“Can I drink coffee while intermittent fasting?” is by far one of the most common questions new fasters have. I wondered the same thing when I began fasting. Let’s find out what beverages are safe to drink while intermittent fasting.
Ketosis, Insulin Sensitivity, and Autophagy
The point of intermittent fasting is to get into ketosis – there’s little doubt you will get into this state, if you’re fasting. Your body will be forced to burn fat if you aren’t ingesting any calories. The question really is then: “Does coffee interfere with ketosis? The answer seems to be a resounding, “No!” In fact, coffee has been found to stimulate ketosis, and increase fat burning.
Improved insulin sensitivity is another significant benefit of fasting. This means your body responds better to insulin signaling. Another bit of good news is that, over time, coffee can actually improve insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance.
Autophagy is another reason to eat following a time-restricted eating schedule, which is essentially what intermittent fasting is. This metabolic process occurs during fasted states, and is the body’s way of detoxifying and repairing itself.
Think of autophagy sort of like a recycling program where faulty cell parts are disassembled and eliminated. It’s an important process in keeping inflammation at bay, preventing cancer and other chronic diseases, and supporting immunity.
[Read More: Keto for Dummies [The Ketogenic Diet Explained]
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What You Can Drink While Intermittent Fasting
1. Coffee – Stick to one cup per day or drink decaf.
2. Tea – This is fine to drink in small amounts.
3. Diet Soda – Sodas with aspartame are not okay as they will raise insulin. Diet sodas containing xylitol or stevia are fine.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar– ACV is great for blood-sugar regulation and digestion. The acetic acid in it will also help you absorb the minerals in the foods you ate at your previous meals. This is important because minerals are depleted during fasting.
5. Nut milks – Be sure and buy the unsweetened versions, and use only small amounts.
6. Water – Add electrolytes by adding 1/4 teaspoon of Himalayan sea salt to your water. Fasting depletes electrolytes so this is a helpful strategy to replenish them. Adding a bit of cream of tartar to your water will help with potassium depletion.
7. Sparkling water – I like adding a splash of apple cider vinegar to my San Pellegrino. Carbonation does not interfere with fasting or ketosis.
8. Bone broth – This low-calorie powerhouse can be eaten between meals, and is a good source of nutrition and electrolytes. This is controversial. Some proponents of intermittent fasting don’t view this as an acceptable beverage.
Does Caffeine Raise Blood Sugar?
Tea and coffee both have caffeine. Large amounts of caffeine stimulate insulin-secretion. This means that as long as you’re drinking caffeine in small amounts, it won’t interfere with your fast. Decaffeinated coffee is a good alternative to prevent having to worry about issues with insulin. Since we all react differently to caffeine, determine how it affects you personally, and drink accordingly.
Coffee can cause side effects in some people, including anxiety, indigestion, and mood swings. Symptoms may be exacerbated if caffeine is taken on an empty stomach. Caffeine can also cause energy crashes, which can be accentuated by fasting.
The bottom line: keep coffee consumption to one cup per day. Too much coffee will raise blood sugar by stimulating the adrenal glands. The subsequent elevation in cortisol will activate insulin, knocking you out of a fasted state.
Is Cream In My Coffee Okay?
Yes, a small amount of cream in your coffee is okay. See the pattern here? Amounts do matter. Judicious amounts of coffee, and small amounts of whatever you put in it are fine. Adding butter and oil (think bullet-proof coffee) will unfortunately stimulate insulin and end your fast.
If you don’t like your coffee black, you can sweeten it with xylitol or erythritol, without affecting your fast. It’s pretty straightforward – don’t overdo it on the coffee, stick with small amounts of cream, and a pinch of stevia or a sugar alcohol to sweeten. Juice, alcohol, or any beverage that contains sugar will knock you out of fat-burning.
What Can I Eat During Intermittent Fasting?
Here’s a tactic to help you get enough minerals when fasting, which is important since minerals are depleted when calories are restricted. Eat a huge salad between meals. Salads contain much-needed fiber that will keep you full, and are packed with nutrition, yet low in calories, so won’t stimulate insulin. Sprinkle a concoction of apple cider vinegar and lemon juice on your salad to spice it up.
Apple cider vinegar and lemon juice are both acidic so make sure to dilute before drinking. Sipping through a straw will protect the enamel on your teeth. Don’t like lemon? Try adding some cucumber slices to your water to freshen it. The whole idea behind fasting is to lower insulin levels to allow for fat-burning. Small amounts of low-calorie foods like cucumber and lemon juice don’t stimulate insulin, making them safe options.
If you’re hungry before bed, try a cup of chamomile tea for relaxation. Tea provides hydration and won’t interrupt the fat-burning process. A hot cup of tea can provide much-needed comfort when faced with the deprivation of fasting. There are a variety of herbal teas to choose from so experiment with different ones to find one you enjoy.
Fasting can make you hungry. Having a steaming cup of coffee is a good way to extend your fast for a couple of hours without breaking it. Coffee, is therefore, a strategic tool when intermittent fasting. Hallelujah!
Do you follow a time-restricted eating schedule? What are some strategies you use to make it easier? Let me know in the comments:)
(1) US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Intermittent Fasting: Is the Wait Worth the Weight?
(2) US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Coffee induces autophagy in vivo
(3) US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Early Time-Restricted Feeding Improves 24-Hour Glucose Levels and Affects Markers of the Circadian Clock, Aging, and Autophagy in Humans
(4) US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Autophagy in practice: stevia and leucine
(5) US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: The Effects of Time Restricted Feeding on Overweight, Older Adults: A Pilot Study
(6) US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: A controlled trial of reduced meal frequency without caloric restriction in healthy, normal-weight, middle-aged adults
(7) Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School: Intermittent fasting: Surprising update
(8) Senchateabar: Intermittent Fasting: How Tea Can Boost Your Results
(9) Diet Doctor: Intermittent fasting – questions & answers
(10) The Fasting Method: What can you have during a fast?
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