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Can You Drink Tea While Fasting?

"Michael Philips is a California-based professional with a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology, who is also a trained sports nutritionist and certified personal trainer. He is an accomplished professional in the academic and commercial sectors, with a focus on scientific communications and education over the past decade. He is experienced in the research, development, and marketing of ingestible consumer goods and medical devices, and is passionate about the intersection of science and human health."

It’s important to drink plenty of fluids while fasting to ensure you stay hydrated and energized throughout the day! But not all beverages are in the clear when it comes to fasting. Knowing what you can drink while fasting is crucial to the success of your intermittent fasting plan.

Just like making coffee, tea can be made differently depending on your own personal taste. If you prefer more of a sweet taste, the additional sugar, whether from granulated sugar, honey, agave, or milk, that you add may actually break your fast. However, if you prefer a flavor that is milder (or bitter if drinking black tea), it will not affect your fasting state. So, the short answer to this is: Yes, you can drink it while fasting because drinking unsweetened liquids does not break a fast.

Does Tea Break A Fast?

It’s pretty simple - if you make your tea without any forms of added sugar, you will not break your fast. Green and black tea are rich in natural flavors and contain caffeine, so sticking with unsweetened drinks, hot or cold, may actually help you power through your fast. They can also provide hydration allowing you to hit your recommended daily liquid consumption (3.7 liters per day for men and 2.7 liters per day for women) [1]. Strategies like adding any unsweetened beverages may help you get through your fasting periods a little bit easier and help you manage your food and beverage intake once you get to your mealtime.

If you prefer to sweeten your tea or add milk or cream, the additional calories may break your fast, so it’s best to steer clear.

So, can you drink tea during intermittent fasting? The short answer is YES, you can drink unsweetened beverages during your IF diet plan. Drinking them will not break your fasting state.

Types and Benefits of Tea

First off, there are several different types of it. Black, green, white, and oolong all come from the same plant or bush, scientifically named Camellia Sinensis [2]. They will contain caffeine, ranging from about 15-70mg of caffeine per 8 fluid ounce serving, with white teas having the least and black tea having the most caffeine per serving [3]. Kombucha is made by fermenting the leaves of these tea plants, usually starting with green and black leaves. Due to the fermentation process, Kombucha will likely contain enough sugars and calories that it would not be a proper choice during the fasting window, even though it still provides many of the same benefits as regular, unfermented tea. Herbal ones, while not technically a true tea by definition, are infusions made by steeping a mixture of leaves, spices, flowers, or fruits belonging to nearly any other edible plant, Camellia Sinensis, in water. Herbal drinks usually do not naturally contain any forms of caffeine, but there may be mixtures that added caffeine afterward to give them a boost. The good thing is that neither of them will break your fast if they are unsweetened.

There are many benefits to drinking tea. Including:

  • Water: The water used to make it can count towards your daily fluid goals and help you stay hydrated throughout the day. 
  • Cutting Calories: Consuming unsweetened beverages into your daily routine is often at the expense of sweetened caloric beverages, which are associated with lower energy intake and potentially effective weight loss strategies [4]. 
  • Health Benefits: Tea offers more than just hydration, with purported benefits related to inflammation, cancer prevention, regulation of lipid metabolism, improved athletic performance, and increased alertness [5-10].

So, does green tea break a fast? The answer to all of these questions is: No, as long as it is unsweetened. And, in addition to not breaking your fast, there are many wonderful benefits that drinking it can provide.

The Effect Of Tea Caffeine On Fasting

Caffeine is a naturally occurring substance that can be found in over 60 different plants worldwide. It produces many different physiologic effects in the human body and may produce beneficial effects on both mental and physical performance. 

The amount of water, length of steeping time, and temperature of the water will all directly affect the amount of caffeine that you get. So, to get the most caffeine out of that black tea bag and into the liquid that you drink, you’ll want to use at least 8 fluid ounces of hot water and steep it for at least 5 minutes.

Fasting with tea, especially caffeinated ones, may help with losing weight. Not only does the fasting window help you to be mindful of your caloric intake, but caffeine has been associated with weight loss, and green tea has been associated with improved weight management [11].

The health benefits of drinking tea while intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is a dietary plan that alternates between periods of eating and fasting on a daily schedule. While there are different ways to practice intermittent fasting, such as 16:8 and 14:10 intermittent fasting plans, the general concept is simple - eat all of your meals and snacks during a certain time frame in the day and fast for the remaining hours of the day. Intermittent fasting is a great option for many people because this nutrition strategy doesn’t restrict what you eat or focus on specific foods, but rather it focuses on the specific timing of when your chosen food will be eaten. This strategy can be adapted to each individual and fit into many other types of dietary plans as well, such as vegetarian, vegan, or just eating a healthy and balanced diet as recommended by the United States Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services [12,13].

Combining the health benefits mentioned above with those associated with intermittent fasting on its own, such as weight loss and improved insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, and sleep, makes this a power combo [14-18]. Whether a traditional or herbal tea, caffeinated or non-caffeinated, adding it into your intermittent fasting routine, can be a powerful tool to keep your body going in between fasts. Plus - it can offer some great benefits to your long-term health and wellbeing. So go ahead, switch up your beverage routine and add tea to the mix! Drink it hot to stay warm in the winter or toss in some ice cubes to keep you cool in the summer!

References

  1. https://www.nap.edu/read/10925/chapter/1
  2. https://www.bigelowtea.com/Special-Pages/Customer-Service/FAQs/Tea-and-Herbal-Tea-Ingredients/What-is-the-difference-between-black-tea,-green-te
  3. https://www.garfieldmedicalcenter.com/GMC-Blog/2016/October/Different-Types-of-Tea-and-Caffeine-Content.aspx
  4. Stookey, Jodi D., et al. "Replacing sweetened caloric beverages with drinking water is associated with lower energy intake." Obesity 15.12 (2007): 3013-3022.
  5. Yan, Zhaoming, et al. "Antioxidant mechanism of tea polyphenols and its impact on health benefits." Animal Nutrition 6.2 (2020): 115-123.
  6. Keisler, Brian D., and Thomas D. Armsey. "Caffeine as an ergogenic aid." Current sports medicine reports 5.4 (2006): 215-219.
  7. https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/tea/
  8. Wu, Anna H., et al. "Green tea and risk of breast cancer in Asian Americans." International journal of cancer 106.4 (2003): 574-579.
  9. Woolf, Kathleen, Wendy K. Bidwell, and Amanda G. Carlson. "The effect of caffeine as an ergogenic aid in anaerobic exercise." International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism 18.4 (2008): 412-429.
  10. EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA). "Scientific Opinion on the safety of caffeine." EFSA Journal 13.5 (2015): 4102.
  11. Westerterp‐Plantenga, Margriet S., Manuela PGM Lejeune, and Eva MR Kovacs. "Body weight loss and weight maintenance in relation to habitual caffeine intake and green tea supplementation." Obesity research 13.7 (2005): 1195-1204.
  12. U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition. December 2020. Available at DietaryGuidelines.gov.
  13. https://www.myplate.gov/myplate-plan
  14. Sutton, Elizabeth F., et al. "Early time-restricted feeding improves insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, and oxidative stress even without weight loss in men with prediabetes." Cell metabolism 27.6 (2018): 1212-1221.
  15. Welton, Stephanie, et al. "Intermittent fasting and weight loss: Systematic review." Canadian Family Physician 66.2 (2020): 117-125.
  16. Klempel, Monica C., et al. "Intermittent fasting combined with calorie restriction is effective for weight loss and cardio-protection in obese women." Nutrition journal 11.1 (2012): 1-9.
  17. Longo, Valter D., and Satchidananda Panda. "Fasting, circadian rhythms, and time-restricted feeding in healthy lifespan." Cell metabolism 23.6 (2016): 1048-1059.
  18. Jamshed, Humaira, et al. "Early time-restricted feeding improves 24-hour glucose levels and affects markers of the circadian clock, aging, and autophagy in humans." Nutrients 11.6 (2019): 1234.
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