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Getting used to Intermittent Fasting takes time and can get really confusing. After all, you want to do it right and ensure you’re not breaking the rules. So, what can you drink during intermittent fasting?
Given roughly 20% of our daily water intake comes from food, it is essential to stay hydrated during intermittent fasting, when your food intake is reduced. Therefore, it is important to drink more when you are fasting.
Also, by staying hydrated you reduce hunger and avoid many of possible intermittent fasting side effects like headache, constipation and dizziness.
But the question is…what can I drink during intermittent fasting in order to not break the fast? What are the best intermittent fasting drinks? And how to do it right?
The answer is – it depends on the type of fast you do. Technically anything you put in your mouth while fasting breaks the fast. But if fasting is a tool for you to restrict calories and help you to lose weight, it is okay to consume a small amount of calories if that helps you stick to your fasting schedule and fast longer.
To answer your questions, we’ve categorized fasts in three different categories based on the intensity and goals. Scroll down and you’ll find a list of beverages you can have while fasting.
In particular, you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions such as:
Allowing only pure water
Strict fasting refers to the purest way of fasting when you do not consume any food or its traces in any form. Simply speaking, you restrict everything except pure water. Strict fasting is usually done for medical reasons (before a test or operation), spiritual or religious reasons.
Allowing any non-caloric beverages
To get all the health benefits of intermittent fasting such as fat loss, increased metabolic rate, lower blood sugar levels, boost in the immune system and others, you have to restrict from consuming any caloric food.
But…good thing, you can still consume non-caloric beverages because they do not break the fast and allow you to get all the benefits of fasting. This is because non-caloric drinks do not cause the release of insulin and as a consequence, do not interfere with fat burning and autophagy (cellular cleanup).
Allowing up to 20 kcal beverages
Technically speaking, anything that has calories, even if it is a tiny amount break your fast. However, if your main goal is to lose weight, being in an overall caloric deficit is the main reason why you lose weight with intermittent fasting. Hence, if a tiny splash of cream in your coffee helps you to resist from food for a more extended period, or get into fasting (in particular in the beginning), then do it. Many experts, including M. Berkhan from Leangains, allow to consume up to 20 kcal during your entire fasting period.
It is important to mention that not all macronutrients affect fasting equally. Pure fat does not raise your insulin levels or interfere with fat burning, hence is a preferred version compared to protein and carbs.
Good if you are:
The below list provides you answers to the most frequently questioned products and summarizes the effects they have on intermittent fasting.
Products are listed in the order from the most preferred to the least preferred during your fasting period if your main intermittent fasting goal is weight loss.
E.g., Mineral water, coffee and tea is the most preferred option for Intermittent Fasting drinks, while oils and butter are the least recommended.
Can you drink water while intermittent fasting?
Big YES. Mineral water and water, in general, are free of calories and are allowed during fasting.
It is actually a must to stay hydrated to substitute for the loss of water from food and avoid intermittent fasting side effects. Mineral water is full of minerals to help restore electrolyte and mineral imbalance that happens while fasting. For this reason, water and mineral water is the most advisable intermittent fasting drink.
Coffee is allowed during fasting hours and, in fact, some studies have shown that it may support the fat burning and reduce insulin sensitivity over time. For many people, it also acts as an appetite suppressant, hence it is a good choice for those fasted hungry mornings.
Too much caffeine, however, can have a negative effect on your body, hence do not overdo the recommended daily dose of 400 mg of caffeine (2-2.5 cups of brewed coffee) for healthy adults.
Tea is one of the intermittent fasting safe drinks and you can feel free to drink plain, unsweetened tea during your fasting window.
Choose pure tea (green, black, white, rooibos, peppermint, camomille etc.) and avoid any packaged teas with fruit, sweeteners or additional ingredients like “artificial flavouring”.
Can you drink apple cider vinegar while fasting?
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is free of calories and allowed while fasting. In fact, apple cider vinegar actually helps to lower blood sugar levels and improve digestion when following Intermittent Fasting.
How to use apple cider vinegar while fasting? Drink 1-2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar diluted in water. Particularly, drinking it before a meal can aid digestion and increase the feeling of fullness.
Stevia is a natural sweetener and a good choice if you must have something sweet. Studies have shown that it has no negative side effects as compared to artificial sweeteners and might even lover glucose and insulin levels. It might, however, instigate hunger for some and you might want to be careful.
All fruit juices contain glucose and fructose. Infused water, even diluted, still contains the fruit juice. Therefore, it is not suggested if you are trying to stick to strict fasting.
However, if it helps you drink more water and stick to the fasting schedule better, it is okay to add some fruits to your water. Make sure to choose foods that are lower in sugar (e.g. lime, lemon, cucumber). Also, do not squeeze the juice of the fruit to avoid extra sugar and carbs.
Does almond milk break a fast?
Technically speaking, YES! However, if you absolutely must have something and are okay with “open fasting” - coffee with a splash of almond milk can be a good alternative.
Out of the most popular milk alternatives like soy, oat, rice and coconut milk, almond milk has the least calories and zero sugar (look for unsweetened and plain almond milk).
Almond milk is low in carbs and calories, hence up to 0.5 cup/100 ml of almond milk could be a good option for “open intermittent fasting”. When choosing almond milk, avoid the ones with added sugar or those fortified with extra protein.
Milk should be avoided while fasting due to the milk proteins and natural sugars (lactose), that cause a spike in your blood sugar levels. If you a bit of milk in your coffee or tea is a must, non-dairy milk alternatives will be the best option.
Here’s a little breakdown for 1 cup of various types of milk (plain, unsweetened):
Bone Broth usually is very low in calories and carbs but does contain protein, which technically breaks the fast, fat burning and autophagy. Some experts do, however, allow bone broth on exceptional cases (up to 20 kcal per fasting period), especially since it helps to replenish the salt lost while not eating.
Coconut water should be avoided while fasting because it is high in sugar. A glass of coconut water already contains around ⅕ of your daily suggested sugar amount. Go for water instead.
You shouldn't drink lemon juice while fasting due to relatively high sugar levels. We suggest choosing water or adding a slice of lemon to infuse it.
There is a lot of conflicting information and different studies done around artificial sweeteners and their effects on the health and insulin response. While some studies show that artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin or sucralose do not raise insulin, they might disrupt the balance of gut bacteria in some people.
Given the uncertainty and ongoing debates on the effects of artificial sweeteners, we suggest resisting from artificial sweeteners at all. The most common brand names of artificial sweeteners are Splenda (sucralose), Nutrasweet, Equal or Sugar Twin (aspartame), Sweet’N Low (saccharin).
You shouldn’t drink diet soda while intermittent fasting as it contains artificial sweeteners.
Some brands have recently started producing soft drinks sweetened with stevia, which are allowed. But, the majority of diet sodas are still made with artificial sweeteners that do no good for you.
Coconut oil, MCT oil and other oils contain pure fats. Technically speaking, anything that has calories, even if it is a tiny amount, breaks your fast. However, if you are on a keto diet with the main goal to reach and sustain ketosis (a.k.a fat burning phase), it can be considered as part of fasting as popularized by Bulletproof fasting.
If you prefer “clean” fasting though (something we recommend for our 21 Day Intermittent Fasting Challenge), you should try to sustain from consuming any oils or butter. Which means, no Bulletproof coffee during your fasting hours. Also, note that fats are extremely high in calories; therefore you should keep this in mind if you are trying to lose weight.
Butter is pure fat, the same as coconut oil. It also has little to no effect on insulin and could be allowed while fasting (e.g., by drinking bulletproof coffee) if you are on a keto diet and looking to reach or sustain ketosis.
However, the same as coconut oil, it is extremely high in calories. Hence, we do not recommend it for our 21 Day Intermittent Fasting Challenge and if your main intermittent fasting goal is weight loss.
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