Once your body is in ketosis, it becomes easy to hit a plateau where your weight levels off, and your weight loss comes to a screeching halt. Fasting is not required in the ketogenic diet, but is highly beneficial and a great way to take yourself from amateur to professional in the keto world.
What is fasting?
The definition of fasting is to abstain from all food or caloric drinks for a certain amount of time. There are two kinds of fasting: generic fasting where you completely abstain from food for more than 24 hours, and intermittent fasting where you allow yourself a “feeding window” to eat throughout the day. We are going to be focusing on intermittent fasting in this post.
Intermittent fasting is most commonly practiced by skipping meals or allowing yourself a brief window of time to eat during the day. For example, many people skip breakfast whereas others will permit themselves to eat between noon and 6PM. Most people will begin slowly, fasting for 18 hours, giving themself a 6 hour feeding time. When fasting, it is extremely important to listen to your body, and eat if you have to. Fasting is meant to improve health, but taking it too quickly can be harmful to you and your diet.
How to Begin Fasting
In order to begin fasting, you will have to start small and test out what works best for you. If work or school makes eating windows difficult to practice, meal skipping could be a better option. The point of intermittent fasting is to break the habit of eating 3-5 small meals per day, and condense the caloric intake to 1-2 larger meals. During the meals you eat, you may eat as much as you’d like or until you feel full.
Fasting allows your body to burn fat and ketones instead of burning glycogen (sugar). By avoiding carbs as well as fasting, your liver quickly becomes depleted of glycogen sugars, allowing your body to enter the ketogenic state of burning body fat.
Pros of Fasting
Fasting dramatically lowers the average caloric intake, despite eating to satiety every day. By condensing your caloric intake to 2 large meals, it overall lowers the amount of food consumed in comparison to 5 smaller meals. By doing so, weight loss becomes easier. Another way that intermittent fasting induces weight loss is by improving insulin resistance and sensitivity.
Eating less can also help save a bit on the grocery bill (my personal favorite benefit). By utilizing the ketones in your diet, you are also able to boost your neuron resistance against common degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Ketones are also key components in improving mental clarity and memory.
Fasting Myths debunked
There’s a large stigma around fasting, and it’s generally not a good one. So, let’s debunk some of the most common fasting misconceptions. The first myth is that skipping meals will slow your metabolism down. A lot of this stems from not knowing what exactly metabolism is. Metabolism is solely the total amount of energy expended to allow all your cells to function properly. By fasting, you allow your body to use energy stored in body fat to complete all your cellular processes.
The second common myth is that fasting puts your body into starvation mode. This may be true if you have an extremely low body fat percentage, but so long as you have stored fat to lose, or keep up fat intake with your allowed meals, you will have fat to burn. Another related myth is that fasting will cause muscle degeneration. This ties hand in hand with the previous misconception. If you do not provide your body with fat to burn, it will resort to muscle mass for energy. Like I said earlier, provide your body with the necessary fat to burn, and you won’t have an issue.
Overall, fasting is not necessary for a successful ketogenic diet, but is able to help immensely if you’ve hit a wall in your weight loss. Keeping your meals high in satiety and protein will ensure a beneficial fast, but don’t forget to listen to your body and to not push yourself past your limits. Happy Fasting!