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What Can You Drink During Intermittent Fasting?

"Nora Minno is an award-winning New York-based registered dietitian, certified dietitian nutritionist, and certified personal trainer specializing in wellness communications and marketing. For over ten years, she has consulted for several national publications and CPG companies, offering the latest advice in nutrition and fitness, and appears regularly on the Emmy-nominated Daily Burn 365 as well as the DailyBurn HIIT app."

Intermittent fasting offers many health benefits without the restrictions of counting calories or following a specific meal plan. IF actually allows for flexibility when it comes to dietary choices and eating habits as long as you maintain a fasting state during designated fasting windows.

By picking a plan that fits your lifestyle and sleep patterns, you can make it easier to not eat during those certain windows of time. One of the benefits of intermittent fasting is that most of the popular plans allow for the consumption of certain beverages, so you can stay hydrated and power through your fasting windows.

When it comes to what you can and cannot drink while intermittent fasting, the general rule of thumb is:

  • Yes to zero-calorie and zero-sugar beverages
  • No to caloric and sweetened beverages

If you follow an intermittent fasting plan like the 16:8 plan, you can use certain beverages to help you stay hydrated and power through your fasting window. Drinking a beverage with sugar, protein, or fat can cause a metabolic response and push your body out of its fasting state, though, so it’s important to choose beverages that are virtually calorie-free. 

If you follow a dry fasting plan, either for health or religious reasons, beverages cannot be consumed during your fasting windows.

Look below for the answers to some questions about drinking beverages during the fasting period.

Can you drink water during intermittent fasting?

Drinking water is not only allowed, but highly recommended! Since water is naturally calorie-free, it will not interrupt your body’s fasting state and it may even help manage feelings of hunger.

Staying adequately hydrated is important to support many functions of the body including:

  • General energy levels
  • Physical performance
  • Brain function [1]
  • Digestion [2]

Both plain and carbonated water can be consumed during your fasting window. If you opt for flavored seltzer water, just make sure that it is sugar-free and calorie-free.

Does lemon water break a fast?

We already know that you can drink water while intermittent fasting, but plain water can start to be a bore. So, what about adding a little boost of flavor to your water with lemon juice?

Because natural lemon juice is very low in calories and contains about 0.3 grams of sugar per quarter of a lemon [3], most experts agree that drinking lemon juice during a fasting period is ok – and will not interrupt your body’s fasting state. To add lemon water to your beverage rotation, use fresh-squeezed lemon juice. It will help you to avoid added sugars. The measurement should be ¼ lemon per 8 fl oz of water to avoid consuming too many calories or sugar. 

Another fun way to add a hint of flavor to your water is by infusing it with other low or no calorie vegetables and herbs such as:

  • Cucumbers
  • Lime
  • Basil
  • Mint

Can you drink coffee while fasting?

The moment coffee-lovers have been waiting for: yes, you can drink coffee during your fasting times! The typical cup of black coffee [4] contains 2.4 calories and 0 grams of sugar per 8 fl oz. It’s important to remember, though – avoid adding things like sugar, cream, or any calorie-containing syrups. They can interrupt your fast, so drink your coffee black. 

If you need a little sweetness of flavor in your coffee, try adding zero-calorie sweetener or syrup in small quantities.

Can you drink tea while fasting?

Most brewed teas, such as green tea, are naturally calorie-free. That means they’re ok to drink during your fasting period. Avoid adding things like milk, honey, sugar, or cream, though. They will interrupt your fasting state. If you need a hint of flavor, try adding a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, or create your own tea flavor by using a blend of teas.

If you want iced tea, instead, be sure to check the label for added sugars or calories – especially if it’s a packaged tea.

Does drinking diet soda break a fast?

Most diet sodas are free of calories and carbohydrates, therefore they should not interrupt your body’s fasting state. While there is limited research regarding diet soda and intermittent fasting specifically, there is extensive research showing that aspartame, sucralose, and other non-nutritive sweetener consumption does not raise blood glucose or insulin levels.[5][6][7][8]

Before consuming a diet soda, check the nutrition facts panel to ensure that the soda is calorie- and sugar-free.

Can you drink milk while fasting?

Milk, even skim milk, should be avoided during your fasting period. All varieties of cow’s milk contain lactose, which is a naturally occurring sugar. Abstaining from carbohydrates, fat, and protein is important to avoid triggering a metabolic response in your body. 

Milk alternatives, like almond milk, oat milk, and soy milk are free of lactose but not of carbohydrates. If you absolutely need something for your coffee or tea, try adding a small splash of unsweetened almond milk. It has the lowest calorie count of about 30 calories per 8 fl oz [9]. Those following stricter eating plans should not drink milk during fasting periods.

Does drinking apple cider vinegar break a fast?

One reason that many people drink a daily dose of apple cider vinegar is because research suggests that it may help improve blood sugar levels after a carbohydrate-rich meal [10][11]. If you have gotten used to drinking your morning shot of apple cider vinegar, then good news! Apple cider vinegar is calorie-free and carbohydrate-free, so it goes well with fasting.

What about alcohol while intermittent fasting?

Alcoholic beverages, including wine, spirits, and beer contain calories and should be avoided during the fasting period. Consume alcoholic beverages in moderation to help avoid dehydration and other negative effects – even if it’s during your eating hours. Alcoholic beverages provide little to no nutritional benefit, so it’s better to focus on nutrient-dense food and beverages. When it comes to alcohol, use your eating window to make sure your body gets adequate amounts of key nutrients instead.

Drinking during your eating window….

There are many benefits of fasting and time-restricted eating, including weight loss [12], improved glucose sensitivity [13], and improved lipid profiles. To maintain your fasting state, remember to drink low-calorie beverages if you choose to drink anything. There may be more options than you think!
 

Ok to Drink Avoid During Fasting Window
Water Milks or Creamers
Lemon Water Protein Shakes
Cucumber Water Sugar-Sweetened Sodas or Teas
Coffee (unsweetened) Juices
Tea (unsweetened) Smoothies
Apple Cider Vinegar Alcohol
Seltzer water (unsweetened) Sports Drinks
Flavored water (unsweetened)  

[1] Mild dehydration impairs cognitive performance and mood of men

[2] Constipation in older adults

[3] FoodData Central Search Results: Lemon Juice

[4] FoodData Central Search Results: Coffee, brewed

[5] Metabolic effects of aspartame in adulthood: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials

[6] Aspartame Consumption for 12 Weeks Does Not Affect Glycemia, Appetite, or Body Weight of Healthy, Lean Adults in a Randomized Controlled Trial

[7] A 12-week randomized clinical trial investigating the potential for sucralose to affect glucose homeostasis 

[8] Glycemic impact of non-nutritive sweeteners: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

[9] FoodData Central Search Results: Almond milk, unsweetened, plain, shelf stable

[10] Vinegar consumption can attenuate postprandial glucose and insulin responses; a systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials

[11] Vinegar as a functional ingredient to improve postprandial glycemic control-human intervention findings and molecular mechanisms

[12] Impact of intermittent fasting on the lipid profile: Assessment associated with diet and weight loss

[13] Early Time-Restricted Feeding Improves Insulin Sensitivity, Blood Pressure, and Oxidative Stress Even without Weight Loss in Men with Prediabetes

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