Keto 101: Intermittent Fasting (and How it Can Help You Lose Weight)
If you’re doing the keto diet, then you should take into consideration fasting.
I mean, you can definitely do keto without fasting - it is very possible and isn’t 100% required for success on the keto diet.
However, I’m of the opinion that every keto diet should include intermittent fasting built right into it.
One of the goals of the keto diet is to stay in ketosis. That magical, superhuman state that all keto fans love and strive for - a sort of physiological nirvana.
One of the best ways to get into ketosis and to stay in it?
When you fast you naturally are in a ketogenic state.
Think about it - without any carbs to burn (since you burned them off a long time ago) you’re solely running on fat now, which means that’s the only fuel your body is working with, so it is forced into ketosis.
I’ll be honest - most of us come to the keto diet to lose weight (or at least maintain our current weight).
You read the success stories and dream of your keto-perfect body and can’t wait until the pounds just melt away.
They will, barring extenuating circumstances, but you’re going to have a very difficult time unless you’re fasting.
If you are doing the keto diet, but you’re not fasting, you’re going to have a much harder time losing fat.
Have you ever had too many eggs on hand? No, nobody else gets suckered into buying the economy size at Costco? Well, let’s say that you did, and your friudge was just stuffed full of eggs. They’re tucked in between other food, stacked in your shelving units and filled up your crisper drawers. If you were aiming to reduce the size of your egg stash in your home (assuming you’re not a hoarder or are planning on making an omelet for the city of Detroit) what would you do?
Thats right - you would go through your eggs as fast as possible.
What you wouldn’t do is to go out and buy more eggs.
It sounds stupid, I know. But that’s if you replace eggs with carbohydrates, that’s what most people do when they’re trying to lose weight.
Instead of burning through what they already have, they instead just negate anything they just may have lost through exercise, basal metabolism and calorie restriction by eating again.
Fasting burns the stored fuel
The body takes about 24 hours to really burn through all the carbohydrates available in the immediate and easily energized form (of glycogen) before it can start tackling the carbohydrates stored as fat.
So you see, if you start eating only 6 hours after you started fasting, you’re not getting anywhere. You’re just putting the carbohydrates right back on top of the pile.
What if instead, you fasted for a longer period of time? Say, 16 instead of 6 hours?
Then we’d be getting somewhere. Your body would burn through a lot more carbohydrates in that time period and instead of pouring fuel back on the fire, you would be able to see a net result of carbohydrate loss over time.
If you pair this intermittent fasting with a keto diet (where your grams of carbohydrates are 25 g or less) then you’re really going to be shaking and moving because your body is still going to be in fat burning mode even after you eat - which means that your body will continue to work away at the fat present on your body.
This is how people really start seeing an appreciable difference in keto - the body is fasted, in fat-burning mode, and is working on the readily available source of fuel - their own body fat. You can do this too, by becoming fat-adapted and then eating a low-carb keto diet to keep your body in fat-burning mode.
How to start fasting?
Well when it comes to starting to fast, you can go one of two approaches - one is a quick acclimation, while the other is cold turkey.
While cold turkey doesn’t require a lot of explanation (you just cut out a meal) the quick acclimation is perhaps more feasible for most people.
To perform the quick acclimation, over a week you start phasing out at least one meal - breakfast being the most popular and easiest to eliminate. This helps to get your body used to the idea of fasting.
The body gets used to getting food at regular times during the day - the point where it gets upset if it doesn’t get it’s expected meal (like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum).
You can however, just like handling a screaming toddler, take control of the situation.
My secret is to use keto coffee - loaded with good high quality fats and a great way to start off your day. It keeps you in ketosis and allows me to go all day without even feeling hungry.
It may take some getting used to, but it is a great way to fast and to train your body to get used to not eating breakfast and to experiment with fasting.
More on fasting
As you get used to fasting and you start to not even really miss breakfast at all, you may start to wonder how much more you can do with fasting.
To be fair, I usually only eat once a day. Sometimes I’ll have a random lunch if I have a noon meeting or if someone brings in a special dish to share at work, but generally we only eat an evening meal.
This sets me up to have around sixteen hours fasting and only eight hours of eating - sometimes as few as six or even four hours of eating.
The rest of the day I find myself fairly comfortable without eating food - usually just having a cup of coffee or tea here and there.
It’s possible as well to even go multiple days without eating - fasting and only drinking to ensure that you stay hydrated - but we’ll get into that in a future post.
I hope you enjoyed this primer on fasting and aren’t afraid to give it a try yourself! It’s important to remember that your body is designed to fast and that it is very possible to train yourself to fast - starting with short periods and then extending it to longer periods.