Like most people I’ve spent a ton of time at home, practicing social distancing and doing my part in preventing the spread of the virus. While at home I’ve posted a few Keto friendly desserts, those are fun and useful tools to make Keto more of a lifestyle and less of a diet… by now you know that I don’t like the word “DIET”. Click here to read more on desserts and my thoughts on the word “Diet”. The problem with writing about desserts is that I’m eating all of those desserts as I buy or make them at home…Aye yi yi, say it isn’t so Keto Bandeeto!
Another tool that I employ is Intermittent Fasting. In an earlier post titled “Keto on the Go” I outline when I use intermittent fasting, but here and now let’s take a deeper dive into what is Intermittent fasting, what are the benefits and how do you employ IF (Intermittent Fasting), and how does it relate to a Ketogenic Lifestyle
What is Intermittent Fasting?
According to Wikipedia: Intermittent fasting, also known as intermittent energy restriction, is an umbrella term for various meal timing schedules that cycle between voluntary fasting (or reduced caloric intake) and non-fasting over a given period.
Three methods of intermittent fasting are alternate-day fasting, periodic fasting, and daily time-restricted feeding. Intermittent fasting may be similar to a calorie restriction diet. Although being studied in the 21st century as a practice to possibly reduce the risk of diet-related diseases, intermittent fasting is also regarded as a fad.
The science concerning intermittent fasting is contested. The American Heart Association (AHA) states that intermittent fasting may produce weight loss, reduce insulin resistance, and lower the risk of cardiometabolic diseases, although its long-term sustainability is unknown. The US National Institute on Aging (NIA) recommends against intermittent fasting because of uncertainties about its effectiveness and safety, particularly for the elderly. A 2019 review concluded that in humans, intermittent-fasting interventions may help with obesity, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and inflammation.
Forms of intermittent fasting exist in various religious practices, including Hinduism, Islam, Orthodox Christian faith, Jainism, and Buddhism.
Types of Intermittent Fasting
Time Restricted (16:8)
Probably the most popular one around and the one I personally do, the 16/8 method of fasting is where you fast for 16 hours and eat for 8 hours. There are variations of this like 18:6 or 20:4
This is the best one to start off with. You give yourself a 16-hour window where you eat nothing, but you can consume drinks such as teas, coffees, water etc. Thereafter, you have an 8-hour window where you can eat 2 or 3 meals, however you like.
The easiest way to do this method is by simply skipping one meal a day. Personally, I try to skip breakfast as it’s the easiest meal for me to skip. I stop eating at 8pm, only drinking tea, water or zero calorie drink mixes like Crystal Light or 4C Green tea mix. In the morning it’s black coffee or nothing at all until noon… when you’re on the run and working you’d be surprised how easy this can be.
Alternate Day (24hrs)
Alternate Day Fasting (ADF) is what it sounds like. You go for a whole day without eating solid foods. Just like the 16/8 method you can drink non-caloric beverages the whole time. Typically, I’ll eat an early dinner, say by 6pm and then fast until dinner the following day. This is most likely not the best strategy if you’re new to intermittent fasting. You should ease your way into it and start off with the 16/8 method instead. Like building new muscle, you should look to start small and work your way up to this. Alternate day fasting promotes weight loss, but is linked to hunger, which can be counter-productive to losing weight. I’m certainly ready for dinner by the end of the following day, but here’s the thing… after going 24 hours without eating it’s not like the hunger is cumulative, you’re not hungry enough to eat double portions in fact you’ll find that a regular or sensible meal is satisfying and satiating. Have you ever heard someone say that their stomachs shrunk? That’s the feeling you’ll have. Talk to you Doctor before trying this method of more extreme intermittent fasting.
Prolonged Fasting (24-72 hrs)
This is not for beginners and certainly not for the faint of heart and of course you’ll want to consult your physician (psychiatrist, priest, shaman anyone that will talk you out of this…LOL). This is as simple as it sounds, one common method is to stop after dinner on the first day and begin eating again at dinnertime on the third. Once again, you can still drink zero-calorie fluids, such as water, black coffee, and tea, during the fasting period. It’s vital to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, which is one of the major potential complications of longer fasts. Afterward, it’s important to gradually reintroduce food. That way, you avoid overstimulating your gut, which may lead to bloating, nausea, and diarrhea. Your first meal post-fast should be a light snack, such as a handful or two of almonds. This would be followed by a small meal one or two hours later. I’ve worked my way up to a 48-hour fast… not sure if I will go much further than that. It’s also important to note that prolonged fasts are not something that you want to do too often, 2 – 4 times a year
Benefits of Fasting
Let’s take a look at this in increments as they begin to happen…
- After 4-8 hours – Blood sugars fall, food has left the stomach and your no longer producing insulin (the fat storing hormone)
- After 12 hours – Food that’s been consumed has been burned, the digestive system goes to sleep and the body begins to heal. Human growth hormone levels (HGH) begin to rise.
- At 16 hours – Ketosis (wait what?) the fat burning begins, glucose has been depleted and the body begins burning fat for fuel
- At 18 hours the body’s ability to burn fat grows exponentially…you’re in the sweet spot, HGH levels are high
- After 20 hours – Your body is a fat burning machine and in heavy Ketosis, especially for those that are following a low carb lifestyle
- 24 hour mark – Autophagy begins! Autophagy: is one of the greatest benefits of fasting. It is a cellular self-cleansing process that breaks down and recycles damaged molecules and cells. When fasting this rate increases dramatically, which then allows for your body to rejuvenate and restore itself to a better or newer ‘version’. Essentially the body eats itself starting at the weak cells
- 36 hour – Autophagy increases by 300%
- 48 hour – Autophagy increases 30% more, Immune system reset and regeneration starts….this is as far as I’ve gotten
Intermittent fasting and Keto
When we are fasting, we are technically in ketosis because as we fast for more than 12 – 16 hours our body becomes depleted of glycogen and our body is forced to use our fat stores as fuel to keep our body running. Getting into ketosis is what the Ketogenic diet is all about. We know that by consuming a high fat, moderate protein and low to no carb diet our body eventually becomes depleted of glycogen and when that happens our body is forced to switch to fat (fat adapted) and use it as the main source of energy….this is the magic of the Keto diet, your body is burning the fat you have stored for energy. When you combine that with intermittent fasting you will double the amount of fat you will burn in a given day.
Following a low carb or Keto lifestyle, you’re most likely already in Ketosis, mix in intermittent fasting and you “dial up” the fat burning and get into heavy ketosis that much quicker. Conversely as you break your fast, by staying low carb, you extend the the heavy fat burning mode that you’ve forced your body into. Make no mistake… this is a powerful strategy for fat loss!
Intermittent fasting with Keto can be a powerful tool and there are a ton of benefits (some of which we’ve just outlined) from fasting… but tread carefully. Ease in to intermittent fasting, listen to your body not the stopwatch and make sure that you stay thoroughly hydrated, add a vitamin supplement if you don’t already take a multivitamin… and most importantly use good judgment.
Have you dabbled with fasting? What’s been your experience? Leave a comment…
Stay strong… stay healthy… stay safe!