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Home arrow Nutrition arrow Intermittent Fasting arrow Do Probiotics Break a Fast? Discover the Truth

Do Probiotics Break a Fast? Discover the Truth

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Dr. Donika Vata
Fact checked by Donika Vata, MD
Last update: October 22, 2023
5 min read 760 Views 0 Comments
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When practicing intermittent fasting, the last thing you want to do is unintentionally break your fast. Taking supplements can support your journey, but knowing which ones are fast-friendly is important. Learn whether probiotics should be taken or avoided during the fasting window.

do probiotics break a fast

Sometimes, dietary supplements can make your fasting journey more comfortable and manageable. They can also ensure your body receives adequate vitamins and minerals as you restrict yourself from eating at certain hours of the day.

Probiotics are live bacteria that support a healthy gut microbiome. As intermittent fasting can cause digestive upset (at least temporarily), some people consider taking a probiotic supplement to promote gut health during the fasting regimen.

Plus, a happy gut keeps you feeling better overall. But are these living microorganisms a safe bet, or will they hinder your fasting efforts? Just keep on reading.

Do Probiotics Break a Fast?

Probiotics do not break a fast because they have no calorie content or digestible carbs. That means they won’t trigger an insulin response or provide the body energy that brings you out of the fasted state. So, it’s perfectly safe to consume probiotics during the fasting period.

While consuming probiotics in the fasting window is okay, you shouldn’t trust every brand. Not all probiotic supplements are entirely free from calories. Some even contain artificial sweeteners and flavors that will quickly spike blood sugar levels and bring your fast to an end.

The only way to maintain your fast is to consume zero calories during fasting hours. Always check the label when purchasing a probiotic supplement to mitigate the risk.

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that naturally reside in your gut. A constant variety of good and bad bacteria live in your body. When things fall off balance, e.g., you don’t have enough good bacteria to counter the bad, you might get sick or develop digestive issues like bloating, diarrhea, and gas.

Probiotic bacteria are friendly bacteria that keep your body in balance and functioning properly. They have many health benefits, including aiding digestion, creating vitamins, warding off sickness, and controlling levels of harmful bacteria.

You can find probiotics in supplement form, certain foods (particularly fermented foods), cosmetics, and personal care products.

Do all probiotics contain calories?

Most probiotics supplements do not contain any calories, but you should always read the product label to make sure. This is important because some supplements may have calories from ingredients like lactose or maltose.

Probiotic-containing foods, on the other hand, do tend to have calories.

When to Take Probiotics During Intermittent Fasting?

The best time to take probiotics depends on the type of bacteria and the supplement’s quality. It’s best to take some with food, as this ensures your body fully absorbs the probiotic bacteria and that they reach the gut without your stomach acid destroying them first.

Those designed for consumption with food are no good for a fast. The stomach’s acidic environment is too harsh for the probiotics to survive and do their job. For maximum benefits, purchase probiotic supplements that work well when taken on an empty stomach.

In this case, you can take your supplement about 30 minutes before your first meal.

5 Benefits of Probiotics While Fasting

Consuming probiotics while intermittent fasting can have positive effects. They offer several benefits for your overall health, supporting everything from the digestive system to mental well-being.

They are certainly something to consider when you switch up your eating pattern. Here are 5 health benefits to expect when you add a probiotic to your routine.

#1 Boosts gut health

One of the major perks of probiotics is that they support gut health. They help balance the good and bad gut bacteria to promote a healthy microbiome. Maintaining this balance supports the digestive tract by improving digestion and reducing digestive discomfort.

Digestive issues are common intermittent fasting side effects. The sudden changes in eating patterns and decrease in food consumption lead many people to experience bloating, cramping, constipation, and diarrhea. So it’s a bonus if probiotics can counter these complaints.

Intermittent fasting also has benefits for your gut. It improves gut barrier function, increases microbial diversity, and decreases inflammation in people with inflammatory bowel disease.

Combining fasting with probiotics might produce double the benefits.

#2 Might improve fasting blood glucose levels

Intermittent fasting already positively affects blood glucose and lipids and improves insulin resistance in people with metabolic syndrome.

Adding probiotic supplements to your regimen might increase these benefits, as they can improve insulin levels and sensitivity and reduce fasting blood glucose levels.

Probiotics are good for your heart health all around, as they also support healthy blood pressure and lower cholesterol levels.

#3 May improve the immune system

A whopping 70–80% of your immune system is in the digestive system. As you improve your gut health with probiotics, you can simultaneously improve your immune health. The gut microbiome communicates with immune cells and supports your body’s response to infection.

Overall, they have a protective effect against infectious pathogens, helping to keep you free from sickness.

#4 Can aid in weight loss

Many people try intermittent fasting to lose weight, so it’s good news that probiotics can support your weight loss journey. Studies show probiotic supplementation can substantially reduce body weight and body fat percentage. They create vitamins to give your body the energy to burn stubborn fat.

#5 Better mental health

More research is necessary, but science suggests probiotics have a beneficial role in mental health, including the potential to mitigate anti-depressive effects. They may also improve sleep quality and reduce symptoms of depressive mood, anger, and fatigue.

These effects are helpful since intermittent fasting can cause fatigue and mood changes, including anxiety and irritability.

Can Probiotic Foods Break a Fast?

Probiotic foods are super good for you, but they will break a fast. Nutritious foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, and pickles contain calories. Eating these foods in your fasting window will give your body energy, enabling it to return to normal function.

Even probiotic drinks, such as kombucha, will break your fast because it contains sugar that immediately raises blood sugar levels.

Save them for your eating window when you can reap the benefits without stalling your fast.

FAQs

Do probiotics affect autophagy?

Probiotics have beneficial effects on autophagy and may increase intestinal autophagy. The process itself can increase your body’s nutrient absorption, promoting the absorption of probiotics.

Should I take probiotics before or after fasting?

Some probiotics are best taken with food, while others are more effective on an empty stomach. You can take a non-acid-sensitive probiotic during fasting, preferably around 30 minutes before a meal. However, you should check the manufacturer’s recommendations.

What happens if you take probiotics on an empty stomach?

If your probiotic is strong enough to survive your stomach acid, taking it on an empty stomach can help it reach the gut intact. Your stomach produces more acid when it begins to digest food, so it can help to take a supplement before you eat.

A Word From MD

Taking probiotics can support your intermittent fasting journey without breaking your fast. You can take them during the fasting or eating period to maintain healthy digestive habits, ward off illness, boost your mood, and support your weight loss progress.

It’s important that you don’t rely on probiotics for a healthy diet, however. In the eating periods, you must prioritize nutrient-dense foods to ensure you get enough vitamins and minerals in your diet. Whole foods are best, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

You can also consider taking other fasting supplements to support your efforts. Collagen peptides, electrolytes, and water-soluble vitamins are some good examples. Just remember that some supplements will break a fast.

Conclusion

Taking probiotics in supplement form will not break a fast. It’s vital you check the label and only opt for products with zero calories. You must avoid food and drinks containing probiotics, as these will interrupt your new dietary pattern by raising blood glucose and insulin levels.

The best probiotic supplements will help you power through a fast. You can even choose probiotics designed to counter specific problems, such as bloating, constipation, and yeast infections.

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
The article was fact checked by Donika Vata, MD
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HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Dr. Donika Vata
Fact checked by Donika Vata, MD
Last update: October 22, 2023
5 min read 760 Views 0 Comments
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