Written and Medically Reviewed by Babar Shahzad, DR on January 26, 2020.
Everyone wants to be the healthiest person they can be, and you are probably no exception.
Unfortunately, with so many fad diets and so much bad advice out there, it can be hard to tell whether a plan to lose weight or improve health is legitimate or just a bunch of smoke and mirrors.
People become focused on superfoods and finding the right time to eat, and this leads to numerous questions.
One common question is also one of the biggest ones we’ve seen: Is it possible to do intermittent fasting and keto at the same time?
What is Keto?
Anyone who has spent a short amount of time in the world of dieting, health, and nutrition has probably heard of the keto diet.
It became the latest craze a few years ago and has only seemed to grow more popular since.
Why? Because it works.
The keto diet is a special diet that essentially eliminates carbs while focusing on being high in the right kind of fats and proteins. It doesn’t eliminate carbs entirely but does focus on reaching a state of ketosis.
In ketosis, the body reaches a special fat-burning peak and uses up all of its extra stores around the body, helping an individual lose weight and unneeded fat.
The keto diet has numerous health benefits and even helps individuals with neurological disorders and disease like Alzheimer’s. Some of the positives are reduced blood sugar, improved insulin resistance, and even lowered factors that contribute to heart disease.
The keto diet can seem daunting at first but is actually a great way to cut out empty calories from sugars that provide little to no nutrition.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
A lot of people get scared when they see the word ‘fasting’ because they associate it with deprivation and starvation.
However, when someone engages in intermittent fasting, they are not starving themselves or hurting their bodies.
Instead, they are just limiting the window during which they intake calories to help the body even itself out.
An example of an intermittent fast would be someone who only eats in an eight-hour window during the day and doesn’t eat for the remaining sixteen hours. This is called the 16/8 method.
This ensures the body gets daily nutrients but doesn’t overload their system with unneeded energy in the form of calories.
Some people go more extreme with the 5:2 method or alternate-day fasting, but these aren’t necessary to lose weight.
Also read: Explained: Types Of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting, when done right, is perfectly safe and has been practiced by humans for millennia. Monks frequently fast, some religions have entire holidays around fasting, and humans actually used to only eat every other day.
This method even has health benefits like lower blood sugar and lower insulin resistance. It can also reduce inflammation, help improve brain function, and even eliminate daily sluggishness caused by the contemporary lifestyle.
Who wouldn’t want to be more energetic?
Are They Safe Together?
In short, yes, it is safe to do intermittent fasting and keto at the same time. The trick is to make sure you are getting enough nutrition and calories to maintain function while still entering ketosis.
In ketosis, the body is ramped up into fat-burning mode and is feasting on all of those extra stores that accumulate around the body.
Keto eliminates unnecessary carbs from the diet, so it’s easier to get all of your required vitamins, nutrients, proteins, and healthy fats.
By combining keto with a simple intermittent fast of 16/8, you ensure your body gets its nutrients while still eliminating stubborn fat cells.
The trick is to focus your keto diet to only include the good stuff. So eat lots of lean proteins, red meat, and dark, leafy vegetables.
There are some potential downsides to combining keto and IF.
First, understand that keto is essentially focused on weight loss, not overall health, and that intermittent fasting doesn’t change this. Keto can be unhealthy if you’re doing it wrong, despite combining it with IF.
For instance, a keto diet that’s mostly butter and bacon is different than one that’s high in olive oil and avocado. A poorly planned keto diet with IF can result in nutritional deficiencies because intermittent fasting significantly cuts calories.
Combining keto and intermittent fasting can also affect athletic performance. So if you’re into sports, your performance in the game might take a hit as you combine the two dieting methods.
Moreover, this combination is riskier for some people than others. It’s best for the following people to avoid combining keto and intermittent fasting:
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women. Some new mothers might be impatient to shed the baby weight but producing milk requires considerable energy.
- Kids under 18 years old. The growing age is where they should be able to eat when they feel like eating.
- People over 65 years old. They probably have difficulty getting enough calories and nutrients as it is.
- People with a nutritional deficiency and those who need to take their meds with food.
- People who have had or currently have any eating disorder.
- People with certain health conditions like heart disease or diabetes should first consult a physician before fasting on keto.
Will You See Results?
Results are obviously important and perhaps the main reason why people try intermittent fasting or the keto diet during their lives.
This method is safe, but will it produce the outcomes you desire?
In short, yes.
If done right, you can enjoy the following benefits of combining keto and intermittent fasting:
- Quickly reaching the state of nutritional ketosis
- Reducing initial side effects like upset stomach and keto flu
- Getting rid of cancerous cells
- Having less hunger pangs
- Avoiding brain fog that comes from eating lot of carbs between fasts
- Preventing drastic shifts in sugar levels that can cause mood issues like depression
- Still be in “fasting mode” even when you’re eating
- Rapidly reducing fat tissue
- Improving gene expression
- Improving insulin sensitivity
- Reducing oxidative stress and inflammation
- Improving cognitive effects
Many people who combine both diets actually see better results than people who only stick to one method.
Dozens of studies have been done on men and women to determine whether or not fat loss and improved health are actually benefits of this combination.
One study that appeared in the Journal of Translational Medicine studied 34 resistance-trained men for eight weeks. The numerous researchers discovered guys who did the combo of keto and intermittent fasting actually lost 14% more body fat than the control group.
A review of 28 separate studies published in Obesity Science & Practice also found that individuals who tried intermittent fasting actually lost 7 lbs. more pure fat than individuals who did low-calorie diets.
People who did keto at the same time actually retained more muscle mass than those who just tried intermittent fasting, making it a great way to cut fat while retaining healthy muscle.
All in all, the weight loss, nutritional and mental benefits of combining keto and IF are worth the effort.
How to Begin
If you’re struggling to adjust to a new lifestyle, you don’t have to jump right into the waters of keto and intermittent fasting.
Instead, start with the lifestyle change you are more comfortable with. For many, it’s easier to go keto than to fast because calorie management is greater.
Over time, you can start to incorporate fasting and cut down on snacking outside of an eight-hour window.
Soon, you’ll feel full with the keto foods you eat and fasting will become easier. You just need to work up the willpower.
You can try the intermittent fasting and keto day plan, following the 16:8 IF protocol:
6:00 am – Water and/or black coffee
9:00 am – Coffee if low on energy
12:00 pm – 8 oz chicken breast, salad with olive oil dressing and feta cheese
3:00 pm – Handful of almonds and blueberries
6:00 pm – 8 oz fish with veggies
8:00 pm – Nuts or blueberries
Hugh Jackman and Jennifer Aniston are two of the many celebs who follow the 16:8 intermittent fasting protocol. You can change up a few items above if you want. Or you can just kick off with this plan right away.
Some good keto foods to eat while doing an intermittent fast are those high in fiber and protein, so don’t be afraid to enjoy a nice steak with tons of steamed broccoli. Both fiber and protein will keep you full longer without stuffing you with calories and fat.
Combining the keto diet with intermittent fasting can be a great way to reach ketosis and burn unwanted fat pockets much faster than sticking to just one method.
However, this combination isn’t for everybody and isn’t necessary to eliminate stubborn fat or become healthier.
If you try this combination but feel weak, uncomfortable, or are just unhappy with the system, then don’t feel pressured to try it.
If you do like it, remember to eat healthy food and speak to a healthcare provider before making any decisions. They can help you get on the right track and figure out the healthy way to incorporate keto and fasting into any life.