Intermittent fasting (IF) and the ketogenic diet (keto) are two popular approaches to weight loss and improving overall health. Both methods involve making significant changes to your diet and lifestyle, but they work in very different ways.
Intermittent fasting involves restricting you’re eating window to a certain number of hours per day or fasting for a certain number of days per week. The idea behind IF is that by reducing your overall calorie intake, your body will start burning fat for fuel and you’ll lose weight.
The ketogenic diet is a low carbohydrate diet that forces your body into a state of ketosis, in which it burns fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates. The keto diet has gained popularity in recent years as a rapid weight loss strategy and has been linked to numerous other health benefits as well.
So which approach is better? Intermittent fasting or keto? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at both methods and explore their potential benefits and drawbacks. By the end, we hope you’ll have a better understanding of which approach might be right for you and your health goals.
Intermittent Fasting Explained
First up let’s take a look at intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is a dietary approach that involves restricting the number of hours in the day you eat or fasting for a certain number of days per week. There are several different methods of intermittent fasting which we’ll discuss in a few minutes.
With intermittent fasting, by reducing your overall calorie intake your body will start burning fat for fuel and you lose weight. When you fast, your body goes into a state of ketosis, similar to the state induced by the keto diet, in which it burns fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates.
If you’re considering fasting it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider and to understand everything you can about the diet. Below we’re going to discuss the types of IF and the benefits of the diet as well as the potential drawbacks.
Types of IF
Intermittent fasting can be done in several different ways, depending on your personal preference and lifestyle. Here are some of the most common types:
- 16/8 method: This involves fasting for 16 hours per day and eating within an 8-hour window of time. For example, you might eat all your meals between 12:00 PM and 8:00 PM and fast for the rest of the day and night.
- 5:2 method: This method involves eating normally for five days a week and restricting calories to 500 to 600 per day on the other two days of the week. This can be done on consecutive days or spaced out throughout the week.
- Eat-stop-eat: This involves fasting for 24 hours once or twice per week. For example, you might have dinner on Monday night and then not eat again until dinner Tuesday night.
- Alternate day fasting: This is when there are alternating days between eating and fasting. On those days of fasting, you can either completely fast or limit the number of calories you intake.
- Spontaneous meal skipping: This involves skipping meals whenever you’re not hungry or don’t have time to eat. This is the simplest form of intermittent fasting and can be done on an as-needed basis.
To know whether you should use the intermittent fasting diet or not you need to have a deep understanding of the benefits and potential drawbacks. So that’s what we’re going to cover in the next sections.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting has been linked to several health benefits beyond weight loss. Here are some of those potential benefits:
- Intermittent fasting has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels, which can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- It has also been shown to reduce inflammation in the body. This can help prevent chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer.
- Improved brain function has also been shown in many studies. Several studies suggest that intermittent fasting may improve brain functions or reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
- The healthier lifestyle that comes along with intermittent fasting and diet changes has been shown in some studies to increase lifespan.
Intermittent fasting may have a ton of benefits but it’s not a magic bullet or a one size fits all solution. Some people may not see any benefits from intermittent fasting and others may experience negative side effects like hunger, fatigue, and irritability. As with any other diet or lifestyle changes talk to your physician first and listen to your body to determine what works best for you.
Intermittent fasting can have several potential benefits, it’s important to be aware of the potential drawbacks as well. Here are some of those that we think you need to consider when making your final decision on whether this is the right path for you:
- Fasting can be challenging for some people, especially if they’re used to eating frequently throughout the day. This can lead to hunger, irritability, and cravings for high-calorie foods.
- It may be challenging to participate in social situations especially if they revolve around food.
- Some people overeat during their feeding windows which can cancel out the calorie deficit created by the fasting periods.
- There is a risk of nutrient deficiency when using this method of diet. This is especially true if the individual is not eating a balanced diet during their feeding windows.
- Intermittent fasting is not for everyone. In particular pregnant women, children, and individuals with a history of eating disorders should steer clear.
What is the Keto Diet?
The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that has become popular for its potential weight loss benefits. The diet involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with healthy fats, which puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. In ketosis, your body burns fat for energy instead of using glucose from carbohydrates. This can lead to rapid weight loss. But how does the diet actually work?
When you’re on the keto diet you typically restrict your carbohydrate intake to less than 50 grams a day. This means cutting out or drastically reducing foods like bread, pasta, rice, and sugary snacks. In order to replace those carbohydrates you start adding in fats.
You increase your intake of healthy fats like avocado, nuts, olive oil, and fatty fish. On top of this, you also need to consume a moderate amount of protein to make muscle mass and support other bodily functions.
With the reduced carbohydrate intake and increased fat intake, your body enters a metabolic state your liver starts producing ketones which your body uses as fuel. The keto diet is effective for weight loss but it’s not without potential drawbacks and risks. That’s what we’re going to discuss next. But first, let’s look at the types and benefits!
Types of Keto Diets
You might think that there’s only one type of keto diet. But the truth is there are several different types of carbohydrate restriction and fat intake. Here are some of the most common types:
- Standard: This involves eating a very low-carb, high-fat diet with moderate protein intake. Typically the diet consists of 70 to 75% fat, 20 to 25% protein, and five to 10% carbohydrates.
- Cyclical: This involves periods of high-carb and low-carb intake. For example, you might follow the standard ketogenic diet for five to six days then have a carb-loading day where you consume more carbohydrates.
- Targeted: In this type of keto diet you consume a small amount of coverage before or after your workouts to help cool your exercise performance.
- High protein: Similar to the standard ketogenic diet but with a higher protein intake. The ratio is typically 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% high carbohydrates.
Benefits of Keto
So what are the potential benefits of the keto diet? This diet has been studied for its potential health benefits beyond just weight loss for years and here are some of the benefits that have been reported:
- The keto diet is effective in improving blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes. By reducing carbohydrate intake, the body needs less insulin to process glucose, which can help lower blood sugar levels.
- Some studies suggest that the keto diet may have anti-inflammatory effects, which could be beneficial for conditions like arthritis or other inflammatory disorders.
- It has also been shown to prove several risk factors of heart disease, including blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglycerides.
- There are potential anti-cancer effects. Some studies show that the keto diet may have anti-cancer effects although more research is needed to fully understand this potential benefit.
Now that you have a good idea of the potential benefits you can take advantage of when choosing the keto diet let’s look at potential drawbacks. While the keto diet has gained popularity in recent years some potential drawbacks are necessary for you to understand before starting the diet. Here are some of those potential drawbacks:
- The keto diet can be very restrictive and difficult to maintain long-term. It requires a significant reduction of carbohydrate intake, which can be challenging for some people.
- The keto diet limits many types of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, because of this it can be difficult to get all the vitamins and minerals your body needs. It’s important to focus on nutrient-dense foods and consider taking supplements to make up for any potential deficiencies.
- Some people have experienced flu-like symptoms when starting the keto diet, including fatigue, headache, and nausea. This is sometimes called the “keto flu” and can last for a few days to a few weeks as the body adjusts to the new diet.
- While the diet has been shown to improve some risk factors for heart disease, it’s also high in saturated fat, which can increase cholesterol levels and potentially increase the risk of heart disease.
- It can put a strain on the kidneys as they work to process the increased amount of protein in the diet. This can cause potential harm to these organs and increase the risk of further health issues.
Keto and Intermittent fasting: Which is Better?
So, which is better keto or intermittent fasting? Well, the answer to that question largely depends on your personal goals and preferences.
If weight loss is your primary goal, both IF and the keto diet can be effective strategies. IF works by reducing your overall calorie intake, while the keto diet works by pushing your body to burn fat for fuel. Both approaches may have similar drawbacks. Many people experience weight regain once they return to their normal eating habits, so it’s important to focus on sustainable lifestyle changes instead of quick fixes
When it comes to other health benefits, both IF and the keto diet have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control. However, IF has also been linked to reduced inflammation, while the keto diet may lead to nutrient deficiencies if not carefully planned.
Ultimately, the best approach is the one that you can stick to in the long run. If you love bacon and can’t imagine life without it, the keto diet may be the way to go. On the other hand, if you prefer to skip breakfast and enjoy your favorite foods in moderation, IF may be a better fit.
At the end of the day, the most important thing is to focus on building healthy habits that you can maintain over time. Whether you choose IF, the keto diet, or another approach entirely, consistency and sustainability are key to achieving long-term health and wellness.