In the realm of intermittent fasting, a growing health trend that offers a multitude of benefits, the role of supplements can be rather enigmatic. To fully harness the potential of intermittent fasting while ensuring optimal nutrient intake, it becomes crucial to decipher which supplements harmonize with this fasting practice and which ones might disrupt it. Dr. Sara Diana Garduno Diaz, a distinguished PhD and Senior Nutrition Consultant, takes us on an insightful journey through the intricate relationship between fasting and supplementation.
The Fasting Conundrum
Intermittent fasting revolves around abstaining from calorie-containing foods and beverages, all while optimizing health benefits (1). But what about supplements? Do they have a place in this fasting regimen? The answer isn’t straightforward. While fasting primarily concerns abstaining from calories, it can also encompass supplements that initiate digestion or induce insulin spikes. Thus, prudence is imperative when integrating supplements into your fasting routine, as some can indeed break your fast, thwart ketosis, and halt autophagy.
Supplements That Harmonize With Fasting
- Creatine: A pure creatine supplement, devoid of sweeteners and calories, is unlikely to disrupt your fast. It can be safely consumed before or after a workout during fasting periods.
- Electrolytes: These include potassium, sodium, magnesium, and calcium. As long as your electrolyte supplement is calorie-free and free of sweeteners, it can be ingested during fasting. Electrolytes can even help alleviate the side effects of ketosis and promote hydration.
- L-tyrosine: This supplement, meant for consumption on an empty stomach, poses no concerns during fasting. L-tyrosine supports stress management and mood.
- Probiotics: Beneficial gut bacteria, probiotics come in two forms – those best taken without food and others more effective when consumed with a meal. Carefully review the label recommendations for your specific probiotic supplement. Most probiotics are calorie-free and thus should not disrupt fasting.
- Prebiotics: Distinct from probiotics, prebiotics are fiber that nourishes beneficial gut bacteria without being digested. Pure prebiotic supplements, devoid of digestible carbohydrates, won’t impact your fasting period. However, mixed prebiotic supplements may affect blood glucose levels.
- Water-soluble vitamins: Vitamins B and C, which don’t require fats for absorption, can be taken with water during fasting. While vitamin C is generally gentle on an empty
- stomach, B vitamins may cause nausea in some individuals. Experimentation is key to determine if your body can tolerate them during fasting (2).Supplements for Your Eating Window
Certain supplements are better absorbed when consumed with food and should be reserved for your eating window:
- Amino acids: L-glutamine and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) can raise insulin levels and disrupt ketosis, making them unsuitable for fasting. It’s advisable to take them during your eating window
- Curcumin and Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Supplements containing these components are more efficiently absorbed when taken with food. Consume them during your eating hours.
- Chromium and Vanadium: These minerals can lower blood sugar levels during fasting, potentially leading to hypoglycemia and energy crashes. To avoid these effects, take them with food.
- Fat-soluble vitamins: Vitamins A, D, E, K, and fat-soluble ingredients in multivitamins require meals for absorption. Always check the label for specific directions.
- Gummy Vitamins: These often contain sweeteners and gelatin, which provide calories and break your fast.
- Iodine: For optimal absorption, consume iodide supplements with food.
- Magnesium: Some individuals may experience stomach discomfort with magnesium supplements on an empty stomach. To mitigate this, take magnesium with food.
- Protein Powder: Whey, collagen, and other protein powders contain calories and trigger an insulin response. They should be avoided during fasting.
A Final Word
Individual responses to supplements can vary. If you struggle to tolerate supplements on an empty stomach, aim to take them 20-30 minutes before a meal, respecting your fast while minimizing discomfort
If you are on prescription medications, consult your healthcare professional before altering your supplementation routine, as some medications require specific timing. Remember, every body is unique, so monitoring your reaction to supplements is key in finding a fasting schedule that suits you and your unique needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
What supplements to take when fasting?
During fasting periods, your body may lack essential nutrients due to restricted food intake. Consider intermittent fasting supplements like vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids to compensate for potential deficiencies.
What minerals to take while fasting?
In addition to the mentioned supplements, consider magnesium, which aids muscle and nerve function, reducing fatigue.
When should you take your vitamins during intermittent fasting?
While the optimal timing varies, it’s generally advised to consume intermittent fasting supplements during your eating window.