Alarm Clock in flat vector illustrationI’ve gotten a number of questions over the timing of taking the supplements advocated in the Wheat Belly lifestyle. So let’s talk about this issue. It’s actually quite simple.

Probiotic–Timing is unimportant. It’s also unclear whether they can or should be taken with food or on an empty stomach, as there are no clear data on this. So, until we have clarification, take it any old time. The only precaution is that it is probably best to not take your probiotic with anything really hot, e.g., coffee, as some species are heat-sensitive and will not survive. It is probably best to not take your probiotic at the same time as iodine, as iodine is an effective antimicrobial and may kill off some of the probiotic species.

Prebiotic fibers–Timing here is likewise unimportant, or at least no one has ever identified any timing-dependent issues. Whether you take your daily doses of prebiotic fibers as a Detox Shake/smoothie, inulin/FOS/GOS powders in other foods, small servings of legumes, or other means, timing does not seem to matter.

Iodine–Timing here is also unimportant. We are supposed to obtain iodine from consuming plants and animal products that were coastal, i.e., near the ocean, the world’s repository of iodine, as well as sharing the thyroid gland of animals we kill. In other words, these are events in which timing was not important. So your timing of iodine supplementation, whether as potassium iodide drops or kelp tablets, also does not matter. Just take it.

Fish oil–Timing here does matter, but for somewhat complex reasons. One of the wonderful ways in which the omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, exert their cardiovascular and metabolic benefits is by accelerating the clearance of postprandial (after-meal) byproducts of digestion (chylomicrons first, followed by VLDL lipoprotein particles from the liver). Heart disease is caused in this postprandial period and the omega-3 fatty acids, by a number of means, such as activation of the enzyme, lipoprotein lipase, helps clear these particles from the bloodstream more rapidly. But the effect only lasts a few hours. So taking your fish oil capsules—remember: NOT krill oil or flaxseed oil—just just before or during a meal is the best policy to maximally subdue postprandial lipoprotein floods. Ideally, you’d take it before/during every meal but, as a practical matter, taking it before/during two meals per day spaced apart, e.g., breakfast and dinner, works just fine, too. It’s also not a good idea to take fish oil on an empty stomach, as it can cause stomach upset.

Vitamin D–Vitamin D is an important factor in the human circadian rhythm, the day-night cycle of the human body. We are supposed to obtain vitamin D via exposure to sunlight. But, for many of us, daily sun exposure over a substantial surface is not easily achieved due to climate, latitude, schedules, clothing covering a large surface area, as well as the decline in the ability to activate vitamin D with sun exposure as we age. Thus, we take vitamin D. But your body senses some of the effects of sunlight with oral vitamin D and, taken later in the day, it can inhibit sleep, just as exposure to a bright sun at 10 p.m. would keep you awake. So vitamin D is best take in the morning.

Magnesium–The timing of magnesium is not important. BUT magesium cannot be taken as a single dose, as the full 400-500 mg of elemental magnesium taken all at once causes an osmotic diarrhea. So we break it into 2- or 3-doses to avoid the loose bowels.

In summary, the timing of the “core” supplements in the Wheat Belly lifestyle goes like this:

Breakfast/a.m.: iodine, fish oil, vitamin D, magnesium, prebiotic fibers

Lunch/afternoon: optional fish oil, optional magnesium, optional prebiotic fibers

Dinner/evening: fish oil, magnesium, optional prebiotic fibers