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Does Taking Medication Break a Fast?
Intermittent Fasting

Does Taking Medication Break a Fast?

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Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on September 24, 2022
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4 min

When fasting, it can be difficult to know whether you’re allowed to take certain medications without them breaking a fast. In this article, we take a look at whether or not taking medicine will break you fast.

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Intermittent fasting is a popular dieting method that involves periods of fasting and periods of eating. During the eating window, you are allowed to consume whatever food you would like as the diet is time-restricted and not calorie restricted.

Many people have found intermittent fasting to be a brilliant way of reducing body fat, and it comes with many other health benefits too, but there is some debate among time-restricted eating enthusiasts as to what actually breaks a fast.

One question up for debate is whether or not taking medications will end your fast and inhibit your weight loss.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at whether taking medication will end your fast, what kinds of medication you can take, and what medication you should wait until your eating window to take. Read on to find out more about it.

Does Taking Medicine Break a Fast?

A fast is broken in two ways; when calories are consumed or when your blood sugar levels spike and the metabolic state of ketosis is ended. Taking most medications will not end the metabolic state of ketosis, though some may if they contain glucose. However, some forms of fasting strictly prohibit taking medication during a fast.

While many common medications will not end the metabolic state of ketosis, zero-calorie fasting, as well as religious fasting, may make it more difficult to take medications. You will need to speak with your medical provider regarding taking medications if you’re considering using extended fasting as a dieting method.

In addition to the rules of fasting, taking some medications on an empty stomach can cause problems. Side effects can include digestive issues and nausea. Medications like iron supplements should not be taken on an empty stomach.

Supplements are best taken during your eating window to avoid any negative side effects. While supplements can be taken at any time, this may not be the same for some medications. Medication that needs to be taken throughout the day will not be compatible with a fasting diet.

On the other hand, there are some medications that are enhanced when taken in a fasted state. Some thyroid medications are thought to have higher absorption rates when taken before a meal.

This is not true of all medications, though. Research shows that taking diabetes medications without food could cause negative side effects, like diarrhea and uncomfortable gas. You may also increase the risk of hypoglycemia if you take diabetes medications during a fasting window.

Each example of medication may have a different reaction when taken during fasting. For this reason, you should always speak with a doctor if you take regular medication and are contemplating intermittent fasting or a fasting-mimicking diet.

On a fast-mimicking diet, products like bone broth, MCT oil, and olive oil can be used to curb hunger cravings while the body remains in ketosis.

If you’re looking to reduce your stored fat but cannot follow an intermittent fasting diet, you could try another diet, like the ketogenic diet. The keto diet has many benefits, including lowering your blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart disease.

Can You Take Medication During Ramadan?

Taking medication is prohibited when fasting during Ramadan. For those who need to take regular medications, a medical provider can help them adjust dosages to fit around the fasting schedule.

There are some considerations to be made for certain illnesses, particularly illnesses that affect blood sugar and blood pressure. For this reason, people may honor their fasts at different times during the year.

During Ramadan, health supplements can be taken at the time when food can be consumed after the sun has set and before it has risen the next morning.

If you take medication regularly and are undertaking the fast during Ramadan, it may be a good idea to speak with a doctor about adjusting dosages. You could try changing to longer-acting medicines or even honoring your fast at a different time in the year when your medications are not needed as regularly or the days are shorter.

It is important to note that pregnant and breastfeeding people are exempt from fasting as it is not safe for them. 

Does Tylenol Break a Fast?

Regular Tylenol tablets are zero-calorie and will not end your fast. However, other forms of Tylenol may have an effect on blood sugar levels and end the metabolic state of ketosis. Liquid forms of Tylenol may contain glucose, raising blood sugar and eliciting an insulin response.

Tylenol is not known to irritate the stomach lining like ibuprofen and other NSAIDs. For this reason, Tylenol is suitable to be taken during a fast.

It is important to note that Tylenol may have some digestive side effects, like constipation.

Does Adderall Break a Fast?

Adderall and other ADHD medicines will not end your fast, generally speaking. However, there is some evidence to suggest that Adderall, and other amphetamines, may cause an insulin response in some people. Generally, though, Adderall is not considered one of the fast-breaking medicines.

It is important to note, however, that Adderall can have many side effects, particularly issues for the digestive system, which can be enhanced if it is taken on an empty stomach. As ADHD medication tends to be taken in the morning due to its stimulant properties, you may need to adjust your fast schedule to avoid these negative effects.

Do Pills Break a Fast?

Generally speaking, taking a pill will not end your fast. Pills have little to no sugar in them, which means they will not end the state of ketosis. Some medicines, like liquid forms, may contain sugar, and you may need to stop taking them if you are planning to fast.

Does the Contraceptive Pill Break Your Fast?

As with other medicines, the contraceptive pill will not end your fast unless you are following a stricter regime, like a religious fast. Unlike other medications, you do not need to take the contraceptive pill with food, so you will not need to wait until you can eat.

A Word From Our MD

Intermittent fasting is a popular dieting method known for its many benefits, including fat loss. It may have some positive effects for those with diabetes and could even improve your heart health. However, it is not suitable for everyone.

A fast-based diet means enduring long periods without food that can interfere with meds that need to be taken regularly throughout the day. The impact of a fast can vary for many kinds of medication, including common pills like aspirin, insulin medication like metformin, and blood pressure medication.

For some patients, like those with diabetes, a fast diet may be useful for controlling blood sugar levels but can have a negative impact on their diabetes medication. Medicines taken for insulin secretion, like metformin, can cause uncomfortable side effects when not taken with proper nutrition and may even increase the risk of hypoglycemia.

Meds for other things, like ADHD, are better when taken with food. Most people find that their stimulating effects have less of an impact when taken in the morning. This means that you may be required to change the times at which you fast to ensure you can take your meds too.

Supplements, like vitamins and minerals, are usually safe to take during a fast. Some, like iron supplements, should also be taken with foods. Vitamins can generally be taken with a drink at any time of day, meaning they pose little threat to your fast schedule. If you have negative effects while taking supplements during your fast, stop taking them until you have eaten.

Like with many aspects of the IF diet, whether or not taking your meds will end your fast is completely personal and depends on how you define your fast. Always take your health into consideration and only commit to one of the many fasting diet types if it is safe for you to do so.

Conclusion

Whether or not taking your medicines breaks your fast is entirely personal. Some forms of fasting are more restrictive than others. Never begin a fast if you know it is unsafe to do so, and speak with a healthcare provider about how to take your medication while doing IF safely.

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
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.
Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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