Thinking of going on a diet? Then intermittent dieting and the Keto diet are two of the most popular. Both have a high level of weight loss success. If you were to push me as to which is better – intermittent fasting or keto here is what I would say.
Intermittent Fasting or Keto Diet – Which is Best?
These days you hear a lot about the keto diet. There’s also plenty of talk about Intermittent fasting and many people claim the benefits each provides increases when they are combined.
The actress Halle Berry is a fan of both systems and admits she combines the two diets to keep in shape.
However, both diets involve extreme lifestyle changes. Pairing them could become overwhelming.
Even doing one of them alone can be too challenging for a lot of people. If you are thinking of doing the Keto Diet, trying intermittent fasting, or combining the two, this article is for you.
The Keto Diet: Information to Help You Decide If It’s for You
The Keto Diet (Ketogenic Diet) is an eating plan that was originally used as a treatment for epilepsy. During the early 1920s, fasting was believed to be a possible cure for the disease. The Keto Diet was introduced as a better alternative.
What is the Keto Diet?
The Keto Diet is a high-fat diet that allows adequate protein but very little carbohydrate. Instead of counting calories in the conventional way, people who do this diet have to monitor the kind of nutrients they are eating.
If you decide to lose weight by doing the Keto Diet, you will need to shoot for a diet that is 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbs.
These days, people who opt for this type of diet are generally trying to lose weight, but the Keto Diet is associated with other health benefits as well. It’s not just about trying to get slim.
How Does the Keto Diet Work?
Your body needs energy to go on functioning. It gets the energy it needs from food. Although you hear a lot of talk about calories and weight loss, the thing to know is calories are only a unit of energy. People gain weight when they eat food that provides more energy (calories) than their bodies need.
Each gram of protein you eat provides four calories. A gram of carbohydrate provides the same amount, but each gram of fat contains nine calories.
Dietary fat is the thing you normally need to avoid. It makes you gain weight fast. Eating too many carbs is also a good way to pack on extra pounds but carbohydrate is the body’s preferred source of fuel.
After the digestive organs have processed the carbohydrate in food they convert it to glucose and either put it use or store it as fat. The Keto Diet throws a spanner into the works and forces the body to use an alternative source of fuel.
The body cannot function normally when faced with such a severe restriction in carbs so it goes into ketosis.
During ketosis, the liver starts creating ketones for the body to use as a source of energy instead of glucose. The liver makes ketones from fat.
The Keto Diet appears to work well for some people but it’s a controversial way to lose weight and it isn’t for everyone.
Keto Diet Benefits
Although most keto dieters are likely to be doing the diet to lose weight, it is associated with many additional benefits.
Other Keto Diet benefits include:
- Less hunger
- Reduced risk of heart disease
- Healthier cholesterol levels
- Reductions in blood sugar and insulin
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduces risk of epileptic seizures
The Keto Diet also appears to target abdominal fat. This is very beneficial because visceral fat accumulates around the organs. In so doing it increases insulin resistance and inflammation. Excessive visceral fat also encourages the likelihood of heart disease.
Keto Diet Negatives
There is no yin without yang. Although the Keto Diet has the potential to do some very good things for the body, there are some negatives as well.
Two of the most common Keto Diet side effects are bad breath and Keto Flu.
Ketosis breath has an unpleasant fruity smell. Fortunately, the condition normally does not last long. Once your body gets used to the diet, the smell goes away. However, drinking extra water in the early days may reduce the level of smell.
Keto Flu is a phenomenon that sometimes appears around a week into the diet. It’s a condition that’s not recognized by medicine, but people who get Keto Flu report experiencing brain fog, headache, irritability, nausea, and constipation. (https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-is-keto-flu-2018101815052)
Other Keto Diet side effects may include:
- More frequent toilet visits
- Excessive thirst
Intermittent Fasting: What You Need to Know
Intermittent fasting is a diet trend that is popular with people who wish to lose weight. Many people also do intermittent fasting because they believe it can provide various health benefits.
Unlike the Keto Diet, intermittent fasting has several different regimens. All of them involve periods where little or no food is allowed, but the timing of the fast periods can vary considerably.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting consists of cycles of fasting and eating. More specifically, it’s a diet plan/lifestyle that requires you to avoid food at certain periods of time. The length of the fast periods and their frequency varies according to which type of intermittent fasting you do.
Unlike many other diets, including the Keto Diet, intermittent fasting does not set any rules about which foods you should eat and which ones you should avoid. The only rules are the ones that govern when you can eat the foods you choose to eat. Of course, no matter what kind of diet plan you follow, it’s always best to choose healthy food options.
However, the lack of rules about what food you can eat is one of the things that makes intermittent fasting such a popular option with so many people. The fact that many celebrities, including Beyonce Knowles, admit to following this type of diet only gives it extra credibility.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
When you don’t eat any food for extended periods of time it causes many changes in the body. These changes help the body to thrive despite a lack of food.
Although fasting may seem like a drastic course of action, the body is well-equipped to cope with periods without food. During the early days of the species, mankind often had difficulties finding food and had to fast out of necessity so it’s not surprising the body is capable of adapting to fast periods in the way that it does.
During fast periods, blood sugar and insulin levels drop considerably. This is accompanied by a marked increase in human growth hormone (HGH) levels. All these responses to the fast can be seen as favorable. For instance, HGH is often said to be the body’s internal fountain of youth.
However, most people who incorporate intermittent fasting into their lifestyles do so because they want to lose weight.
Can you lose weight via intermittent fasting? Research suggests you can. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6128599/)
However, regardless of what many people say, you will probably still need to eat reasonably sensibly during the periods when eating is allowed.
When it comes to promoting weight loss, intermittent fasting is not so different from some of the other methods people use to lose weight.
During the fast periods, the body experiences such an energy shortage it has to begin burning its stores of fat and using them as fuel. However, if you eat too much high-calorie food during your non-fast periods you may still end up storing more calories than you burn.
Popular Forms of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting generally involves fast periods that last for 16-48 hours. There are many variations, but here are a few of the most popular intermittent fasting techniques.
This type of intermittent fasting involves severely restricting calorie intake for up to 24 hours at a time. The 5:2 Diet is an Eat-Stop-Eat form of intermittent fasting.
People who follow the 5:2 Diet have to fast for two days per week. The two fast days don’t have to be consecutive and normal eating is permitted for the other five days of the week.
Random Meal Skipping
Random Meal Skipping is a type of intermittent fasting that’s not as hard to adjust to as other forms of the diet. There will still be times when the belly is empty and hunger may raise its ugly head, but such instances are not frequent. Just pick a meal at random, once or twice a week, then skip it.
However, if you do this type of intermittent fasting, it’s best to avoid eating any processed foods. It’s also important to resist the urge to snack between meals.
Alternate fasting comes in many forms. Some people who do it eat during a 12-hour food window and then fast for the following 36 hours. That’s extreme. A better option is to eat normally for 24 hours then do a 24-hour fast. That’s a little easier. However, there is another version that’s easier still. Instead of a true fast, the 24-hour food period is followed by a 24-hour period when 500 calories is allowed. The food that provides them can be eaten in a single sitting or spread throughout the day.
Intermittent Fasting Benefits
Weight loss is the most obvious benefit associated with intermittent fasting, but there are more.
Some additional intermittent fasting benefits may include:
- Lower blood pressure
- Faster metabolism
- Faster healing
- Decreased likelihood of developing Type 2 Diabetes
- Reduces oxidative stress and inflammation
- May offer protection against heart disease
- May improve brain function
Studies conducted on rats suggest intermittent fasting may also increase lifespan. There’s no way to know if it does the same for humans, but it’s still an interesting study. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0047637400001093)
Intermittent Fasting Negatives
Intermittent fasting also has its undesirable aspects. You need to be aware of this before thinking of making the system a part of your life.
Possible side effects may include:
- Weak immune system
- Anxiety and stress
- Poor athletic performance
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
- Missed periods and/or early menopause
Magnesium and Vitamin D levels could possibly decline.
Intermittent Fasting vs Keto Diet: Final Thoughts
Used independently or together, the Keto Diet and Intermittent fasting have a lot of fans, but both systems may be more difficult to adjust to than a normal low-calorie diet.
However, if you are obese or overweight, any system that works is worth exploring. The Keto Diet involves extreme lifestyle changes though. So does intermittent fasting. Be wary about making such changes unless you are in excellent health. Especially if you are thinking of combining the two diets.
If you are planning of doing either diet or a combination of the two, the best thing to do is discuss the matter with your doctor and see what they advise.