As research continues to show, intermittent fasting offers many potential benefits, including weight loss, reduced inflammation, metabolic health improvements, and more. (It’s no wonder fasting has become so popular these last few years!)
Despite fasting’s many potential benefits, it does come with one potential problem: loss of nutrients. During periods of fasting, your body loses nutrients it typically relies on food for—especially if you exercise.
The best way to make up for this loss of nutrients is to eat highly-nutritious foods during your eating hours. However, some people may not take in enough nutrients from food alone. In this case, supplements can help fill nutritional gaps for fasters.
Since your nutrient needs depend on factors like how long you fast for, your exercise routine, and your diet, work with a doctor or dietitian to figure out if you might benefit from supplementing.
That said, there are three supplements for intermittent fasting in particular that people who fast (or practice time-restricted eating) regularly might want to consider.
1. Vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiencies are common—but, luckily, a simple blood test can determine whether or not you are deficient in this immune-boosting nutrient. I always recommend trying to meet your needs through daily morning sun. However, some people may need to supplement. In these cases, take your vitamin D with food, since it is fat-soluble (which means the body needs fat to best absorb it).
This essential mineral does everything from regulating muscle and nerve control, to warding off fatigue, to supporting sleep. Supplementing with magnesium can help fasters maintain the intake they need to avoid muscle cramps and sleep well.
Many of us can benefit from upping our intake of omega-3s, essential fats that support eye, brain, heart, and immune health. This is especially true for those who fast, in which case an omega-3 supplement can come in handy.
Tips For Supplementing And Fasting
Though these three nutrients are important to consider, we all have unique needs (which include other nutrients, as well). Consult with a doctor before starting to fast and/or taking supplements to make sure you’re keeping your individual needs top-of-mind. The only way to be successful with intermittent fasting is by knowing your body and its needs!
Otherwise, it’s key that you eat a variety of nutritious foods and drink plenty of water when incorporating fasting or time-restricted feeding into your lifestyle.
Should you decide to add supplements for intermittent fasting to your routine, take them during your eating window. First of all, some supplements can cause nausea or discomfort when taken on an empty stomach. Secondly, taking supplements while fasting can both diminish the benefit of the fast and your absorption of their nutrients.
Dr. Amy Shah, M.D., is a double board-certified physician with training from Cornell, Columbia, and Harvard Universities. With extensive training in health and nutrition, she advises on increasing energy levels, fixing gut issues, managing allergies, and boosting the immune system. Dr. Shah was recently named one of MindBodyGreen’s Top 100 Women in Wellness to Watch and is a member of Genexa‘s Medical Advisory Board.