Can You Drink Coffee on an Intermittent Fast?
It was only a few years ago that intermittent fasting was known only to biohackers and longevity buffs.
These days it is mainstream.
The health benefits of eating for 8, 7 or even fewer hours a day can be boosted by longer fasts – with full days or even longer gaining popularity. Combine this with picking the right foods, avoiding sugars and high-GI carbs – and you are already way ahead in terms of health compared to the average person.
This page covers those 16 hours+ each day when you are not eating – specifically, looking at whether coffee is allowed while intermittent fasting.
Is Coffee Allowed During an Intermittent Fast?
The short answer is yes – though as with most things in life, that ‘yes’ comes with terms and conditions attached.
Your ideal beverage is a black coffee, with nothing else.
Adding milk is the topic of fierce debate. Some people add a dash – some people see this as a complete no. A spoonful of whole milk is unlikely to produce an insulin response or otherwise make your body think that your fast is over. That said, it does contain calories, to the letter of the law, you are supposed to be avoiding them completely.
Adding sugar is a huge problem. If you add spoons of real sugar, honey, or sweetened flavourings, then you are almost certainly breaking your fast.
Stevia is another controversial topic. This does not break your fast in terms of calories, though the more subtle effects of ‘tricking’ your brain into believing something is sweet are complex and not well understood.
This brand is popular and comes from fasting / bio-hacking expert Dave Asprey. It combines coffee with complex saturated fats. Fans of Dave’s work (I consider myself a fan, with some small caveats) swear by this.
If you are going to have fats with your coffee, then this is the purest form. Whether it truly counts as intermittent fasting with Bulletproof Coffee… I’ll recommend Dave’s books here; you will get a lot of things to think about and great advice and can decide for yourself how compatible with fasting his coffee products are.
Other Drinks You Can Safely Enjoy During Intermittent Fasts
Some people are sensitive to caffeine or simply don’t like the taste of coffee. On top of that, caffeine in the evening can affect sleep quality – or even stop you sleeping altogether.
The obvious alternative is tea. There is a problem for many of us there – tea without the milk (and maybe even sugar) is just impossible…. And that is before you even consider the biscuits.
There are some popular alternatives:
- Fruit Teas: These have come on so far recently. It was not long ago since green tea, camomile and the occasional fruit-based one was the norm. These days you can get detox teas, delicious ginger or cinnamon spiced ones, combinations of exotic fruits and more.
- Bone Broth: This drink is way better than it sounds. It is a rich, tasty soup – well, a super-thin one. Somehow it makes you feel like you had a meal, and does dull down any hunger pangs, without adding calories. Bone broth is popular for people on longer fasts.
- Water: Staying well hydrated is important whether you are intermittent fasting or not. It will quell hunger pangs, is great for your gut biome and makes a great addition to the other drinks at any time of the day. Don’t add squash or flavours with sugar content, they will kill your fast right away.
Keeping Fasting Drinks Simple: Making One Decision is Always Easier than Making Many
For intermittent fasting as in life, making one decision to avoid making 10 separate ones works wonders.
A simple example is that snack in the freezer… let’s say a delicious tub of ice cream. If you say to yourself ‘nope’ when you fancy a bite, then ‘nope’ again every time you walk past the kitchen, eventually your will power fades, and you end up bowl and spoon in hand.
Getting back to the coffee and intermittent fasting.
One decision to drink only unsweetened black coffee, teas or bone broth and sticking to this is the easy bit. If you make exception rules, one coffee with sweetener, one tablespoon of milk (or organic butter) for example – then you are opening the door to ‘exceptions’ or new rules.
These can complicate your fasts. They can also give you a good reason to do things differently just this once…
Wrapping Up: Intermittent Fasting – Getting to Love Black Coffee
Finally, if you only drink instant coffee (yuk!) or mainstream brands, you are missing out on a whole world of flavours and tastes.
There are alternatives (water, fruit teas or bone broth), though why not take the opportunity to discover the amazing world of coffee!
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