One of the most common questions we hear over at Simple is, “Do I need to take supplements for intermittent fasting?” The short answer is, it depends.
It’s best to get your micronutrients and electrolytes like magnesium or potassium from foods like fruit, vegetables, protein, and healthy grains between fasts. But if you’re following a vegan or vegetarian eating plan, you might be missing out on essential nutrients.
If you’re concerned your current food intake isn’t meeting your body’s nutritional demands, supplements are a fantastic option to stay healthy and alert while fasting.
Do You Need Intermittent Fasting Supplements?
You may have heard intermittent fasting causes nutrient deficiencies. On the contrary, it’s unlikely you’ll become deficient in crucial vitamins and minerals if you consume whole, healthy foods during your feasting window. Think of it this way: intermittent fasting should limit how many hours of the day you eat, not how many calories you eat. If you eat nutritious meals, you shouldn’t miss out on any of your nutrients.
However, it could lead to nutrient deficiencies if your existing eating plan was already low in vitamins and minerals. If you don’t consume electrolytes, micronutrients, and fatty acids now, fasting may make your deficiency worse. Before you begin a fast or shop for supplements, always consult with your primary physician. Your health and wellness should be your number one priority during your weight loss journey.
Will Supplements Break Your Fast?
Are you concerned supplements will break your fast? Some supplements can break your fast, but there are many supplements you should take on an empty stomach. Understanding which supplements could break your fast can help you decide if you should take them with a meal or during your fasting period.
When you stop consuming calories during a fast, your body enters a period of ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic shift that helps burn fat by decreasing your blood glucose and insulin levels. Any food, drink, or supplement containing calories will break your fast and forcibly raise your glucose and insulin levels, which defeats the purpose of your fast.
When Should You Take Your Supplements?
It may be most comfortable to take your supplements when you eat. When you consume your supplements with your meals, it helps ensure you won’t accidentally break your fast and helps your supplements absorb. Plus, some supplements, such as zinc, can upset an empty stomach.
Supplements to Take with Food:
- Zinc or copper
- Curcumin or turmeric
- Krill oil or omega krill complex
- Kelp powder or potassium iodide
- Fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, and K
- Amino acid or amino acid combinations, such as BCAAs
- Fatty acids, such as omega-3 fatty acids or medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs)
- Protein powders, which typically contain >100 calories per scoop
- Sweetened electrolyte drink powders or effervescent tablets
- Sweetened gummy or chewable supplements
- Supplements which contain sweeteners or additional ingredients, such as fruit juice, cane sugar, or starches
However, it’s best to take some dietary supplements on an empty stomach for optimal absorption.
Supplements to Take While Fasting:
- Folic acid
- Water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins B and C
What Are the Best Supplements for Intermittent Fasting?
There are no special supplements that can replace the nutrients you need for fasting, just supplements aimed at improving your overall health while you fast. It’s best to consult your doctor before you take any supplements, especially if you didn’t have a nutrient deficiency before entering your fasting protocol. However, if you plan on intermittent fasting, there are several supplements you may want to discuss with your doctor. Keep in mind, you might already be getting plenty of vitamins and minerals. If so, supplements could cause you to have a surplus.
- Curcumin: Decrease insulin resistance
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Reduce hunger and appetite
- Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCTs): Assist metabolism
- Soluble Fiber: Increase satiety between meals
Before you choose a new supplement, be sure to check the nutrition facts on the product label. Some supplements contain calories or artificial sweeteners that could disrupt your fast. Likewise, be cautious with supplement ingredients that can further decrease your blood glucose levels during your fast, such as chromium picolinate, berberine, and psyllium husk.
Do You Need Supplements for Intermittent Fasting?
If you’re concerned you may have a deficiency in specific vitamins or minerals, consult with your doctor before you choose your supplements. Maintaining your body’s nutritional demands is paramount to remaining healthy while you fast. It’s best to get all of your nutrients from your food, but supplements can be an excellent insurance policy while you practice intermittent fasting.