Intermittent fasting is a diet plan that involves limiting your food intake to specific times during the day or over short periods of time. Depending on which type of intermittent fasting you follow, it could mean eating for an entire day and then going without food for 16 hours—or any other combination in between.
Intermittent fasting has become increasingly popular over the last decade as more people use it to kick-start their health journey.
However, there are some questions about what it can do to your digestive system and whether it causes acid reflux or other digestive issues.
In this article, we’ll explore how intermittent fasting works and whether there’s any truth behind the rumors about intermittent fasting and acid reflux or other digestive issues like bloating or constipation.
We’ll look at what causes these symptoms in the first place before exploring how they might arise when following an IF regime.
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What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a term used to describe eating patterns that alternate between periods of eating and fasting. There are many different types of intermittent-fasting protocols, but most involve regularly consuming all or some of your daily calories in a shorter number of meals or over a shorter period than you would normally eat them.
The main reason people do IF is because it has been shown to have numerous health benefits. Some people find it easier to control their weight, while others see improvements in their blood pressure and insulin sensitivity.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
In a nutshell, intermittent fasting is a diet where you eat within a specific time frame and fast the rest of the day. For example, if you choose to fast for 16 hours and eat within an eight-hour window (i.e., noon to 8 p.m.), that leaves one full day without any food at all.
If this sounds crazy to you, don’t worry—it’s not for everyone! However, if it does sound like something that could work for your lifestyle and goals, there are plenty of ways to customize your intermittent fasting schedule so that it works best with your schedule and body type:
- Fast for 16 hours and eat within an eight-hour window (i.e., noon to 8 p.m.)
- Fast for 24 hours once or twice per week
- Skip breakfast and eat lunch as early as possible in the day, then eat dinner at least two to three hours before bedtime
- Fast for 16 hours and eat within an eight-hour window, then break your fast with a small meal (i.e., lunch)
- Eat dinner at least two to three hours before bedtime, then break your fast with a small meal (i.e., lunch)
- Fast for 24 hours once or twice per week
Will Intermittent Fasting Help Me Lose Weight?
Intermittent fasting can help you lose weight. Intermittent fasting can help you lose weight in a few ways:
It Increases Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
Your BMR is how many calories your body needs to function each day—the amount of energy required just to keep going and not move at all.
Studies show that intermittent fasting increases BMR by anywhere from 5% – 15%, which means that your body burns about 200-300 extra calories per day when you’re sleeping or doing nothing. (And yes, those are extra calories burned above what would be eaten on a regular diet.)
Decreases Appetite and Food Intake by Suppressing Ghrelin Hormones and Increasing Peptide Yy Hormones
Ghrelin is sometimes called “the hunger hormone,” while peptide YY is sometimes called “the satiety hormone.” These two hormones affect our appetites; ghrelin tells us when we’re hungry, while peptide YY signals us when we’ve had enough food.
Studies show that intermittent fasting decreases levels of ghrelin while increasing levels of peptide YY—meaning less hunger and more satisfaction with smaller amounts of food consumed!
What Is Acid Reflux, and How Do I Know If I Have It?
Acid reflux, also called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), occurs when stomach acid splashes up into your esophagus.
The symptoms of acid reflux include:
- A burning sensation in your chest that’s relieved by food or antacids
- Heartburn with no warning or apparent cause
- Difficulty swallowing or feeling like you have something stuck in your throat
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, be sure to see your doctor. An affected individual may also experience headaches and changes in taste buds due to long-term exposure to acid.
Who Gets Acid Reflux?
There are several factors that may increase the risk of developing acid reflux. These include:
- Age: While anyone can develop acid reflux, it is more common among older adults.
- Gender: Women are more likely to experience symptoms of acid reflux than men
- Diet: Eating too fast, eating large amounts of food or certain foods (e.g., chocolate), bending over after eating a meal, and consuming alcohol can all increase your likelihood of experiencing heartburn or discomfort in the chest area (heartburn).
Intermittent Fasting and Acid Reflux: Can Intermittent Fasting Cause Acid Reflux?
Intermittent fasting can cause acid reflux. It’s important to understand that this is not just a “conventional” assumption or theory but backed by scientific evidence as well. The reason for this is that intermittent fasting changes the pH balance in your stomach.
When there is nothing in the stomach to digest, gastric juices can build up in the stomach. If there is no food in the stomach to neutralize excess stomach acid, it may result in the harmful buildup of this chemical that can cause heartburn and regurgitation into the esophagus (acid reflux).
Can Intermittent Fasting Help Acid Reflux?
The answer to this question is complicated. While there is no conclusive evidence that intermittent fasting can cure acid reflux, there is some weak statistical evidence to suggest that it may help reduce esophageal acid exposure. This could be a good thing if you’re already managing acid reflux symptoms and want to minimize their severity or frequency.
On the other hand, if you have heartburn while fasting, then I would recommend against it because even small amounts of stomach acid can cause pain and discomfort as it enters your esophagus.
Either way, if your doctor has recommended intermittent fasting for another health reason (such as weight loss), then go ahead and try it out!
Do Amino Acids Affect Intermittent Fasting?
You may have heard that amino acids break your fast, but what does that mean?
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and they are used to create enzymes that break down food. They also aid in the repair and growth of body tissues.
Taking amino acids can break your fast because it requires energy for your body to metabolize them into glycogen (or glucose). However, taking BCAAs prior to a fasted workout may be an acceptable exception in some cases.
These three kinds of amino acids can help you keep up with muscle growth without having to eat during the day or before training sessions.
If you’re not ready for this type of change yet or still want a bit more time with your family at dinner time, try taking 5 grams immediately after waking up instead—this will give you enough energy without breaking your fast!
How Can I Prevent Acid Reflux During Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting can be an effective way to lose weight and improve your health. However, if you have acid reflux or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), it may be difficult to fast because of the symptoms associated with this condition.
If you experience heartburn or other symptoms during your intermittent fasts, there are some things you can do to help alleviate them:
Drink plenty of water throughout the day while fasting. Water helps flush out the acid from the body, which can help reduce symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn. In addition, it hydrates you and helps prevent dehydration.
Eat smaller meals throughout the day instead of three large meals. Eating small meals helps decrease pressure on the stomach and esophagus, which decreases symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn during an intermittent fast.
Does Intermittent Fasting Cause Other Digestive Issues?
If you’re new to the idea of intermittent fasting, it’s important to note that digestive issues can be one of the first side effects. This could include constipation, diarrhea, nausea, or bloating.
If you suffer from any digestive problems or other chronic illnesses such as diabetes or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), then you should speak with your doctor before trying any fasting diet plans to see if they’re a good fit for your body and health goals.
Is It Okay to Use Antacids During Fasting If the Stomach Acidity Rises?
Yes, you can use antacids while fasting. Antacids help neutralize the excess acid in your stomach and reduce the pain caused by the burning sensation.
Antacids are over-the-counter medications that contain either sodium bicarbonate or calcium carbonate. They work by neutralizing stomach acid, which prevents damage to the lining of your esophagus and stomach.
Some people experience heartburn when they eat high-fat foods or large meals. If this occurs during a fast, you can take an antacid to relieve the symptoms.
However, antacids may upset your stomach’s pH balance if used too much or too often. If you’re using antacids frequently, it’s best to consult a doctor about possible complications.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Tums affect intermittent fasting?
Tums are an over-the-counter antacid used to relieve heartburn, indigestion, and upset stomach. They contain calcium carbonate and can also be used to prevent or reduce the symptoms of osteoporosis. While it is generally recommended that you take Tums at least 30 minutes before eating or drinking anything other than water, if you are fasting and only consuming water, it should not interfere with your fast.
Will essential amino acids break a fast?
The answer is yes. Essential amino acids break a fast. When you’re fasting, your body is in a state of ketosis, which means that your body is using your fat stores as energy. This means that your body doesn’t need the essential amino acids that you’re taking in through food sources to build muscle tissue or repair cells. In fact, it would be counterproductive to take in more protein than what your body needs during a fast because it could cause an increase in insulin levels, which could lead to an increase in body weight due to water retention and fat storage.
How do I stop acidity during intermittent fasting?
If you are fasting, there are some things that you can do to help reduce the acidity. I would recommend taking a calcium + magnesium supplement. This should help reduce the acidity in your body. If you are not fasting and just eating healthy, then your body may be simply producing too much acid because of your diet (foods, etc.). You may want to try drinking more water as this will help flush out some of the extra acids from your body and also help with digestion and absorption of nutrients from food.
What happens to amino acids when fasting?
During fasting, amino acids are used for energy as well as glucose. In fact, amino acids can provide up to 10% of the energy needed during fasting periods. They do this by being converted into glucose or ketones (which can be used by muscle and brain cells).
Do BCAAs kick you out of ketosis?
The short answer: Yes. OK, so we know that BCAAs can raise blood sugar levels if you take too much. But how much is too much? According to some experts on keto forums, 10 grams should be enough to get the benefits without risking any adverse effects on ketone production. That’s equal to about 2 scoops (30 grams).
We know it can be frustrating to have acid reflux. It’s a condition that affects millions of people, but it doesn’t have to keep you from living your life.
There are many things you can do on your own and with the help of your doctor or healthcare professional that will help reduce symptoms and keep your symptoms in check so you can continue living life without worrying about the next flare-up!
Intermittent fasting has increased in popularity over the last several years, but one question remains: is it healthy? As a whole, intermittent fasting is safe for many people.
However, those with certain health conditions should consult with a doctor before starting an IF plan. Common conditions such as acid reflux are not likely to be negatively impacted by intermittent fasting, but those with acid reflux should check with a doctor before starting any IF plan just to be safe.