Practical Guide to Increasing Weight Loss with a Keto Diet and Intermittent Fasting
The low-carb, high-fat Keto diet offers many health benefits, but so does the intermittent fasting. This practical guide can help the beginners to combine keto diet with intermittent fasting and reap the benefits of both.
I discovered the ketogenic diet in 1977 and at 5’8 weighed about 165 pounds. I wasn’t fat by most people’s standards, but as a runner, I had a goal to get down to 140 pounds and improve my times. In my first 2 weeks I lost 8 pounds, but, then, even with vigorous exercise working at a summer camp, I seemed stuck.
Cheat Meal and Fasting
What made the difference was having a cheat meal one day and fasting on the following day and doing this once a week. I got down to 135 pounds by the end of the summer. Since that time I’ve used intermittent fasting to lose weight along with a ketogenic diet. I simply feel better when allowing my body a rest from food. Different schools of thought and different studies have produced a variety of results.
One study (PDF), published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) included 100 obese men and women with a mean age of 44 who participated for a period of one year. The goal of the study was not only to determine weight loss but adherence to a weight loss program and any cardioprotective effects. Some of the participants fasted on alternate days, while others were on a calorie restricted diet and others were in a control group that had no intervention. The results showed that alternate-day fasting did not produce superior adherence, weight loss, weight maintenance, or cardioprotection vs daily calorie restriction and there was a higher dropout rate for those doing alternate day fasting.
Although studies are supposed to be an accurate representation of clear cut results, they often do not take into account other factors such as activity level that may make a difference in overall results. As pointed out by these researchers, the only factors measured did not involve just such important aspects of a weight loss program such as level of activity. There was no mention of the amount of carbohydrate, fats and protein each participant ate.
If you are interested in research then find a study that compares different types of fasting and will give you a broad overview like this one in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that compares more than one type of fasting.
Talk To People on Keto Diet
Most people, instead of relying on “studies” usually want to talk to people who are actually eating a ketogenic diet (KD) versus ketogenic and intermittent fasting (IF) and finding out their personal results. I have a friend who lost 50 pounds with IF and has gone on to lose a total of 80. Facebook groups are an excellent way to follow individual results, get ideas for recipes or meal plans and ask questions because you’ll get a wide variety of responses and results. People in general like to help. It may take a while to find a group you really like but if you join several so that you get their posts on your newsfeed, pretty soon you’ll figure out what group is the best fit.
Do your research. There are plenty of sites that address low carb and ketogenic diets as well as intermittent fasting. There are also quite a few forums where you can talk to other people going keto. Once you find a great site, be sure to make it a favorite.
Eliminate Temptation To Eat
When I started doing keto, I got rid of things that I knew would be difficult to resist. One of my favorite things to snack on is crackers and cottage cheese and without crackers, it’s just not the same. So, I went back to my basics and substituted pork rinds which have zero carbs for crackers and whipped cream cheese for cottage cheese. For a sweet tooth I have cottage cheese mixed with sugar-free Jell-o and add nuts like pecans or walnuts. I get the crunch, sweetness and an adequate amount of protein and fat.
Another favorite is to make crustless no bake “cheesecake”. Just mix your favorite flavor of Sweet Leaf Stevia (mine is English Toffee or Lemon) with cream cheese and refrigerate. Ask your group for new ideas or search the web. Also see EmaxHealth reporter Tim Boyer's story titled Natural Appetite Suppressants vs Dr. Oz's Top 4 Appetite Suppressants for Fighting Belly Fat.
Get Carb Counter Book or App
Invest in a good carb counter book and find an app for your phone. When I started doing keto, computers were unheard of. I had to actually read books to learn the basics of the diet and the chemistry of why it works. Today, everyone who has a cell phone has the internet at their fingertips. There are a lot of apps that not only count carbs, but your other macronutrients, protein and fat. I still recommend a good book like Protein Power by Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades which I feel is the best explanation I’ve found on the subject of the pathophysiology of ketosis and how to maximize your weight loss. Be sure to read their blogs for the latest medical information.
Make sure you’re keeping your carbs at 20 grams per day or below and eating an adequate amount of protein to maintain muscle mass, more if you are trying to build muscle. By keeping your carb intake under 20 grams your body will burn up the glycogen stores in your liver and muscles within about 72 hours and begin to use stored fat as fuel. Once you begin using body fat for fuel your body will begin producing ketones, hence the ketogenic diet.
Don't Eat Before a Workout
As a personal trainer, if you are trying to lose weight, I suggest not eating before a workout and eating protein within 30-40 minutes after a workout to feed and repair your muscles. I do take Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) which is a supplement used during a fasted workout to spare muscle. The reason you do not eat before a workout is that you want to force your body to produce Human Growth Hormone (HGH) and if you eat prior to a workout you stop that process. Also, instead of burning your own body fat and increasing HGH levels, you are digesting and utilizing the food you ate before you went to the gym. It IS important to eat after a workout. If I’m not going to be able to get home after a workout I have a protein shake or a meal like salmon that I can take to the gym and eat after my workout.
Fasting vs Eating
Time your fasting versus eating. Depending on your schedule, you want a window of about 6 hours in which you eat. Many people have bulletproof coffee in the morning, and otherwise do not eat until later in the day. I suggest eating from 2pm to 8pm. If you are a night worker and sleep during the day your 6 hour window will be different. Do what works for you.
The recipe for bulletproof coffee is 2 cups of hot coffee, 2 tablespoons of grass-fed, unsalted butter, 1-2 tablespoons of MCT oil (most people use organic unrefined coconut oil). Mix in a blender. It may sound counter-intuitive, but it works and is filling.
Drink Your Water
Water intake is extremely important whether on a diet or not. Water increases metabolism and is a detoxer. Without enough water you may become constipated or experience fatigue. I drink at least a gallon of water a day. I find it seems less daunting to have 2 half gallon containers and to start drinking as soon as I get out of bed in the morning. I was told by my physician that even if I didn’t change anything about my diet, drinking a gallon of water a day would, over time, induce weight loss. Once you see results you’ll be certain to drink your water. Think of it this way, you wouldn’t skip a daily bath and you want to bathe your cells as well.
This is my basic ketogenic guide to get started on this lifestyle. I highly suggest beginning an exercise program after the first week or two. Try getting up early to work out. There are studies that suggest people who work out earlier in the day tend have better adherence to an exercise program and it starts your day off right. Choose something that you will enjoy and continue. My favorites are weight training and running with about 10 minutes of stretching before and after both running and lifting, but after an injury I had to find something other than running that would burn fat. I invested in an exercycle for home and started taking belly dancing at a local studio. I also continued with my stretching routine. I had never realized how strenuous a workout dancing can be. Dancing helped me rehab my injuries faster and I actually saw improvement in tone and definition of muscles that I had not achieved with weights or running. Whatever you choose, just “Do it” and get moving!