Coffee and Fasting – Can you Drink Coffee and Fast?

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In recent years intermittent fasting has gained a lot of popularity. Thanks to its simplicity it has become a go-to diet not just among health and fitness enthusiasts, but even among those who don’t have enough time to follow some strict dietary guidelines. Many studies have shown benefits of this type of diet, so more and more people have been trying it out.  

Some find it very difficult to go on periods without eating anything, and many of them find it even more difficult to forgo their favorite drink-coffee. So, the question arises, do you really need to give up on your morning cup of joe? This article will show how to enjoy one of your favorite rituals without breaking the fast.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting simply explained, is cycling between periods of eating and not eating in exact patterns. There is nothing new about this way of eating. Some kind of fasting was practiced through all of the human history, whether it’s during the typical overnight period, during more extended periods of scarcity, or for religious reasons. It even may be a key to a healthier life that has been long forgotten. Data show that fasting, when done properly, manages body weight, can reverse type 2 diabetes, improves mental clarity and concentration, reduces inflammation, can extend life.

Starvation vs Fasting

Many people confuse fasting and starvation. The main difference between those two is control. Starvation is the involuntary absence of food, which means you have no control over when you are going to eat next time which can lead to severe health problems and even death. Fasting, on the other hand, is deliberate withholding of food for spiritual, health or other reasons. During fast, food is easily available but you choose not to eat it, and this can be for any amount of time. Fasting can last for a few hours, days or even for a week or longer. Very important thing is that you can stop eating whenever you want and start eating for any reason.

Types of Fasting

The 16/8 Method

This method involves fasting every day for 16 hours and restricting your eating window to 8 hours. During this 8 hours, you can have 2,3, or more meals. This may be the simplest method of fasting because you can only skip breakfast and eat as you usually do the rest of the day.

The 5:2 Diet

This diet involves eating normally for five days a week while eating less for two days of the week. On the fasting days, it is recommended to reduce your calorie intake to 500-600 calories (500 for women and 600 hundred for men).

Alternate-Day Fasting: Fast Every Other Day

There are a few different versions of this method. Some of them involve not eating at all, and some of them allow up to 500 calories during the fasting days.

How Intermittent Fasting Works?

Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss

Fasting allows the body to use its stored energy by burning off excess body fat. When we eat, more energy is ingested that we can immediately use. The energy we don’t use is stored away. Insulin is the hormone that allows energy to be stored, it is secreted when we eat and stores energy in two separate ways. Carbohydrates are transformed into glycogen which is stored in the liver or muscle. Storage space for carbohydrates is limited, and once reached, the liver starts turning excess glucose into fat which is then exported to fat deposits in the body.

When we don’t eat insulin levels fall which is signal to the body to start burning stored energy. First, because it is most easily accessible, glycogen is broken down into glucose molecules that provide energy for the body. Glycogen storage can provide energy for the body for approximately 24 hours. After this storage is drained, the body starts using fat deposits.

Intermittent fasting allows the body to use its stored energy. That is how our bodies are designed. If you are eating constantly, then your body will always use incoming food energy. In that way, you will prevent your body from burning fat. In fact, you may just be storing fat.

Intermittent Fasting for Type 2 Diabetes

Lifestyle changes are crucial in the management of type 2 diabetes. Scientists believe that intermittent fasting can have a huge benefit in fighting this disease. The condition affects the body’s ability to produce insulin, which is used to regulate blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes is one of the leading causes of death in the western world. In the case of type 2 diabetes, the bodies of patients are producing too much insulin.

Insulin’s main job is to move glucose from the blood to cells that use it as energy, but when insulin resistance develops a regular amount of insulin is not enough to push glucose in cells. This happens because cells are already full of glucose, so even more, insulin is secreted and this allows more glucose to get into the cell. Of course, there is a natural limit for the amount of glucose in a cell, and when this limit is reached, glucose starts coming out of a cell. This leads to a rise in sugar levels in the blood that is diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. One study showed significant improvement: participants lost weight, blood glucose was lower, and they were able to stop using insulin after a month from the beginning of the trial.

Who Should not Fast?

  • Underweight or someone who has an eating disorder like anorexia
  • Pregnant women
  • Breastfeeding
  • Children under age of 18

Black Coffee Won’t Break Your Fast

Drinking low or zero-calorie drinks during periods of fasting won’t break your fast. This includes black coffee. One cup of black coffee contains approximately 3 calories and a small amount of protein, fat, and minerals. This amount of calories is not enough to initiate a metabolic change that will stop the fasting period. Some people even say that coffee suppresses their appetite, making it easier to withstand periods of not eating. Drinking coffee in moderation won’t disrupt your fast. Just as long as you keep it black and not adding any other ingredients.

Coffee May Enhance the Benefits of Fasting

Coffee may bolster some health benefits of fasting. These include reduced inflammation, blood sugar, improvement in brain function and lessening the risk of heart disease.

Metabolic Benefits

Some studies suggest that a higher intake of coffee contributes to a lower risk of metabolic syndrome. This condition is characterized by high blood pressure, high cholesterol and elevated blood sugar levels. Increased coffee intake is also associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Drinking up to 3 cups of coffee a day reduces the risk of death from heart disease by 19%. Research shows that both fasting and drinking coffee may reduce inflammation which is one of the leading causes of many illnesses.

Brain Function

One of the many benefits of intermittent fasting is its potential to improve brain health and to protect against neurological disease. Coffee is also known to have many mental and neurological health-promoting effects.

Both fasting and regular coffee intake are linked with a lower risk of mental decline and decreased risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

When fasting your body produces energy from fat, making ketones. Studies suggest that when working on ketones bran shows improved function. Caffeine in coffee may promote ketone production.

Fasting also can start the process of autophagy. That is the process in which your body is destroying old and used up cells and replacing them with new, healthy ones. Research conducted in mice suggests that coffee significantly increases autophagy.

Due to synergistic benefits that fasting and coffee have it may be good to include a moderate amount of coffee to your eating schedule.

Added Ingredients may Interrupt Fast

There are many claims that you won’t break your fast as long as you don’t ingest more than 50-75 calories during your fasting window. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this. You should always try to consume as few calories as possible during the fast. Although a cup of black coffee isn’t going to break your fast, many added ingredients could. Putting milk and sugar, can interrupt fasting, and decrease the benefits of this eating pattern. Black coffee, containing only a few calories is the best choice. You can add one teaspoon of heavy cream or coconut oil. These ingredients are unlikely to alter your blood sugar levels.

Common Additions to Coffee

Butter/MCT oil/ Coconut oil

Any calorie intake will break your fast, but pure fat has almost no effect on insulin, blood glucose or other measurements that indicate that you broke fast.

The advantage of these added ingredients is that they might help you fast longer, making hunger more tolerable.

Almond and Other Nut Milk

If you drink coffee with plant-based milk you should always choose the unsweetened version of it. As long as you not adding half of a cup of nut milk in your coffee your fast shouldn’t be interrupted.

Stevia

Stevia tends to lower glucose and insulin levels, so there is no reason why you couldn’t add it to your coffee.

Artificial Sweeteners

There is no evidence that artificial sweeteners will impair metabolic response to fasting, but there are many other harmful effects you should avoid.

Should you Drink Coffee While Fasting?

If coffee isn’t part of your daily routine or you just don’t enjoy it regularly, there is no special reason to start drinking while fasting. On the other hand, if a cup of coffee makes your fast easier there is no reason to quit. Just be aware not to drink too much of it. It is also important to avoid extra ingredients as much as possible. If you notice that you have some side effects from drinking too much coffee like arrhythmia, anxiety or just having trouble sleeping you should think of cutting back and focus solely on intermittent fasting. At the end of the day drinking coffee during a fast is up to personal preference.

What to Order in a Coffee Shop?

Order black coffee like a filter, pour-overs, espressos, Americanos. Drinking this type of coffee-based beverages surely won’t interfere with your eating routine.

If you need something to add to your coffee, ask for the heavy cream. A lot of coffee shops use half-and-half: half milk, half cream. This addition gives an amount of protein and carbs that will inhibit the effects of fast.

Try to avoid nut milk. Many cafes use sweetened nut milk, and in standard drinks goes to much of it. Therefore, you should keep away from cappuccinos and lattes during the fasting period of the day.

Bulletproof Coffee

Bulletproof coffee isn’t a regular cup of your favorite caffeinated beverage with milk. It’s made with ground coffee, grass-fed butter or ghee, and MCT oil. Two main benefits of drinking bulletproof are:

  1. It can help you relieve hunger that can get really intense during the fast.
  2. It’s full of high-quality fats that can keep you in state of ketosis and even boost ketone production.

When your body is in ketosis it’s burning fat for energy-producing ketones. Ketones suppress ghrelin (the hormone that makes you hungry) and increase cholecystokinin, which can make you feel full.

This type of coffee can stabilize your blood sugar. Carbs and proteins need insulin in order to be metabolized, and because of that coffee with milk and sugar causes an increase in insulin. After the spike, blood sugar levels will drop, leaving you hungry. Unlike carbs and proteins, fats don’t cause insulin to spike, keeping blood sugar stable.

FAQs

Question 1:

How Much Coffee Can You Drink While Fasting?

Research suggests that drinking up to 3-4 cups of regular coffee per day is safe for most people. You should watch for the negative effects of caffeine like poor sleep, which could harm your health and negate the benefits of fasting.

Question 2:

Does Coffee With Milk Break a Fast?

Drink that contains less than 50 calories should not interfere with the metabolic benefit of abstaining from food. You shouldn’t drink coffee with lots of milk like latte or cappuccino, but adding just a splash of milk probably wouldn’t break your fast.

Question 3:

Does Coffee Break Autophagy?

Black coffee without any additions doesn’t stop autophagy. In fact, one study showed that both caffeinated coffee and decaffeinated coffee result in rapid autophagy in mice 1-4 hours after consumption.

Question 4:

What are the Most Common Positive and Negative Effects of Drinking Coffee While Fasting?

The effect that coffee is most known for is the feeling of alertness and heightened energy. When you are not eating anything cup of coffee may give you an energy boost that you need. But this may have an unpleasant side effect-frequent diarrhea. This will almost certainly happen if you drink too much coffee and not enough water.

Question 5:

What Other Liquids can You Drink While Fasting?

When abstaining from the food it’s very important to stay hydrated in order to avoid severe adverse side effects. Water is the most recommended beverage to drink while fasting, but you can also enjoy drinks that contain almost no calories like black coffee, plain tea, and apple cider vinegar.

Ivan is a 24-year old graphic design and computer science student from Serbia who loves driving motorcycle in his free time and is absolutely obsessed with nature, sports and hanging out with friends.

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