Can CBD break a fast?
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Does taking CBD break a fast? It doesn't have to! The good news is, there are many options available for those who want to use CBD while fasting, so take a look at the best ways to do so.
These days, in the search for better health and a better life, all sorts of options are touted. Perhaps two of the most popular are everyone’s favourite non-psychotropic cannabinoid, CBD, and intermittent fasting.
But does CBD affect intermittent fasting in a negative way? What impact does this combination have on your metabolic health? Here we look into ways that you can take CBD without breaking your fast, and even how CBD could help with intermittent fasting.
WHAT IS INTERMITTENT FASTING?
Intermittent fasting is, as the name suggests, the practise of fasting during certain periods. It requires you to stick to a strict schedule, and aims to get the body into a fasting state each day. Simply put, it centres on maintaining an empty stomach during the fasting period, which causes the body to burn its fat reserves rather than relying on sugars and carbohydrates. For most people who eat throughout the day whenever they feel hungry, the body is able to sustain itself on carbs alone.
Though for many it requires a slight adaptation in regard to their eating habits, fasting needn’t be anything drastic. You must create what is known as an “eating window” during which you eat your nutrition for the day (it's normally a big enough window for two meals). The key, however, is that you eat nothing outside of this.
In order for a fast to be effective, you need to abstain from food for a period of at least 12 hours. The most common schedules are 16/8 and 18/6. In the former, you fast for 16 hours and eat within an 8-hour window, and in the latter fast for 18 hours and eat within a 6-hour window.
Choosing an eating window comes down to preference and what you can feasibly make habitual. There’s no point aiming to fast for 18 hours a day if it’s going to fail. Better to aim for 16. Choosing when to begin the window comes down to your personal schedule. But for most people, starting around midday and finishing around 8 pm works very well.
Despite it burning fat reserves, fasting is not necessarily a weight-loss method. While some use it for this purpose, others intermittently fast because it’s thought to come with a host of other health benefits.
WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF INTERMITTENT FASTING?
Exactly what intermittent fasting does on a micro level is not entirely known, but a fair amount of research has shed light on the effects it might have.
Some of the most commonly observed effects of intermittent fasting are¹:
- Greater sensitivity to insulin
- A clear head
- More energy
- Higher levels of antioxidant production
- Reduced hunger cravings
It’s important to note that intermittent fasting does not replace a healthy diet. It’s still just as important to eat enough healthy food and to do enough exercise. Intermittent fasting can only work in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle, not instead of it.
WILL CBD OIL BREAK A FAST?
CBD itself will not break a fast; it's not calorific. However, the carrier oils in which CBD is often held may contain some calories. Or, you may even take your CBD in the form of pills or gummies, each of which will have a calorie content too.
Intermittent fasting is not an exact science, and so exactly what constitutes a “fast” is up for debate. For some, absolute zero is the limit in terms of calories. Others are a little more lenient, allowing up to 50 calories outside of the eating window.
If you fall into the latter group, you’re in luck. The caloric content of olive and hemp oils, in the quantity necessary to take CBD, should not take you over this threshold, unless you take very big doses. For most, however, it will be possible to take CBD outside of the eating window and still maintain a fast. The same goes for CBD pills/capsules, which often contain small amounts of carrier oils as filler.
If you use CBD gummies, then unfortunately you’ll have to wait for your eating window, or just switch up your intake method when you’re outside of it.
For those who are aiming for absolute zero, but still want to use CBD oil outside of the eating window, then an MCT CBD oil might be of use. MCT stands for medium-chain triglyceride. This chain of amino acids is derived from many sources, such as avocado, palm, and coconut oil. While rich in amino acids, it's thought to have zero calories and can help to aid digestion. However, studies regarding MCT have shown inconclusive and conflicting results, so it’s not a certain option.
CALORIE-FREE CBD OPTIONS
Consuming CBD is, of course, not the only way to use it, and there are options that bypass digestion entirely. These include:
- CBD e-liquid (for vaping)
- CBD patches
- CBD flower (for smoking)
As none of these methods of intake pass through the stomach, you can let go of your concerns entirely if you’re willing to adapt to one of them.
CAN CBD HELP WITH INTERMITTENT FASTING?
Not only are there several ways to use CBD without breaking your fast, but it may even be able to assist you in your quest as well.
Studies on rats suggest that CBD may impact food consumption in such a way that could help with intermittent fasting.² That being said, it’s likely that while it might work as an aid, it won’t replace a little willpower! However, it’s worth looking into how to use CBD with fasting for the purposes of weight loss.
Intermittent fasting is similar to the ketogenic diet in that both seek to move the body away from burning carbs and toward burning body fat. Many people choose to use CBD alongside a keto diet, in part to help with their appetite as they move from carb-rich foods to fat and protein-rich foods. If it works in this context, then it may well assist with intermittent fasting too.
HOW TO TAKE CBD WHEN INTERMITTENT FASTING
There are many options when it comes to using CBD alongside an intermittent fasting schedule. The wealth of choice means you won’t have to adapt much (or at all), and so there should be little to no conflict between the two.
USE ZERO-CALORIE OPTIONS
As mentioned earlier, the most certain way to take CBD while fasting is to opt for a method that contains zero calories, such as vaping, smoking, or transdermal patches. In this case, you don’t even need to think about the two in relation if you don’t want to, and there’s no danger of messing up your fasting schedule.
HOW TO USE CBD OIL DURING AN INTERMITTENT FAST
However, for many, CBD oil is the top choice. Fortunately, incorporating CBD oils into your fasting life need not be a burden.
If you’re happy to consume up to 50 calories within your fasting period, you can take CBD as you please (as long as it’s not in huge amounts). Otherwise, there are some alternative options.
First, and perhaps easiest, is to only take CBD oil within your eating window. If you do this, then there’s no chance of it breaking your fast. To be sure, perhaps get into the habit of adding it to your meals, rather than taking CBD oil on its own. This way, you won’t accidentally take it without thinking.
HOW TO USE CBD GUMMIES DURING AN INTERMITTENT FAST
If you only aim to take CBD within the eating window, then you can take CBD gummies (or other CBD edibles) too. One of the major strengths of CBD gummies is that they’re very long lasting. Therefore, if you take them right at the very end of your eating window, you should get a good eight or so hours from them, which means you can reap the benefits of CBD gummies well into your fasting period.
INTERMITTENT FASTING WITH CBD: YES OR NO?
Using CBD while intermittent fasting shouldn’t cause any major issues. Whether you opt to take CBD oil inside or outside the eating window, gummies inside, or zero-calorie options without considering when you use them, there are many ways to incorporate CBD and fasting into your life.
What’s more, not only will they not come into conflict with one another, but CBD could even help you on your journey to better health through fasting! Though inconclusive, some studies suggest that CBD has an effect on appetite that could assist you when it comes to trying to resist eating.
Whatever reason you choose to fast, or take CBD for that matter, remember that neither offers a quick fix. It’s possible that each may complement a healthy lifestyle, but neither will create one where it doesn’t already exist. With this in mind, play around with each and listen to your body!
1. de Cabo R, Mattson MP. Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Health, Aging, and Disease. Longo DL, ed. New England Journal of Medicine. 2019;381(26):2541-2551. doi:10.1056/nejmra1905136
2. Farrimond JA, Whalley BJ, Williams CM. Cannabinol and cannabidiol exert opposing effects on rat feeding patterns. Psychopharmacology. 2012;223(1):117-129. doi:10.1007/s00213-012-2697-x