Intermittent Fasting has become somewhat of a health craze in the last few years, and rightfully so. For thousands of years — if not longer — humans have practiced IF for a variety of reasons, whether intentionally or not (think cavemen).
With a wide range of benefits from spirituality to weight loss, cell repair to heart health, it seems the world is yet again catching on to this timeless method for human improvement.
But what exactly is Intermittent Fasting? In a nutshell, it’s a practice in which a person restricts their eating to certain times. There are countless variations of this, such as the 16/8 method in which a person fasts for 16 hours a day and eats only during the 8 hour period, the 5/2 method, which consists of fasting completely for 2 days out of the week, the 18/6 method which is like 16/8, only different hours, and the list goes on.
It all ultimately boils down to the individual goals/lifestyle and what each person feels works best for them personally.
However, with increasing popularity comes the need for increased awareness, which is especially important when it comes to our health. What some might not know could very well hurt them, and in the case of Intermittent Fasting, misinformation can be downright dangerous.
This can lead to such ailments as dehydration and subsequently loss of electrolytes, which play a crucial role in keeping our bodies healthy and functioning optimally. Read on to find out how to stay hydrated while fasting and keeping your electrolytes in a healthy range!
Why Do I Need Electrolytes While Fasting?
You need electrolytes all the time, but even more so when you’re fasting, in order to support the critical functions and processes within your body that these essential elements help to run smoothly.
Intermittent Fasting can lead to dehydration and imbalances in important minerals and electrolytes if proper care isn’t taken. Eating the wrong foods or not enough of the right foods, for example, is one reason we might miss out on these essential elements of our diet.
Another reason is dehydration; as the body will automatically start losing electrolytes when dehydration sets in. This can also lead to fasting headaches, which occur when the body isn’t hydrated well enough.
Drinking enough water (about half our body weight in ounces) when fasting as well as during the eating period can help to keep electrolyte levels in a healthy range.
Which Ones Do I Need?
Sodium is an alkali metal as well as an electrolyte and is an essential part of our diet. While too much sodium can be damaging to our health, too little isn’t a good thing either. It contributes to such important functions as nerve impulses, muscle contraction, and maintaining balanced levels of water and minerals.
Unfortunately, many people believe that all sodium is bad and, consequently, don’t consume enough (if any at all). This can be a dangerous mistake, as sodium deficiency can cause such issues as nausea, vomiting, confusion, seizures, and even coma. For this reason, it’s important to get the recommended amount of sodium daily, without going over or falling short.
Potassium is also an alkali metal as well as an electrolyte and is another essential contributor to several bodily functions. It assists in digestion, heart rate, maintaining optimum blood pressure and fluid levels, nerve impulses and muscle contractions, and keeps the body’s PH balanced.
Less than 2% of Americans consume the daily recommended amount of potassium, though it’s not as easy to become deficient as some of the other minerals. While certain medical conditions require potassium restriction, most of us benefit from the daily recommended amount, though it’s not always as easy to achieve as we might like.
Magnesium is an alkaline earth metal, and an especially important one at that. Every cell in our bodies needs it to function, and it is responsible for hundreds of processes that keep us alive and well. It’s essential for helping to form protein, maintain the nervous system, contract and relax muscles, create energy from our food intake, and even create and repair DNA/RNA, just to name a few.
Even with its high importance as a staple of our health, Magnesium deficiency is a common condition. As it contributes to so many processes and functions, it’s extra important to maintain healthy levels of this mineral.
How Much do I Need?
Different amounts are required of each electrolyte, as they aren’t created equally. It’s not always easy to determine how much of each you’re already consuming, but with some research, it can be figured out. Here’s a little guide on how much of each is recommended for optimum health:
500 mg a day
3,500-4,700 mg a day
310-420 mg a day (depending on age and sex)
When do I Need Them?
If at all possible, getting these essential elements through our food intake is ideal. However, given that IF can be restrictive with eating times, it’s understandable that it’s not always going to work out this way. If it’s not realistic to get your requirements met during your eating period, there are other options to consider:
For years, my go-to recommendation for hydration salts was Pedialyte. Unfortunately, it’s loaded with sugar! In the last couple of years, startups have started releasing fasting-friendly electrolyte powders. Some of them are really good, and we’ve been working on a review of everything out there. Sign up below to be the first to get that comparison:
Keep learning with Temper!
Electrolyte Infused Water
Electrolyte water has been popular for some time now, and it’s a good start in getting your daily requirements met. It likely won’t meet all your needs; however, it’s better than getting no electrolytes at all. If some of your daily requirements have been met and you’re wondering what to drink while fasting, electrolyte water can be a nice boost to keep your levels maintained. Just don’t rely on it to do the whole job, as it will fall short.
Bone broth has been used for centuries to cure whatever ails us and is rich in essential minerals and electrolytes. Depending on how strict you’re being with regards to your fasting, this could be a great way to ensure you get any electrolytes you might have missed during your eating period. Everyone has their own rules and preferences, so this one may not be for you. However, it’s something to consider if you’re looking for a way to supplement what you’re missing.
Intermittent fasting can be a great way to boost your overall health, as well as help with certain conditions you may be experiencing. However, becoming dehydrated and losing electrolytes is a risk, so it’s important to make sure you’re consuming what you need to stay healthy.
The bottom line here is simple: stay adequately hydrated, eat as healthily as you possibly can, and supplement with (healthy) alternatives when necessary. Happy fasting!