What is a Keto Fast?
In short a Keto fast is the term used to describe the combination of eating a low carbohydrate diet with regular periods of fasting. Eating less than 20-50g of net carbohydrates a day and fasting 16 or more hours even up to 3 to 5 days. Keep in mind extended fasts should only be done once a month.
Why would I ever want to do that, you ask?
If I told you that you are a very toxic person, would you be offended? I don’t mean your personality (although that could be true for some people out there). I’m referring to your body being a home for many different forms of toxins. These toxins are held within the fat cells in your body.
Have you ever been on a diet and seen success in the first few days, but then you feel crabby, cranky and miserable? Your metabolism starts to slow down and you feel so worn out? You feel worse than before you started so you stop your diet?
Don’t worry it happens to everyone. This is your body’s detoxifying process. When you burn fat, the fat cells that house the toxins in your body are used up. This frees the toxins from their fatty prison and allows them to wreak havoc inside your body!
This can cause fatigue, lethargy, sugar cravings, mood swings and even make you feel physically sick.
There is a reason most people fail when dieting and trying to change their lifestyle habits!
The scary fact is that toxins are everywhere and unavoidable. They are in all processed and non organic foods. Most ‘healthy’ foods are sprayed with nasty chemicals to help keep their colour and keep bacteria at bay, extending their shelf life.
In our industrial society today just living in the suburbs will expose you to toxins, with or without the nasty foods.
Okay so hopefully now I’ve scared you a little about our dangerous world. What can you do to be as toxin free as possible? In comes the Keto Fast!
So what really is a Keto Fast?
Keto is short for ketogenic and it is the term used to describe the metabolic state the human body adapts when it is deprived of carbohydrates. See the body typically uses carbohydrates (sugars) for fuel and energy. However when you stop eating carbs the body switches to burning fat for fuel instead.
Fasting refers to abstaining from consuming any calories for a period of time. Fasting for longer than 20 hours will put your body into a recycling mode called ‘autophagy’. This means your body goes through cellular cleansing. It consumes old and dying cells to form and strengthen new cells.
This process helps decrease inflammation, increase overall strength and wellness, fight infection and toxins and increase metabolism.
Read More: Cellular Cleanse For the Best Detox
Fasting for extended periods will also put your body into the state of ketosis. Keep in mind you might feel sick for the first few days of the keto fast. Like I mentioned above when fat starts to burn, the toxins in your body are released into the body. It is also not uncommon to feel flu-like symptoms while the body adapts into ketosis.
When your body is adapted to the keto fast the common effects to occur are increased energy, increased endurance, heightened brain function, increased motivation and mood and significant weight loss.
The liver produces little things called ketones that help convert fat into energy. So long as you don’t spike your blood sugar levels you will stay in a state of ketosis and continue to burn fat as fuel.
Notice I said don’t spike your blood sugar because even if you don’t eat carbohydrates, there are other ways you can forfeit your state of ketosis. When your blood sugar spikes you will be kicked out of ketosis. Certain sugar substitutes can still cause your blood sugar to rise so just be careful with anything processed claiming to be ‘sugar free’.
Read More: Keto for Beginners
A typical usage of a keto fast is in the beginning to kick-start the ketogenic diet. People who wish to live the ketogenic lifestyle often start their change with a fast from anywhere between 24 hours up to 5 days.
I would recommend adopting the Intermittent fasting eating pattern. Intermittent fasting is an easy way to adopt a keto fast into every day of the week. You would fast for 16 hours each day and use the remaining 8 hours to fit your low carb, high fat meals into.
Once you grow accustomed to fasting for 16 hours you can then try to extend that time and close the gap of your eating window. You can truly create an impenetrable body that destroys any toxins if you have a small eating window. Remember the less time your body is worrying about digesting your food, the more time and energy it has for everything else.
Here is a list of benefits for a Keto Fast:
Both fasting and eating a high fat, low carb diet enables the body to burn fat for fuel. This results in easy weight loss in overweight individuals, potentially even dramatic weight loss.
Studies show that fasting can actually target belly fat burning. This is because the fat in the belly contains more alpha-2 receptors. These receptors slow down your ability to burn fat while beta-2 receptors increase fat burning.
While fasting, insulin levels are lower which helps to activate the beta-2 receptors around your belly. So what does this mean? Fasting will help target your belly fat more than just eating a calorie restricted diet.
Increased Growth Hormone Levels
Human growth hormone or HGH is commonly known as the ‘anti-aging’ hormone. It increases metabolism, keeps skin tight, increases muscle strength, aids healing and recovery, strengthens bone density, increases mood and brain function and allows for much deeper and well rested sleep.
Fasting for longer than 16 hours increases your production of HGH, up to 1300% in women and 2000% in men! Increased HGH levels will lead to a happier and prolonged life.
Typical weight loss diets usually end up with some loss of muscle and strength. As the body has less glucose for energy from carbohydrates, it starts to devour your muscles to convert into glucose. This is the case when the body is still adapted to using glucose for fuel.
However becoming keto-adapted will ensure your body always breaks down fat sources for energy. As long as you have fat either in your body or in your diet, you won’t see much if any at all muscle wastage.
Balancing Insulin Sensitivity
When you eat carbohydrates and sugar your body will release insulin to open up your cells in order to consume the glucose from the sugar. However when you eat too much sugar for prolonged periods of time (this is very common in the modern diet) the cells become resistant to insulin.
When the cells aren’t opening up to the insulin the body responds by producing more insulin. This is what is known as Insulin resistance. This will cause lethargy, fatigue, massive sugar cravings, poor metabolism, weight gain and can lead to type-2 diabetes.
Both regular fasting and limited your carbohydrate intake will completely resolve this issue and help keep your cells sensitive to insulin. Combining them in the keto fast will sort out any insulin issues (except for type-1 diebetics).
Read More: How to balance your insulin levels
Reduce Hunger and Cravings
As mentioned previously having insulin resistance can cause extreme cravings and hunger, so balancing insulin sensitivity will reduce it. However there are other factors that reduce hunger and cravings while on a keto fast.
One of the hormones responsible for increasing hunger is known as ghrelin. When you eat you signal your body to produce more ghrelin. The more often you eat, the more you’ll teach your body to produce higher amounts of ghrelin. Have you ever tried the 6 small meal a day thing, and eventually it would turn into 4,5 even 6 regular or large meals a day?
This is due to an overproduction of ghrelin by eating more frequently throughout the day. And so ghrelin production is decreased by fasting regularly. Most people notice after 2 or 3 days of intermittent fasting, that they feel less hungry than usual.
Increased energy and brain function
Traditionally the brain uses glucose for energy. If you feel tired you would need to eat some food containing carbohydrates to wake your brain up and focus. However becoming keto-adapted during the keto fast allows the brain to be fuelled from ketones.
Most people will notice a significant difference, seeing positive changes in focus, alertness and overall mood when fully keto-adapted.
Ketosis also helps improve memory, relieve headaches and prevent neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s.
Elevated good cholesterol
You may see a rise in the heart healthy HDL (good cholesterol) and a decrease in the harmful LDL (bad cholesterol) while in ketosis. For this reason scientists say that the ketogenic diet, even though high in fat is beneficial and healthy for your heart.
This is not common but can occur due to a lack of electrolytes and minerals. Without carbohydrates the body depletes its electrolyte reserves much quicker. And so it is recommended to use lots of salt in each meal and to supplement with electrolytes.
To avoid the possibility of developing kidney stones, drink more water and supplement with potassium.
It is very common to have diarrhoea in the first few days adapting to a high fat diet. The body isn’t used to digesting high amounts of fat without carbohydrates. This is a phase and will stop after a few days to a week. Just make sure to drink enough water and get enough electrolytes.
On the other hand once you are keto adapted on the keto fast it is also possible to develop constipation. Without carbohydrates some people struggle to get enough fibre in their diet. Don’t forget to eat your leafy green and cruciferous vegetables. Avocado is also a good source of fibre.
If you still struggle to get enough fibre in your diet you can supplement with Psyllium husk. It can be used in your meal recipes as a thickener or just drunk in a glass of water. Typical dosage for it is one tablespoon.
Psyllium husk is an edible soluble fibre and prebiotic. Once it is ingested it expands to form a gel-like mass. It does this by drawing water in from the colon, promoting healthy and easy digestion.
Tips While Keto Fasting
Drink More Water
While in ketosis, your body purges electrolytes. There are no carbohydrates to keep water and its minerals contained in the muscles and organs. This is also why you will initially see a fast drop in body weight, as you are holding less water. This is usually noticeable in the face early on.
Not drinking adequate amounts of water can lead to digestion issues like diarrhoea and constipation, headaches, dizziness and fatigue.
Salt salt salt
When preparing meals, don’t be afraid of salt! Salt will not hurt you. In fact it will help you. Just don’t go overboard or you may destroy a perfectly delicious meal.
Okay so I may be repeating myself here but that is because this is so important. You want to consume more potassium, sodium and magnesium if you want to be as happy and healthy as possible on the keto fast.
Your body will feel sore, tired, you will get cramps and headaches if you don’t get enough electrolytes.
For an excellent electrolyte supplement I recommend KetoVitals. With a high dose of electrolytes in each cap and 120 in each bottle you get the most out of your purchase. With the option for a subscription, a keto fast couldn’t be easier.
One of the side effects of the ketogenic diet is diarrhea. The body isn't used to digesting so much fats. Using a high quality enzyme supplement with each meal will drastically aid your body to digest the fats and proteins.
The unfortunate fact is that our food today doesn’t contain the required digestive enzymes it used to. With pesticides and other chemicals, it lengthens the shelf-life of the food but also kills many enzymes. This means our bodies aren’t absorbing all of the nutrients from the food we eat.
What can this result in? Slower metabolism, digestive issues, constipation, diarrhea, crohns disease, irritable bowel syndrome, increased appetite, sugar cravings and much more! This goes for any diet.
Furthermore proteolytic enzymes (enzymes that help break down and digest protein) are shown to reduce post workout soreness.
The enzyme I take ‘Masszymes’ helps my body digest all the fat with ease. It also has a powerful enzyme profile to digest protein which is very important on a ketogenic diet. Since you aren’t eating as much protein as other diets require, it is important that the protein you do consume is fully digested and its nutrients utilized.
People class the ketogenic diet as the best in burning fat, but not the greatest in building muscle. Although it is very possible to build muscle, the little amount of protein required in the diet makes it a slow process. Supplementing with an enzyme like Masszymes will greatly speed up muscle growth paired with a solid workout regime.
You’ll also see more energy in the gym and in your day to day life.
Click the image below to learn more
Lower the intensity of training
This tip is for the fitness junkies who lift weights and like to do interval training. High intense exercise like heavy weight training in the 1-5 rep range and HIIT cardio utilises glucose for energy. It is much more demanding and difficult to do while in ketosis.
However you will have a significant increase in endurance. I would recommend lifting weights within 6-12 rep ranges or higher and focus on moderate to steady state cardio like brisk walking or cycling.
You can still utilise HIIT, it will just feel much more difficult and you will see less results while in ketosis. Something I like to do is high rep goblet squats at 15-20 reps with a rest interval of 60 seconds, doing 10 or more sets. It isn’t quite HIIT but it’s just as difficult and gets you breathing just as hard and a ridiculous leg pump to boot!
Read More: Supplements to help with keto diarrhea
Read More: Supplements to help with keto constipation