How Intermittent Fasting and Ketosis Maximize Gains

If you’ve been anywhere near a television or computer screen, you’ve likely heard the words “intermittent fasting.” This intentional abstinence from food has become a trending weight loss strategy. However, it’s actually not a very new concept.

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Fasting is thousands of years old

The reasons why intermittent fasting is so popular nowadays are not surprising. This long-lived practice can lead to weight loss and according to some, enhanced mental clarity.

There are also other added benefits. For example, studies suggest it may aid in the management of chronic conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, neurological disorders, and even some cancers.

However, the challenge is sustainability. Exactly how can one expect to benefit from intermittent fasting in the long run? The answer may be combining it with the concept of ketosis.

What’s ketosis and how does it work?

Typically, our cells use glucose (blood sugar) as their main fuel. However, when we eat minimal carbohydrates, this induces the body to use other fuel sources — namely, fat. During ketosis, your body’s fat is converted into ketones by the liver. Essentially, your fat stores become a primary source of energy.

Several diets follow this logic. For example, the preliminary phase of the Atkins diet significantly restricts carbohydrates to 20 grams or fewer per day. On the keto diet — essentially a very low carb, higher fat diet — you generally aim for 15–30 grams of net carbohydrates per day.

Intermittent fasting can help your body reach ketosis because when you aren’t eating, your body also uses fat for fuel.

Getting started with intermittent fasting

First, there is no best-fit solution for each and every body type and state of health. It’s best that you check in with your individual doctor, nutritionist, and/or physical trainer to minimize the common side effects of intermittent fasting. These can include energy and mood swings, constipation, bingeing, and conflicts with your medications.

The rule of thumb is to start slow and work with, not against, your body.

Here are a few tips to get started with intermittent fasting safely, once you’re cleared by a medical professional:

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Set a schedule

Alternate Day Fasting (ADF): Fasting every other day with the option to consume up to 500 calories on fasting days

The Leangains Protocol: Consuming all your nutrition within 8 hours and fasting the rest of the 16 hours each day.

Eat-Stop-Eat: Abstaining from food for 24-hours, 2–3 times a week.

Stay hydrated

Keep a bottle of water on hand to prevent dehydration.

Maintain balanced habits

Tracking what you’re eating and when, your fasting hours, your exercise, and your progress is key. It’s helpful to keep a journal or a log on your smartphone, computer, or just on paper, to ensure that you are not overextending yourself physically. A log will also help you fine-tune your fasting and diet regimen if you notice any issues.

Plan meals ahead of time

Farmers’ markets are great options for exploring in-season ingredients to complement your healthy diet. If you’re especially busy throughout the week, consider a CSA (community supported agriculture) delivery or meal kit service.

Start slow and build yourself up

Start with small, manageable goals every day, and document and share your progress with a nutritional expert to scale your practice. Once you get into the groove, there’s nothing stopping you from achieving your healthiest possible body.

Life coach, Investor and Avid Traveler Amandeep Khun-Khun