Does Medication Break Intermittent Fasting?

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Does Medication Break Intermittent Fasting

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You can take medicines during intermittent fasting; however, in some situations, you may need to use your medication following exceptional advice from your doctor. So, using prescribed medication should not stop you from enjoying the benefits of intermittent fasting.


Intermittent fasting diets have been a hot topic recently. More than 36% of individuals have used this weight loss method to keep their bodies healthy. Moreover, recent studies show a significantly strong relation between intermittent fasting, heart health benefits, weight loss, and other factors.


Before deep diving into intermittent fasting, people should be aware that just like any other eating pattern alteration, they must look into the macro side of things.


For instance, if you are on medications and opting to do an intermittent fasting diet, should you consider it? Will it affect your health? Or will the intermittent fasting schedule break if you take medicines?


To get answers, continue reading.


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What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting regulates your eating pattern, whereas many diet plans focus on what the user must eat.


Your body may burn fat more efficiently if you fast for a predetermined number of hours each day or only eat one meal a few days per week. During your intermittent fasting, you only eat at set times. As scientific evidence proves, there are several periodic fasting health benefits.


Mark Mattson, a notable neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins, named Mark Mattson, has been researching intermittent fasting for 25 years. He asserts that our bodies have evolved, making it possible to stay without eating for many hours, days, or weeks. 


Before humans learned to produce food, hunters and gatherers developed the ability to survive and thrive for extended periods without food—hunting games and gathering nuts and berries required much time and effort.


About 50 years ago, maintaining a healthy weight was easier. Christie Williams, M.S., R.D.N., a dietitian at Johns Hopkins, explains: They turned off the television at 11 p.m., and there were no computers. Much of the food was smaller. More people worked, played outside, and exercised in general.


Heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other diseases may get worse by eating more calories and getting less exercise. As demonstrated by scientific studies, intermittent fasting may assist in reversing these trends.


Can You Take Medications During Intermittent Fasting?

When you begin intermittent fasting, consider the following: can you take any medication during intermittent fasting? Generally speaking, taking medication while intermittent fasting is safe.


However, taking some medicines with food is best because they can irritate the stomach lining. Additionally, some supplements contain calories and nutrients. But, taking them might be an act of breaking the fast, depending on the kind of fast you’re on.


For many years, people have fasted in various forms for religious and cultural reasons. Various groups now follow fasting regimens due to the health gains expected. Alternate-day fasting, for instance, reduces insulin resistance, can aid in weight loss, and prevent diabetes.


The 5:2 diet, on the other hand, claims to increase life expectancy, protect against particular dementia issues and cancers, and aid in weight loss. However, there is insufficient evidence to support this claim, but you should speak to a doctor if you are on blood pressure medication. Getting proper guidance is essential so you will not have to worry about taking a medicine break or having poor insulin response.


Senior pharmacists Gina McLachlan and The-Phung To addressed the potential effects of fasting on medication in the 16 February issue of the Medical Journal of Australia. However, chances are that these individuals are taking regular medication to manage their health issues.


McLachlan explains that the issues generally fall into two groups: altered absorption, increased gastrointestinal side effects, and other adverse effects when taken without food. 


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The Human System’s Varying Absorption Rate

In the stomach, tablets and capsules begin to break down, moving on to the small intestine, where many drugs enter the bloodstream.


If your body absorbs it too quickly, as might occur on an empty stomach, the blood levels may rise to an excessive level and cause an exaggerated response.


On the other hand, food can make drugs more easily absorbed. For instance, when a person takes telaprevir, which doctors use to treat hepatitis C, with food rather than while fasting, only about 25% of the drug enters the bloodstream.


Tretinoin (for acne), antiretrovirals, anti-parasitic medications, and some medications for angina are some examples of medicines for which changes in absorption may be an issue; therefore, the need for additional research. 


They are consuming a few medications while starving can expand the gamble of incidental effects like gastrointestinal bombshells, as the food shields the stomach from parts of the medication. Ibuprofen and aspirin are two common medications for which you may have noticed warning labels advising that the user should only consume them after eating.


Another example is a diabetic who begins fasting, which may help them lose weight and become more sensitive to insulin. However, if someone uses medications for treating diabetes, like glibenclamide, glimepiride, and insulin while fasting, McLachlan warns, the person has a high risk of experiencing hypoglycemia.


Prescriptions that may increase health risks while fasting includes several sorts of antidepressants, antitoxins, and immunosuppressants. 


How Does the Intermittent Fasting Period Work with a Medication Regimen?

Intermittent fasting is achievable in several different ways, but they all involve choosing regular times to eat and fast. You can start by eating only once after eight hours and then fast for the remaining day.


There are numerous schedules for intermittent fasting. On the other hand, you could decide to eat just a single feast a day, two days per week. According to Mattson, the body begins to burn fat and exhaust its sugar stores after going without food for several hours. Mattson calls this process metabolic switching.


According to Mattson, “intermittent fasting contrasts with the typical eating pattern for most Americans, who eat throughout their waking hours.”


By waiting a long time for your body to burn fat and burn through the calories from your last meal, intermittent fasting works.


What You Can do When Using Medication While Fasting Intermittently

It can be beneficial or potentially harmful to take medications while starving. Again, the answer depends on the medication recommended.


Check the leaflet to see if there are dosage instructions for the medication. This should be your first step. If you need to take your medication with food, you shouldn’t do so while intermittent fasting. 


If you need to take it before dinner, you have two choices. You can take it before breaking your fast to ensure you eat immediately.


Alternatively, you can take it during a fast, even if the first meal is several hours away. It is much safer to assume you can take it on an empty stomach if the leaflet does not specify when.


Implications of Intermittent Fasting on The Effectiveness of Medicines

When you take medicines on an empty stomach, some of the compounds enter your bloodstream faster and more effectively than when you take them with food.


Changes in one’s blood sugar levels are possible at any time, particularly while taking medication to treat diabetes.


If a person takes the drug on an empty stomach, several hours before the first meal, there is an increased risk of hypoglycemia. 


Also, some medications irritate the stomach lining, and your body’s response to the medicine may alter during treatment. Therefore, you must take certain drugs, particularly those that are fat-soluble, with meals for your body to absorb them properly. 


Medicines That Aren't Safe to Take When Intermittent Fasting

Painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications like aspirin and ibuprofen can irritate the stomach lining, so you should not take them on an empty stomach.



Below are some other medications you should avoid while doing an intermittent fasting diet.



  • Heart medication 


You should use heart- and circulatory-supporting medications cautiously during intermittent fasting. Before engaging in intermittent fasting, it is best to consult a doctor if you are taking warfarin because it may alter how your body responds to the medication.



  • Diabetes medications 


While intermittent fasting is an excellent natural method for managing diabetes, taking medication to lower blood sugar while fasting may not be the best strategy.


Be watchful for signs of hypoglycemia. The signs are dizziness, fatigue, trembling, and sweating. Also, note other symptoms that indicate that you cannot take your diabetes medication while fasting.


Another class of medications are called antivirals. The user should consume these medicines after eating because taking them without food can cause side effects like bloating, nausea, and diarrhea.


  • Blood pressure tablets


On the other hand, taking blood pressure tablets without food is generally safe. Notwithstanding, irregular fasting can bring down your pulse. Particularly assuming you’re fasting for more extended periods. Combined with medication, this may result in a negative change in blood pressure. If you want to give this medication a shot on an empty stomach, you should check your blood pressure regularly.


  • Corticosteroids 


Be careful because corticosteroids also make you hungry and make you store fat. They additionally keep your body from consuming fat. Additionally, irritants and corticosteroids like prednisone and dexamethasone are safer when taken with food.


Even though you shouldn’t stop taking your medications to lose weight, you should be aware that intermittent fasting will likely be challenging.


This might be helpful if you want to fast and can delay taking your first dose of corticosteroids until after your first meal. Remember that your eating capacity should not make you eat randomly. And that intermittent fasting works best when combined with a healthy diet if weight management concerns you.


Medications That Tend to Work Better While Intermittent Fasting

Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, your body can absorb thyroid medications without issues while fasting. Also, regarding people doing intermittent fasting, taking thyroxine at least one hour before eating will have the most significant effect.


On the other hand, you can take statins either way because food has no impact on the compound and should not irritate your stomach. Digoxin, a medicine doctors prescribe to treat heart conditions, is best taken on an empty stomach.


Additionally, paracetamol absorbs into the bloodstream faster, when you take it before eating. However, if you feel nauseated, you must interrupt your fast before taking it.


  • Supplements 


We already know that some supplements will break your fast because they affect insulin levels or have some calories. However, when taken while fasting, are those that do not break your fast truly safe?


Water-soluble vitamins, like vitamins B and C, are safe nutrients to consume on an empty stomach. However, the B vitamins are probably to blame if you feel nausea after taking a dosage. If this is the case, you will be able to take them after your first meal, so you’ll have to break your fast.


Regardless of the contents, multivitamin pills are typically safe to take on an empty stomach. However, you will know that you do not tolerate them well when fasting if you notice issues with your digestive system soon after taking them. 

Also, it would be best if you did not take L-tyrosine, a stress-relieving supplement on an empty stomach.


Also, take your magnesium with your meals to protect your sensitive stomach. Also, anyone can take magnesium when necessary, and food doesn’t impact its ingestion. However, when taking magnesium, side effects like diarrhea are common.


You will need to take calcium supplements with food because it compliments vitamin D. Copper and zinc are two additional minerals that enter the bloodstream most effectively during or after a meal.


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Even if you are an individual who takes medicines but still wants to practice intermittent fasting techniques, medical professionals suggest that you can go ahead and do it.


However, one must note that they are following the intermittent fasting window timings while keeping their medicine timing in mind, as intermittent fasting will lose its effect if it is flawed.


Take your medicines in the eating window period. However, if your medication routine is time sensitive, then consult your doctor.  


(oh, and do keep in touch and check in with us regularly for more fantastic content. For a complete list of our previous blog posts, please go here)


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