eating plan and schedule that fits your needs.