How To Combine Intermittent Fasting With Low Carb Diets Effectively

Quick Links

How To Combine Intermittent Fasting With Low Carb Diets Effectively

Intermittent fasting and low-carb diets have gained significant popularity because they can aid in weight loss, improve metabolic health, and promote overall well-being1,2.

Combined, these approaches can enhance each other’s benefits, creating a powerful strategy for those seeking optimal health and weight management.

The synergy between intermittent fasting and low-carb diets regulates blood sugar levels, promotes fat burning, and reduces insulin resistance3,4.

Understanding how these two dietary approaches work together allows you to create a sustainable and effective plan tailored to your needs and goals.

Let’s explore how to combine intermittent fasting with low carb diets, providing insights and tips to help you succeed on your health journey.

Overview Of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting involves cycling between periods of eating and fasting. It is not a diet in the traditional sense but rather an eating pattern.

Standard IF methods include the 16/8 method, the 5:2 diet, and the warrior diet, each with its own fasting and eating windows.

The Basics Of Low-Carb Diets

Low-carb diets focus on reducing carbohydrate intake and increasing protein and fat consumption.

Sugar, bread, pasta, and fried foods are examples of processed carbohydrates. These are the kinds of carb-heavy foods that can contribute to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

However, it’s crucial to remember that carbohydrates are also present in nutritious foods like whole grains, fruits, and starchy vegetables. Cutting out these carb-containing foods means missing out on essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which play significant roles in maintaining good health and preventing diseases.

This is why long-term commitment to a low-carb diet can have potential side effects. Not all carbohydrates are the same, and while a low-carb diet can contribute to a healthier lifestyle in the short term, it may not be as beneficial in the long run.

Types Of Low-Carb Diets

Ketogenic Diet

The ketogenic diet is a very low-carb, high-fat eating plan.

A keto diet aims to reduce carb intake so low that your body enters a metabolic state known as ketosis. In this state, the body shifts its primary fuel source from carbohydrates to fats, leading to increased fat burning for energy5,6.

Low-Carb, High-Fat (LCHF)

It’s a typical low-carb diet with an even stronger emphasis on whole, unprocessed foods.

The diet primarily includes meats, fish and shellfish, eggs, healthy fats, vegetables, dairy products, nuts, and berries.

Low-Carb Paleo Diet

This diet promotes eating foods that were likely available during the Paleolithic era, before the agricultural and industrial revolutions.

It emphasizes meats, fish, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruits, tubers, nuts, and seeds. A strict paleo diet eliminates processed foods, added sugars, grains, legumes, and dairy products.

Several small studies indicate that a paleo diet can lead to weight loss, lower blood sugar levels, and improve heart disease risk factors7,8,9.

Benefits Of Combining Intermittent Fasting And Low-Carb Diets

Combining intermittent fasting with a low-carb diet can amplify the benefits of each approach, such as:

Weight Loss and Fat Burning

Both intermittent fasting and low-carb diets promote weight loss by increasing fat-burning and reducing calorie intake.

They can help you lose weight more effectively by targeting stored fat and improving metabolic efficiency1,3,4.

Improved Blood Sugar Control

Intermittent fasting and low-carb diets help regulate blood sugar levels, reducing the risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes3,4.

This combination can lead to more stable blood sugar levels and better overall metabolic health.

Enhanced Insulin Sensitivity

Reducing carbohydrate intake and fasting improves insulin sensitivity, which can help lower insulin levels and promote fat loss3,10.

This can be particularly beneficial for those with insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome.

Managing Calorie Intake

Intermittent fasting naturally reduces calorie intake by limiting the eating window, while low-carb diets often lead to reduced hunger and cravings11,12.

Together, they can help create a sustainable calorie deficit for weight loss.

Foods You Should Avoid While On Low-Carb Diet

Fasting doesn’t come with a strict menu, but paying attention to what you eat can significantly enhance the benefits of fasting, especially when combined with a low-carb diet. Eating foods high in carbohydrates will cause your blood sugar levels to spike once more, undoing your metabolism’s progress in converting fat into energy.

Furthermore, your body will struggle to make the proper hormones and regulate itself if you alternate between fasting without carbs and indulging in all the starchy and sugary foods you’ve been craving.

This includes any food that your body will process and turn into glucose, like:

  • Sugar-filled foods and beverages: beer, chocolate, candies, high-sugar fruits, ice cream, juice, and sodas.
  • Bread, pastries, baked foods, and refined cereal grains are made from wheat and flour.
  • Beans, legumes, potatoes, and yams are examples of starchy products.

How To Combine Intermittent Fasting With Low Carb Diets Effectively

1. Optimize eating windows.

Choosing the right eating window is crucial for combining intermittent fasting with a low-carb diet.

Standard windows include 16/8 (16 hours fasting, 8 hours eating) and 18/6 (18 hours fasting, 6 hours eating), which can be adjusted based on individual preferences and goals.

2. Eat healthy fats and low-carb.

Incorporating healthy fats like olive, coconut, and avocado into your low-carb diet can enhance satiety and provide essential nutrients.

These fats are crucial for maintaining energy levels and supporting overall health while fasting.

3. Do a meal plan.

Effective meal planning is essential for combining intermittent fasting with a low-carb diet.

Focus on nutrient-dense foods like leafy greens, lean proteins, and healthy fats to ensure you get the necessary nutrients within your eating window.

Ensure you get a broad spectrum of nutrients by incorporating a range of low-carb, nutrient-dense foods and considering supplements if necessary.

Avoid being too rigid with your diet to maintain a healthy relationship with food and prevent burnout.

4. Avoid common pitfalls.

When combining intermittent fasting with a low-carb diet, avoiding common pitfalls is essential to ensure long-term success and your overall health. One primary mistake is overeating during the eating window.

The purpose of intermittent fasting is to limit the time frame for eating, but this doesn’t mean you should consume excessive calories in one sitting. Overeating, even those that are low carb, can negate the calorie deficit created by fasting and slow down weight loss progress.

Focus on balanced, nutrient-dense meals rather than large portions.

5. Exercise regularly.

Regular exercise can amplify the advantages of intermittent fasting and a low-carb diet, significantly aiding in losing weight and improving overall health.

Strive for cardio and strength training, which promotes fat loss and helps preserve muscle mass. Cardio exercises, such as running or cycling, can boost your metabolism and burn calories13, while strength training helps build and maintain muscle, which is essential for a toned physique14.

Integrating these exercises into your regimen will enhance the effectiveness of your diet and fasting efforts, making it easier to track how much weight you lose and ensuring your progress is sustainable.

6. Listening to your body.

Pay attention to your body’s signals and adjust your fasting and eating patterns accordingly.

This attentiveness can help prevent issues such as overeating or undereating, which can disrupt your progress and lead to adverse side effects.

By being mindful of your body’s needs, you can create a more sustainable and effective dietary approach that supports your overall health and well-being.

7. Deal with hunger and cravings.

One effective strategy is staying hydrated; drinking plenty of water can help control hunger and prevent the body from mistaking thirst for hunger.

Additionally, incorporating fiber-rich foods into your meals can promote feelings of fullness and reduce overall calorie intake. Foods like leafy greens, nuts, and seeds align with a low-carb diet and help manage cravings by providing essential nutrients and satiety.

Another key factor is ensuring adequate protein intake; protein increases satiety and reduces hunger levels, making it easier to stick to your eating window and avoid overeating.

Focusing on hydration, fiber-rich foods, and sufficient protein can help you manage hunger and cravings better while on low-carb intermittent fasting.

8. Stay hydrated.

Staying hydrated is crucial for overall health and can help manage hunger during fasting periods.

Drinking water, herbal teas, and electrolyte-rich beverages can support your fasting and low-carb efforts.

9. Monitor your progress.

Track your progress by monitoring your weight, body measurements, and overall feelings.

Adjust your plan as needed to ensure continued success and address any issues.

10. Customize your plan.

Customize your intermittent fasting and low-carb plan to fit your preferences and lifestyle. This approach can help ensure long-term success and maintain your progress over time.

Possible Side Effects Of A Low-Carb Diet


Some people have a set of symptoms known as the “keto flu” when they first begin the keto diet.

These symptoms, which might feel like the flu, result from the body’s adaptation to a new diet low in carbohydrates15.

Bad Breath

One of the most frequent negative effects of entering full ketosis is bad breath.

Elevated ketone levels cause unpleasant breath. Acetone is responsible for leaving the body through breath and urine16.

Sleep Issues

Some individuals on low-carb diets may experience disruptions in their sleep patterns.

Many people who first severely cut their carbs report sleeplessness or waking up in the middle of the night17.

Final Thoughts

Combining intermittent fasting with low-carb diets can be a highly effective strategy for improving health, losing weight, and enhancing overall well-being.

Understanding the principles behind these approaches and tailoring them to your needs can help you create a sustainable and prosperous plan.

Listen to your body, stay hydrated, and seek professional guidance. With dedication and consistency, you can achieve your health and weight loss goals through this powerful combination.


1 Vasim, I., Majeed, C. N., & DeBoer, M. D. (2022). Intermittent Fasting and Metabolic Health. Nutrients, 14(3). https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14030631

2 Oh R, Gilani B, Uppaluri KR. Low-Carbohydrate Diet. [Updated 2023 Aug 17]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537084/

3 Yuan, X., Wang, J., Yang, S., Gao, M., Cao, L., Li, X., Hong, D., Tian, S., & Sun, C. (2022). Effect of Intermittent Fasting Diet on Glucose and Lipid Metabolism and Insulin Resistance in Patients with Impaired Glucose and Lipid Metabolism: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. International Journal of Endocrinology, 2022. https://doi.org/10.1155/2022/6999907

4 Foley, P. J. (2021). Effect of low carbohydrate diets on insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome. Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Obesity, 28(5), 463-468. https://doi.org/10.1097/MED.0000000000000659

5 Paoli A, Rubini A, Volek JS, Grimaldi KA. Beyond weight loss: a review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2013 Aug;67(8):789-96. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2013.116. Epub 2013 Jun 26. Erratum in: Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014 May;68(5):641. PMID: 23801097; PMCID: PMC3826507.

6 Dowis, K., & Banga, S. (2021). The Potential Health Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet: A Narrative Review. Nutrients, 13(5). https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13051654

7 Manheimer EW, van Zuuren EJ, Fedorowicz Z, Pijl H. Paleolithic nutrition for metabolic syndrome: systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Oct;102(4):922-32. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.113613. Epub 2015 Aug 12. PMID: 26269362; PMCID: PMC4588744.

8 Mellberg C, Sandberg S, Ryberg M, Eriksson M, Brage S, Larsson C, Olsson T, Lindahl B. Long-term effects of a Palaeolithic-type diet in obese postmenopausal women: a 2-year randomized trial. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014 Mar;68(3):350-7. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2013.290. Epub 2014 Jan 29. PMID: 24473459; PMCID: PMC4216932.

9 Lindeberg S, Jönsson T, Granfeldt Y, Borgstrand E, Soffman J, Sjöström K, Ahrén B. A Palaeolithic diet improves glucose tolerance more than a Mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischaemic heart disease. Diabetologia. 2007 Sep;50(9):1795-1807. doi: 10.1007/s00125-007-0716-y. Epub 2007 Jun 22. PMID: 17583796.

10 Paoli, A., Bianco, A., Moro, T., Mota, J. F., & Coelho-Ravagnani, C. F. (2023). The Effects of Ketogenic Diet on Insulin Sensitivity and Weight Loss, Which Came First: The Chicken or the Egg? Nutrients, 15(14). https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15143120

11 Duregon, E., D. Pomatto-Watson, C. D., Bernier, M., & Price, N. L. (2021). Intermittent fasting: From calories to time restriction. GeroScience, 43(3), 1083-1092. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11357-021-00335-z

12 Martin, C. K., Rosenbaum, D., Han, H., Geiselman, P., Wyatt, H., Hill, J., Brill, C., Bailer, B., Stein, R., Klein, S., & Foster, G. D. (2011). Change in food cravings, food preferences, and appetite during a low-carbohydrate and low-fat diet. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.), 19(10), 1963. https://doi.org/10.1038/oby.2011.62

13 O’Keefe JH, Franklin B, Lavie CJ. Exercising for health and longevity vs peak performance: different regimens for different goals. Mayo Clin Proc. 2014 Sep;89(9):1171-5. doi: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2014.07.007. Epub 2014 Aug 12. PMID: 25128073.

14 Strength training builds more than muscles. (2024, January 16). Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/strength-training-builds-more-than-muscles

15 Campos, M. (2018, October 18). What is keto flu? Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-is-keto-flu-2018101815052

16 Ruzsányi, V., & Kalapos, M. P. (2017). Breath acetone as a potential marker in clinical practice. Journal of Breath Research, 11(2), 024002. https://doi.org/10.1088/1752-7163/aa66d3

17 Bostock, E. C., Kirkby, K. C., Taylor, B. V., & Hawrelak, J. A. (2020). Consumer Reports of “Keto Flu” Associated With the Ketogenic Diet. Frontiers in Nutrition, 7, 511082. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2020.00020


More Posts...