Would ADHD Improve With Intermittent Fasting?

October 1, 2021


If you or a family member is struggling with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), you may wonder if ADHD can improve with intermittent fasting. It stands to reason that poor nutrition can lead to many disorders, whether physical or mental. And it can contribute to weight gain as well.

Intermittent fasting is a restricted eating plan – you can eat only during your feeding windows. So it requires discipline and willpower. The theory is that ADHD may result from a chemical imbalance in the brain. It is quite likely that food intake is linked to this chemical imbalance.

Should You Try ADHD Treatment Without Medication?

Once ADHD is diagnosed, it can be treated by a number of different medications. These may be stimulants or non-stimulants. A particular drug may or may not suit the patient. The doctor will just have to keep trying and adjust the dosage, if necessary.

Unfortunately, most conventional drugs have various side effects and can actually cause more problems that are easily discernible in children. You may try ADHD treatment without medication only if advised by a competent medical professional. As part of the treatment, you may try psychotherapy, behavioral therapy, biofeedback, and dietary changes. You could even try alternative ADHD treatment, natural remedies, and supplements. 

What Are the Risks of Unconventional ADHD Treatment?

Should you stop medications to try out something unconventional for ADHD? No, that is not a good idea. Do not stop any medications that you or your child is taking for ADHD without consulting with a doctor. Even if you want to try diet modification, supplements, or alternative remedies, it is best to keep your doctor in the loop. Certain remedies, supplements, and even diets can interfere with the medications and increase or decrease their effects, so follow medical advice. 

Does Intermittent Fasting Help With ADHD?

Research shows that some children benefit by eliminating certain foods. However, intermittent fasting should not be followed by children under 18. In adults, intermittent fasting may benefit in reducing symptoms of ADHD, though there is only anecdotal evidence for the same. Intermittent fasting has several benefits for some adult ADHD patients:

  • It is a strict and structured routine that may appeal to those who have ADHD.
  • The eating-feeding window is a simple routine to follow.
  • An ADHD support group or forum following intermittent fasting may provide much-needed help and reinforcement.
  • Eating healthier always has benefits for mental and physical health. 

Often, adult sufferers of ADHD are also obese as they indulge in emotional eating. Intermittent fasting can help lose weight. Is intermittent fasting the best natural ADHD treatment? If it works for you and also enables you to lose weight, it is the best. 

Does Intermittent Fasting Improve Focus?

When you fast for long hours, your willpower and mental focus improve. While research is limited on how it actually does this, it is quite possible that increased alertness may be due to the body reaching ketosis.

If you practice intermittent fasting and don’t eat for several hours, your body is more likely to burn fat for fuel since it does not have carbohydrates. Intermittent fasting also advocates eating healthier during the feeding times. This automatically improves nutrition to the body and has positive effects on brain health. The discipline of intermittent fasting is another factor that improves brain health, mental focus, and concentration.

To answer the question if ADHD improves with intermittent fasting, it is entirely possible that if you have the concentration and mental strength to follow this strict regimen, your ADHD will also improve thanks to the dietary restrictions. Fasting also increases neurotransmitters, and these may help improve symptoms of ADHD. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the best diet for ADHD?

A balanced diet is best for ADHD. Ensure that you have enough proteins from plants and high-quality meat, poultry, and seafood. Add low-fat dairy, eggs, beans and lentils, and nuts so that you are not protein-deficient. Eat more complex carbohydrates, whole grains, lots of fruits and vegetables. Reduce fats and have fats from wholesome sources.

At the same time, avoid sugar and sugar-rich foods and drinks. Sugar is a known trigger for hyperactivity. Also, eliminate artificial colors, sweeteners, and preservatives from foods, so don’t have packaged foods, including breakfast cereals and cookies, canned foods with preservatives, and high sodium foods.

Zinc, magnesium, and iron supplements may also help with ADHD if you are not getting enough of these vital nutrients from your diet. B group vitamins and other vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids are also important, so take a supplement if you think your diet lacks certain nutrients. 

2. Does medication break intermittent fasting?

Certain medications can break intermittent fasting. You must check the labels. If the medicine contains fillers, sugar, maltodextrin, and other ingredients, it may well break your fast.

However, many medications are best taken on an empty stomach. Other medicines are best taken with food – these include some antibiotics, pain killers, and even iron. They can cause stomach irritation and indigestion if you take them on an empty stomach.

For any other required medicines where you are unsure about their safety and whether they can be taken during your fasting periods, simply check with your doctor or pharmacist.


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