The idea of fasting can seem utterly daunting. I mean, who in their right mind would willingly just not eat?!
But the thing is, fasting has long been linked with some seriously positive health effects—in fact, it may even help extend your lifespan.
Fortunately, more and more people have found a way to reap the benefits of fasting without having to suffer through long bouts of deprivation.
This is intermittent fasting, and you’ve likely heard plenty of raving reviews about using this protocol alongside a keto diet.
While many people will quickly dismiss intermittent fasting as just another trend, those who have tried it can speak to its wide-ranging health benefits.
Here, we’ll dive into the different methods of intermittent fasting, the science behind it, and all the potential health benefits that come along with it.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is far more accessible than the traditional fasts most of us are familiar with; it involves set periods of time in which you’ll eat and fast, and there are various methods that you can follow.
It’s important to know that no matter what method you choose, you’ll experience the same benefits of fasting—but in a much easier-to-follow format.
Intermittent Fasting Methods
Here are some of the more popular forms of intermittent fasting:
- The 16/8 (or Leangains) Method: You will fast for 14-16 hours each day, leaving you with 8-10 hours for eating (aka your “eating window”). For example: Eat 2-3 meals plus snacks between 12pm-8pm, then fast throughout the entire night and morning. Some people choose to skip breakfast with this method simply.
- The 5:2 Diet: For five days a week, you will eat as you typically would with no restrictions. The other two days, consume only about 500-600 calories.
- Eat Stop Eat: For five or six days a week, you will eat as you typically would, then fast for a full day or two.
- The Warrior Diet: You will fast for a full 20 hours every day, then eat one large meal at night.
- Alternate-Day Fasting: You will do a full fast (or restrict your calories to about 500 calories) every other day while eating as you typically would the other days.
The Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Numerous studies have shown that intermittent fasting can lead to some strong benefits for both your brain and body.
Intermittent fasting helps you lose weight, improve your metabolism, lower inflammation, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even Alzheimer’s (1).
Knowing that you have a restricted period to eat can also make your day more structured and a little less stressful.
But the most exciting possibility? It can help you live longer.
As a proven age-defying technique, intermittent fasting has become a hot topic in the nutrition and science world. Now, the rest of us want to know how it may help us feel our absolute best.
Here’s what the science has found so far:
A Nobel Prize-Winning Lifestyle “Hack”
Fasting and calorie restriction has long been linked to lowered disease risk and longevity, but only recently have we started to figure out how it all works.
In 2016, Japanese Dr. Yoshinori Ohsumi won a Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his study on “self-eating” cells.
The term for this crucial process is called autophagy. It allows cells to digest and recycle their proteins and other components to be used for energy so that they can continue to thrive.
It also helps cells get rid of any damaged parts and ward off bacterial or viral invaders.
Without autophagy, cells would not survive. With it, our bodies can remain active, healthy, and youthful.
Autophagy promotes a faster metabolism, less fatigue, smoother skin, and possibly even protection against cancer.
This process works as a sort of essential survival technique. When cells are stressed or starved, it allows them to make their fuel.
One of the easiest ways you can activate this process is through intermittent fasting.
By intentionally depriving your body of nutrients for a set period, you will be forcing your cells to turn on this autophagy feature.
While all this mind-blowing magic is going on at the cellular level, you’re going to start to notice how it affects your overall well-being—from the inside out.
After a week or so of getting used to a regular intermittent fasting routine, many people will start to notice a clearer head.
This is partly because fasting allows your nervous system a much-needed break. All of that energy your body would typically be used to digest food can go to your brain instead.
Intermittent fasting also increases the production of ketones, which can help protect brain cells and reduce brain fog.
A brain powered on ketones is much more able to focus since it won’t be distracted by manic hormonal shifts and insulin fluctuations (something you can’t avoid on glucose).
Fasting has been shown to help “declutter” or “slow down” brain activity—at least the activity that isn’t necessarily serving you. This means you’re better able to focus on the task at hand (2).
Not only will intermittent fasting have you thinking more clearly, but it will also have you looking and feeling stronger than ever.
Simply put, intermittent fasting can help you lose weight and belly fat, and there’s a pretty straightforward reason why. Restricting your eating times will help you eat fewer calories overall—without even thinking about it.
Several studies have proven this, showing significant weight loss (as much as 8% over six months), as well as a loss of belly fat (up to 7% in waist circumference) from intermittent fasting alone (3).
But it’s not just about your calorie count.
Intermittent fasting also helps lower insulin levels and increase your metabolism, both essential for burning fat.
It can also reduce inflammation in the body, something that can prevent you from losing weight.
As you can see, several factors go into play when you fast—your hormones stabilize, your blood sugar levels even out, and your cells can better cleanse themselves.
This all points to a better and longer functioning brain and body.
Should You Add Intermittent Fasting to Your Keto Diet?
If you’re looking for maximum effects, intermittent fasting alongside a keto diet is a powerful combination.
As mentioned above, intermittent fasting helps promote the production of ketones, which will help you maintain ketosis. This is the case even if you find yourself slipping with your macro counts now and then.
If you’re just starting on a keto diet, fasting also helps reduce some of the unwanted side effects that can come with the “keto flu.” It can also bring you into ketosis at a much faster rate.
For all you workout warriors, exercising in a fasted state can also boost your ketone levels.
So, instead of eating breakfast, you may want to take a trip to the gym, and then enjoy a fabulous keto lunch as your reward.
How to Incorporate Intermittent Fasting Into Your Lifestyle
Fortunately, intermittent fasting can easily be incorporated into any schedule, no matter how hectic. The key is to choose the form of fasting that works best for you and your lifestyle.
Believe it or not, you’ll likely find that restricting your eating times can be a great form of stress relief. It automatically provides structure for your day—something we could all use a lot more of!
While fasting itself has some fantastic benefits, don’t forget about the power of the food that you eat, too!
When not fasting, you’ll want to consume mostly healthy fats and some proteins, including fatty fish, grass-fed meats, dairy, eggs, and high-quality oils, then round it all out with a colorful mix of low-carb plants.
Check out this full list of what you can eat on the keto diet plan for more info.
With a keto diet and a regular intermittent fasting schedule, you will get into ketosis faster and be able to maintain it longer and with far more ease.
Add some Konscious Keto exogenous ketones to the mix, and you’ll see even more significant effects. Now, that’s a recipe we can get behind!