The other day a friend of mine I had slowly converted to intermittent fasting, was talking about doing a 5 day fast. To which she asked me if her smoking habit would have dangerous effects on her body. And more precisely, if smoking would break the fast?
Smoking will not break a fast. There are no calories in a cigarette and it won’t cause an insulin reaction. Studies reveal that nicotine doesn’t impact fasting blood sugar. But smoking is very ill-advised on a fast, especially on fasts longer than 5 days. It can cause dizziness, nausea, vomiting, lead to arterial blood pressure fall or worse.
I don’t smoke and I’m not about to tell you smoking is bad for you and all that. But if nicotine doesn’t break a fast and prevent autophagy, it’s important to know the other effects it can have when fasting.
How smoking will affect your body on a fast
A common idea among specialists is that fasting blood sugar elevates when a subject is smoking. Meaning blood sugar test results might be wrong due to the inhalation of nicotine. That is a serious problem that could lead to the wrong diagnosis of a diabetic person.
Based on this premise, a study called Effect of Smoking on the Fasting Blood Sugar and Pressor Amines has been conducted, analyzing 24 subjects who were smoking two-thirds of two cigarettes in a 60 minutes span.
Fasting blood sugar has been analyzed before smoking, during the smoking period and after smoking. Here’s an excerpt of the summary :
When 24 normal subjects under basalconditions smoked two thirds of 2 cigarettes, there was no appreciable rise in the levels of the fasting blood sugar and the epinephrine-like substances of the systemic venous blood.
So apparently no rise on the blood sugar whatsoever, so no high blood sugar to prevent ketosis.
But smoking is a cause of insulin resistance. It can affect the ability of your cells to use insulin. Studies show that diabetic patients who are also smoking need more insulin to regulate their blood sugar. Which can, in the long term, result in higher blood sugar, which leads to heart disease and damages to your kidneys, nerves, and eyes.
However, if cigarettes will affect the way your body uses insulin, it won’t cause insulin to be released upon use. Except if the cigarettes you smoke actually contain sugar. This study identifies the types and quantities of added sugars in the tobacco of popular American cigarette brands.
If your cigarettes have added sugar, most of the time, it won’t be enough to raise an insulin reaction. But depending on the brand, the quantity of added sugar and the rate to which you smoke, it could in theory.
There are no studies on the subject, but simple logic dictates that it’s a possibility.
So if you can, try and smoke rolled cigarettes using natural tobacco, with no added sugar, fewer chemicals. It has a lot more chance to be the right fit when fasting. Of course, it would also definitely be better fitted for everyday smoking.
When smoking and fasting, the danger on a long fast is that your body will start using the chemicals you’re inhaling as nutrients. After 5 to 7 days, your body totally transits to internal nutrition.
Smoking during this period could lead to arterial blood pressure fall following heart failure progression. It could also cause faint, convulsions and even death due to cerebrum hypoxia. Which happens when your brain is totally deprived of oxygen.
If you’re an intermittent faster, smoking while fasting 16 or 24 hours might not be too much of a problem. But if you plan on doing a longer fast, I would advise you to take all this into account.
After a few days, your craving for cigarettes might actually decrease or even stop, but that’s not a sure thing and in that period, you could do some serious damage to your health.
Does smoking help reduce hunger
When starting intermittent fasting or trying to fast for more than a day, hunger can be a pain in the ass at the beginning and the first 48 hours might be a hustle.
So smoking, which is known for reducing hunger, might actually help you get through the first two days no? If you read the beginning of my article, you know that smoking on a fast is not a good idea and it can even be dangerous for your health.
One of the amazing effects of smoking is that it increases your metabolism. Which will, in turn, make your heart beats faster. This amazing effect is one of the things that makes cigarettes one of the main causes of heart diseases.
However, increased metabolism will be burning more calories carrying out the normal functions of the body. Burning more calories won’t mean reduced hunger of course. But that’s why some people might put on some weight after stopping cigarettes since metabolism will go back to its normal state.
Nicotine can also lower insulin levels in the bloodstream, reducing cravings for food. Since your appetite is handled via a hormone called leptin, which is used to regulate the energy balance in your body by inhibiting hunger, and since leptin will raise with elevated insulin levels, your appetite will be affected by lower insulin levels.
Smoking also releases dopamine, the pleasure hormone, which is also released when eating high sugar food (candy, chocolate, soda, etc.). This dopamine rise could help put those craving away and help you cope with them more easily.
One last interesting thing on the subject, nicotine triggers an adrenaline effect which can affect the stomach’s musculature While this effect persists, it can lead to temporary feelings of subsided hunger.
Will smoking marijuana break a fast
Okay first, let’s get rid of the elephant in the room: smoking marijuana will not help with your hunger. If you’re a constant smoker, maybe you don’t get the munchies anymore.
But if you add the smoking to the fasting state, you could easily double your cravings for food and that could lead to a very difficult experience. Now does marijuana break a fast? No more than nicotine does.
Moreover, a recent study on cannabis followed 4657 subjects for 5 years. During that period their blood glucose and insulin levels were checked regularly. The study concluded that cannabis could help reduce insulin resistance and higher insulin sensitivity.
So cannabis doesn’t raise insulin and might even help reduce insulin levels in the long term. Again, I’m not taking a stand here or advising you to combine marijuana to fasting to lower your insulin levels or getting rid of insulin resistance, just stating the facts!
Does vaping break a fast? Nicotine vaping works the same way as cigarettes. It won’t provoke an insulin reaction and it won’t break a fast. Of course, if you add special flavors with added sugar, the same applies here to tobacco with added sugar: it could, in theory, break a fast.
Does nicotine gum break a fast? Nicotine gum works the same way as cigarettes. It won’t provoke an insulin reaction and it won’t break a fast. Unless sweeteners are added to it.
Will smoking help me lose weight? Yes, it might. It will raise your blood pressure, cause your body to burn more calories, reduce your cravings for sugar since you’ll get your dopamine raise from smoking, lower your insulin, etc. But of course, I strongly advise against smoking to lose weight, since it has so many other negative effects.