How to Combine the Keto Diet With Intermittent Fasting
Originally posted on https://theketokettle.com/how-to-combine-the-keto-diet-with-intermittent-fasting/
Are you looking to jump start your weight loss? Combining the popular ketogenic diet with intermittent fasting (IF) can result in swifter weight reduction and allow your body to become extremely efficient at burning fat. To reap these benefits, you need a good strategy.
So what’s the plan?
Keep reading and you’ll learn how to gradually transition into fasting, make a weekly meal plan with a fasting schedule, and create the mindset needed to motivate yourself. Plus, I’ve included a section on how to avoid the common pitfalls of the diet. But first, it starts with the basics.
The Basics of the Ketogenic Diet
The keto diet is a high fat, low carb, moderate protein eating regimen that trains the body to burn fat as its primary fuel. The process begins by eating a keto diet. Because it’s so low carb, the body quickly uses up its glycogen stores. When this happens, you enter into ketosis, a metabolic state in which your body is forced to start using fat as its primary energy source. That usually happens within about 3 days. Next, It typically takes 3-6 weeks for the body to complete the shift over to using fat for fuel. At this point, you’re fat adapted. So, anytime you’re not eating (fasting), your body automatically taps into your fat reserves. That’s one of the biggest reasons intermittent fasting and keto go together so well. But, there’s more reasons and advantages so keep reading!
For more information on how to start the keto diet, click here.
So, I recommend being on the keto diet 4-6 weeks before combining intermittent fasting. Not only will you be better at burning fat, but you’ll have less hunger. In studies, the keto diet was shown to be more satisfying and people experienced less hunger. Additionally, keto also demonstrated its ability to preserve muscle mass and was tops in maintaining your metabolism. How’s that for reasons to start the ketogenic diet?
Next, let’s look at the types and basics of intermittent fasting.
What is Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a cycle of eating that rotates between periods of fasting and eating. According to the Cleveland Clinic, there are four different types of intermittent fasting. (https://health.clevelandclinic.org/intermittent-fasting-4-different-types-explained/). While each is beneficial, it’s simply a matter of personal preference as to which may be best for you. Let’s take a look at how each one works:
1. 5:2 Method
This method includes fasting two days of the week and only consuming 500 calories on those days. The other five days you would continue to eat your normal, healthy keto diet. Since only 500 calories are allotted on fasting days, you would need to consume foods that are high in protein and fat in order to keep you satiated. Just be sure that there’s a nonfasting day in between the two.
2. Time Restricted Eating (16/8)
This fasting method has proven to be one of the most popular as your fasting window usually includes the time you’re sleeping. The 16/8 fast means that you fast for sixteen hours and eat for eight. In reality that may mean eating is only allowed from noon to 8pm and after that the fast begins until the next day. The great thing about this method is that it doesn’t have to be 16/8, you can still do 14/10 and reap the same benefits.
3. Alternate Day Fasting
In addition to the 5;2 method and time restriction, this option allows you to fast every other day, usually limiting yourself to around 500 calories on fasting days. The nonfasting days you would just eat normal. This can be a tough approach and may cause some to quit as it can be difficult to maintain.
4. 24 Hour Fast
Also known as “One Meal a Day” or OMAD for short. This fast is done for a full 24 hours and is usually only done once or twice a week.
Next, to start fasting, you’ll need some motivation to keep you going.
Keeping up the Motivation
Sticking with an eating and fasting plan can be tough if you lack the motivation – so how can you keep it up? The following points will help keep focus on your overall goals while providing necessary incentives along the way.
1. Health Benefits of Keto and Intermittent Fasting – The health benefits of diet and fasting may be reason enough to continue on. They can include:
• Decreased levels of insulin
• Reduction in inflammation (associated with many chronic diseases)
• Weight loss
• Heart health (decreased cholesterol levels and blood pressure)
• Autophagy – the body breaks down old cells and recycles them.
2. Setting Specific Measurable Goals – Instead of setting a goal of losing weight, be more specific, focus on simple, achievable goals that can be done weekly.
• Taking a walk three days a week
• Drink at least 64 ounces of water four times this week
• Skip one meal this week
3. Self Reward When Reaching Mini Goals – Set yourself up for continued success by using a reward system.
• After losing fifteen pounds buy yourself some new clothes.
• If you meet all your specific goals mentioned above for one month then get a massage.
• Have a nice steak dinner for meeting weekly goals. (It’s already keto approved!).
The money saved by skipping a meal (or two) can pay for your reward! Different factors motivate each of us so be sure to figure out what would work best for you and you’ll stay motivated to reach all your goals. Next, let’s look at how to start your first fast.
How to Start Fasting
So, now you have the basics of keto and IF and some motivation. But, maybe you’re not feeling ready to dive into a 16 hour fast your first day. That’s no problem. Most people need to ease into fasting to get acclimated and gain confidence. So, here’s a recommended strategy.
The 16:8 fast is the easiest one to start. It’s made easier in part by the fact that when you wake up in the morning, you’ve already fasted for several hours. So all that’s needed is to go just a few more. Start by moving your breakfast up by one hour. That could be one hour per day or week depending on how fast you want to accomplish your goal. When you’ve moved your breakfast up to where it’s close to lunch, say 10:00 o’clock for instance, skip breakfast. Now lunch should start 16 hours after your dinner the previous night. So lunch would start at noon if your dinner was at 8pm. Continue this strategy for the 24 hour and alternate day fasting.
Next, we’ll combine the keto diet and intermittent fasting in a sample plan.
Sample Keto/Fasting Meal Plan
In addition to motivation, knowing the rules regarding what you put in your mouth is half the battle when you try to do keto and intermittent fasting. A sample meal plan follows in order to make life a little easier. Check out these simple recipes.
The following sample plan will follow the ketogenic diet along with 16/8 intermittent fasting. Please note that fasting will occur from 8pm until Noon the following day.
Monday – A glass of water and coffee before Noon. Lunch is tuna salad (canned tuna, celery, mayo, avocado slice) and a side salad with ranch dressing. Snack is a handful of nuts and string cheese. Dinner is a bun less cheeseburger topped with spinach, avocado and mushrooms and a side of zucchini noodles (doodles).
Tuesday – Start off the day with a big glass of water and coffee if needed. Lunch today is broccoli cheddar soup with a side of parm crisps. Snack consists of celery and peanut butter. Dinner tonight is grilled sirloin steak topped with mushrooms, roasted broccoli and cauliflower mash.
Wednesday – Water and coffee as usual. Breakfast is for lunch, scrambled eggs, avocado and bacon are on the menu. Snack is a hardboiled egg and some cucumbers. Dinner is salmon roasted with lemon and dill, asparagus and mixed berries for dessert.
Thursday – Wake up to water and coffee. Lunch is a grilled chicken salad with hard boiled eggs, avocado and sunflower seeds. Snack is a plate of olives, pickles and cheese. Dinner would be cabbage and sausage with broccoli salad as a side (broccoli, mayo, bacon, almonds).
Friday – Morning water and coffee. Lunch is a sub in a tub (shredded lettuce, tomato, pickles, olives, cheese, ham, salami topped with olive oil and red wine vinegar). Celery sticks with cream cheese can be added for a bit of crunch. Snack consists of beef jerky and string cheese. Dinner is chicken wings and a side salad with ranch dressing.
Saturday – Water and coffee before Noon. Lunch is eggroll in a bowl – shredded cabbage, ground pork, and coconut aminos (substituted for soy sauce) with a side of kale chips. Snack is nuts and pepperoni. Pizza is for dinner, with a cauliflower crust of course, along with a big bowl of broccoli or a side salad.
Sunday – The usual water and coffee. Lunch is a taco salad. Snack consists of veggies and dip and dinner is a pot roast with green beans and cauliflower mash.
Although not included everyday dessert can also be eaten after your meal. Some good choices are mixed berries, Lily’s dark chocolate (Amazon link) or cottage cheese mixed with strawberries. If you’re looking for some keto friendly dessert recipes, check these out. (https://www.health.com/food/keto-dessert-ideas)
The above menu is just a sample of what you can eat. Once you become more experienced with the diet and fasting in general you’ll be able to come up with other creative ideas to include into your meals. Keeping meals simple, while including variety, will help keep you on target and prevent you from getting bored with your food and turning to unhealthy options.
Though you can certainly snack during the 8 hour eating window, you may want to cut back on the snacks as you get more acclimated to the keto diet and (IF). This will especially help you in your weight loss goals as well. Next, let’s cover some typical mistakes.
Common Mistakes – Why you’re Not Losing Weight
You’ve been fasting and following the keto diet for a few weeks but not losing weight – what’s the problem? It can be so frustrating and make you want to give up when you don’t see results right away but there may be some reasons you’re not losing the weight.
1. Too Many Carbs
This is probably the number 1 suspect. Though you’re consuming low carb veggies, there may be hidden sugars that are causing your weight loss stall. Are you consuming sugar free products? If so, they probably contain sorbitol, xylitol or some other hidden sugar and you may be eating too much of them without even knowing the effect it’s having on you. Many sugar substitutes can cause elevated insulin levels which stalls your weight loss. Avoid store bought salad dressings and condiments as they typically contain a lot of hidden carbs. Choose keto friendly versions instead such as those made by Primal Kitchen (Amazon product link). Or, make your own keto condiments. Homemade mayonnaise (recipe here), for instance, is the basis for ranch salad dressing. Finding the culprit that’s stalling your progress will motivate you to get back into gear.
2. You’re Not in Ketosis
While you’re following the diet for those first few weeks you assume you’ve reached ketosis but that isn’t always the case. Newbies to keto and intermittent fasting are especially susceptible to this practice of thought. The bottom line is that you just may be recording and calculating your intake incorrectly. It’s best to check and that can be done through urine strips that you can buy anywhere, from drugstores to online. For the best accuracy, get a good blood ketone monitor.
3. Eating Too Much
Just because you’re watching your carb intake doesn’t mean you can go wild with all the other food groups. Eating more calories than you burn will still make you gain weight, keto or not. You also need to be aware that the fats you’re eating have more calories so you may need to recheck the amount you’re consuming. Also remember that as you lose weight the amount of calories your body needs will decrease. It would be prudent to keep track of that info and recheck your counts every ten pounds you lose.
4. Too much protein
Here again, you may need to recalculate your protein requirements. Too much protein can cause gluconeogenesis, a process that converts protein into sugar. Also, you may want to avoid liquid protein such as shakes or drinks as they may convert to sugar faster.
5. Not fasting long enough
If a 16:8 fast isn’t producing weight loss, go for a 24 hour fast. I found that my weight loss really got moving when I went to eating once a day. I can eat my entire day’s worth of macros in one sitting and feel satisfied while still losing weight. Very motivating for me.
Along with the tips provided above, one of the biggest attributes to any successful lifestyle is planning. Keto and intermittent fasting are no different. Finding the times that are right for you to fast are essential for success. Planning meals and snacks and sticking to that plan are imperative. The bottom line is that you need to know the basics of the ketogenic diet and how intermittent fasting works in order to find the success you crave.
Tips for Success
Above all, the fact that you want to try the keto and intermittent fasting lifestyle is the first step to changing. It shows that you want to lose weight and improve your health. It may not always be easy but here are a few tips to help you along the way.
1. Track Your Food
There are plenty of apps that will let you track the amount of calories, carbs and really anything else you want to track. Knowing how much and what you’re putting into your body can make all the difference between success and failure. Make sure the app is for the keto diet.
2. Find a Community
Obviously changing your lifestyle can be hard. Not all your family and friends may understand your new diet or what you’re going through. It’s important to have somewhere you can go to talk and discuss ups and downs or any questions. If you don’t have a friend or spouse that’s doing the diet with you then don’t fear, there’s plenty of online communities that can help motivate and support you in your time of need.
3. Keep Going
When first starting with diet and fasting you may see weight come off quickly but then begin to stall. This is when a lot of people decide it’s not working for them and quit. You need to remember, it took time to put that weight on, it’ll take some time to come off. It’s a process and you’ll need to stick with it in order to see the results you want. Even if you’ve fallen off the wagon you need to get dust yourself off and get right back on.
The success you have on any diet is really what you put into it. Knowing the rules of the ketogenic diet, while combining it with intermittent fasting, can have amazing benefits for your health and your waistline. Planning your meals and sticking to a regular eating schedule will keep your belly full and your mind motivated. If you find yourself struggling, looking to a supportive community can give you the guidance needed to get you back on the right path. Changing your lifestyle can be difficult but the benefits to your health will outweigh any obstacle.
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