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Are you hydrating during your fasts?

Are you hydrating during your fasts?

One of the main (and only) side effects of fasting is dehydration. If you’re doing TRE (time restricted feeding) or 16/8 IF then you’re probably getting enough electrolytes from your meals. Once you move on to ADF and EF, you’ll need to start supplementing with salt and magnesium.

Hydration doesn’t just mean drinking water (although water is majorly important). When it comes to amounts, we have many resources that cover this well. Water, for example, should be drank to thirst, but there are some general guidelines.

The reason why you need to supplement with electrolytes during a fast is two-fold. First, you’re not getting any electrolytes from food because you’re not eating (duh). Secondly, as you fast, and insulin drops, your body goes into “release mode”. This is great as it helps to rid of major water retention, inflammation, and even helps to regulate pressure. Burning fat (lower insulin, ketogenic state) also adds to this release.

The side effect of going into release-mode is dehydration: loss of too many fluids along with essential minerals (sodium, magnesium and potentially others). Think of sodium (salt) as an electrolyte-sparing agent (it helps your body from losing the other electrolytes). For example, if you take magnesium but don’t take salt, you’ll likely not absorb enough of it and/or release too much.

Potassium is a very important electrolyte but please do not supplement with it unless specifically prescribed by a doctor. Hypo- and hyperkalemia (abnormal potassium levels) are both equally dangerous. We have many resources on this as well.

Magnesium is an easy one to supplement. There are many types and forms: Powder, liquid/drops, capsules/tablets, and topical. Different forms will affect your bowels differently. Some forms may cause loose stools and if that’s the case, switch to another one. If you tend to be constipated, that’s the one you want to take! If you fast and get muscle cramps, increase your magnesium (and salt) dose. If you feel a little jittery in the evening, take more.

There are also many ways to get salt into you. My personal favourite in sublingual (under the tongue). This is the absolute best way to absorb salt. Trick here is to take TINY amounts, like a rock or two, at a time (think praying to the porcelain god). You can also put some salt in your water or coffee, you can drink some delicious pickle juice, and/or get some salt (and other electrolytes) from bone broth. I also don’t advise taking too much salt in these liquid forms, as it may cause a SALT FLUSH (aka it might come out the other end). Vomiting and/or diarrhea will lead to further dehydration. No bueno when you’re fasting (or anytime really).

I personally don’t “love” electrolyte mixes, but there are some acceptable ones out there and our program has a link to the best ones out there.

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