Intermittent fasting is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your body. Intermittent fasting has been shown to boost fat loss, improve mental clarity, reduce inflammation, reduce blood pressure levels and improve your insulin sensitivity .
If you're new to intermittent fasting, the thought of going long periods without food can be daunting. But here's a piece of good news: You can still consume valuable nutrients without breaking your fast.
As long as nutrients have a zero-to-low energy density, you can still consume them during a fast. For example, collagen, caffeine and even trace amounts of MCT oil won't necessarily break your fast, it all depends on your reason for fasting too. Below, we answer the question, "Do vitamins break a fast?" We explore which vitamins can be consumed during your fasting window.
Do Vitamins Break a Fast?
Short answer: No.
Vitamins won't break a fast as long as you're consuming the right kind of vitamins. Many supplements contain small amounts of carbs, sugar, fillers or additives — which will break a fast. (In other words, the gummy vitamins found on store shelves might taste good, but the caloric and sugar content will bring you out of a fasted state.)
During a fasting period, you should avoid any foods — including supplements — that have a high energy intake (translation: If at all possible, try to avoid supplements with calories). Depending on the type of fast you’re doing, this may change. For example, a bone broth fast could include bone broth or collagen.
Protein powders, probiotic drinks (like kombucha) or vitamins with fillers, sweeteners or additives should be avoided, as they typically contain calories. However, if you're consuming vitamins and minerals that contain zero calories and do not contain additives, those should not break a fast.
What Breaks a Fast? Supplements to Avoid During Your Fasting Window
Want to know which supplements shouldn't be consumed during your fasting window? Below, we explain everything you need to know about supplements that break a fast:
- Gummy vitamins: Gummy vitamins are often filled with sugar and calories, and should not be consumed while fasting.
- Protein powders: The purpose of protein powders is (typically) to help your muscles recover post workout — which is impossible to do without energy (i.e. calories). Many protein powders will contain 20+ grams of protein, 5+ grams of carbohydrates and at least 100 calories, which will certainly break a fast .
- Fat-soluble vitamins: While a fat-soluble vitamin won't necessarily break a fast, it isn't the best choice when going long periods without food. Examples of fat-soluble vitamins include vitamin E, vitamin D, vitamin A and vitamin K. Fat-soluble vitamins need to be consumed with a fat source in order to be absorbed. Therefore, you'd be better off going with a water-soluble vitamin.
- Bone broth: Unless you are specifically doing a bone broth fast, bone broth should not be consumed during a fasting window . To get the same valuable nutrients as bone broth.
- BCAAs: Branched-chain amino acids, or BCAAs, are amino acids including leucine, isoleucine and valine. One of the primary benefits of intermittent fasting is autophagy, or your body's efforts to clean out its cells . Even when BCAA supplements don't contain calories, they've been shown to cause an insulin response that prevents autophagy from happening .
Vitamins and Other Supplements That Won't Break a Fast
If you're within your fasting window, you can still consume some supplements. Below, we share a number of vitamins and other supplements that won't break your fast.
1. Water-Soluble Vitamins
Water-soluble vitamins are excreted throughout the day through your urine (therefore, it's important to drink plenty of water when taking these supplements). Since they are not stored by the body, they need to be consumed daily. Examples of water-soluble vitamins include vitamins B1, B2 and B3, folic acid, vitamin C and B complex vitamins .
Please note: You can consume water-soluble vitamins during your fasting window, but you may experience discomfort when consuming them on an empty stomach.
Electrolytes are minerals that create an electrical current in your body, such as sodium, calcium, magnesium and potassium. Electrolytes are essential to a number of bodily functions, including balancing pH levels, preventing muscle contractions, transmitting nerve signals between your heart and muscles, regulating your fluid levels and helping your blood clot .
Fasting for long periods of time can deplete your body of electrolytes — particularly if you follow a regular exercise regimen throughout your fast. To prevent the negative side effects caused by lost electrolytes, you can mix them in with a glass of water or a mug of black coffee.
Note: If you are combining intermittent fasting with the fat burning benefits of the keto diet, supplementing with electrolytes will help. Electrolytes help prevent and lessen the effects of the keto flu, or mild, flu-like symptoms that can occur when you first enter ketosis.
3. Some Multivitamins
As long as a multivitamin is free of sugar, carbs, preservatives and additives, it's OK to consume during your fast. Search for a multivitamin made up of primarily water-soluble micronutrients, such as vitamins B and C.
4. Collagen Peptides
Collagen peptides contain essential amino acids that promote muscle building, helping you burn body fat and keep your blood sugar levels at a healthy level . Therefore, if you typically consume protein powder during your eating window, consider swapping it out for collagen during your fast.
Bovine collagen contains 47 calories per 13g serving, zero sugar and zero carbs. While you might not want to include collagen in a strict fast, you can include it on a bone broth fast. Plus, since collagen peptides are a tasteless powder, they can easily be added to water, black coffee or tea.
Probiotics are made of good bacteria that ultimately help your body digest food . Since probiotics contribute to a healthy gut, they can help you better absorb nutrients found through diet or supplementation.
While it may sound counterintuitive to consume probiotics when you're not actually consuming food, know this: Fasting has actually been scientifically shown to help improve your gut microbiome . By combining intermittent fasting with probiotics, you are creating a healthy gut that's prepared to absorb valuable nutrients during your feeding window.
Note: Do not consume probiotic drinks that contain calories during your fast. These include kombucha, fizzy drinks or probiotic smoothies.
Yes, You Can Consume Some Vitamins When Fasting
Intermittent fasting is associated with a number of wellness benefits, including weight loss (fat loss), improved insulin levels, increased mental focus and a healthier gut. While fasting can be an intimidating process for beginners, it's comforting to know that you can consume some nutrients during your fasting window.
Some supplements, including water soluble vitamins, collagen, electrolytes and probiotics won't break your fast. However, any food that contains calories — such as gummy vitamins, bone broth or protein powder — will break your fast. In addition, there are some nutrients that won't be readily absorbed during a fasting window, like fat-soluble vitamins.
To learn more about how to incorporate intermittent fasting into your lifestyle, read this guide on which foods will break your fast.
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