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Intermittent Fasting & Coffee: Does coffee break a fast?

Intermittent Fasting & Coffee: Does coffee break a fast?

Clark
9 minute read

Caffeine lovers, rejoice: Certain kinds of coffee seem to help people with intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting (IF) is a scientifically-supported health trend known for its benefits, from weight loss to improved insulin sensitivity.

Practicing intermittent fasting, you’ll cycle between specified periods of time without food and eating satisfying meals. This eating plan can encourage your body to rely on other sources of energy.

However, there’s a burning question: does drinking a cup of coffee during a fasting window undo all your progress? We’ve got the scientific answer, health benefits of fasting, and the best coffee.

Does coffee break intermittent fasting?

Does coffee break intermittent fasting?Black coffee does not break intermittent fasting, as long as there are no additives. Studies have found that low-calorie or zero-calorie coffee beverages do not affect IF’s health benefits.

However, other types of coffee may have a detrimental effect on your fast. Here’s what to know before you sip.

How Black Coffee Affects Fasting

Black coffee (or the smoother taste of gold coffee) is the safest bet for those choosing a fast. One cup of coffee has 3-5 calories on average, offering only negligible amounts of protein, fat, and minerals. 

If you’re fasting to lose weight or improve metabolic health, a simple cup of black coffee won’t harm your results.

How Bulletproof Coffee Affects Fasting

Bulletproof coffee is blended with grass-fed butter, and often contains calorie-dense MCT oil, which the body converts to ketones. Individuals following the ketogenic diet typically use this buttery blend for an added fat boost.

However, coming in at an average of 320 calories per cup, it’s important to consume bulletproof coffee in moderation while fasting. And if you’re fasting for autophagy or longevity, you may want to stick to black coffee consumption instead. 

How Coffee With Cream And Sugar Affects Fasting

While the safest bet for maintaining your fast is black coffee, some people simply can’t stand the taste. (That’s probably because they haven’t tried smooth gold coffee yet.) 

For those who can’t live without creamer or sugar, choose high-quality, grass-fed dairy and use as few additives as possible. These will activate your gut, so if you’re fasting for gut rest, steer clear.

However, this exception only applies to a splash of cream or sugar in black coffee, not to your favorite latte or cappuccino. Those sugary additives will add calories that can break your fast or kick you out of ketosis, if that’s your aim.

Coffee For Each Type Of Fast

People fast for different purposes, and even black coffee can be harmful for fasting in some cases. Here’s what you need to know about each type of fast and coffee.

  • Can I drink coffee while fasting for gut rest?We have bad news: Coffee stimulates gastrin and triggers gut activity and gastrin, making it off limits for those fasting for gut health. If you can’t live without it, try a delicious low acid coffee for minimal side effects.
  • Can I drink coffee on the 16:8 diet?Yes, you can drink coffee on the 16:8 diet, even outside your eating window. The official protocol also allows for “a splash of milk” in your cup of joe.
  • Can I drink coffee while fasting for longevity?If you’re fasting to reduce inflammation, promote autophagy, and limit the effects of aging, it’s likely ok to drink black coffee (even a small dollop of cream and sugar). Just be sure to limit your intake!
  • Can I drink coffee on the 5:2 fasting schedule?The 5:2 fasting method restricts caloric intake on 2 days of the week, rather than eliminating calories during certain hours. As long as you stay within your caloric limits, you can have coffee, even with additives.
  • Can I drink coffee while fasting for metabolic health/weight loss?If you’re fasting for metabolic reasons or to reduce body fat, it’s likely safe for you to drink small amounts of black coffee. Experts are divided on bulletproof coffee and adding cream and sugar, so if you want to play it safe, skip those options.

As long as you continue to drink water and follow your meal plan, it seems that drinking coffee while fasting is perfectly fine for most.

Benefits of Drinking Coffee While Intermittent Fasting

The benefits of intermittent fasting and the benefits of drinking coffee can go hand in hand. They share many similar effects that may stack on one another.

Much of the science around drinking coffee while intermittent fasting is still emerging, but what we do know is promising.

It seems that coffee while intermittent fasting leads to:

  • Reduced inflammation. Multiple studies have shown that intermittent fasting and coffee consumption both lead to reduced inflammation markers. Used together, the effects of caffeine and fasting may compound for increased anti-inflammatory activity. 
  • Better brain health.Both drinking coffee and intermittent fasting have demonstrated promise in slowing mental decline and protecting against diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. 
  • Increased autophagy. Autophagy is the process by which the body breaks down old or damaged cells and regenerates new ones in their place. This allows the body to repair and heal on a cellular level, decrease inflammation, and more. Fasting is linked to higher levels of autophagy, and coffee boosts autophagy as well in animal studies. Together, they may help the body fight aging, disease, and inflammation at greater rates.
  • Boosted metabolism. Both fasting and caffeine increase the body’s metabolic rate, speeding up weight loss and promoting fat burn.
  • Ketosis.If you’re following a keto diet or fasting to reach ketosis, recent research indicates that caffeine may promote ketone production in the brain.
  • Improved insulin sensitivity.Both fasting and caffeine can help manage insulin resistance, lower insulin levels, and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. For this benefit, you’ll want to opt for a light roasted coffee, which more effectively manages blood glucose.
  • Lessened hunger. If hunger pangs are a reason you’ve been avoiding IF, coffee may be able to reduce the sensation of hunger. Many people say that caffeine, and warm beverages, help them to feel full. 

It’s safe to say that caffeine can complement the effects of intermittent fasting when taken black or with very little added cream and sugar. 

What can I put in my coffee that won't break my fast?

What can I put in my coffee that won't break my fast? Many people put small amounts of the following additives into their coffee to avoid breaking a fast: 

  • Nutmeg
  • Cocoa
  • Cinnamon
  • Almond milk
  • Himalayan sea salt
  • Coconut oil

One teaspoon of any of these natural additives is almost calorie-free and may be suitable for use during a fasting period.

On the other hand, you’ll want to avoid artificial sweeteners like Stevia, as they have been demonstrated to increase sugar cravings and hunger. You’ll also want to avoid more than a tiny helping of sugar, as it contains 16 calories in a single teaspoon. 

Are there risks to drinking coffee while fasting?

If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, talk to your doctor or dietitian before drinking coffee in a fasted state. Caffeine on an empty stomach may raise blood pressure, making it the wrong choice for these patients.

Drinking more than 400mg of caffeine per day can come with its own health risks over time, like poor sleep, stomach problems, and even withdrawals. Don’t create a dependence on caffeine to get you through your fasting windows.

Some people fast to reset their gut or address digestive problems. If this is the case, you may want to avoid or limit coffee during your fasts to prevent triggering hormone production and the digestive process.

Highly acidic coffees can irritate some stomachs that are already prone to gastric issues. 

As with any significant dietary or lifestyle change, discuss fasting with your doctor before starting any fasting plan.

Other Fast-Friendly Drinks

Perhaps you don’t like coffee? Try some of these alternatives instead!

  • Herbal teaslikegreen, black, and rooibos teas are popular alternatives to coffee.
  • Fruit-infused water(but don’t eat the fruit!). A very small amount of fruit infusion can add a tasty flavor to your water without spiking your carbohydrate intake.
  • Flavored coffee blends without high-calorie additives, like Golden Ratio.

Most experts recommend steering clear of diet soft drinks, even those with zero calories. Their chemicals and additives can irritate the digestive tract or spark cravings for sugar and carbohydrates.

Another surprising potential pitfall: Green juices. Though they seem harmless, these can spike insulin levels, transferring you out of a fasted state.

The Best Coffee to Drink On Your Fast

What is the best kind of coffee for intermittent fasting? The best kind of coffee for intermittent fasting is gold roast or another light roast coffee. These blends contain high amounts of antioxidants and low amounts of acid that won’t irritate the digestive system. 

If you don’t like to drink regular coffee black, you’ll be delighted by our smooth flavors with no bitterness. Start with our low-acid Chai Spiced Gold Coffee Pouches. You’ll still get all of the fasting benefits, but with all of the flavor you’ve been missing.

Sources

  1. Effects of 8-hour time restricted feeding on body weight and metabolic disease risk factors in obese adults: A pilot study
  2. Impact of intermittent fasting on health and disease processes
  3. Consumption of coffee or caffeine and serum concentration of inflammatory markers: A systematic review
  4. Effects of coffee/caffeine on brain health and disease: What should I tell my patients?
  5. Flipping the Metabolic Switch: Understanding and Applying the Health Benefits of Fasting
  6. Coffee induces autophagy in vivo
  7. Diverse metabolic reactions activated during 58-hr fasting are revealed by non-targeted metabolomic analysis of human blood
  8. Antioxidant-rich coffee reduces DNA damage, elevates glutathione status and contributes to weight control: results from an intervention study
  9. Caffeine intake increases plasma ketones: an acute metabolic study in humans
  10. Caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and a dose-response meta-analysis
  11. Sucralose Promotes Food Intake through NPY and a Neuronal Fasting Response    

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