The Millennial’s Diets Du Jour: Intermittent Fasting and the Ketogenic Diet

Scroll through your latest Facebook or Instagram feeds and chances are before and after selfies showcasing results of these two weight-loss, metabolism-altering diets, Intermittent Fasting (aka IF) and the Ketogenic Diet (aka Keto), are flooding your feed.

So what exactly are they and why are they trending?

The breakdown:

Intermittent Fasting (IF)

Intermittent Fasting is not a diet but a schedule of eating.

Simply put, no food from 8pm to 12 noon the next day (around 16 hours later). There are variations—Alternate-Day Fasting, 5:2 (5 days eating/2 days fasting), Periodic Fasting etc—but let’s stick to the most popular and simplest method, the 16:8 (16 hours (fasting) and 8 hours (feeding).

Similar to the Oprah-endorsed “no food after 6PM,” IF is the practice of extending a person’s normal fasting period (including 8 hours of sleep) into 14-16 hours of no food intake. This encourages the body to enter a fat-burning state (due to lower insulin levels) that otherwise wouldn’t be triggered (since a normal meal is every 4-5 hours). Non-caloric beverages like water, black coffee or tea are allowed but full meals usually begin at lunchtime and end at 8 PM.

Sound sustainable? According to Everyday Health, “The [16:8 diet] is something people can do for the long term,” says Kelsey Gabel, R.D. “When people stop eating all day, they become more in tune with their feeding and hunger cues, and stop eating when they aren’t hungry.”

The benefits? Budget-friendly, easy meal plans (3 meals down to 2) as well as impressive health benefits. According to The 8-Hour Diet, fasting allows the body to work on “a cellular level… trains a person’s body to grow leaner, slows the aging process, and serves as a magic bullet to take down the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s.”

All this just by skipping breakfast?

Now what about KETO?

If you thought the Ketogenic Diet is an indulgent foodie’s dream wherein high-fat food helps drop pounds, you would be right. Expectation finally meets reality because going Keto means consuming excessive amounts of fat (60-75% of your food intake, to be exact!), 20-35% to protein and 5% carbohydrates, to lose weight.

Initially formulated to treat seizure disorders in children, the Keto diet hastens weight loss by forcing the body into a state of ketosis, which is a metabolic process for burning fat to use as energy instead of carbohydrates.

What does that mean? By switching food groups (loading up on fat and being stingy with carbs), our bodies (specifically our livers) start utilizing fat cells and turns them into fuel (fatty acids and ketones) that the body can now use as energy.

Say hello fatty meats, whole eggs, high-fat dairy, butter and oils; And goodbye to bread, pasta, rice, low fat milk, starchy root crops and most fruits—essentially rewiring the way we see “good” and “bad” food. Added bonus? Fatty food helps you feel fuller longer leading to less meals overall.

But like all fairy tales, this princess has baggage. Not all fat is created equal, and hidden carbs are inevitable when eating out. This diet is also fairly tricky and some experts don’t recommend this long-term.

But die-hards attest that with preparation, an encouraging community, clever menu hacks, and the occasional Keto food delivery service, can make this journey successful enough for a selfie.

One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to finding an eating regimen fit for our needs. Regular exercise and healthy food choices still rank high in this fitness-sphere and enhance results of both programs. So whether you choose WHEN you eat over WHAT you eat, the important thing is, getting started.

*IMPORTANT NOTE: Before starting any of these diets/programs please consult a doctor who can assess if these are good fitness plans for you.

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