Intermittent Fasting For Dummies
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Intermittent fasting focuses on when you eat rather than what you eat, so you choose the type of diet to accompany your intermittent fasting plan. Avoid choosing the keto diet as your combo eating plan of choice, which may be confusing for you because a lot of chatter on the Internet touts the purported dream combination of keto and fasting. People who combine keto and intermittent fasting use the regimen to further push their body into ketosis.

intermittent fasting and keto © Anibry /

Here is why you shouldn’t use the Keto Diet as your intermittent fasting diet of choice:

  • Dieters going keto tend to lose weight, but the wrong way. The Keto Diet is low in fiber and high in saturated fat, which is a risk for cardiovascular disease. Many followers eat a meat-centric diet, with excessive intake of red and processed meats — proven to increase the risk for dying from heart disease, according to research published in the journal Nutrients. Furthermore, the Keto Diet can harm the gut microbe, an important part of your metabolic health. Take it from me, a credentialed nutrition scientist, following a keto diet is not healthy!
  • Ketosis for long periods is unsafe. Ignore the hype, and don’t buy into the attraction of eating to promote further ketosis (the process that occurs when your body doesn't have enough carbs to burn for energy). Instead, the body burns fat and makes things called ketones, which it can use for fuel. (Note that ketoacidosis is a higher level of ketones in the body compared to ketosis, occurs in diabetics and is life-threatening.) Safe and effective intermittent fasting puts your body into ketosis for short time periods followed by feeding your body with the nutrients it needs to prevent disease whereas the Keto Diet puts your body into ketosis, but it’s unhealthy because it’s seriously restrictive, cuts out super nutritious foods, and is hard to follow.

The fasting phase puts your body into ketosis, not the diet. Granted, the allure of intermittent fasting is that you choose what you eat and when you eat. However, to double up on the health and fitness benefits of your intermittent fasting journey, choose your eating plan wisely.

  • The Keto Diet is missing key nutrients. The Keto Diet is a trendy high-fat, low-carb meal plan that is simply a recycled age-old, super high-fat, high-protein, and ultra-low carb diet packaged into a new, highly attractive, and immensely popular fad eating plan. The foods promoted are especially high in dangerous bad fats and animal protein. In fact, the diet requires roughly 80 percent of your daily calories to come from fat, much of it considered bad fat (see the next section for some examples). The harmful heart-health repercussions of following this diet long term haven’t been revealed. Many of the foods that the diet plan excludes are the main source of disease-preventing and free radical–halting antioxidants.

What’s wrong about keto: What you shouldn’t and should be eating

The Keto Diet is ridiculously heavy in red meat and other fatty, processed, and salty foods that are notoriously disease-promoting. So many of the recommended foods in this diet simply aren’t what your body needs to maintain and promote good health.

Here are the foods often suggested on the Keto Diet that you should not eat and substitutions for healthier living:

  • Coconut oil: It’s high in artery-clogging saturated fatty acids. You should use extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) as your main fat and occasionally canola oil in lieu of coconut oil.
  • Red and processed meats: They’re high in dietary cholesterol and saturated fats. Red and processed meat consumption is associated with increased mortality and colon cancer. Switch to lean seafood and plant proteins as your main sources of lean protein.
  • Full-fat cheeses: These types of cheeses are high in dietary cholesterol and saturated fats. Switch to reduced fat cheeses and small amounts of strong, flavorful full fat cheese as a garnish.
  • Full-fat dairy (milk): Full-fat dairy is high in dietary cholesterol and saturated fats. Switch to fat-free milk or plant milk alternatives.
The following foods are forbidden on the Keto Diet, but they’re the exact foods you should be eating:
  • Beans, peas, lentils, and peanuts: Legumes are extremely nutritious; in fact, lentil consumption has been associated with longevity. Many studies have found that increasing consumption of antioxidant-packed beans decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, and overall mortality while promoting increased energy and a lower weight. Additional benefits of beans include strengthening of bones due to the high magnesium content, a mineral which is involved in bone health metabolism. Beans, especially dark beans, are incredibly heart healthy. The fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin B6, and phytonutrient content of beans, coupled with their lack of cholesterol, all support heart health. This unique fiber also lowers the total amount of cholesterol in the blood, especially bad LDL cholesterol, making “beans, beans, good for your heart!” Beans also feed the mighty microbes — the good healthy microbes in our gut — promoting disease-prevention.
  • Grains, such as rice, pasta, and oatmeal: Yes, the grains should be whole, but excluding these grains — the staff of life — is ludicrous. You need the fiber and significant amount of nutrition that these carbs provide to maintain and promote a long and healthy life.
  • Low-fat dairy products: Dairy products are a nutritious source of calcium and protein for most people. They should be eaten in the fat-free form to extricate artery-clogging saturated fat found in whole dairy foods.
  • Most fruits, except for lemons, limes, tomatoes, and small portions of berries: To exclude any fruit is ridiculous. About 90 percent of people don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables for good health — one possible contributing cause of the obesity epidemic.
  • Most alcohols, including wine: Red wine consumed in moderation is heart-healthy and a cornerstone of the Mediterranean Diet.
  • Starchy vegetables, including corn, potatoes, and peas: Starchy vegetables are super nutritious slow carbs (plant foods rich in fiber and, therefore, take longer to digest and cause a slower rise in blood sugar) that should be part of a healthy diet and especially an intermittent fasting program. Refer to the following table for a list of additional healthful slow carbs to include in your diet.
Slow-Digesting Carbs
Fruits Vegetables Legumes/Nuts Whole Grains
Apples Okra Beans Steel cut oats
Oranges Zucchini Peas Quinoa
Peaches Asparagus Lentils Brown rice
Pears Carrots Walnuts Pumpernickel
Plums Kale Almonds Barley

A plant-based whole foods diet, like the Mediterranean Diet, is the best way to promote health and longevity and is the most effective add-on to your intermittent fasting lifestyle. The intermittent fast and not the diet is what activates metabolic switching and cellular stress resistance — the main triggers for the numerous health benefits that this lifestyle offers. Keep in mind, fasting can be difficult at first.

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