Intermittent fasting has become a very popular way for people to enhance their diets by limiting when they eat. There are a number of methods of intermittent fasting, but they all follow the rule of a set time to fast and a set time to eat. It has been suggested through research that those who follow a set method have seen an improvement in weight loss and other health benefits, such as better cognition and lower inflammation.
A fasting window is the period of time planned to go without consuming any calories. It is not a starvation method but a control method. You can break your fast in your eating window, the time chosen to consume the fuel you need for the day. Fasting is meant to regulate a healthy diet and create proper eating habits.
When planning your intermittent fast routine, you may start to worry about your morning and what you can drink throughout the day. While fasting, the number one rule is to not consume any calories. There are some fasting methods that restrict water, but they are not as commonly followed. Some fasting methods will allow a set calorie amount you can consume while remaining in a fasted state. Typically, the amount ranges from 39-50 calories that you can consume during your fasting window without breaking your fast; however, strict fasting methods do not have this leeway.
Keeping your body hydrated is imperative to your success in fasting. You just have to drink the right liquids! Improper hydration during your fast can have adverse effects on your body, including dizziness, headache, and fatigue. Learn what you can drink without breaking your fast.
What to Drink While Fasting
If you are following strict fasting guidelines, you can drink anything that does not have a calorie count. Water is the best thing to drink while fasting, but there are other options as well. You don’t have to just drink water; you can also sip on coffee or tea without breaking a fast. It is important to not add any sugar or flavorings to your drinks, as this will have a negative effect on your fast.
The best thing to drink while in your fasting window is water. Nutritionist Dr. Kellyann Petrucci asserts that water is an essential nutrient, and is especially important during a fast. Staying hydrated with water will help balance your digestion and curb some of your hunger. When paired with fasting, drinking water can significantly help with cleaning waste from your body. Water is the purest liquid you can drink while fasting.
Go beyond the faucet and spruce up your water to make things more interesting and tastier. While you shouldn’t add sweeteners or flavored powders to your water, you can add lemon or mint to have flavor without breaking your fast.
Try other types of distilled water, like mineral or alkaline, that offer additional benefits. Remember to make sure there are no additives to any water bottles you purchase. Seltzer waters, as long as they have zero calories and no sweeteners, are also good to drink while fasting.
Coffee is another (virtually) calorie-free drink since the calorie count is basically none; there is no risk of breaking your fast. You shouldn’t drink multiple cups of coffee, especially while fasting, as the effect of the caffeine will be heightened by your empty stomach. According to research, a small amount of caffeine could be beneficial to aid in burning fat during a fast. Though this is a benefit, too much caffeine can make you jittery and anxious.
Remember to have your coffee black with no sweeteners or cream. Instead, try a dash of spice like turmeric in your coffee. Try other spices for different flavors to keep you from the temptation of sugar or food. Spices do not have a calorie count and are a great way to enhance your coffee without breaking your fast.
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Tea, like coffee, has the bonus of being caffeinated and calorie-free. Caffeine is a natural appetite suppressor and will help you refrain from breaking your fast. There are a number of teas that are delicious on their own and without sugar. Black tea and green tea are among the most popular varieties that taste great without sugar or honey. Yerba tea and chai made without sugar or cream are other options you can drink while fasting.
Just like with water, most teas are complimented well with lemon or mint, adding flavor without calories.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a popular drink for those who are dieting or trying to better their internal health. Typically cut with water, apple cider vinegar can have beneficial effects on your digestion and heart health. Though not very tasty, it can help with weight loss and improve your blood sugar. If you are already using or plan to use apple cider vinegar as a part of your diet, you can drink it without breaking your fast.
Drinks that Will Break Your Fast
Always think about what you are drinking while fasting. While some of these liquids are recommended for fasting, they will still technically break your fast. Depending on your goals, some fasting methods will allow for a very small amount of calorie intake while still remaining fasted. If you want to be strict on your fast and are looking for weight loss, you should avoid these cheat drinks. Otherwise, use them sparingly.
Often recommended as a flavorful water replacement, coconut water is a fatty drink that still has a caloric content. Coconut water is also full of sugar, which can destroy any fast. If you use coconut water to settle your appetite, use very little of it, mixed mostly with pure water. Avoid it completely if you are on a strict fast.
Milk is another high-fat liquid that can curb hunger pains but will break a strict fast. Almond milk contains protein, though it is lower in fat than regular milk, it still has calories that will also break your fast. If you are less strict on your fast, you can throw just a splash of almond milk in your coffee, but anything more and the caloric content will be too high for you to stay in a fasted state.
What to Never Drink While Fasting
Even when following a fast that allows for small calorie intake, there are drinks that will break your fast no matter how little you have. Avoid any liquids that are high in sugar, have added protein or that have carbohydrates to stay fasted.
Avoid juice. Even vegetable or fresh-squeezed fruit juices will break your fast because they are full of sugars and carbs. Lemon slices are okay in your calorie-free drinks because you are only consuming the citrus from them. A smoothie or juice will be full of sugar and should be saved for your eating window. Do not drink juice while fasting.
Filled with sugar, even a sip of soda will break your fast. While carbonated drinks, like seltzer water, are okay, sugary sodas are not okay to drink while fasting.
Alcohol is full of carbs and calories and should never be consumed on an empty stomach. Much like caffeine, the effects of alcohol are even greater if you haven’t eaten before. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be more inebriated, but that your body could face greater negative side effects from the alcohol. Save your alcohol for when you are not fasting and limit your drinks to one to avoid undoing the work of your intermittent fasting.
Though they claim to be calorie-free, diet drinks are filled with artificial sweeteners that will only hurt your fast. To put it simply, zero-calorie sugars trick your body into thinking you are consuming sugar and will break your fast. Your body will respond to the artificial sugar as if it is sugar and release the same chemicals in response. That means those water flavor additives that are “0 calories” should not be put in your water while fasting.
What Should I Drink While Fasting?
You should always drink water during your fasting and eating windows. The best way to stay hydrated and suppress your appetite is to drink lots of water. The common rule you need to follow is, drink liquids with no calorie content while fasting. If you like caffeine, having unsweetened coffee or tea can be beneficial to your fast. Limit your caffeine intake to prevent yourself from being jittery. You should only ever add lemon or light spices to your drinks for flavor to keep them truly calorie and sugar-free. If you follow these guidelines, you can drink safely without worrying about breaking your fast.
Header image by Engin Akyurt via Unsplash.