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Does Intermittent Fasting + Keto Diet = Boosting Weight Loss?

Mixing these weight loss plans is gaining popularity

Tracy Block Staff Reporter
4 min read
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Keto, paleo, and intermittent fasting are current, popular weight loss methods that assist the human body to go into a ‘self-cleaning’ mode. 
- Dr. Ralph E. Holsworth, family physician and Director of Clinical
and Scientific Research at Essentia Water

As a therapeutic health practice, fasting can be traced back to the 5th century, when ancient Greek physician Hippocrates prescribed the abstinence from food and/or drink to patients exhibiting certain signs of illness. Fasting is also a religious ritual observed by Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Buddhists, as well as a striking tactic utilized by historic figureheads like Mahatma Gandhi.

While fasting is practiced for various reasons, it has specifically gained recognition within the diet community. “Keto, paleo, and intermittent fasting (IF) are current, popular weight loss methods that assist the human body to go into a ‘self-cleaning’ mode,” explains Dr. Ralph E. Holsworth, family physician and Director of Clinical and Scientific Research at Essentia Water. In fact, two of the above practices, the ketogenic diet, and intermittent fasting are commonly paired by dieters seeking to lose weight.

What is Intermittent Fasting, Exactly?

Intermittent fasting is a dieting pattern that cycles between fasting and eating. There are several ways to fast intermittently. The most mainstream method is daily, time-restricted feeding, which includes an extensive fasting window (of around 16 hours or more), followed by an eating window (of 8 hours or less). The alternate-day method is utilized by those who prefer to eat normally several days of the week and restrict food intake on others. The third type of IF that dieters employ is whole-day fasting, which, like its name suggests, involves 24 hours of fasting at a time.

So, what’s all the hype about? Fasting improves your body on both the molecular and cellular levels. According to Healthline.com, your levels of human growth hormone increase, which promotes fat loss and muscle gain, and insulin levels lower, allowing your body to burn stored fat fuels. Additionally, IF impacts gene expression, where there are changes in gene functioning that work to protect against disease, as well as facilitating cellular repair through a process called autophagy.

“Autophagy is the self-eating process where a cell breaks down its own damaged components and remakes them – this is essentially the cell rejuvenating itself – and is triggered under conditions of nutrient deprivation, aka fasting,” offers Dr. Holsworth. “That cell rejuvenation is the expected health benefit, as the dysfunctional cells (like cancer cells), or dysfunctional cell components, tend to be eaten first.”

Intermittent Fasting on the Ketogenic Diet

According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, a review of 40 studies found intermittent fasting to be effective for weight loss, yielding a typical drop of 7 to 11 pounds over a 10-week period. IF is gaining popularity, especially within the ketogenic community. The ketogenic diet is a very-low-carb, high-fat way of eating with the goal of sending the body into a metabolic state of ketosis. Once in ketosis, the body can efficiently burn fat and ketones (small fuel molecules) as an alternative when glucose is in short supply. “Studies have found fasting increases glucagon concentrations, rates of ketosis and metabolic acidosis, assisting weight loss,” says Dr. Holsworth.

In fact, longtime dieters like Kimberly Smith, 55, have paired ketogenic dieting with intermittent fasting for long-term results. “I read ‘The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day, and Extended Fasting’ by Jason Fung and Jimmy Moore, and started IF with keto, and haven’t looked back.”

Meanwhile, over the course of 2 years, Smith has lost more than 60 pounds and attributes her success to keto and the time-restricted feeding technique of IF, which began as 16:8. Her typical eating window is from noon to 8 p.m. “As I got more accustomed to it, I shortened the window, getting down to 20:4, but I found it too hard to eat enough in such a short window,” she shares. She strives to practice IF every day but indulges in the occasional Sunday breakfast.

Can a Longer Fast Break a Weight Loss Stall?

Since January, Smith has ventured into longer fasting periods to break through a weight-loss stall. She began with alternate-day fasting where she reached up to 42 hours. “I committed to doing it for 10 days. The first week was really hard, but it did get better,” she admits. “During the 10 days, I lost 5 pounds.” As recent as last week, Smith ventured into a 70-hour fast for the first time and hopes to lose another 10 pounds.

However, Smith says it was the comprehensive benefits of IF – not just weight loss – that led her down this path. She is genuinely intrigued by the science behind the fast, especially what triggers or interferes with autophagy. “If I never lose another ounce, I’m 100% staying IF and keto – or at least low-carb, high-fat–due to how much better I feel, how much more energy I have, and the overall health benefits.”

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Does Intermittent Fasting + Keto Diet = Boosting Weight Loss?