A pill bottle of Xanax beside a fasting timer, representing the intersection of anxiety medication and intermittent fasting

Intermittent Fasting and Anxiety Medication: A Compassionate Perspective

Kate Fowler

The Intermittent Fasting Struggle

I’m just going to start out by saying - I get it. Intermittent fasting is no joke! Whether you’re doing it for weight loss, insulin resistance, inflammation, or just that fabled longevity boost, the hunger pangs and cravings can be brutal. And if you’re dealing with anxiety on top of it all? That’s an entirely new level of challenge.

But I’ve been there, and I’m still here fasting away. Why? Because studies show IF can lead to a 3-8% reduction in weight over 3-24 weeks, lower blood sugar levels, reduced markers of inflammation like CRP, and increased cellular repair and longevity in animal models. Plus, it works for me and my lifestyle.

Still, adding anxiety meds like Xanax into the mix can feel confusing. I’ve had so many of you wonderful women asking - does taking Xanax mean I’m no longer fasting? Will it ruin my progress? Trust me, I understand the struggle.

The Science Behind Xanax (Alprazolam)

Let’s break this down, shall we? Xanax (generic name alprazolam) belongs to the benzodiazepine family of anti-anxiety medications. It works by increasing the effects of your brain’s natural calming chemical GABA. Specifically, Xanax has a very high binding affinity of 0.3–0.6 nM for the GABA-A receptor, reducing overactive brain signaling.

For the roughly 31.1% of U.S. adults who experience an anxiety disorder during their lives, this can provide blessed relief and emotional regulation. In clinical trials, up to 80% of patients responded favorably to Xanax.

A woman looking anxious while intermittent fasting and considering taking her Xanax medication

Does It Actually “Break” a Fast?

But now for the million dollar fasting question - does popping an Xanax pill officially ruin your fast and cancel out all the good fat-burning work your body’s been doing?

From a scientific perspective, probably not. Xanax has a tiny molecular structure (just 308.77 g/mol) and isn’t metabolized for energy. Plus, it’s readily absorbed with a bioavailability of 80-100%, so it doesn’t require any extra digestive fueling.

Essentially, while Xanax impacts your brain chemistry, it doesn’t disrupt your body’s preferential burning of stored fat for energy during a fasted state. You’re still fasting, metabolically speaking!

When Meds and Fasting Intersect

Of course, medication can affect each of our bodies differently. Some studies show that between 5-15% of people taking Xanax and other benzodiazepines experience increased appetite as a side effect. If that’s you, and those munchies derail your fast every time, then yeah - Xanax may not be meshing well with IF for your system.

At the end of the day, your mental health has to be the priority. We’ve all been through enough already, am I right? If you need your Xanax during a fasting window to help manage your anxiety, please don’t agonize over whether it’s “allowed.” Take your meds, listen to your body’s cues, and practice self-compassion.

The beautiful thing about IF is its flexibility. You can pick it back up tomorrow, next week, whenever you’re ready. The benefits come from making it a sustainable lifestyle, not from dogmatic perfectionism.

So stay strong, look after yourself, and happy fasting - whenever and however it fits into your gorgeous life.

But you know what? There’s an intriguing twist to this whole medication and fasting discussion that I haven’t even mentioned yet. Brace yourselves, because this is a doozy…

Emerging research suggests that fasting itself may help treat anxiety and mood disorders!

Yes, you read that right. The very same intermittent fasting practice that has you white-knuckling it through hunger pangs may actually provide mental health benefits in the long run. Let me explain…

In multiple animal studies, sustained caloric restriction has been shown to increase levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) - a key protein that promotes neural plasticity and the growth of new brain cells and synaptic connections. Higher BDNF levels are associated with reductions in anxiety and depression.

Meanwhile, trials indicate that alternate day fasting can significantly decrease symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depressive mood compared to non-fasting controls after just 3-4 weeks. The effects appear to be mediated by reduced inflammation and positive changes in hormone levels like leptin and ghrelin.

Fascinating, right? It’s almost like fasting gives your entire body a rejuvenating restart - brain included!

A compassionate woman providing reassurance to her friend struggling with anxiety while intermittent fasting

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, what matters most is tuning into your body’s needs with wisdom and self-compassion.

Intermittent fasting can be incredibly powerful for physical health, but it was never meant to cause anxiety or suffering. If the hunger gets too intense, scale it back. If meds impact your fasting, be gentle with yourself. This is about cultivating a sustainable lifestyle, not perfection.

The same mindfulness applies to mental health. While fasting may help relieve anxiety long-term for some, others may need medication or other support to find stability first. Honor where you are without judgment.

After years of IF, my greatest lesson is this: Fast from self-criticism, and feast on patience and self-love. Explore what works for your wellbeing. Adjust routines as needed. Stand in your courage.

The path ahead brightens when self-compassion leads the way. Keep treating yourself with kindness, incredible woman. You’ve got this.

FAQ: Does Xanax Break My Intermittent Fast?

Q: I take Xanax for anxiety. Will this make me break my fast?

A: No, taking Xanax alone will not cause you to break your intermittent fast. Xanax is a small molecule that does not require digestion and provides no calories, so it does not impact the metabolic fasting processes in your body.

Q: I get hungrier when taking Xanax. Will this increased appetite break my fast?

A: The increased appetite some experience on Xanax could potentially lead to breaking your fast early if you give in to cravings and eat something. However, the medication itself does not technically “break” the fast - but the eating would.

Q: Are there any proven benefits to fasting while taking anti-anxiety medication?

A: Interestingly, some research suggests fasting may have anti-anxiety and anti-depressant effects by increasing brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and reducing inflammation. However, more studies are still needed in this area.

Q: I’m worried about managing my hunger and anxiety while fasting. Any tips?

A: Be kind to yourself and adjust your fasting routine as needed so it doesn’t cause undue stress. Stay hydrated, try distractions like light activity, and prioritize your mental health above all else. Don’t be afraid to stop fasting if it’s hindering your wellbeing.

Q: When is the best time to take Xanax on an intermittent fasting day?

A: There is no single best time, as different people can react differently. Some may prefer taking Xanax at the start of their fast when feeling anxious about the hunger period ahead. Others do better taking it several hours into the fast. Experiment and see what works best for you.

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