Intermittent Fasting vs Keto Diet: Which Diet Should You Choose for Weight Loss?

February 5, 2022

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Fasting and keto are two completely different diets— but which one is better?

When it comes to intermittent fasting vs keto for weight loss, both prove effective. However, the differences come into play with the long-term effects of pounds lost, and the health advantages that are associated. 

We will take a closer look at both intermittent fasting and keto, weight loss, the benefits, and other common questions, including:

  • What is intermittent fasting?
  • What are the pros and cons of intermittent fasting?
  • What is a keto diet?
  • What are the pros and cons of following a keto diet?
  • Is intermittent fasting better for weight loss than the keto diet?
  • Can you combine keto and intermittent fasting?
  • Who should not try the combination of both diets?

What Is Intermittent Fasting? 

Intermittent fasting diets are not just about skipping meals. Instead, intermittent fasting involves eating and fasting windows that put your body into a calorie deficit and trigger a metabolic switch to push you into something called ketosis. 

In this fasting state of ketosis, the body produces ketones that target fat stores and burn fat mass for fuel, instead of the glucose created from eating carbohydrates. 

That’s why pairing low-calorie diets during an eating window and calorie restriction for fasting periods is essential to the metabolic process and preventing more weight gain!

As you might imagine, this practice of time-restricted eating and improved ketosis is not only essential for blood sugar control and lowering glucose levels, but also for body fat loss.

Many potential health benefits also await intermittent fasters, from lowering the risk of heart disease and diabetes to lowering insulin sensitivity and losing weight. 

And this is true for many types of intermittent fasting, whether you ascribe to an alternate-day fasting method or the 16/8 diet

What Is a Keto Diet? 

Many people talk about keto vs IF, or intermittent fasting. However, the ketogenic diet is a popular weight loss and lifestyle changing plan on its own, and has been popular for quite a few decades! 

The ketogenic diet doesn’t involve eating and fasting windows but instead is a very low-carb diet that relies on healthy fats and moderate protein for your calorie intake. 

This aspect of the high-fat keto diet also puts the body into a state of ketosis for weight management and maximum body fat burning. And, studies prove that ketogenic eating is good for treating obesity, among other conditions.

Keto is a fairly simple diet concept, where you drastically reduce your carbohydrates to less than 5% of your daily calories— removing the majority of grains, starch, and sugar, and relying on calorie intake from meat and fat instead. 

However, not only do you lose weight in return, but you also can reduce the risk of several diseases and chronic illnesses.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Intermittent Fasting? 

It’s important to note both the positive aspects and drawbacks of any diet, and that includes intermittent fasting. So, read on for the health advantages of fasting that happen, and a few negative effects which might occur.

Pros of Following Intermittent Fasting

Let’s go over some of the main benefits that time-restricted eating can provide, and some of the scientific evidence behind them.

Blood Sugar Reduction 

A fasting diet has proven to lower insulin levels and contribute to blood sugar control. This is because a low-carb or carb-less diet doesn’t spike insulin, and studies show that even some diabetic symptoms were reversed by fasting.

Improves Insulin Resistance

You can improve insulin resistance by fasting— by allowing the body to burn fat while safely releasing glycogen, insulin sensitivity is lowered.

Fights off Inflammation

Chronic diseases in the body are often caused by internal inflammation, including arthritis, asthma, and Alzheimer’s disease. However, intermittent fasting actually reduces pro-inflammatory monocytes in the blood and lowers the risk.

Cell Renewing

During the fasting stage of autophagy, your body has time to flush the toxins from its system and rejuvenate itself on a molecular level, which includes renewing and healing damaged cells.

Improves Cardiovascular Health

Fasting lowers blood pressure, which in turn helps to prevent cardiovascular disease. And, because weight loss also lessens the pressure on your heart, the fat-burning potential also helps!

May Boost Brain Function

Studies show that cognitive function is improved during fasting, and that such a diet actually helps prevent and reduce the severity of brain disorders like dementia.

Aids Weight Loss

The ability to shed pounds and achieve fat loss is a major part of fasting. Because the combination of ketosis and fewer carbs is optimal, intermittent fasting definitely helps you lose weight.

Increases HGH Levels

The human growth hormone (HGH) is responsible for building and maintaining healthy muscle and brain tissue, among other things, and fasting is proven to enhance HGH production in the body.

May Aid in Cancer Prevention

Not only can intermittent fasting help slow the spread of cancer by bettering the metabolism, but enhanced weight loss helps prevent certain cancer types entirely, like breast, colorectal, and pancreatic.

Cons of Following Intermittent Fasting

Of course, like anything else, you might experience some of the following drawbacks to a fasting diet during the first few weeks, or possibly longer. 

May Promote Overeating 

One risk of a fasting diet is that eating fewer calories for long periods of time can lead to overeating when returning to your normal eating pattern. 

It can be easy to binge on junk food and other cravings after fasting, instead of turning to healthy foods like whole grains and vegetables as a healthy calorie intake.

Might Make You Tired and Moody

As your body transitions from burning readily available glucose to more difficult fat stores, a negative energy balance might occur where you feel fatigued and irritable.

May Reduce Physical Activity

Though a fasting diet itself doesn’t impede your ability to preserve muscle mass, lower energy levels can make it difficult to exercise. Plus, anaerobic, high-intensity workouts are not recommended during a fasting window.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Following a Keto Diet? 

Let’s take a moment to look at both sides of the keto diet— the pros and the cons. It’s only fair to evaluate both when discussing what type of plan is best for you and your lifestyle.

Pros of Following Keto Diet

Keto dieters can look forward to many benefits when following this diet, including the following advantages of eating a low-carb, high-fat diet.

Promotes Weight Loss

Not only does this diet aid weight loss, but it also helps with later weight management because ketosis burns away fat stores instead of shedding water weight alone.

Decreased Intake of Carbs Can Reduce Acne Symptoms

Studies show that reducing glucose levels in your body helps relieve acne symptoms, and keto is one of the best ways to lower blood sugar by not eating carbs.

May Reduce the Risk of Cancer

While research does point towards keto helping lower cancerous risks in the body, it certainly also reduces the amount of glucose stored there, which is something that cancerous cells tend to use for multiplying.

May Improve Cardiovascular Health

Like intermittent fasting, the state of ketosis removes unhealthy blood sugar levels— this relieves stress on the entire cardiovascular system and helps with your heart health.

May Strengthen and Protect Brain Function

Not only does ketosis allow your body to repair itself during autophagy, but you can also experience improved cognition, moods, and safeguards against mental decline with keto.

Potentially Reduces Seizures 

One of the best-documented benefits of the keto diet is its effect on seizures. Some doctors use keto to treat epilepsy, as seizure reduction can range from 50% to 90% in some patient groups on the ketogenic diet!

Improves PCOS Symptoms

Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, is something that many women struggle with that affects fertility. However, by following a keto diet, many PCOS symptoms are improved due to better control of insulin resistance.

Cons of Following Keto Diet

While the pros might outweigh them, the following aspects of the ketogenic diet make up some of the cons you could experience.

Excess Protein in Blood

Some studies suggest that if you do not drink enough fluids during a keto diet, dehydration can lead to a high amount of protein in your blood, caused by an imbalance of the two primary protein molecules: albumins and globulins.

Mineral and Vitamin Deficiencies

Though you can certainly take supplements to avoid low levels of minerals and vitamins, it’s important to remember that some products have more calories in the essential compound that might push you out of ketosis.

A Buildup of Fat in the Liver

Depending on your body composition, eating a fat-centered diet might actually lead to elevated cholesterol and fat being stored in the liver at unhealthy levels.

Kidney Stones

Unfortunately, a well-known drawback to keto is developing kidney stones, due to low potassium in the urine that prevents mineralization, and unbalanced alkali levels.

Is Intermittent Fasting Better for Weight Loss Than the Keto Diet? 

When it comes to keto or intermittent fasting for weight loss, opinions differ. But one thing is certain, rapid weight loss is not healthy with either intermittent fasting or the ketogenic diet, and you still shed pounds with both.

However, intermittent fasting is better for long-term lifestyle changes and lasting results. That’s because it is safer to do for an extended period, is easier on your body and schedule, and does have fewer side effects.

Intermittent fasting vs keto are very similar due to the ketosis state, but weighing the results and downsides of each lead many to believe that fasting is overall better.

Can You Combine Keto and Intermittent Fasting? 

In the debate of keto vs IF, why not combine them? You can certainly eat a ketogenic diet outside of fasting windows, and using intermittent fasting and keto together can actually transform your body even faster.

By eating a low-carb, high-fat diet meal plan such as keto and using methods like alternate-day fasting, you reduce glucose levels, reap all the same health benefits, and tap into the state of ketosis fat loss to achieve your weight loss goals.

Is it safe, you might be wondering? The answer is yes, keto and IF are safe together, but we recommend keeping track of your nutrient levels and water intake to ensure your total calories are still being met, without any mineral deficiencies.

Who Should Not Try the Combination of Both Diets? 

Generally, intermittent fasting and keto are safe for many people to try both at the same time, or separately. 

However, if you do fall under any of the following categories, do not attempt keto vs IF or any combination of the two without clinical nutrition supervision or advice from your medical professional beforehand:

  • A history of disordered eating.
  • Below the age of 18.
  • Diabetics.
  • Insomniacs or those with trouble sleeping.
  • Pre-existing health conditions.
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women
  • Suffering from cardiovascular troubles.
  • Taking prescription medications.

Conclusion

For anyone trying to lose weight, intermittent fasting and keto are great options, and each comes with a host of additional wellness benefits. 

But if you combine the two eating plans, the results and the advantages are enhanced— it is worth weighing out the disadvantages of both diets, too. 

However, from helping with seizures to lowering blood pressure to weight loss, intermittent fasting and keto are fantastic choices for many dieters, and can be even better together. So, why not try it out and transform your lifestyle and eating habits into a powerhouse of health!

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