Does Ibuprofen Break A Fast?

Ibuprofen will not break your fast, since it does not (typically) contain calories. However, there are some important considerations that apply to that statement, such as the fact that flavored or sugar-laden preparations will not adhere to that rule, nor is it truly recommended to be taking ibuprofen on an empty stomach for risk of side effects. 

What Is Ibuprofen Used For?

Ibuprofen belongs to a class of medications known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These drugs are typically used to relieve pain, fever, and inflammation.

While ibuprofen is available over the counter in many countries, it’s a prescription medication in others at a higher dosage.

Ibuprofen is most commonly used orally, but it can also be applied topically. It is often used for relieving headaches, or for minor pain relief from injuries like bruises or sprains. It can also be used to relieve pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.

How Does Ibuprofen Affect A Fast?

Ibuprofen tablets will not break your fast. It will not negatively affect the process of autophagy or cell turnover. You will still be getting all of the benefits of fasting while taking ibuprofen.

However, there are certain NSAIDs (the class of medication to which ibuprofen belongs) that can still trigger insulin release without the presence of glucose. This is much more likely if taking medication for diabetes.

For this reason, if fat loss is the primary objective of the fast, it may cause the process to be shut down.

Plus, if you’re fasting as a way to simply rest an irritated gut, ibuprofen is not a good option for this since it might have side effects. 

How Many Calories Does Ibuprofen Contain?

The typical film-coated ibuprofen tablet does not contain any calories whatsoever. In fact, the vast majority of pills and capsules will not add any calories to your diet.

Calorie-free does not mean that there are no calories in a product, it just means that the calorie content is so low (< 4 kcal per serving) that it can be rounded down to zero for practical purposes.

However, in reality, even this small amount of calories could break a fast. Ibuprofen marketed under the name Advil or Motrin might occur as sugar-coated tablets,  which could introduce a very small amount of calories.

In contrast, Ibuprofen suspension is usually very heavily flavored and sweetened to make the medication more palatable for the intended audience – children. It is not recommended to use the suspension owing to the significant presence of calories (36 kcal per 5 ml).

Should Ibuprofen Be Taken On Fasting Days?

Ibuprofen can safely be taken on fasting days, as it does not break a fast or have any sizeable calorie yield. However, it might not be in your best interest to do so during the actual fasting window, as the anti-inflammatory nature of the medication is associated with stomach pain and discomfort. Food can help reduce the incidence of these symptoms.


While fasting, you may still need to take your medication- for this reason, it is important to consider the implications of doing so. Ibuprofen tablets will not break your fast, but other forms of the medication might have an effect on insulin levels. Choose the right time to take ibuprofen, and be mindful of the possible side effects.

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Mike Julom, ACE CPT

Mike is an ACE Certified PT and a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer. He is an avid lover of all sports. Basketball, tennis, athletics, volleyball, soccer, squash, golf, table tennis, even darts, you name it! He's a very active CrossFit athlete and has been WOD'ing for over 7 years. With such an intense fitness regime, Mike has learned to take care of his body physically, nutritionally, and spiritually. Mike founded ThisIsWhyImFit as a way to share his vast knowledge of exercises, diets, and general fitness advice.

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