It seems like every few years, there is a new and improved approach to breaking through the weight loss plateau and finding a way of eating that works. Most recently, the ketogenic diet, or keto diet, has been on a hot streak.
Commonly referred to as IF, intermittent fasting has also long been recognized as an effective means of achieving weight loss. More recently, this approach has been combined with keto to achieve weight loss and address health conditions.
But, does keto work? What about intermittent fasting? And how effective are both when used together?
Read on for a comprehensive understanding of the ketogenic diet, intermittent fasting, and how you might incorporate their combined effects into your wellness routine.
What Is Ketosis?
Ketosis is the foundation of the ketogenic diet. When you are on the keto diet, the priority becomes eating high-fat, low-carb foods throughout the day. Prioritizing a high-fat diet might sound counterintuitive when building a wellness-focused food plan. However, keto prioritizes whole foods and beneficial fats, like those in fish and avocado, to support your health.
So what does a high-fat, low-carb diet look like? The keto diet is all about restructuring your body from a system that burns glucose, or carbohydrates, to one that burns fat. When your body transitions from a glucose-burning to a fat-burning state, it is called ketosis.
When your body is in a state of ketosis, it starts to burn fat as an energy source. This process involves your body taking fat and breaking it down into ketone, which your body then uses as energy. As such, your body burns fat and can begin to lose weight.
What Is the Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet is about shifting the way that your body burns fuel, and that shift transforms how your body consumes fat. The keto diet embraces fat such that it makes up 80% of your daily intake.
With moderate protein and very mild carbohydrate intake, the ketogenic diet is primarily focused on transitioning your body from a state that burns glucose to one that burns fat.
What Foods Are Excluded from the Keto Diet?
Because the keto diet focuses mainly on fat, many foods are excluded. Various foods have an abundance of carbohydrates, from fruits and veggies to grains and meats.
Thus, if you're considering adopting a keto diet for your lifestyle, be prepared to swap out some of these foods for alternatives higher in fat and lower in carbs.
Grains are a staple of many other diets and food plans, but grains often have high carbohydrate content. Pasta, bread, cereal, and oatmeal are just some of the grain-based products not included in the keto diet.
With a higher carbohydrate-to-fat ratio than the keto diet supports, removing grains from your daily routine is one of the easier ways to cut carbs from your diet. In this low-carb diet, whole grains are considered the best choice for carbs.
Kroma Super Porridge pairs organic rolled oats with nut meals and chocho plant protein for a hearty breakfast that can help awaken, energize, and satisfy your body.
Sugar is another food that's excluded from the keto diet because sugar is a carbohydrate. While not all sugars are created equal, consuming sugar can easily take your body out of ketosis and induce cravings.
The less sugar you consume, the less you'll crave it. Naturally-occurring sugars, like those in fruits, haven't been added to foods, so be sure to read the labels on products you're purchasing to see how much added sugar there is. If sugar has been added, the food is excluded from keto.
Packaged snacks range from sweet to savory, but more often than not, they include heavily processed ingredients that are packed full of carbohydrates, salt, sugar, and other difficult-to-read ingredients.
If the priority is to create a state of ketosis in your body, complex carbohydrates will not help, nor will added sweeteners and hidden forms of sodium.
If you’re a pasta lover, this one might be hard to give up. But the thing is, pasta is full of carbohydrates. On the keto diet, it is suggested that your net carbs be between 20 and 50 grams, and with a serving of pasta, that might be hard to do.
Even if you're consuming a gluten-free option, be sure to check out the carbs listed on the label. Often, gluten-free alternatives are created with non-wheat but high-carb ingredients.
Sugary Fruits and Starchy Veggies
While there are some fruits you can eat on the keto diet, others are worth avoiding. Sugary fruits like oranges and starchy vegetables like yams are two whole foods that are very high in carbohydrates.
What Foods Are Good for Keto?
While there are some restrictions, there are many ways to satisfy your hunger and health while following a keto diet.
The list of foods that are good for keto is relatively expansive. However, it can still take some getting used to. That said, let’s look at some keto-friendly foods that can keep you happy and healthy.
Nuts and Nut Butters
Whether you're into almond butter, cashews, or macadamia spreads, nuts are great sources of fat in all forms. Whether you're eating them raw or as butter, you’ll be enjoying a high fat, low carbohydrate option.
One important distinction is that peanuts, commonly thought of as nuts, are actually legumes. They belong to the same family as green beans, peas, and chickpeas and thus are not included in the keto diet.
However, the keto food plan includes other nuts like almonds, cashews, coconut, and walnuts. Be sure to check the amount of sodium, especially if you're purchasing pre-packaged nuts. If drinking the nut in milk form, keep an eye out for added sugar.
Kroma OMG Cookie Butter features organic raw almond butter, coconut butter, and hemp seeds for a delicious snack filled with crucial omega-3s, antioxidants, and plant protein.
Eggs are excellent sources of protein while being low-carb, low-fat options. The yolk of the egg generally has a higher fat content than the egg white, but the white contains more protein.
Some cheese-related foods need to be avoided with keto, like cream cheese, cottage cheese, or milk. At Kroma Wellness, we recommend non-dairy cheeses, which luckily can fit into a keto food plan.
Honestly, is there anything wrong with avocados? They taste great with everything and have high fat and protein content. If you're not as excited about avocados, that's okay. But if you're interested in the keto diet, they might be worthwhile.
Unlike high sugar-packed citrus fruits like clementines and oranges, berries are welcome in a keto lifestyle. Like other foods high in naturally occurring sugars, it is recommended that you eat them in moderation.
Fruits like blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries are delicious accompaniments to any meal. They can be a healthy replacement for that after-dinner dessert you usually reach for.
Kroma Super Porridge contains goji berries for an antioxidant boost that can help start your day off right.
High Water Content Vegetables
While starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes might be off-limits, high water content vegetables are a go. Celery, bok choy, cabbage, and broccoli are just a few of the lengthy list of vegetables included in the Keto diet.
Whether you want to sauté some veggies in avocado oil for dinner or roast vegetables as you meal prep for the week ahead, prioritize high water content vegetables because they have protein and fiber, without the unnecessary carbohydrates included.
For an easy and nutritious meal, add your favorite high water content veggies to Kroma Veggie Broth with Plant Protein. With eleven vegetables and herbs, red miso, and plant protein, this broth provides essential vitamins and minerals — like vitamin B12 — to support your overall wellness.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Like the keto diet, intermittent fasting (IF) has gained popularity in recent years due to its potential to promote weight loss, stabilize your body’s eating routine, and bring awareness to overeating. The premise of intermittent fasting is that you schedule time in your daily routine to fast or avoid eating.
It can be hard not to overeat with increased portion sizes, a 24/7 fast-paced, frantic lifestyle, and so many food options to choose from. There are many snack options at the supermarket, yet often they have high amounts of added sugar and processed, artificial components that can be harmful to your body.
This fasting schedule is all about resetting your body to process food and turn it into energy.
What Are the Main Methods of Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting has several components that, once adopted, are relatively easy to stick to. Whichever method you end up adopting, they all revolve around the premise of eating for a certain length of time and fasting for a certain amount of time.
The primary distinctions between each method are how long or how frequently fasting occurs.
Like any new lifestyle change, be sure to prioritize your safety and health, especially if you've never fasted before. Fasting can be challenging as your body adapts to a new routine.
Alternate Day Fasting
One of the more effective intermittent fasting methods is called the alternate-day method, and it is a relatively structured style of fasting. The basic premise is that you fast every other day. On the days when you're not fasting, you can eat whatever you want.
This method provides flexibility in what you're allowed to eat but also has significant rigidity in that you are fasting every other day.
Eat, Stop, Eat
The Eat Stop Eat approach is relatively straightforward. Unlike the premise of alternate-day fasting, eat stop eat involves selecting one or two non-consecutive days throughout the week to fast.
Though you can’t eat on fasting days, you can drink as many non-caloric beverages as you'd like, including water, tea, and black coffee.
Kroma Wellness’ Perfect Fast Tea offers a flavorful and nutrient-packed beverage for your fasting windows.
Don’t be scared off by the numbers — the 16/8 method is quite simple. It also doesn't involve fasting for whole twenty-four-hour periods.
The 16-8 method involves 16 hours of fasting per day and an 8-hour window of eating. Within that 8-hour window, you can eat up to three or more meals, as long as they fall within the window.
For example, if you wake up at 9 am, you can have breakfast, lunch, and dinner as long as you're eating window wraps up at 5 pm.
Though it sounds similar to the 16/8 method, the 5/2 method is quite different. The 5/2 method involves five days of eating regularly and two days of restricted eating with a caloric intake between 500 to 800 calories. This method doesn’t include full fasting but rather focuses on consistent eating with days of restricted caloric intake.
How Can I Follow Intermittent Fasting While on the Keto Diet?
Consulting with a health professional or registered dietitian can be a good move, especially if you're thinking about incorporating both methods into your eating routine. In addition, building out a schedule, meal prepping, and having an accountability buddy for when you get cravings can be useful strategies to incorporate into your new wellness routine.
What Are the Health Benefits of Keto and Intermittent Fasting?
It's no surprise that keto and intermittent fasting work well together, and in recent years they've been used in combination to promote nutrition, regulate eating habits, and support weight loss. There are many benefits of combining these methods into your eating routines.
It may seem obvious, but weight management is one of the peak benefits of combining keto and intermittent fasting.
The objective of the keto diet is to increase the level of ketones in your body, and ketones are naturally produced when you're fasting. It makes sense to combine these two approaches to weight loss because they're doing the same thing through different approaches.
Though there's no conclusive evidence about whether combining keto and intermittent fasting results in fat loss, it can help regulate diet and create more structure around your eating habits and lifestyle choices.
Ketosis is a metabolic process, and with the keto diet, your body begins to break down fat instead of glucose. Though the long-term effects aren’t conclusive, decreasing caloric intake and fasting have the potential to impact your resting metabolic rate or your RMR.
Ketosis is the metabolic state that your body enters when it stops burning glucose and starts burning fat. In this state, fat is broken down into ketones, which are used as energy to fuel your body.
Fasting and IF can support digestive health because they offer your body rest from a constant digestive state. Fasting gives your body a chance to reset, and keto prioritizes foods rich in good fats and proteins while eliminating sugars and carbohydrates.
Because IF and fasting both target unwanted fat around the belly, they can also support heart health. Excessive belly fat can contribute to a higher risk for chronic ailments, like issues with heart health. Combined with moderate exercise and a diet of whole foods, this combined method can support and maintain a healthy heart.
Blood Sugar Support
Preliminary research suggests that IF can help lower blood sugar levels and lower blood pressure. By limiting the amount of sugar you consume and prioritizing fats and protein through keto, you can support your blood sugar and pressure levels.
How Long Does It Take To See Results from Keto and Intermittent Fasting?
The general rule of thumb is that you need a caloric deficit if you want to see weight loss. This means that your energy output is greater than your energy input. When you first start keto, you might notice your water weight dropping out in the first few days because you're cutting out carbohydrates.
While there's no conclusive evidence on how long-lasting intermittent fasting or keto dieting (or a combination of both) affect weight loss, most people see weight loss within two weeks to a month.
Is It Safe To Combine Keto and Intermittent Fasting?
Before making any significant changes to your lifestyle or diet, it's always beneficial to consult with your health care team, registered dietitian, or nutritionist.
If you have allergies or gastrointestinal issues, keto and intermittent fasting might not be the most effective method to balance your diet or lose weight.
While there is no conclusive evidence around whether keto and intermittent fasting combined are unsafe, it's always better to err on the side of caution when building a new schedule for eating.
Menu Switches and Diet Fixes
Combining keto with intermittent fasting can be challenging because you are reducing the range of food options available and restricting the window within which you can eat.
However, trying out one at a time can be effective, especially since both revolve around your body's production of ketones which is achieved in the keto diet through ketosis and fasting.
If you're thinking about changing your wellness routine, be sure to prioritize whole foods, protein- and nutrient-rich sources, and hydration to achieve a well-balanced, energized diet. Kroma’s Lifestyle Reset can show you just what it’s like to feel full, holistic wellness just by making superfoods a part of your regular routine.
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Naturally occurring and added sugar in relation to macronutrient intake and food consumption: results from a population-based study in adults | NCBI
Diet Review: Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss | The Nutrition Source | Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health