I have personally been Intermittent Fasting for around 10 years, and I experimented with the ketogenic diet for around a year before I got into Intermittent Fasting, back in 2012.
Not only that, as a fitness and health professional with 10 years experience, I have helped 1000s of people use intermittent fasting to lose weight, boost their energy levels and improve overall health.
Both Intermittent Fasting and the Ketogenic diet have become incredibly popular in recent years, with a strong following on both sides.
Both bring about some similar changes in the body, but there are some big differences and I am going to explain my professional opinion below.
THE KETOGENIC DIET
The ketogenic diet, also known as ‘keto,’ is based on lower consumption of carbohydrates and higher consumption of fat. Initially, it was introduced to treat patients with epilepsy in the early 1900s. When a person is on a keto diet, their body goes into ‘ketosis’. This means that because of the absence of carbohydrates (which is your body’s first source of energy) your body is forced to start breaking down fatty acids from fat tissue into “ketone bodies” which can be used as a form of energy by the brain and body.
It’s important to note that this process is a completely natural and normal process. What’s more, we would not have got to this stage in human evolution without the capacity to break down stored energy (fat) and use it in times of food scarcity.
Being able to effortlessly shift between burning carbohydrates and fat is known as “metabolic flexibility”.
Being metabolically flexible has been shown to drastically decrease the risk of lifestyle-related diseases like Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.
The Keto diet restricts the consumption of grains, starchy vegetables, high-sugar fruits, sweetened yogurt, honey, or sugar in any form, chips, crackers, juices, or baked goods (inclusive and exclusive of gluten). Instead, you are free to consume seafood, eggs, poultry, cheese, avocado, and nuts.
Usually, people who are practicing the ketogenic diet are aiming to eat less than 25g net carbohydrates.
The Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet
Weight Loss – The Ketogenic Diet does seem to be an effective way to lose weight in the short term. Once you switch to eating a high fat, moderate protein, low carb diet, it makes it a lot easier to eat in a calorie deficit. It’s much harder to binge and gorge on fat and protein from whole foods. Whereas, it’s very easy to over consume carbohydrates, especially processed ones.
This benefit comes with a caveat. When you reduce carbohydrate intake, you reduce the amount of glycogen (stored carbohydrate) that is stored in the muscle and the liver. For every gram of glycogen you have in the body, you will store 1-3g of water.
The initial big shift in the number on the scales when people adopt a ketogenic diet is mostly water loss, not fat loss. You cannot lose more than around 2lbs of fat in a week.
Stable Energy Levels – Once you are less dependent on carbohydrates to fuel your day, and you have the ability to effortlessly shift between carbohydrates and fat, it makes sense that you are going to feel like you have boundless, stable energy all day long. Many people who incorporate a keto diet report having boundless energy.
Reduced Hunger – The combination of reducing refined carbohydrates which can wreak havoc on blood sugar levels, upping fat and protein intake, and shifting to using ketone bodies for fuel, can have a drastic effect on hunger levels. Many people who incorporate a ketogenic diet report feeling less hungry overall, and therefore a spontaneous reduction in calories is achieved. (1)
Improved Blood Sugar Levels and Insulin Sensitivity
A lower carbohydrate diet has been shown to stabilize blood sugar levels and therefore improve insulin sensitivity. (2) (3)
Being insulin sensitive is going to greatly decrease your risk of developing metabolic disease and Type 2 Diabetes.
Therapeutic for Several Brain Disorders
As mentioned in the introduction, the Ketogenic was initially used to treat epilepsy and stop seizures, particularly in children.
In many cases, the ketogenic diet can cure children of epilepsy.
In one study, over 50% of the children on a ketogenic diet experienced a greater than 50% reduction in their number of seizures, while 16% became seizure-free. (4)
The Disadvantages of a Ketogenic Diet
It’s Unsustainable For Most People
The ketogenic diet is a highly restrictive diet. Most people cannot sustain restriction and deprivation for very long, so a lot of the benefits can be short-lived. Ultimately, if you cannot see yourself eating in this way for the rest of your life, it’s a waste of your time, effort, and money. As a fat loss coach, I am interested in long-term behavioral change. The ketogenic diet, in most cases, is not sustainable.
It Can Perpetuate and Exacerbate A Negative Relationship with Food
I personally experienced this with the ketogenic diet, and it took me many years to get out of this way of thinking. Essentially the ketogenic diet labels all carbohydrates as “bad”. Labeling foods as good or bad is highly problematic for mental health and enjoyment of food. It is inevitable that you will eat more carbohydrates than you are meant to whilst following keto. This can bring feelings of shame, guilt and anxiety. The ultimate goal is to be able to enjoy carbohydrates AND lose weight.
It’s Antisocial and Difficult to Implement
Everyone who has tried the ketogenic diet has had the awkward experience when you are out for dinner with friends and the dessert menu comes out… Either you have to decline and then explain why you aren’t having dessert, or you decline and look down your nose at your friends who, in your eyes, are damaging their health by having a scoop of ice cream. Both of these scenarios stop you from being truly in the moment and having a shared experience with friends and family. Something that can be detrimental to long-term mental health and quality of life.
Fasting has been used for thousands of years by every religion and ancient culture. Intermittent Fasting is a modern take on this ancient practice. It’s a simple process. Instead of waking up and eating regularly throughout the day, you break your day or week into fasting and eating windows. Everyone fasts overnight, which is why breakfast has its name break fast.
Intermittent Fasting can also bring about the process of ketosis, when you fast for 12+ hours in a day, you can deplete your glycogen stores (stored carbohydrates). Once glycogen stores are depleted, your body is forced to produce ketone bodies by breaking down fatty acids from adipose tissue.
I have been intermittent fasting for 10 years now, and have helped 1000s incorporate it as a way of life.
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BENEFITS OF INTERMITTENT FASTING
You will notice that there are some very similar benefits between Intermittent Fasting and the Ketogenic Diet.
FAT OR WEIGHT REDUCTION – Intermittent Fasting restricts the time in which you can consume calories, therefore making it harder to over-consume, and easier to stay in a calorie deficit. Remaining in a calorie deficit during weight loss is essential. In my opinion, intermittent fasting makes it effortless to stay in a calorie deficit. You can eat large, satisfying meals and lose weight.
What’s more, you can lose weight, improve metabolic flexibility, achieve ketosis and eat carbohydrates! It’s a win-win situation.
Stable Energy Levels – Just like the ketogenic diet, intermittent fasting improves metabolic flexibility and energy efficiency in the body. People report having stable energy levels all day long.
Reduced Hunger – When you stop grazing on food all day, you entrain your body to function optimally without food. The side effect of this is reduced hunger. Intermittent Fasting reduces ghrelin, the main hormone that is associated with hunger, and improves leptin sensitivity, which is the hormone that makes you feel full. (5) Many people who incorporate intermittent fasting feel less hungry, which is another reason why staying in a calorie deficit can seem effortless.
Improved Blood Sugar Levels and Insulin Sensitivity
Again, just like the ketogenic diet Intermittent Fasting can reduce blood sugar fluctuations and improve insulin sensitivity (6)
This is where the joint advantages end, however, there are many more health benefits that are associated with intermittent fasting.
Reduced Inflammation and Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress is one of the steps toward aging and many chronic diseases.
Several studies show that intermittent fasting can improve the body’s resistance to oxidative stress.
Additionally, studies show that intermittent fasting can help fight inflammation, another key driver of many common diseases. (7)(8)
Reduced Blood Pressure
Intermittent Fasting has been shown to have an impact on reducing blood pressure (9). Many people will argue that this reduction in blood pressure is a normal effect of weight loss, but this study showed that the reduction happened even in the absence of weight loss (10).
Increased Autophagy (Anti Aging)
Intermittent Fasting has the potential to stimulate the process of Autophagy, which is your cell’s “self-cleaning” system. Autophagy cleans out damaged cells, in order to regenerate newer, healthier cells. (11)
The main benefits of autophagy seem to come in the form of anti-aging principles. In fact, It’s the body’s way of turning the clock back and creating younger cells.
More research needs to be done on the subject, but so far, it seems that intermittent fasting can be an effective way of improving health in novel ways.
Intermittent Fasting Disadvantages
In my opinion, most of the disadvantages of intermittent fasting arise when done incorrectly, for the wrong reasons. When done correctly, like how I teach in my 30 Day 2 Meal Day Reset, there is not much that can go wrong.
Below are the disadvantages of Intermittent Fasting when done incorrectly
It’s not a magic pill for fat loss
Many people hold a false belief that if they are intermittent fasting, they will automatically lose weight. This is not true, without a calorie deficit, you will not lose weight. It is still possible (although harder) to be in a calorie surplus, whilst you are incorporating intermittent fasting.
Women do need to be more careful than men
Women are more sensitive to physical stress on the body. Intermittent Fasting is a type of physical stress. Women need to be mindful and flexible in their approach. or there could be impacts on monthly cycles and hormones. Having said that, there are thousands of women all over the world who do very well Intermittent Fasting, and I have personally helps 100s use it.
It can become antisocial
Again, when done incorrectly, Intermittent Fasting can become antisocial. If your friends decide that they are going for dinner at 8.30 pm, but you have decided to end your eating window at 8.00 pm what do you do? Many people who are too rigid in their approach will either not go for dinner, or go for dinner and watch their friends eat!
Intermittent Fasting Vs Keto Which One is Better? My Conclusion
As you have read, there are many similarities between intermittent fasting vs keto. However, in my opinion you get more benefits, without the restriction with intermittent fasting.
You can lose weight, achieve ketosis, and eat carbohydrates with Intermittent Fasting.
This means that it is a more sustainable way of eating. For me, as a coach with 10 years experience, sustainability is all I care about.
What’s the point in trying something if it cannot be sustained?
In fact, I would say that keto has the potential to negatively affect your relationship with food. Having a complicated relationship with food drastically affects your quality of life.
If you want to lose weight, boost your energy and still eat the foods you enjoy, I highly recommend you try intermittent fasting starting with my FREE intermittent Fasting short course, where I show how to do it properly and get amazing results in a healthy and timely manner.
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