Will Supplements Break My Fast?
Written by Ben Bunting: BA(Hons), PGCert. Sport & Exercise Nutrition. L2 Strength & Conditioning Coach.
More and more people across the world are taking up fasting. There are several reasons as to why they would do that, and indeed it’s likely you have found your way to this article because you have fasted before and want advice, or you’re looking to do It for the first time.
This article will explain the reasons as to why you would fast, as well as general advice for it, as well as help answer the question – Will supplements break my fast? Throughout the article, the following topics will be answered:
- Reasons To Fast
- Types of Fast
- Different Types Of Supplements
- Putting Your Health First
- What You Can Eat Whilst Fasting
- Intermittent Fasting
If you have read the entire article and you’re still unsure of where you stand with the subject, then consider looking into more research either through our website or external resources.
Reasons To Fast
Firstly, let’s discuss the reasons you might fast. You can put them into two main categories, religion, and health. There are several cultures and religions around the world that engage with fastings, such as Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, to name a few. Christians, for example, will give us certain foods during the season of Lent. Similarly, Muslims will fast during the season of Ramadan.
However, cultures across the world practice fasting for other reasons, but they are all ultimately together in their goals. These goals are to show sacrifice for their religion, as well as cleanse their soul and body.
Some cultures practice fasting for non-religious reasons. For example, there is a public holiday in Switzerland, within the city of Geneva, which promotes a day of fasting. This originates from the Middle Ages, where some days were declared for fasting due to calamities such as war.
Away from religion and culture, another reason as to why you would fast is for health reasons. Some diets are designed for a healthy amount of fasting, where you still eat some foods, just at set times and smaller portions.
The biblical-based ‘Daniel Fast’ doesn’t prohibit food during certain times, but does prohibit certain foods that are often considered unhealthy. These can include alcohol, caffeine, animal products, refined carbohydrates, and other substances that would actually promote the consumption of a raw, unprocessed nutritious diet, and do result in better health parameters.
Before you have any major surgeries or procedures in general, you may be required to fast as you cannot have anything in your system beforehand.
Fasting has been around in some form for centuries, which is why it will continue to be regular practice in the future. If you see someone fasting or know someone who is, consider asking them why so that you can learn and educate yourself.
Types of Fasting
The most common types of fasting are as follows:
- Calorie Restriction
- Time Restricitve fast
- Alternate Day Fasting
- Dietary Restriction
Calorie Restrictive Fast
This is when you may decide for a variety of reasons to restrict your energy intake by reducing the foods that you consume. This doesn’t have to mean eating so little food that you will become malnourished, but rather just reducing your average daily intake. A key point is that you do not deprive yourself of essential nutrients that your body needs. This may often be mistaken for dieting, but is seen as a long-term change rather than a fad or a short-term ‘cut’.
Time Restrictive Fast
During Ramadan all Muslims (who have reached puberty, are sane, not traveling or sick) must fast. Anyone participating during this fast must eat before dawn and then immediately after sunset.
During the daylight hours, they must not eat or drink.
Alternate Day Fasting
This could be interpreted as ‘intermittent’ fasting. This is a process whereby a person would eat consecutively for a number of days and then fast for a period of time, restricting all calorie intake. However, while not a religious fast, intermittent fasting can also overlap with time restrictive fasting. The period of time fasting doesn’t necessarily have to last 24-48+ hours.
Quite simply this is a process (for religious reasons or not) where you may wish to cut out certain foods for a period of time. This may be animal products, stimulants, sweet treats, or alcohol.
Different Types Of Supplements
When it comes to fasting, you may want to consider what that means for your supplement regime. As you may know, supplements can come in different forms, with the most common being pill-based. The truth is, what supplements you can take during fasting will depend on the supplements themselves and the fast that you are participating in.
Some products, such as dietary supplements, are designed to be taken on an empty stomach which means they are light enough to not break any fasting rules if they do not contain calories.
There will also be some supplements that need to be taken with food that have fats and other nutrients that could break your fast if used. Furthermore, as we have mentioned with the ‘Daniel Fast’, participants cannot consume animal products, so some products, unless they are vegan friendly, are out of bounds.
You should see how you feel after you’ve taken a supplement on an empty stomach, as you could have a different reaction. As you may be aware, fasting doesn’t mean not consuming anything at all, so there will still be opportunities to take supplements before consuming anything.
The supplements offered here at Mil-Tech Pharma Ltd are nutritional and use plenty of natural ingredients, all of which are designed for peak performance and success. After all, the business was established as a direct response to competitors which offer products that have little scientific backing or even explain how their product works.
Putting Your Health First
You must put your health first. You may not understand the reasons for taking supplements, and you may rush into things. That’s why you need to stick to the dosages stated and not overdo it.
If you’re concerned about any supplements, then you should educate yourself on vitamins and consider speaking to a doctor.
What You Can Eat Whilst Fasting?
As was touched upon earlier, fasting doesn’t just mean not having anything. The very word means to refrain from eating food. That means you can still consume some foods and beverages and still consider yourself fasting.
If you manage to keep your carbohydrate intake under 50 grams a day when fasting, then you will be in a state of ketosis, which is another type of fasting whereby you minimize carb intake to stimulate your body to burn stored fats as energy. Something that you can take during fasting is water.
That’s because water contains no calories and can keep you hydrated and motivated during a fast. That’s also the reason that some soda drinks are off-limit, as they are too high in calories to be counted.
Your intake really depends on what type of fasting you are participating in. As we have discovered with Islamic fasting, for those daylight hours you are faced with some considerable restrictions (but you can feast during the night), whereas other types may just restrict certain food groups or calories.
A good guide if you are doing time restrictive fasting rather than dietary fasting is to consume anything that has little to no calories. Some supplements can fall into this category.
For instance, creatine has no calories, however, a protein shake would probably be off-limits as it is loaded with whey and more often than not, carbohydrates. Some supplements, particularly vegan-friendly capsules which just contain vitamins, minerals, and plant extracts are purely providing your body with essential micronutrients rather than feelings of satiety or pleasure.
Having briefly mentioned it earlier, intermittent fasting has become popular in recent years so is worth an extended mention. This is an alternative style and eating pattern, which alternates your periods of eating, with the possibility of minimal calories at a time. It could involve 5 days of eating with 2 days fasting.
The main focus of this is to emphasize the times in which you eat, rather than restricting what you’re eating, although some people may take this as an excuse to binge eat, or eat high-calorie ‘cheat foods’ with little nutritional value. Whereas the benefits will only be apparent if you are eating sensibly during those days that aren’t restricted.
However, it is important to note that while there is clinical evidence that calorie restrictive fasting and time restrictive fasting can be beneficial for your health, at present much of the research for intermittent fasting is based on animal studies, albeit with positive results.
People will do this for spiritual reasons, as well as health. This all helps your body to focus on maintenance and recovery rather than digesting. These periods could lead to 12 hours of fasting a day or even 48 hours within a week.
To conclude, supplements during your fast are entirely dependant on the type of fast that you are participating in. However, on the whole, a vegan-friendly pill type supplement is likely to be allowed as it doesn’t offer any sensation of fullness or pleasure, whereas a protein shake, bar, sports drink, or energy supplement is often high in calories, carbohydrates, and food-based proteins.