Many might believe that when you fast, you would not be able to get enough vitamins, but this is not true. Intermittent fasting teaches your body to consume at regular intervals. You will not lose any essential vitamins or minerals if you do this. Furthermore, the nutrients you lose on a fasting day are replenished when you eat.
However, some people are looking for supplements to take while fasting because they feel it would help them meet all of their body’s nutritional needs. If you’re one of those people, let this article guide you on choosing the best quality supplements to take.
You can go further to get some insights on the top best supplements that will help your body fulfill its essential nutrients.
Intermittent fasting, also known as time-restricted feeding or intermittent energy restriction, is a dietary pattern in which regular energy intake is alternated with times of protracted energy restriction. Intermittent fasting is a dietary practice in which the amount of time spent fasting each day or the number of fasting days per week can vary1.
To put it simply, fasting is defined as voluntarily abstaining from some or all foods and beverages for therapeutic, spiritual, or political purposes2. It is a pattern of eating where you change when you eat rather than what you’re eating.
So, you purposefully practice skipping meals, and only eating during a designated time period.
Nutrient And Electrolyte Deficiency
Intermittent fasters may be at risk for nutritional and electrolyte deficiencies if they do not consume enough water or nutrient-dense foods during eating time. Binge eating can occur following fasting periods, and some people may adjust by consuming more calories during their eating window. If this pattern of overeating continues, the individual may gain weight because they are consuming more calories than they are exerting, regardless of the calorie deficit experienced during the fasting period1.
In a study for fasting guidelines, it indicated that clinicians must assess and check patients’ nutritional condition when determining the optimum fasting plan. This nutritional status evaluation must be done with attention and precision. In terms of body composition, poor nutritional status may be linked to the development of problems such as cachexia, micronutrient deficiency, sarcopenia, osteopenia, and osteoporosis2.
Foods To Eat While Fasting
Fasting is defined as abstaining from food. However, you may be able to consume some healthy foods and liquids while still reaping the benefits of fasting during your fasting period.
According to some experts, you can stay in ketosis as long as you limit your carbohydrate consumption to less than 50 grams per day during a fast3.
The foods and beverages listed below can be consumed while fasting4.
- Water – Whether plain or carbonated, it has no calories and will keep you hydrated when fasting.
- Coffee and tea – These should be drunk mostly without the addition of sugar, milk, or cream. Some folks, however, find that a modest bit of milk or fat might help them feel full.
- Diluted apple cider vinegar – Some people find that ingesting 1-2 tablespoons (5-10 mL) of apple cider vinegar mixed with water will help them keep hydrated and avoid cravings when fasting.
- Healthy fats – During a fast, some people consume coffee with MCT oil, ghee, coconut oil, or butter. Oil breaks a fast, but it does not break ketosis and can help you get through the day.
- Bone broth – This nutrient-dense food can help restore electrolytes lost from drinking only water for extended periods of time.
Remember that any calorie-containing foods or beverages, such as bone broth and the healthful fats described above, will technically break your fast.
Small portions of these low-carb, high-fat, moderate-protein items, on the other hand, will not knock your body out of ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic state occurring when your body burns fat for energy instead of glucose. This may be primarily important for you if your fasting intent is weight loss.
Do Supplements Break Your Fast?
The majority of multivitamin formulations comprise a combination of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and bioactive substances. These are called micronutrients and contain zero calories.
Protein, carbohydrates, and fat are referred to as macronutrients because your body requires considerable amounts of them. One gram of fat contains 9 calories, whereas protein and carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram.
Because multivitamins are non-caloric, they will not break your fast. However, other formulas have extra sugars and fillers, which raise the calorie count. Maltodextrin, pectin, cane sugar, fruit juice concentrate, and other caloric additives may be found in chewable multivitamins, for example. Choose a calorie-free formula if you’re fasting5.
How Do Supplements Affect Fasting?
It is rare that you will become nutritionally deficient when fasting, but it depends on how restrictive your fast is and how long it lasts.
To guarantee proper vitamin and mineral consumption, you may choose to take supplements while fasting. If your diet is already deficient in vitamins and minerals, fasting on a regular basis may result in nutrient shortages6.
If you supplement while fasting, you should be aware of which supplements may cause your fast to break. This will help you determine whether to take them with a meal or during a fast4.
Supplements More Likely To Break A Fast
- Gummy vitamins – These often contain modest amounts of sugar, protein, and occasionally fat, which may break your fast.
- Branched-chain amino acids – Amino acids with branched chains (BCAAs). BCAAs appear to cause an insulin response that inhibits autophagy7.
- Protein powder – Protein powder includes calories and causes an insulin response, signaling to your body that you are not fasting8.
- Certain ingredients – Supplements containing substances such as maltodextrin, pectin, cane sugar, or fruit juice concentrate include sugar and calories that may cause your fast to break.
Supplements Less Likely To Break A Fast
- Individual micronutrients – This includes potassium, vitamin D, and B vitamins (although fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K will be best absorbed when taken with food)9.
- Pure collagen – This may somewhat hinder autophagy, but it should not have a substantial impact on ketosis or fat burning during a fast10.
- Multivitamins – Brands that do not contain sugar or other fillers should have little or no calories.
- Fish or algae oil – In regular doses, these supplements contain few calories and no digestible carbs.
Supplements can be used during fasts, though some are better absorbed with food. Supplements containing calories or sugar are more likely to cause your fast to be broken.
Supplements To Take While Fasting
These intermittent fasting supplements should be taken on an empty stomach to be effective. However, always take note of how you are feeling. Some people are unable to consume dietary supplements without eating. If this is the case for you, consider taking them 20-30 minutes before a meal instead5.
- Creatine – Creatine is unlikely to break your fast because it contains no calories and has no effect on insulin levels.
- Electrolytes – Consider the minerals potassium, sodium, and calcium. It’s safe to take electrolyte supplements during a fast as long as it doesn’t contain any sweeteners or calories, and they can even help you manage the side effects of transitioning to ketosis. In fact, electrolytes may even aid in the management of the negative effects of ketosis. They’ll also keep you hydrated because electrolytes assist your body to retain water.
- Probiotics – These are healthy gut bacteria, and having a healthy gut benefits your entire body. Some probiotic pills are designed to be taken without food to reduce stomach acid levels. The manufacturer’s recommendations should be found on the label of your probiotic supplements. Most probiotics are calorie-free, so they should not interfere with your fast.
- Water-soluble vitamins – During a fasting phase, you can take vitamins B and C with water. On an empty stomach, vitamin C is normally very straightforward, but B-complex vitamins might make some feel sick. If this happens to you, simply take these vitamins with your meal. When taken without food, B-complex vitamins might cause nausea in some persons. You should assess how B vitamin supplementation makes you feel and then decide whether your body can handle them on an empty stomach or whether you should take them during your non-fasting phase.
- L-tyrosine – L-tyrosine can help you cope with stress and improve your mood. It is an amino acid, and consuming at low amounts is unlikely to break a fast.
- Prebiotics – Prebiotics, not to be confused with probiotics, are helpful bacteria that feed your good gut bacteria and sustain a healthy gut microbiota. If you take a prebiotic supplement that has not been digested, no calories will be absorbed and no insulin response will be created. However, if your prebiotic is a combination of other digestible carbs, you must exercise caution because it can impact your blood glucose levels and force you to break your fast.
Work on refilling your electrolytes and, if feasible, continuing to take your supplements. While the ideal time for supplementation depends on various factors, the longer you fast, the more probable you will require supplementation.
Most importantly, pay attention to how you feel. Discuss your fasting and supplement options with your doctor so they can help in deciding the best ones for you.
1 Nutrition & Health Info Sheets for Health Professionals – Intermittent Fasting. (2020, December 5). UC Davis Nutrition Department. https://nutrition.ucdavis.edu/outreach/nutr-health-info-sheets/pro-intermittent-fasting
2 Attinà, A., Leggeri, C., Paroni, R., Pivari, F., Dei Cas, M., Mingione, A., Dri, M., Marchetti, M., & Di Renzo, L. (2021). Fasting: How to Guide. Nutrients, 13(5), 1570. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13051570
3 Masood W, Annamaraju P, Uppaluri KR. Ketogenic Diet. [Updated 2022 Jun 11]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499830/
6 Collier R. (2013). Intermittent fasting: the next big weight loss fad. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l’Association medicale canadienne, 185(8), E321–E322. https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.109-4437
7 Asghari, G., Farhadnejad, H., Teymoori, F., Mirmiran, P., Tohidi, M., & Azizi, F. (2018). High dietary intake of branched-chain amino acids is associated with an increased risk of insulin resistance in adults. Journal of diabetes, 10(5), 357–364. https://doi.org/10.1111/1753-0407.12639
8 Cota, D., Proulx, K., Smith, K. A., Kozma, S. C., Thomas, G., Woods, S. C., & Seeley, R. J. (2006). Hypothalamic mTOR signaling regulates food intake. Science (New York, N.Y.), 312(5775), 927–930. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1124147
9 Albahrani AA, Greaves RF. Fat-Soluble Vitamins: Clinical Indications and Current Challenges for Chromatographic Measurement. Clin Biochem Rev. 2016 Feb;37(1):27-47. PMID: 27057076; PMCID: PMC4810759.
10 Cai, C. C., Zhu, J. H., Ye, L. X., Dai, Y. Y., Fang, M. C., Hu, Y. Y., Pan, S. L., Chen, S., Li, P. J., Fu, X. Q., & Lin, Z. L. (2019). Glycine Protects against Hypoxic-Ischemic Brain Injury by Regulating Mitochondria-Mediated Autophagy via the AMPK Pathway. Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity, 2019, 4248529. https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/4248529