For years, we were told by so-called “experts” that fasting was dangerous and detrimental to our health and that it would actually promote weight gain as opposed to weight loss. Nowadays however, we know differently.
Thanks to the breakthroughs in modern medicine, science, technology, and common sense, we now know that, if performed correctly, fasting can actually be very beneficial for a person’s general health and well-being.
Fasting is promoted for weight loss, it can help treat various health issues, it’s beneficial for mental health, and it can help to increase overall energy levels as well.
Now, we all know the basic principles behind fasting and obviously for certain periods of time, food is off limits, but how about taking vitamins while intermittent fasting?
Vitamins and supplements in general are beneficial for health and fitness reasons but do vitamins break a fast?
Firstly, what is intermittent fasting?
We’ll look at vitamins while fasting a little further on in this guide, but first, we’ll take a look at what intermittent fasting is.
Put very simply, intermittent fasting is a dietary protocol in which individuals will go for prolonged periods of time where they do not consume any whole foods and will only consume water in order to stay hydrated.
Despite the fact that, from an evolutionary standpoint, we’ve been intermittent fasting for hundreds of thousands of years, intermittent fasting has only recently become trendy in the fitness community.
Basically, when intermittent fasting, you will cycle between periods of fasting and eating.
There are different types of intermittent fasting to choose from, though one of the most popular methods is the 16/8 method. Here, individuals will go for 16 hours per day fasting, whereby they will only drink water, and will have an 8-hour eating window, whereby for 8 hours a day they will be permitted to eat.
This may sound tough, but just remember that you sleep for around 8 – 9 hours per night, so in actual fact you’re only fasting for roughly 8 – 9 hours per day.
So, as an example, if you choose to fast from 9pm at night until 1pm the following afternoon, you would be permitted to eat between 1pm and 9pm so in reality you’re only really skipping breakfast.
Isn’t fasting just starvation?
Years ago, when fasting was receiving such negative press, the word ‘starvation’ was thrown around a lot. To starve yourself would be detrimental, not only for your weight loss and energy levels, but also to your health as well.
With fasting, the main difference is that you control the calories that you consume and indeed, the times in which you consume them.
With fasting, rather than depriving yourself of food indefinitely, you instead voluntarily avoid the consumption of calories for a set amount of time.
As opposed to leaving you feeling tired, malnourishing, lacking nutrients, and at risk from a health perspective which would be the case during starvation, fasting provides the exact opposite effects. Studies have found that Intermittent fasting can actually improve your health in numerous ways.
When you think about it, each and every single person performs a form of intermittent fast every single time they go to bed at night and wake up in a morning to eat breakfast. The only difference here is that you extend the amount of time between meals.
The word breakfast, literally means ‘break-fast’ because when you eat that first meal, that is exactly what you are doing – breaking a fast.
What can you eat on a fast?
When performing intermittent fasting, the thing to remember is that nutrition is of the upmost importance. This is why it’s so important to eat healthy produce and it is why we’re looking at taking vitamins while intermittent fasting today.
Before we look at the question of can you take vitamins while intermittent fasting, we first need to look at what you can and cannot eat on a fast.
If you follow the 16/8 protocol, those 8 hours per day make up your eating window. During that period of time, you can, in theory, eat whatever you like.
Rather than following a caloric restrictive diet consisting of bland, boring, tasteless, low calorie foods which you don’t enjoy eating, you can instead enjoy a number of foods which would ordinarily be off limits when dieting.
The key word here is ‘moderation’. As long as you don’t binge eat, fill up on calorific junk food, and stuff your face during those 8 hours, you can be flexible with your foods.
Say for example, you eat a sensible sized balanced meal but are craving something sweet for dessert, you could go ahead and enjoy a regular sized slice of cake, or a couple of cookies, and still lose weight at the end of the week.
If, however, you decided to chow down on an XL stuffed crust, 4-cheese pizza and fries, and half a gallon of ice cream for dessert, followed by another calorific meal and dessert just before you went to bed, you would likely find yourself in a caloric surplus and your weight loss would stall.
Not only would your weight loss stall, but your health would suffer because you’d be lacking vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients needed by the body in order for it to function adequately.
Put simply, fasting allows you to treat yourself now and then, providing you do so in moderation and still ensure that you consume healthy and nutritional produce for the majority of the time.
When fasting, the idea is that you don’t restrict calories or eat tasteless and bland foods, the idea is that you try to eat normally, albeit healthily, with the occasional treat thrown in for good measure.
If you stick to your eating windows, don’t go crazy, and enjoy everything in moderation, not only will you lose weight, your health will also improve as well.
What are the benefits of fasting?
If done correctly, you’ll find that there are a whole variety of different health benefits to be enjoyed while following a fasting routine.
Some of the main benefits of fasting include, but are not limited to:
When it comes to losing weight, intermittent fasting is a great way to do exactly that.
To begin with, when you follow a fasting protocol, you are limiting the amount of calories that you eat in a day because, rather than eating throughout the entire day, you’re only eating for a certain number of hours.
Again, if you follow 16/8, even though you can eat during that 8 hour window, unless you have a metabolism like a blast furnace, you won’t spend those entire 8 hours eating. Instead, you’ll likely eat two balanced meals, with a snack in there and possibly the occasional treat.
That means that your caloric intake for the day should still be in a slight deficit, so repeat the process everyday and that deficit adds up and up and at the end of the week you should have lost weight.
Amongst the studies conducted on intermittent fasting and weight loss, numerous findings also point to the fact that fasting can help to boost the metabolism by increasing the production of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine.
Regulates blood glucose levels
With the number of type-2 diabetes cases in the world now higher than ever, the importance of keeping your blood sugar levels stable has never been greater.
Experts have found that fasting can help to improve blood glucose regulation, helping both diabetics, and those at risk of becoming diabetic.
Intermittent fasting has been found to reduce blood glucose levels and reduce insulin resistance, rendering insulin more effective at controlling blood sugar levels in the first place.
Increased energy levels
Another key benefit of following an intermittent fasting routine is the fact that doing so will help to increase your energy levels.
Most generic diets which focus on caloric restriction will have you in a high calorie deficit which will leave you feeling tired and lethargic as you’ll be lacking energy.
With intermittent fasting, as previously mentioned, because it actually helps to boost the metabolism by increasing norepinephrine production, you’ll find that you have plenty of energy, which when dieting, is incredibly rare.
Does taking vitamins break a fast?
As we’ve established, when fasting, it is essential that you get plenty of healthy and nutritional produce into your body, which is where vitamin supplements can be so useful.
As you know, vitamins are essential for a whole variety of different physiological processes in the body, which is why we need to ensure that we get enough of them on a daily basis. Vitamin deficiencies can leave us susceptible to illness and disease and basically mean that we don’t function as we should.
Vitamin supplements are an easy and convenient way of ensuring that you’re getting the micronutrients that your body needs to function.
The problem is that some people who are following an intermittent fasting protocol are unsure whether or not taking vitamins while intermittent fasting is permitted. So, can you take vitamins while fasting?
Well, yes and no.
Technically, you can indeed take vitamins while fasting and still enjoy the weight loss benefits of fasting, and the health benefits.
You should, however, be mindful of what you take because some vitamins, and some supplements can alter your blood sugar levels and spike insulin levels.
Taking vitamins during a fast will not break your fast, though this doesn’t mean that you should do so, and here’s a look at why.
Can you take vitamins while intermittent fasting?
If you were just paying attention, you’ll know that you can indeed take vitamins when fasting, but should you?
Well, ideally not, at least, not certain vitamins anyways. You see, some vitamins are fat-soluble, which means that they can only be digested, broken down, and absorbed in the presence of fat. When fasting, there shouldn’t be any fats or food in your stomach, so the vitamins just won’t be absorbed adequately.
Not only that, but other vitamins are best taken with a meal, for digestive purposes and for absorption purposes, so again, taking them on an empty stomach is not always the best approach.
Most experts agree that it is best to take vitamins with a whole food source, so perhaps consider waiting until your first meal of the day and taking your vitamin supplements then instead?
What vitamins do you need when fasting?
Technically, we need vitamins every day, whether we happen to be fasting or not. If you are following a fast, though, certain vitamins are better than others. These include:
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, which means that it doesn’t require fats to be present in order for it to be absorbed. As vitamin C boosts the immune system and provides numerous other health benefits, it is a great vitamin to take when fasting as you can take it on an empty stomach.
B vitamins, which help assist with the uptake of other nutrients, while also increasing the metabolism, are also water-soluble and are therefore suitable for use when fasting. Just be mindful that some people have experienced nausea when taking B vitamins on an empty stomach.
Vitamins to take with food
So, we’ve answered the question of do vitamins break a fast and have established that they don’t, but why are some vitamins best taken with food? Well, it all comes down to absorption.
Some vitamins, I.E fat-soluble vitamins, need to be taken with foods containing some fats. Just to be clear, fat-soluble vitamins are:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
For best results, take these vitamins when eating and you should have no issues whatsoever. If you do find that B vitamins make you feel nauseous on an empty stomach, no problem, just take them with a meal instead.