You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve been asked if it’s ok to vape while fasting. Or whether vaping on a diet will help or hinder progress. Although I think the question I get most often is whether it’s ok to vape during Ramadan, the Islamic religious holiday.
Now, I’m not a Muslim so this is just my personal opinion. But I always understood the act of fasting during Ramadan as a display of total self discipline.
Removing pleasures considered impure, not just food and drink. When you add to that the fact that vaping with nicotine is addictive, I would think it’s fair to say you probably shouldn’t vape while fasting for Ramadan.
BUT, what about those of us not fasting for religious reasons…
If you’re fasting for weight loss for example. What then? Should you set aside your vape while fasting? More to the point perhaps, does e-juice contain calories? And if so, will vaping stop you losing weight?
The short answer is NO..
It’s perfectly ok to vape while fasting for weight loss. Although e-juice does contain calories, you ‘consume’ less than 5 calories per 1ml, which means vaping won’t interfere with your weight loss goals. In addition to this, nicotine is actually an appetite suppressor, which means vaping could actually help you to lose weight.
It’s also worth noting that e-juice contains zero carbohydrates, so won’t affect those on a Ketogenic diet!
But what if you’re fasting to improve your health rather than to lose weight? Studies have shown that fasting could have a range of health benefits (if done properly!) and it’s become something of a health craze in recent years.
We already know e-juice contains very few calories, but does the body ‘recognise’ vaping in the same way it does food? And if so, will you lose the potential benefits of a fast if you reach for your vape?
This is slightly harder to answer. First we need to take a look at what happens to your body when you fast, and what impact (if any!) vaping could have on this process.
What happens to the body during a fast?
In order to talk about fasting, it’s important to understand that your body is reliant on energy (among other things!) to survive. Our main source of energy is a sugar called glucose, which we absorb through our diet. Specifically carbohydrates. This glucose is stored by the liver and released into the bloodstream when we need it.
During the first few hours of your fast, your body is using stored glucose. However, when your glucose reserve is depleted, your body enters gluconeogenesis to maintain blood glucose levels and prevent hypoglycaemia (low levels). Think of this as a ‘back-up plan’ of sorts, for production of new glucose in the absence of carbohydrates from your diet.
As you continue fasting, your body will begin to use fat or protein to maintain your blood glucose levels. Your metabolism will also slow to conserve energy, which means your body will burn less energy in a resting state. This also has the added benefit of lowering your blood pressure and heart rate.
The above process is ridiculously complicated, and I’m far from qualified to write at any length about it. But that’s the bare bones (fasting – get it?…) and all we really need to know for now.
What are the benefits of fasting?
In terms of the general benefits, it’s believed that fasting cleanses or ‘detoxes’ the body and forces our cells to adapt and thereby grow stronger. A bit like exercising any other part of the body – placing the muscle under stress and forcing it to adapt and grow.
Makes sense right?
Now fasting has been touted as a miracle cure-all by some, and I’m not sure I quite believe everything I read on the subject. BUT, several studies have found that fasting could not only reduce your blood sugar levels, but also improve blood sugar control by reducing insulin resistance. Which is a potentially HUGE benefit for those suffering from, or at risk of, type 2 diabetes.
Decreasing insulin resistance can increase your sensitivity to insulin, which in turn allows your cells to make more efficient use of the glucose in your bloodstream. So if fasting reduces blood sugar levels, while simultaneously increasing your sensitivity to insulin, this could help you balance your blood sugar and reduce the risk of dangerously high or low levels.
Still with me?
Further studies have shown that fasting could also decrease inflammation in the body, and research confirms that chronic inflammation may be a contributing factor for various diseases, such as diabetes, cancer and arthritis.
Fasting has been linked to a whole host of other health benefits, ranging from decreased blood pressure, to lower cholesterol and improved heart health. You get the picture – it’s fair to say that fasting properly could have positive effects on your overall health.
So should I vape while fasting?
One of the key benefits of fasting, as we’ve talked about above, is the belief that our cells adapt by entering a state they wouldn’t have otherwise entered when receiving a constant supply of energy via the food we consume.
So in my mind, the first and most important thing to consider is whether the e-juice we vape provides the body with a supply of energy. In other words, if e-juice is ‘recognised’ by your body as a source of calories or energy the same way food is, then to vape while fasting is like trying to dig your way out of a hole – you won’t achieve anything.
After all, you’re not really fasting if your body is receiving a replacement source of ‘fuel’ in the form of the e-juice you’re vaping.
Surprisingly, the scientific community don’t appear to actually know what happens to the calories absorbed into the lungs during vaping. I expected to find a study or research paper that would put this issue to rest, but I had no such luck at the time of writing. But this doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t vape while fasting – it could very well be the case that the body receives ZERO calories or energy from the e-juice you vape.
Now full disclaimer here, I’m no doctor.
BUT it seems unlikely to me that the body would recognise the e-juice we’re vaping as a source of fuel, primarily because we’re not actually digesting the e-juice.
So if we’re looking at this as purely a case of whether it’s possible to place your body into a state of fasting if you continue to vape, the answer is yes! There’s no reason to believe the e-juice you inhale will inhibit your ability to properly fast.
But will I experience the benefits of fasting if I continue to vape?
Yes and no.
First the good news. I found this study, conducted to determine if smoking affected fasting blood sugar levels. I know the focus is on cigarette smoke, but the results should be comparable to vaping. The participant’s blood sugar levels were tested before, during and after smoking two cigarettes in 60 minutes.
“When 24 normal subjects under basal conditions smoked two thirds of 2 cigarettes, there was no appreciable rise in the levels of the fasting blood sugar”.
The bad (but expected) news is that the study found the blood pressure and pulse rate of the participants was significantly raised after the 2 cigarettes. This was expected because nicotine is a stimulant, and the same effect is likely to be seen when vaping e-juice containing nicotine.
In terms of insulin resistance (a benefit of fasting is reduced insulin resistance) a recent study found that e-cigarette exposure or use was not associated with increased insulin resistance. So to summarise, the benefit to your blood sugar level and insulin resistance obtained by fasting, should not be affected by vaping.
However, I did find some potentially troubling news. This study, conducted in January 2021 found that repetitive use of e-cigarettes may disrupt the integrity of the gut barrier, increase the susceptibility of the gut lining to bacterial infections and trigger inflammation.
I still believe vaping is a far healthier alternative to smoking, but this is obviously somewhat concerning. I’m hoping further studies will help to shed some light on these findings and I’ll be sure to post an update.
And there you have it folks. If you were wondering whether you should vape while fasting, hopefully by now you have enough info to make an informed decision.